I was once a little…um, okay, terribly obsessed with iTunes. I got my first iPod in 2004 and became immediately entranced by Apple’s seeming infinite lists of music for sale. Over the years, I spent way too much time on iTunes and spent way too much money on music, some of which was great, and some of which was not. In 2011, for the sake of my sanity and my bank account, I went cold turkey. I suspended my iTunes activities and completely stopped visiting site. With the iTunes Diaries, I take a look back, highlighting the good, the bad, and the ugly in music that I just had to have in the moment.******************** “The only thing that we know is that we know nothing — and that is the highest flight of human wisdom.”
—War and Peace, Leo Tolstoy
When I was heavily into iTunes usage, one of the more unusual places where I found musical inspiration was the television; specifically, television commercials. When the iPod hit the scene in the early 2000s, Apple began a heavily touted advertising campaign replete with the use of bright colors and brighter, and often unknown, songs. (Remember when everyone became very, very tired of hearing Jet’s “Are You Gonna Be My Girl?” A great song, but still…) Since then, the use of discovered and undiscovered music has become commonplace in commercials. Today we don’t think to bat an eyelash upon hearing Macklemore backing up an online casino or Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros behind a Microsoft logo. But back when the premise was still somewhat novel, I looked forward to an AT&T commercial that featured a clip of “Daydreamin” by Lupe Fiasco, featuring Jill Scott.
At the time, Fiasco’s album Lupe Fiasco’s Food & Liquor (2006) had only just become part of our CD collection, and it quickly became a rotational favorite. The portion of “Daydreamin” use in the commercial was…well…dreamy. It was light, airy, and gave the sense of lying in a grassy meadow, watching the clouds pass by. The commercial itself was for a new AT&T phone, which somehow correlated to the notion of the song, I guess. I couldn’t tell you much about the phone, but that song, oh it stuck. I added the song to one of a growing eclectic playlist (aptly titled “eclectic”), and my, the song was wonderful, but it was a whole helluva lot different from light and airy.
Besides adding to my knowledge of Fiasco’s work, “Daydreamin” also started a journey into the infinite rabbit-hole of music and the Internet. When I searched for this song in iTunes, other interesting links popped up in the “Related” and “Listeners Also Bought” categories, one of which, was to a band called I Monster. It turned out that Fiasco’s music for Daydreamin’ was sampled from an I Monster track called “Daydream in Blue” from the album Neveroddereven. Of course, I simply had to give it a listen. And I really liked what I heard.
In fact, I liked the song so much, I later bought it as well, but for a different playlist. (Oh, but those lyrics. Tsk Tsk. Talk about blue.)
Yet the story doesn’t end there. I became so enamored of “Daydream in Blue” that I went and gushed about it on Facebook. My post illicited a couple responses, including one from a good friend who’s nothing short of a music encyclopedia…er…or wiki, as I guess the kids would say today. He pointed out that “Daydream in Blue” was, in fact, a remix of sort of another song, “Daydream” by the Wallace Collection. And holy shit if I wasn’t both surprised and a little dumbfounded…or at least dumb. I mean, I think I know music, but I really don’t know much compared to some – and thank goodness for them! He posted a little bit of information about this little-known band from 1960s Belgium as well as link to the original song. Sure enough, he wasn’t incorrect.
But OMFG that’s still not the end of the story! For “Daydream,” the Wallace Collection actually sampled bit and pieces from Tchaikovsky’s ballet Swan Lake.
And no, I’m not going to insert a video. Swan Lake is beautiful, and long. I’m sure someone on the Intenet dug up exactly which samples they used, so please, search away if you are so curious!
And that’s the end of the story….maybe. Surely Tchaikovsky was influenced by others before him in his works; and who’s to say that a few notes from something classical or baroque isn’t lurking about in Swan Lake? It certainly is an intriguing thought. And it’s quite a journey for one song.