The Day the Muzak Died

According to the New York Times, November 5, 2013 will mark the day that the Muzak died, as Concord, Ontario-based Mood Music, which acquired the Muzak brand in 2012, phases out the Muzak line:

Muzak traces its roots to the 1920s, but the brand name appeared in 1934. It evolved from simple background music in hotels and restaurants to a scientifically designed program to increase workers’ productivity and make shoppers more comfortable.

Eventually the name came to be shorthand for any kind of innocuous musical wallpaper, even if in recent years Muzak and its competitors have also developed radiolike playlists of pop hits and oldies.

“Music by Muzak became a pervasive soundtrack, accompanying activities in offices, factories, supermarkets, hotel lobbies and even the Apollo 11 journey to the moon,” saidJoseph Lanza, the author of “Elevator Music: A Surreal History of Muzak, Easy-Listening, and Other Moodsong.”

Although Mr. Abony cited the company’s integration plans as the main reason for dropping the Muzak name, he also said that Mood had studied consumers’ opinions about Muzak. Aside from the fact that it was little known outside the United States, he said, the brand had some baggage.

“It is often perceived as an epithet for elevator music,” he said. “Muzak was not the connotation that suggested that we have come a long way.”

For the rest of the article, follow the link: Sisario, Ben. “Muzak, Background Music to Life, to Lose Its Name“. New York Times. Feb 4, 2013.

For those curious to learn more about Muzak and its unique appeal, consider reading Joseph Lanza’s Elevator Music: A Surreal History of Muzak, Easy-Listening, and Other Moodsong: Revised and Expanded Edition

Wild Guitar (1962)

Recently caught Arch Hall Jr. in that amazing piece of ’60s celluloid Wild Guitar. Directed by (and starring) no-budget auteur Ray Dennis Steckler (acting under his common alias Cash Flagg), Wild Guitar details the story of recent LA arrival Bud Eagle (played by Arch Hall Jr.) and his rise to fame as a rockabilly wunderkind. Discovered on a local talent show, Bud gets immediately signed by an agent (played to sleazy perfection by Arch’s real-life father Arch Hall Sr.), resulting in a record deal, a new guitar and a frills-filled penthouse. Bud quickly discovers that his new fame comes with a bitter after-taste, when he uncovers payola schemes, loses his girl and realizes that the people around him aren’t looking out for his best interests. The movie has its dated bits but any of the scenes with Arch and his guitar make for solid retro-tainment (his hair has to be seen to be believed) and the film moves along quickly enough. Recommended for rockabilly nuts and 60s drive-in fans.

Note that Arch Hall Jr. is still alive and kicking. Aside from pursuing a career as a commercial pilot and penning Apsara Jet a novel published by Norton Records, Hall Jr. still performs with the Archers. You can check out his website here.