The Wire: The Impact of Electricity on Music (CBC Radio)
In The Wire: The Impact of Electricity on Music, an eight-part CBC radio series, host Jowi Taylor observes that while the invention of the electric toaster didn’t really change toast, “Making music with electricity changed everything-the art, the social structure, and the economy of music. Think about what it did to guitars. Here’s this genteel kind of instrument and all of a sudden Chuck Berry is duck-walking across the stage with a Gibson ES 335.” Taylor, who displays a winning offhand eloquence that courses through the series, and his co-producers Paolo Pietropaolo and Chris Brookes duck-walk listeners through 100 years of electrification. They illustrate how the almighty current changed how we hear music, how we play it, even what we think it can be. The Wire is not so much a documentary as a sonic collage. It mixes and merges commentary, analysis, and interviews with innovators such as Les Paul and Robert Moog. Sound clips abound. There are glorious samples from dozens of recording artists: from Enrico Caruso to Billie Holliday; from the Beatles to film-score composer Bernard Herrmann (The Day the Earth Stood Still); from Brian Eno to DJ Spooky. Taylor and his guests not only make the technology comprehensible, they convey their awe at how we now think nothing of bathing or strolling to the sound of a symphony, once the sole privilege of “a Sun King.” For providing listeners with an ear-opening experience and reminding us how much about electrified music we take for granted, a Peabody goes to The Wire: The Impact of Electricity on Music.