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Eulogy To P.F. Sloan: Eve of Destruction

18 September was the birthday of the late P.F. Sloan, the iconic American singer, songwriter and as I remember Sloan, his friend and co-author of memoirs, Whats Exactly The Matter With Me, Steve Feinberg, shared these thoughts with me about Sloan’s life and epic song, Eve Of Destruction.

I share these words with Steve’s permission:

“P.F. Sloan was a renegade outlaw. A genius prodigy, Pound for pound, P.F. Sloan was the most mysterious and elusive figures in the history of rock and roll–and one of the most powerful and influential songwriters to emerge from the inspired mid-sixties.

Without P.F. Sloan there wouldn’t have been the sound of the Mamas and Papas. That’s Phil who wrote and played the infectious opening hook on California Dreamin’. Phil and his partner Steve Barri were the original Grass Roots, with a hit song before there was a real group. He wrote pop songs for everyone–from Ann-Margret to Herman’s Hermits–from Jan and Dean to the Turtles. Everyone who knows anything about music from the sixties has heard Sloan songs.

And then P.F. Sloan dared to write Eve Of Destruction. P.F. Sloan was fearless. He wrote songs like Eugene O’Neill wrote plays–with passion and honesty. He gave us everything he had.

Before Eve, folk music was relegated to the rarified confines of coffee houses and beat clubs, not frequented by the majority of kids in America, whose main access to music was a.m. radio. However, these kids were full of quiet angst about the war, poverty, nuclear annihilation and racial strife. These kids were sleeping tigers waiting to be unleashed upon the world with something to say—waiting for the green light—waiting for their fuses to be lit. Eve Of Destruction lit the fuse of a generation and inspired them to stand up and be heard. Eve Of Destruction was a song that became their sword—they used that sword, righteously. This song inspired the 26th Amendment of the Constitution, lowering the voting age to eighteen.

I have received letters from former teens throughout the world—they all remember where they were when they heard Eve—how their lives changed. It is a song that awoke those tigers and became one of the seminal events in an extraordinary decade. When JerryLewis introduced Eve Of Destruction on September 20, 1965, on the Hullabaloo television show, the earth rumbled. For me, it was the line, “This whole crazy world is just too frustratin’”. It shot through me. That song was my Bar Mitzvah. Eve was my passage into manhood.

Before Eve Of Destruction, life was Hondas, cars, madras shirts, monster movies , barbecues and dances on Saturday nights—we were giving more thought to buying beer for a party under the boardwalk than dying in Vietnam. Marijuana had yet to waft into the mainstream youth culture from the coolness of jazz and the hippie underground. America was on a precipice. We had suppressed all of the anxiety of the world and thought it was secure in its place—let the grownups worry about it. It wasn’t secure. Eve Of Destruction blew our hair back and blew our minds. It stopped us in our tracks, and caused us to think—a lot of us, for the first time.

Because he wrote successful pop songs, Sloan wasn’t allowed to hammer down on new, strong iron. He was torn apart by the the folk establishment and crucified by the music business. (Bob Dylan respected Sloan. Dylan once said the if you wanted to know what was happening on the street, Eve Of Destruction will tell you that). Pete Seeger refused to be on the same bill with Phil and John Lennon thought the song was rubbish—though, in my opinion, Lennon was more influenced by P.F. Sloan than he would ever have admitted.

A writer of pop songs couldn’t possibly have anything to say. They were wrong. Sloan didn’t care. P.F. Sloan was all about the music–all about the song. And he was all about telling the truth in a song. P.F. Sloan paid the price. Phil took Eve to #1, delivered the message around the world and was then torn apart by those who did not want the message heard. The debt has been paid. Music needs an enlightenment of truth.

Think of all the hate there is in Red China!

Then take a look around to Selma, Alabama!

Ah, you may leave here, for four days in space,

But when your return, it’s the same old place,

The poundin’ of the drums, the pride and disgrace,

You can bury your dead, but don’t leave a trace,

Hate your next door neighbor, but don’t forget to say grace,

And you tell me over and over and over and over again my friend, 

You don’t believe we’re on the eve of destruction.”

P.F Sloan died in 2015. He spent the last three years of his life touring and playing for his loyal, adoring fans. His memoirs, What’s Exactly The Matter With Me? was published by Jawbone Press in London, in 2014.

 

 

 

It’s March!

It has taken me three months to get down to writing this post…three months into this year and that’s because so much has been happening since we started 2018…from bringing two like-minded organisations together to create and launch a library in the City of London; to being invite back again by the Mayor’s office to speak about being a London business and the need for diversity; to helping a client participate in a London China expo to working on some exciting launches including the media campaign for a business book called The Responsive Leader written by an influential thought-leader, Erik Korsvik Østergaard, who is making waves with his new book.

