Song Surgery traces the origins of songs for Baby Boomers and Gen X
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Music podcast fans in their forties and older finally have a show of their own as Song Surgery, an original podcast created and hosted by Sid Holmes, unveils the process of how familiar hit songs – particularly to Baby Boomers and Gen Xers – were conceived by the songwriters who composed them, and the singers and musicians who performed on them.
Song Surgery reimagines the concept of the traditional music podcast by concentrating on just one song per episode from a group’s/singer’s discography, and features in-depth reflections and tales about their Billboard Hot 100 chart-topping record.
The first episodes spotlight conversations with Fred Lipsius, horn arranger and sax player for multi-Grammy award winners Blood, Sweat & Tears (“You’ve Made Me So Very Happy” (#2), “ Spinning Wheel” (#2), the first horn-based rock/jazz band; John H. Fitch, Jr., co-writer of Evelyn “Champagne” King’s massive disco era hit “Shame” (#9); and sax players Emilio Castillo and Stephen “Doc” Kupka, co-writers of Tower of Power’s first two hit records, “You’re Still a Young Man” (#29) and “So Very Hard To Go” (#17). Future episodes will feature hit songs from the 1960s onward and from various music genres.
“The fascinating background stories behind these hit records are generally unknown,” says Holmes, noting that both ToP songs were based on the same woman: Castillo’s 24-year-old girlfriend who was uneasy about her relationship with the then 18-year-old bandleader. “Many people also don’t know that BS&T’s 1968, self- titled second album produced a trio of number two Billboard Top 40 hits, and won Album of the Year Grammy honors - besting The Beatles’ Abbey Road in the process.”
A tail-end Baby Boomer with a background in broadcast/print journalism and communications, Holmes, 60, was prompted to create Song Surgery after reading a story this past winter about the immensely popular Song Exploder music podcast. Although vaguely familiar with the contemporary artists interviewed for the series, it took scrolling through nearly three dozen episodes before he spotted a group/song combination he recognized, Fleetwood Mac’s “Go Your Own Way.”
Holmes thinks Song Surgery will strike a chord with multiple audiences: older podcast fans – and newbies – who would want to learn more about hit songs from when they were growing up (or grown), and Millennials and Gen Z, whose exposure to these tunes is often via oldies stations or recycling through television advertising, such as the Applebee’s commercial campaign.
“There’s a dearth of music podcasts geared towards attracting older generations,” Holmes observes, noting a Statista finding (March 2021) that although listenership is steadily increasing in that aging demographic, just 22 percent of adults 55 and older had listened to a podcast the previous month, as compared to 49 percent of 12-34 year-olds; Holmes himself had never tuned in to a podcast until January. “I plead guilty to being in that 78 percent,” he admits, adding, “these songs have intriguing histories that deserve to be included in our canon of popular music.”
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