Sunday with Franklyn and Van

Here are a couple of unrelated items that seem appropriate for a Sunday morning:

Last November, Ickmusic reported that it was among many websites receiving orders to remove not merely copyrighted material but practically everything having anything to do with Prince from the site. Prince has hired a company called Web Sheriff to aggressively scour the Internet looking for not merely his music and lyrics, but also for photographs and other innocuous uses of his music or likeness, and it’s been sending copyright warnings to site owners. Now, Van Morrison has hired the same company for the same purpose. It’s shut down the most awesomely detailed and useful Morrison fansite on the web, run by Michael Hayward at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, BC, despite the fact that the site wasn’t making Hayward a dime. Every scrap of Morrison video is gone from YouTube, and Web Sheriff has also apparently been going after people who merely linked to them. There’s a lot more about this here—perhaps more than you’d want to know—including some comments posted by Web Sheriff itself, responding to the discussion, in a sort of friendly-yet-creepy tone that is like nothing so much as the sound of Big Brother. Be sure to read the latest installment of the saga also, which begins to resemble parody, here.

(Parenthetical aside number one: As you may know from reading here or looking at my LastFM profile, I love me some Van Morrison music. But everything I’ve read about Van seems to indicate that as a human being, he’s hardly lovable at all. His kill-‘em-all copyright tantrum is more evidence for that. Hayward, as well as the fanzine Wavelength, which has had to severely curtail its web presence, were doing more to promote Morrison among his hardcore fans than Morrison himself would bother to do. To lump them in with Brazilian pirate sites posting entire artist discographies is overkill, and ultimately bad business.)

(Parenthetical aside number two: If you have moused over the links in the first paragraph above, you have noticed that they come from a site called the Bo Bice Underground. It’s not named in an ironic way. It really is devoted mostly to the 2005 American Idol runnerup.)

On another subject: Last May I wrote about some Chicago DJs of the 1950s and 60s—John Doremus, Howard Miller, and the like. Just this weekend, a reader responding to it linked to a page full of memories of another Chicago legend—Franklyn MacCormack, who held down overnights at WGN from 1959 to 1971. My parents were WGN listeners in some of those years, and I have a vague recollection of MacCormack, although he was on the air long after my bedtime every night. I’ve been listening to some of the airchecks on the MacCormack page while writing this today, and you should, too, particularly if you enjoyed the Holiday Festival of Music airchecks I posted here at Christmastime. Imagine hearing McCormack very late at night, on a fading AM radio wave from a long way off, in the days before we lived at a perpetual ironic distance from almost everything in our lives. You may come to understand the profound power radio once had to deeply move listeners—and also why people who heard MacCormack 40 years ago have been unable to forget him.

Franklyn MacCormack died in June 1971. He was on the air at the time. Not a bad way for a radio man to go.

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4 responses

  1. Wow. Howard Miller and John Doremus. Two names I had almost forgotten yet heard on the radio almost daily as my parents had WGN tuned in as soon as they woke up. While us kids wanted WLS on during breakfast, we were always out voted. Democratic society, my butt.

  2. There’s something really special about “checking out” doing something you love.

  3. I love Van.
    But I’m not a teenager anymore and I’m not impressed with unrequited love.
    So, I’ll focus my attention on those who appreciate it.
    Thanks for the WGN stuff.
    I’ve been looking for airchecks of a night-time guy who use to work in Buffalo – he called himself “Shane”.
    Any thoughts on where I might track those down?
    Haven’t been able to find anything through standard search methods.

  4. WGCY FM 106.3 is a 6,000 watt FM station in east-central Illinois. On Friday nights we feature a program that features pop music of the 40’s and 50’s, and big band music. It’s called “The Tom Benefiel Show,” and we stream online at our website.

    About twice a year the host plays “Vagabond’s House” and “Farewell to Vagabond’s House,” by Franklyn MacCormack, and the response is always positive. MacCormack has many fans in east central Illinois, and they are always happy to hear from him again, almost forty years after his death. Plus, lots of listeners are always eager to find out “the guy reading the poem about about the house.”

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