‘Auld Lang Syne’ by Robbie Burns, 1796.

robert_burnsThe most commonly sung song for English-speakers on New Year’s eve, “Auld Lang Syne” is an old Scottish song that was first published by the poet Robert Burns in the 1796 edition of the book, Scots Musical Museum.
Burns transcribed it (and made some refinements to the lyrics) after he heard it sung by an old man from the Ayrshire area of Scotland, Burns’s homeland.
It is often remarked that “Auld Lang Syne” is one of the most popular songs that nobody knows the lyrics to. “Auld Lang Syne” literally translates as “old long since” and means “times gone by.”
The song asks whether old friends and times will be forgotten and promises to remember people of the past with fondness, “For auld lang syne, we’ll tak a cup o’ kindness yet.
“The lesser known verses continue this theme, lamenting how friends who once used to “run about the braes,/ And pou’d the gowans fine” (run about the hills and pulled up the daisies) and “paidl’d in the burn/Frae morning sun till dine” (paddled in the stream from morning to dusk) have become divided by time and distance—”seas between us braid hae roar’d” (broad seas have roared between us).
Yet there is always time for old friends to get together—if not in person then in memory—and “tak a right guid-willie waught” (a good-will drink).

guylombardi

But it was bandleader Guy Lombardo, and not Robert Burns, who popularized the song and turned it into a New Year’s tradition. Lombardo first heard “Auld Lang Syne” in his hometown of London, Ontario, where it was sung by Scottish immigrants.
When he and his brothers formed the famous dance band, Guy Lombardo and His Royal Canadians, the song became one of their standards. Lombardo played the song at midnight at a New Year’s eve party at the Roosevelt Hotel in New York City in 1929, and a tradition was born.
Source: New Year’s Traditions

The ‘Bee Gees’ dominated the 1970s.

bee_gees_1977
A 1977 publicity photo of the Bee Gees for a television special, “Billboard #1 Music Awards.” From top: Barry, Robin, and Maurice Gibb.
The Bee Gees’ dominance of the charts in the disco era was above and beyond Chic, Giorgio Moroder, even Donna Summer.
Their sound track to Saturday Night Fever sold thirty million copies.
They were responsible for writing and producing eight of 1978’s number ones, something only Lennon and McCartney in 1963/64 could rival—and John and Paul hadn’t been the producers, only the writers.
Even given the task of writing a song called “Grease” (“Grease is the word, it’s got groove, it’s got a meaning,” they claimed, hoping no one would ask, “Come again?”), they came up with a classic.
At one point in March they were behind five singles in the American Top 10.
In 1978 they accounted for 2 percent of the entire record industry’s profits. The Bee Gees were a cultural phenomenon.
Three siblings from an isolated, slightly sinister island off the coast of northwest England, already in their late twenties by the time the Fever struck—how the hell did they manage this?
Pin ups in the late sixties, makers of the occasional keening ballad hit in the early seventies, the Bee Gees had no real contact with the zeitgeist until, inexplicably, they had hits like “Nights on Broadway,” “Stayin’ Alive,” “Night Fever,” and the zeitgeist suddenly seemed to emanate from them.
This happened because they were blending white soul, R&B, and dance music in a way that suited pretty much every club, every radio station, every American citizen in 1978.
They melded black and white influences into a more satisfying whole than anyone since Elvis.
Simply, they were defining pop culture in 1978.
Read further via Islands in the Stream.

St. Stephen’s, home of Europe’s Largest Pipe Organ, ci.1733.

imagePhoto by Wikimedia user Tobi 87 | Copyright: Creative Commons
The St. Stephen’s Cathedral of today was built in 1682, but the original version of the church had already burned to the ground by 1662, taking with it the parish’s first organ.
As is the case for most of the world’s giant organs, the organ at St. Stephen’s took shape gradually over the course of centuries.
The contemporary version consists of five separate organs in varying tonal styles amounting to 17,774 pipes, 223 registers, and four chimes.
Each portion of the organ was built separately, possesses its own unique tone, and can be played as a standalone instrument by way of its own console.
The obvious centerpiece of the cathedral is the main organ, being the largest of the five with a stunning case built in 1733 by Joseph Matthias Götz.
A tiny Echo Organ in the middle nave vault section of the church is more demure in its charms, compensating for its modest size by producing sound through the “Heiliggeistloch” (or Holy Ghost opening) in the ceiling.
A lone, general console found in the western loft unites these disparate musical instruments into a single organ unlike any other in Europe.
From this seat, a master organist can play all five organs individually or as one giant Franken-organ, producing a cacophony of sound by means of electric key action and a programmable setter capable of storing more than 4,000 settings.
Mathematically speaking, the variety of ways to coax and combine range and tone from this instrument is nearly infinite.
Though St. Stephen’s ceded the title of world’s largest church organ to that of the First Congregational Church in Los Angeles in the 1990s, when it comes to matters of musical grandeur united across space and time, the organ at St. Stephen’s remains nonpareil.
Edited by: Annetta Black (Admin), racheldoyle (Admin), littlebrumble (Admin)
via Europe’s Largest Pipe Organ | Atlas Obscura.

Louis Armstrong plays Jazz for the Pyramids of Giza, 1961.

Original caption: 28 January, 1961, Pyramids of Giza, Egypt—
American jazz trumpeter Louis Armstrong plays the trumpet while his wife sits listening, with the Sphinx and one of the pyramids behind her, during a visit to the pyramids at Giza in 1961.
Image Credit: Photograph by Bettmann / Getty
Source: Weird, Wonderful Photos From the Archives – The Atlantic

The Beatles’ last unhappy Photo session.

‘This marriage had come to an end – and boy did it show’ … the Beatles’ last photo session, in August 1969.
Photograph: Ethan Russell/© Apple Corps Ltd/All rights reserved‘
George Harrison was miserable from frame one to frame 500,” says Ethan Russell. “He was so over it. I don’t think he did anything but scowl for three hours.”
The photographer is recalling the day he unknowingly took the last ever shot of the Beatles together. It was 22 August 1969, and they were all at John Lennon’s countryside estate near Ascot.
“Paul was trying to hold it together,” he adds. “He had his arms crossed like, ‘Come on, lads!’
But the concept of the Beatles just didn’t sync with who they were any more.
I could have asked them to smile, but it would have been totally fake and I’m glad I didn’t.
This marriage had come to an end – and boy does it show.”
Source: ‘I took the last ever shot of the Beatles – and they were miserable!’ | Art and design | The Guardian