While all this has been going on we have had the #Metoo and #TimesUp social media campaigns have gone viral and as I write, we are heading towards International Women’s Day (IWD) on 8 March.

Findings from reports tell us that gender parity is over 200 years away; which is why there has never been a more important time to keep motivated and #PressforProgress – this year’s IWD theme. There is a strong global momentum striving for gender parity.

To help mark this day the FSB is raising the visibility of role models for women entrepreneurs with an international digital campaign called 100 FSB Women. As part of this initiative Serendipity PR is actively supporting the FSB Women’s London network; and we have helped source one of its speakers and organised a free business book for attendees. This special book is called Read My Lips by Swedish TV personality Elaine Eksvard, published by our client, LID Publishing. Wouldn’t life be easier if we could get people to listen to us in every situation? This book teaches us how to persuade our listeners, be professional and personal, without being private. Eskvard is best-selling author of Ruling Technique, Living Power and Talk Nice.

I will end with this wonderful comment from Helen Mirren who was speaking about #MeToo and #TimesUp to The New York Times and said, “It’s an amazing moment isn’t it? I’ve never wanted to be younger than I am, but the only thing that makes me think God, I wish I was 18 now, is 18 year olds are coming into a very different world.”

 

 

Pax Japonica Launches At Foyles

 

This time of year always reminds me of my childhood trips to Foyles, where my mum would take us at the start of the Christmas holidays, where we could choose a few books to occupy us over the Christmas period. I loved these yearly trip, as at an early age I had a deep love of books, that would allow me to escape into different worlds.

Foyles those days had a long narrow winding staircase, where everyone would somehow superbly navigate themselves up and down, without colliding into each other. The book shelves used to be stacked and packed, where I would choose my Nancy Drew or something from the Hardy Boys – yes it was that long ago!

So, it was almost ‘back to the future’ moment when last month I helped organise the book launch for a Japanese business title that I was working on – who would have guessed that that that little girl, would one day be helping to host an author from Japan at Foyles?! Time is indeed a wondrous thing.

Takeo Harada, former Japanese diplomat and now CEO of the Institute of International Strategy and Information Analysis, a leading think tank is the author of Pax Japonica – a book that is indeed ahead of its time.

As earlier this December, Brussels and Tokyo created the biggest open economic area in the world; just as the US is walking away from multilateral trade regimes. The agreement comes as Japan exhibits 2.5% growth, the strongest in a generation. The agreement removes tariffs for Japanese cars and spare parts, while Japan opens up its public tenders to European contractors and its supermarkets to European cheese, wine, beef and pork with guaranteed names of origin.

This global headline reinforces the premise of Pax Japonica – Japan, the world’s third largest economy and largest creditor nation, has been in crisis for more than two decades. Its economy has been depressed or in recession for much of that period, its banking sector in a critical state and its public sector burdened by recurring fiscal deficits and mounting debt. Yet, Harada argues in his book that a possible future ’Pax Japonica’ – one in which Japan will overcome its paralyzing debt and once again play a leading role in global finance – can become a reality and is now unfolding.

Harada says, till now, the hegemonic role in global trade and financial markets has been assumed by the USA and China, but this is now changing; and that Japan’s role in the global economy can never be under-estimated.

To understand what is happening in geo-politics with particular reference to Japan, this book is a must read. It is published by LID Publishing.

 

 

Working With LID Publishing

It’s September and it’s back to school and back to writing…it has been a busy, happy summer of juggling school holidays and work. I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t exhausting, but it has been fun to include my 10-year-old in my business life and that I also have great flexible clients. This leads me on to say that I have been working on some great and interesting book campaigns for LID Publishing, the fifth largest publishing house for business books in Europe.

One of my favourite campaigns has been the Chinese Entrepreneur Series, which are five books: Jack Ma & AlibabaMa Huateng & TencentWang Jianlin & Dalian Wanda; Dong Mingzhu & Gree; and Ren Zhengfei & Huawei. Many of China’s successful entrepreneurs have become huge celebrities not just on China’s mainland but globally, attracting a legion of fans. Their appeal is not just down to their charisma, huge personal wealth, but has a lot to do with being stylish, confident business leaders who have inspired China’s growing aspirational middle classes.

The authors of these books are leading business writers in China, who all had direct access to these influential businessmen and their businesses.

This LID’s China’s Entrepreneurs Series is the result of a unique Chinese-Anglo collaboration between China Translation & Publishing House, a member of the China Publishing Group Corporation, one of China’s largest publishing companies. Further titles in the series are planned, to make it the most expansive international series about Chinese entrepreneurs.

I love working with LID, as their books are all good reads and never boring; and as a company they are always doing something different. If you love business books, then check out their new book club!

Photo Credit: LID Publishing