John Walsh: btw

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The Independent Online

Fans of Pink Floyd, and more specifically of David Gilmour, will fall like slavering dogs on Remember That Night, a new DVD of his epic concert at the Albert Hall last year. One of the extras, a fly-on-the-wall documentary, shows footage of Gilmour's entourage relaxing and carousing. On the American edition, there's an odd moment when Rick Wright, the Floyd's keyboard-tickler, celebrates a birthday, his pals fetch out a cake and sing – and the sound cuts out. A sub-title urges: "Due to copyright restrictions, please sing happy birthday to Rick here." Copyright? On "Happy Birthday to You"? Apparently yes. It seems the world's most popular song, written in 1893 by two Kentucky schoolmarm sisters, was copyrighted in 1935 in a contract that's locked up until 2030; the copyright was bought by Warner Brothers in 1995 for $15m. And yes, "unauthorised public performance" (like, say, in a bar) are technically illegal unless you hand over some cash. No way are they opportunistic killjoys. Merely businessmen.

* Much hilarity in Seattle, after it was rumoured that the new tram system would be called the South Lake Union Trolleycar. Noting the humorous potential of the acronym, local clothiers rushed out T-shirts bearing the legend, "Ride the Slut". They've been selling in hundreds and the tram developers aren't happy, insisting the trams will, in fact, bear the name South Lake Union Streetcar. "We're welcoming the Slut into the neighbourhood," said one giggling troublemaker.

* John Lydon was predictably generous about his musical confreres on the Christian O'Connell radio show on Thursday, pouring scorn on The Police for their reunion concerts, calling them "soggy old dead carcasses ... You know, listening to Stink trying to squeak through 'Roxanne' one more time, that's not fun." For a man who spent years furiously denying the Sex Pistols would ever reform, but re-formed them in the 1990s and is about to do so again in November, this is a little rich. And will it be fun listening to Johnny R bragging, "We're pretty... pretty vacant," when the line might more truthfully be, "We're pretty financially astute, actually"?

* The death of Pavarotti has apparently rekindled a popular passion for opera at its most flashing-eyed and hairy-chested. I see the impresario Ellen Kent is bringing productions of Bizet's Carmen and Verdi's Nabucco to the aria-loving masses of Croydon, Basingstoke, Dartford and High Wycombe. The blandishments used in their publicity material, however, are a little unusual. Press adverts for Carmen promise that the show will feature "gypsy dancers, fountains, orange trees and a donkey", and that "both productions will star Louis, the majestic black stallion". More intriguing is the small print which explains, "Horse not appearing at all venues," and brings the sad news that Louis will not appear in Nabucco at Oxford or Bournemouth. Is this the first sighting of an equine prima donna? Is the horse's agent to blame?

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