Cage Against the Machine

“Support is building like a tidal wave,” says the Daily Telegraph in Britain, about a wonderful, unlikely, but conceivably successful project — to push a recording of John Cage’s 4’33” (his famous silent piece) to the top of the British pop chart. 

This is a protest action, a way of resisting what many in the UK feel is manipulation of the pop charts by Simon Cowell. Read all about it here, in a BBC News story. Last year, to keep Cowell from getting his hand-picked song to No. 1, a group of pop music people started a movement — which succeeded! — to get a song by Rage Against the Machine to the top instead. Building on that success, they now want to put John Cage on top. 

Which is just a wonderful idea. And, according to the Daily Telegraph, the British online betting site Ladbroke’s puts the odds against the plan succeeding at only 5 to 1. 

How to support this: Buy the 4’33” single — wonderfully titled “Cage Against the Machine” online. You have to be in the UK to buy from the sites the movement is promoting, which I’m guessing are the ones that count to put the track on the charts. If you’re there, you can buy the track on Amazon UK (and of course iTunes and other places). In the US, you can get it at Amazon US; don’t know that it counts toward the British charts. 

There’s actually an entire Cage Against the Machine album, with various mixes of the piece. The official single was recorded simultaneously by many people, including some ranking British pop figures (Billy Bragg, Imogen Heap).

This is just a wonderful idea. I support it completely. Here’s its Facebook page

And though I don’t want to get ideological about the meaning of this, what a rebuke for people who’ve convinced themselves that the pop music world is only about empty commerce aimed at kids. 

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  1. says

    While I support this all the way, I dread the inevitable explosion of jokes about the piece. You know: the mock-critiques of the musicianship; the faux-intense discussion of which version best matches the composer’s vision; the sarcastic dancing. As if John Cage meant it all as a smug in-joke.

    Have you seen the faces of people watching live performances? Gruesome.

  2. Joan says

    I actually listened all the way through the youtube upload of the 4:33 and enjoyed it. Interesting how the quality of the non-notes shifted during the recording…

  3. brian kinder says

    What a great idea Anything to get the smirk off that waste of space cowells face And a giant ! hole in his pocket What is HE ?

  4. Bill Kraft says

    John’s purpose, as he told me, was to draw the listener’s attention to the sounds around us. One should do that when listening to either a live or recorded version.