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Three themes on Paul Anka [09 Jun 2005|04:00pm]

Keep on Rockin' in the Very Expensive World

This article in the NYT about Paul Anka's latest album is hilarious and insightful. Read it now, because I'm not sure how long it will be available for free --- I've lost track of what the NYT policies are on these RSS links.

You have to read an article like this every once and a while to stay in touch with what celebrity means in the United States, and just how much money some people are making. It's a very strange, wonderful, and terrifying situation we have here. It's good to keep in mind the extremes of context when reading about the latest lawsuit against the latest music-stealing terrorist.

For composing "Johnny's Theme," Mr. Carson's signature opening music for the "Tonight" show, Mr. Anka brought in $800,000 to $900,000 a year during Mr. Carson's reign as the king of late night...

Defenders of the established order will point out that this means musicians are entitled to some pretty hefty damages when it comes to file sharing cases.

It doesn't stop there:

And the 150 dates or so he plays each year are wildly lucrative. About 20 times a year Mr. Anka usually charges between $150,000 and $350,000 to perform at a corporate event or private party...

Leaving aside the social issues though, I have just got to hear this album. It's a collection of covers of songs by bands like Van Halen, Bon Jovi, and Nirvana. By Paul Anka. Yes, the author of "My Way" brings you:

Then he set about making them swing. He turned "Eye of the Tiger," the Survivor song popularized by "Rocky III," into "a quasi-'Mack the Knife,' tough guy thing," he said, complete with a growl at the end.

This track by itself will clearly be worth the price of admission. If the price is under $150,000, that is. There's also "Smells Like Teen Spirit," but I've already got the Tori Amos version. I can only hope that the Van Halen track on the album is "Dreams," or maybe "Love Walks In".

Also, Anka is amazing. Whether other people made an Amazing out of him, or whether he really just has some talent, I have no way of knowing, but the statistics construct an amazing story either way.

  • Had his first hit at 16 with "Diana", which sold 20 million copies
  • "Rock Swings" is his 120th album. Please read that sentence again.
  • He's been in the Top 50 in five different decades

And don't despair, there is more on the way:

Mr. Anka said he's already thinking of songs to interpret. One leading candidate: "When Doves Cry," by Prince.

This is indeed what it sounds like, when doves cry.

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