O, how the royalties roll in

Alan
Alan Elliott
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It's not often you hear novelty songs stretched to such limits. Our teenaged daughter, Molly, was playing something the other day. Since it was apparently random numbers being sung, she offered this explanation.
"It's the numbers for pi."
That was it, the three-decimal-one-four-unto-infinity number which, multiplied by a circle's radius squared, will give you the area of the circle … done to a dreamy tune.
I'm fascinated by the mysticism of pi and how it goes on forever, complex as it all is, even when rounded off to the agreed-upon 3.14. I admired the Rhino Party's effort some decades ago, vowing to round pi off to 3. It would make life simpler in a way, but in this instance it would provide for a much shorter song, like, a half-bar or so.
Numbers and songs, now there's a gold mine. I've had that in mind since the success of a certain 1, 2, 3, 4 song. And at the risk of incurring the wrath of our dear readers in Amherst, where I understand the Feist family lived for some time, here would be my tentative offering:
One, two, three, four, tell me who we're fightin' for;
Five, six, seven, eight, who do you appreciate?;
Nine, ten, eleven, twelve, this is one I'll have to delve (into);
Thirteen, fourteen, fifteen, sixteen, maybe skip that and proceed to twenty….
This song could go on for awhile, but I was hoping to replace 'Ninety-Nine Bottles of Beer on the Wall' as the big song for school bus trips and adolescent camp-outs. Just think of the royalties, let alone the cultural bequeathment.
And speaking of intellectual property, how about the shakedown on the Hockey Night in Canada theme song? I was saying to someone while it was going on, I hadn't heard the word 'iconic' tossed around so much since John Lennon was shot. As negotiations bogged down between the hockey theme writer and the CBC, we learned the fee that had been in place: $500 a pop. That adds up to a lot of coin. Such a writer could rest on one's laurels, just open the vault door and watch the money roll in. Even for the month or two the hockey season shuts down: the pogey cheques would be pretty healthy.
Of course, the way it played out, the CBC couldn't justify the money being sought to hang on to the tune and, unbeknownst to most of us, CTV was in on the action too. They bought the rights in perpetuity for a reported seven figures.
The fallout was as could be expected. Some thought it the end of hockey as we know it. Some thought the piece of music sounds dated and said just get on with it.
Then the CBC offered an interesting solution. They announced a contest to come up with a new theme, with a prize of $100,000. Now we're talking. That might not quite add up a $500-times-X set for life lotto, but it's a pretty good return.
I mentioned the contest to Molly, who's not much of a hockey fan but is a really good musician, including in the technical sense. She knows how those dots on lines make music, if a person knows the secret. I suggested we pool our sense of melody, get out the guitar and flute and whatever else we have around and write a couple of parts.
Of course, you wouldn't want the tune to sound 40 years old. You'd want to come up with something with glitz for the 21st century hockey fan, something that rocks-'em and socks-'em. You'd have to capture the glory, along with the inevitable agony. You'd want to get that feeling in there of crashing into the boards, of taking a puck to the groin, a stick in the ribs, an uppercut to the chin.
It'll be a long shot, since I'm sure every musician out there is thinking along the same lines.
If we won, I think I'd gladly donate my portion of the prize to our kids' education. That kind of money would go a long way toward putting them through the School of Rock.

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  • Stephanie
    January 18, 2010 - 13:32

    Please read www. hockeytheme.com to get the other side of the story - it's CBC Spin Free. It also has the link to the Blog from the daughter of Dolores Claman, the Composer of The Hockey Theme.

    Also, CTV did not get involved with inquiring about the rights for the song until AFTER the CBC announced they were going ahead with their American Idol type contest. (Which by the way, had been in the works for over a year between the CBC and Nettwerk Music Group.

    And for those who want to enter the contest with the CBC, they should read the rules for the contest... it's some scary reading!