. . . Tuesday December 21, 2004

Did I Ever Mention…

Time Magazine just launched the web version of their archives going back to 1923. Here is a look at the first time the magazine mentioned five people who managed, it turns out, to make their way into the news cycle a few more times over the years.

Heartbreak Hotel (Elvis Presley; Victor). A new singer with a new twist: a double voice that alternates between a high, unpleasant quaver, reminiscent of Johnnie Ray at his fiercest, and a rich basso that might be smooth if it were not for its spasmodic delivery. Heartbreak Hotel, yelps the high voice, is where he’s going to get away from it all. Answers the basso: he’ll be sorry.

“Hallelujah.” Said the Rev. Martin Luther King, 27: “This is not a tension between the Negro and whites. This is only a conflict between justice and injustice. We are not just trying to improve Negro Montgomery. We are trying to improve the whole of Montgomery . . . If we are arrested every day; if we are exploited every day; if we are triumphed over every day; let nobody pull you so low as to hate them.”

It is a familiar mix—the gaunt but unmarked face and the insinuating nasal rasp. He slouches buzzing over his guitar, his voice dry as locusts. Then, without warning, Bruce Springsteen rears back and uncorks a geyser of white hot sound. Cataracts of electrically charged fragments of sound lacerate the air, scattering intimations of Dylan and colliding with the fierce rhythms of Springsteen’s own wild fusion of rock, jazz and folk rock.

She was a house guest at Balmoral Castle in September, a pretty girl with an almost pre-Raphaelite air of sweet naturalness, sitting demurely by the River Dee, while Prince Charles fished for salmon. In October, swathed in a sporty green coat and boots, she cheered excitedly from the Ludlow racecourse grandstand as the Prince rode his Irish chaser, Allibar, to a second-place finish in a three-mile steeplechase. By the time the Prince of Wales’ 32nd birthday arrived on Nov. 14, Britain was rife with rumors that Charles’ engagement to the sunny blond so often at his side, Lady Diana Spencer, 19, was about to be announced.

Indeed, when Microsoft (1982 sales: $34 million), the Bellevue, Wash., company that developed the operating system used on the IBM personal computer, wanted someone to run its marketing program, it looked to the cosmetics industry. Last month Microsoft hired Rowland Hanson, vice president of Neutrogena, a maker of skin-care products, as head of marketing and public relations. Admits Hanson: “When I came here I didn’t even know how to turn a computer on.” But he does know how to sell packaged goods. Says company President Bill Gates, who founded Microsoft at age 18 and is one of the industry’s veterans at 27: “We’re past the point where technology is all important. It’s the marketing, the reputations that are important now.”

Concentration is important!