So another year is coming to an end. One of the interesting things about this time of year are all the lists that begin appearing. Who were the most popular people of 2014? What were the biggest hits in movies, TV shows, and music? What made the most money? What lost the most money?
As interesting as these might be, to me the far more interesting lists are those that predict what will be hot next year. This is where people take their best shot at trying to know what other people will appreciate most. This is much harder to do than it appears.
To illustrate, let me pass along a little story from history. A decade ago, Rolling Stone Magazine compiled a list of the greatest rock and roll songs ever recorded. Their goal was ultimately to determine which was the greatest rock and roll song of all time. After no small amount of deliberation and effort they selected for this honor Bob Dylan’s “Like a Rolling Stone.” Most agreed they made a good choice. Some said their decision was biased by the name “Rolling Stone.” You can decide for yourself what you think.
But here is a little something you might not know. “Like a Rolling Stone” was recorded in 1965, in Studio A, at the headquarters of Columbia records. Dylan and his manager were convinced it would be a hit and anticipated its immediate release. The sales department of Columbia thought differently. They had made a lot of money on what was then the mainstream music of the day: pop, jazz, country and gospel. Their big artists were Frank Sinatra, Barbra Streisand and Tony Bennett. Who was Bob Dylan?
Dylan sang “Like a Rolling Stone” with his signature raspy voice. While not wanting to directly insult Dylan, they rejected the song and said it was because of the length. The original took 5 minutes and 59 seconds to play. This was way too long in a day when the “hot” music clocked in at right around 3 minutes. They suggested he cut it in half. He refused. The showdown resulted in a stalemate. Columbia then put the single into the category of “unassigned release.” By doing this they destined it to never see the light of day.
Then along came a guy named Shaun Considine. Shaun was a Columbia employee who had been present when the demo was first made. He really liked the tune but noticed he had never heard it aired. Curious, he began rummaging through all the demo’s to be junked and there he stumbled upon it. After playing it numerous times for his own enjoyment, he took it to a hot night club and asked the DJ if would mind giving it a spin. The DJ ended up playing it for an hour straight until finally the needle destroyed the flimsy vinyl disk. The next day the music programmer called Columbia and demanded a copy of it. “Red” copies, the ones indicating a “hot” song, were immediately shipped out for airplay around the country. The rest is… as they say, history.
This is how close the greatest rock and roll song of all time came to never being released. All because some so called “experts” who were supposed to be wise in such matters didn’t know what they were talking about.
Question: Who are the experts you listen to when it comes to matters of faith? Are there people who are confidently telling you that that God doesn’t exist? That this life is all just a coincidence? That there is no meaning to life… yours or anyone else’s?
Do you trust them? Should you? Give it some thought.
By the way, just a few years before this story about Dylan took place, this same company, Columbia, rejected the first American album from a British rock band called “The Beatles” (maybe you’ve heard of them!). A decade earlier they took a pass on a musician who went by the name of “Elvis.” They said he had no chance.
Be careful who you listen to!