BOB GARFIELD: This spring, ZDNET UK re-posted some selected corporate anthems on line, so you can download the bouncy inspirational tunes of Sun Microsystems, Honeywell and Apple. Corporate anthems are geared not to customers but to company staff, like the one once singled out by Britain's Guardian newspaper for the global consulting giant KPMG extolling the virtues of chartered accountants. "Welcome to musical hell" the rather fractious writer began, "a place where men and women trilled glutinous couplets about teamwork and customer care and vainglorious paeans to company spirit." And that is in understated England! Here in the USA, our corporate leviathans took the form right over the top. For your delectation, this OTM classic from our very own Rex Doane.
REX DOANE: Early corporate anthems like this one for IBM sounded more like fight songs for someone's dear old alma mater than anything else. [FOOTBALL FIGHT SONG STYLE MUSIC]
CHORUS: [SINGING] ...THE EVER LONG WHERE I BEGAN.
MAN: [SHOUTING] Second stanza!
CHORUS: EVER ONWARD, EVER ONWARD....
REX DOANE: But by the 1950s, mere song and verse gave way to big, brassy industrial shows with multiple musical numbers dedicated to pushing products.
CHORUS: [SINGING TO THE TUNE OF WATCHING ALL THE GIRLS GO BY] STANDING ON THE CORNER, WATCHING ALL THE FORDS GO BY-- STANDING ON THE CORNER, GIVING ALL THE FORDS THE EYE-- [CONTINUES UNDER]
REX DOANE: Steve Young is a writer for the Late Show with David Letterman and is the foremost collector and researcher of industrial show souvenir albums.
STEVE YOUNG: They were very lavishly produced, Broadway-style revues, often using legitimate Broadway talent and name brand composers to put on a, a whole musical to motivate the sales force and not only just in--inspire them to sell but also inspire them to feel good about the way of life they've chosen. [DRUM ROLL]
ANNOUNCER: Coca-Cola!-- daily gaining in strength, drawn from the experience of the past and the opportunities of the here and now!-- [DRUM ROLL, TRUMPET FLOURISH]
STEVE YOUNG:Some of the big corporations like GM and Coca-Cola have a lot of very bombastic material that goes beyond just details about the product that may be at hand but giving you a much more over-arching view of - this - this is more than just a product that we're selling. We're existing on a much higher plane. We're the backbone of the free world. We're the reason that life is worth living -that sort of thing -- you see a lot of that in Coca-Cola shows.
CHORUS: [SINGING] COCA-COLA HERE AND NOW WHEREVER YOU MAY BE FROM THE EMPIRE STATE FROM THE GOLDEN GATE FROM SEA TO SHINING SEA.... [CONTINUES UNDER]
STEVE YOUNG: And this is the sort of thing that would bring tears to the eyes of, of grownup sales executives sitting in the audience. [CHORUS SINGS GRAND FINALE !!!]
REX DOANE: In addition to writing songs that appear in such major films as Shane and Sabrina, Wilson Stone penned Coca-Cola's Here and Now along with several other industrial show tunes for corporations like Chevrolet, Cadillac and Xerox. Stone was drawn to writing industrial shows for the familiar reasons.
WILSON STONE: We would have a cast of 30 people and a 60 piece orchestra -- you know, they were huge! And most of the-- you know, they-- we, we really used all Broadway people, because they paid so much [LAUGHS] money! So we all did it, just for the money.
REX DOANE: The size and budget that industrial shows used to boast still amazes Hank Beebe who worked in the field for over 20 years.
HANK BEEBE: Well, the, the only figures I remember are the ones for the first show which was in '56 for the '57 line, and that show was budgeted at six times the cost of bringing My Fair Lady to Broadway that same year.
CHORUS: [SINGING] PROUD! PROUD! CHEVROLET PROUD! PROUD, PROUD -- CHEVROLET PROUD! CHEVROLET PROUD---
MAN: HOW DOES IT FEEL TO BE A CHEVROLET... [CONTINUES UNDER]
REX DOANE: By Beebe's math, that means that the 1957 Chevrolet Extravaganza carried a price tag of over 3 million dollars -- a considerable sum to be sure, but perhaps deserved.
WILSON STONE: It's an easy thing to write a song about love. It's hard to write a song about spark plugs.
MAN SINGING: HOW IT FEELS TO FEEL CHEVROLET PROUD, BRIGHT BROAD BANNERS EVERYWHERE.... [CONTINUES UNDER]
REX DOANE: Indeed the lyrical content of many industrial show songs bordered on the bizarre. Again, Steve Young.
STEVE YOUNG: The Bathrooms Are Coming is from 1969 from the American Standard Company, and it's pretty much got everything you could want in an industrial show. It's got the song called My Bathroom which is a sort of wonderful tribute to a woman's bathroom and how much it means to her. [BALLAD-STYLE MUSIC]
WOMEN SINGING: MY BATHROOM, MY BATHROOM IS A PRIVATE KIND OF PLACE VERY SPECIAL KIND OF PLACE THE ONLY PLACE WHERE I CAN STAY MAKING FACES AT MY FACE MY BATHROOM, MY BATHROOM... [CONTINUES UNDER]
REX DOANE: Like some traveling production of Cabaret for Carburetors, many of the industrial shows even toured from city to city for regional sales meetings, but by the mid-1980s the light would dim on the industrial show. Bloated budgets and the emergence of multi-media presentations silenced the corporate chorus line. So today the only place the industrial show lives on is in the living room of collector Steve Young -- a fact that makes one wonder about the cumulative effects of listening to the over 150 industrial show albums that are in the possession of this sub-sub-genre's sole archivist.
STEVE YOUNG: I, I wouldn't say I've been brainwashed by, by listening to these songs, but I feel like boy, I really like Massey-Ferguson Tractors now! I've never been on a tractor in my life but boy, I'd be proud to own one. I'd be proud to sell and service one.
MAN: [SINGING] SHE'S A DRIVING RAIN AND A WIND ON THE PLAIN SHE'S AS HARD AS A MIDWEST WINTER AND THERE'S NO HALF WAY WHEN YOU'RE FEEDING THE WORLD THERE'S JUST NO ROOM FOR BEGINNERS. YOU HOLD THE KEY TO THE LAND OF THE FREE AND YOU KNOW THE POWER IS IN HER SO STAND UP PROUD AND SAY IT LOUD THIS IS THE WORLD OF WINNERS! SING IT!
CHORUS: YES, WE'RE MASSEY--
MAN: MASSEY'S NUMBER ONE!
CHORUS: OOO OOO OOO WE BELIEVE!!!---
REX DOANE: For On the Media in New York, I'm Rex Doane.
MAN: YEAH! HA-HA!!
CHORUS: WE BELIEVE YOU'RE THE MAN WITH THE POWER IN YOUR HANDS!