Tonight Show Tribute Song

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For those who don’t like to read my long posts (or anything longer than a Tweet), here’s the bottom line (don’t forget, you can make the video play full screen!):

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The overwhelming majority of posts on this blog are about music. We attend a lot of live shows and we do more than our fair share to support bands that we believe have something special to share with the world.

As a side-effect of our passion for music, we started a micro business (not really launched yet) called Songs and Jingles, LLC. This post isn’t about that business, though Songs and Jingles produced the tribute that this post is about, and the place to view the resulting video is on the YouTube Songs and Jingles Channel.

I have been watching the Tonight Show enthusiastically since 1968. Johnny Carson was an amazing host for 30 years. Jay Leno continued the tradition as well as anyone could have hoped for. I believe that Conan O’Brien will continue to do the legacy proud.

In an attempt to honor the changing of the guard at the Tonight Show, and help one of our favorite bands get wider promotion, I came up with what I thought was a clever idea: write a custom tribute song for the Tonight Show, and get this band to perform it on the air (Conan closes most shows with five minutes of live music from top bands).

We chose one of the band’s songs for the tribute’s music and I wrote the lyrics. Since we’re friendly with the band, pitching the idea to them was easy. After serious consideration they decided to pass. Fair enough.

I liked my lyrics (humble, I know), but more importantly, I really liked the whole concept of honoring the Tonight Show and promoting talented artists. I decided to turn it into a YouTube project instead, like the successful Birthday Tribute songs we’ve already produced at Songs and Jingles.

Through an online search, I discovered the amazing musical talent, Ben Schwartz, who had YouTube songs of himself performing the Jay Leno theme and the Conan theme.

I contacted Ben, asking what motivated someone so young to record this type of music. He said he’d been a big Tonight Show fan for a long time. Since I started before I was officially a teenager, I understood and knew that I’d found the right collaborator.

Ben asked for my lyrics which I told him I’d willing to rewrite if he couldn’t find the right melody to fit them. I needn’t have worried! Within two days, Ben had a first cut song to match my lyrics. It was incredible but didn’t have the tempo I’d hoped for. Ben agreed, and two days later delivered another version: perfection!

The song is wonderfully complex musically but difficult to sing. My original plan to sing it myself was shaky considering that I was straining to hit the notes on both ends.

Serendipity strikes again! While fully immersed in this project, we met Amy Rivard, with her spectacular voice, as strong as it is beautiful. I’ve written about her a number of times (we’ve seen her perform live twice). I asked if she would be willing to record our Tonight Show Tribute Song. She agreed.

I culled photos from the various incarnations of the Tonight Show, along with a few choice pictures from around the net that complemented the lyrics, and put together a video slideshow to go along with the song.

If you didn’t view the result above, please do it now!

Ben’s music and Amy’s voice are spectacular. With their talent and generous personalities they’ve made this project a joy for me to be a part of. The original goals of honoring my love of the Tonight Show while promoting talented up-and-coming artists has been achieved!

I hope that anyone who comes across this will enjoy it enough to share with their friends so more people will discover the amazing Ben Schwartz and Amy Rivard.

If you also tune in to the Tonight Show more often than you otherwise would have, that will be a nice bonus. 🙂

NBC Got It Right

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I’m a complete sucker for sitcoms. Even stupid ones make me laugh. Yes, I can distinguish between a good one and a horrible one, but like I said, even most horrible ones make me laugh.

Unfortunately, the same isn’t true for Lois. She really loves to laugh, and there are some sitcoms that can really set her off (in the positive sense), but she can’t tolerate stupidity, even if the aim of that is just to get you to laugh.

That puts us at odds. There are a number of shows that I enjoy, that she can’t stand, that I totally understand why. Enter the DVR. I can record those shows, and watch them at some point when Lois isn’t interested in watching TV.

I try fewer new shows than I might otherwise, just because I know I’ll be watching them alone. This year, I decided to try Chuck (on NBC) and Bing Bang Theory (on CBS). I set the DVR to tape both, and we left for our normal trip to Zope.

When we got back, I saw three episodes of Bing Bang Theory, but only two of Chuck. I realized that since I was now taping (how quaint, I meant recording) most shows in HD, even though I have a 320GB disk, I filled it up. The first episode of Chuck got erased automatically.

Some shows (Pushing Daisies for example) go down much smoother if you see the pilot episode, where they set the entire premise. Chuck seemed like that would be the case.

A quick search on Google found the above link to the show instantly. Sure enough, they offered full episodes online, for free. There are certain things that I don’t do, even though I can afford them. For example, there’s simply no way that I would have paid $1.99 to download the episode from iTunes (if that were the only place it was available).

Watching the episode on NBC was quite pleasant, their player is pretty good. I also had to spend 30 seconds a few times during the show to have an opportunity to view Sprint ads. While I didn’t select any of the ads, I was certainly well aware that my viewing pleasure was being sponsored by Sprint, and I had no problem with that at all. Of course, I happen to be a very happy Sprint customer, but that’s besides the point. 😉

I enjoyed the episode. Actually, I enjoyed the premise more than the actual episode. There were a number of weak moments in the episode, but I’m interested enough to watch the two I’ve recorded already, and if those are good too, I’ll watch the rest of the season. So, NBC got a viewer for the show by making past episodes available online, for free. Even if you assume that I will fast forward through every commercial that sits on my DVR, I sat through the Sprint sponsorship online (better than nothing for them!), and while Nielsen doesn’t count me, if they collect anonymous stats from FiOS, they’ll know that I record Chuck, which will count toward their viewership.

I still haven’t watched any of the Bing Bang Theory episodes, so I don’t know if I’ll like them.

For an example of a show that I’ll watch, that Lois won’t, you can check out Kelsey Grammer and Patricia Heaton’s new show, Back to You (on Fox). We were both interested in watching this new show, as we loved Frasier (Lois, especially). I liked Everybody Loves Raymond. Lois didn’t, but she appreciates Patricia Heaton (we also saw her live on Broadway with Tony Shaloub).

Anyway, Back to You qualifies as an incredibly stupid show, that is filled with cheap laughs. The key word (for me) is laughs, cheap or otherwise. I definitely laugh out loud at a number of the lines and situations, but everything about the show is just downright stupid.

So, kudos to NBC (perhaps others, but that’s the only one I’ve needed and tried so far).