Thursday, February 2, 2023

A Little Night Music

Yeah, they name-check the Boeing 707, but that’s probably because Seven-Forty-Seven didn’t work in the rhyme scheme.

One bark on “A Little Night Music

  1. Steve Miller didn’t actually write that song. He was working with an engineer who’d recorded an album years previously for Paul Pena, a blind blues singer and guitarist, and would often have that album playing while prepping the studio for Miller. Miller got to like that song and decided to record it. This was really good news for Pena, who’d fallen on hard times, because now he was able to receive royalties from radio airplay and record sales from Miller’s version of his tune.

    Pena is also notable for hearing Tuvan throat singing on short wave radio and teaching himself how to do it. It turns out that one of the very small number of influential Americans who knew anything about Tuva was nuclear physicist Richard Feynman, who wanted to visit, but the Soviet Union was determined to keep him out because they assumed he would ferret out their nuclear secrets! After the fall of the Soviet system (and Feynman’s death), Feynman’s friend Ralph Leighton arranged for Tuvan throat singers to perform in America. Pena attended one of their concerts and showed off his homemade skills, which they found so impressive they invited him to come and participate in an upcoming throat singing competition, a sort of “Tuva’s Got Talent” show, which he did. All of this is documented in a movie called “Genghis Blues,” which is really low budget but very cool.


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