In addition to writing this column every Friday, I also have to write six long-form radio programs, ten short-form radio features and a couple dozen blog entries. That works out to about 20,000 words a week, or the equivalent of a complete novel every five weeks. In the course of the ongoing research, I run across some amazing but utterly useless information. Here are a dozen of my favourites.
1. William Willet, the man responsible for pushing the U.K. and the British Empire into adopting daylight savings time, is the great-great-grandfather of Coldplay singer Chris Martin.
2. In 2002, some well-funded but obviously very bored Austrian psychologists determined that cats tend to prefer music with deep bass and fast beats like heavy electronic music or house. They also hate guitar solos and songs with lots of high frequencies.
3. The first intentional use of the f-word in a song can be found in “CIA Man” by the Fugs from 1965.
4. When Apple constructed an iPod prototype in 2001, the first track engineers ripped from CD and transferred to the device was “Groove Jet” by an Italian DJ who goes by the name Spiller.
5. While a vinyl album sounds as good as a 7-inch single, audio quality on an LP degrades slightly as the needle moves towards the centre.
6. Jack White was headed to a seminary to study to become a priest when he discovered he couldn’t bring his guitar amp. So he dropped out.
7. The first video ever shown on MTV was “Video Killed the Radio Star.” The second was “You’d Better Run” by Pat Benatar.
8. The album with the longest title in history is a 2007 release by Belgian outfit Soulwax. It’s 103 words long, beating out Fiona Apple’s old record of 90 words.
9. Most standard toilets flush in the key of E-flat. I have no idea who felt the need to figure this out.
10. Leo Fender, the guy who invented and marketed both the iconic Stratocaster and Telecaster guitars, couldn’t play the guitar himself.
11. According to people who have researched sales data, the best-selling musical instrument in history is the harmonica.
12. James Lilja, the original drummer for the Offspring, left the band in 1987 and went on to become a successful gynecologist.
There. Don’t you feel smarter?