871 836-7 Wonderful Tonight
Produced by Glyn Johns
Released on April 1978
US CHART POSITION #16 (charted May 13, 1978 for 17 weeks) . . . UK CHART POSITION #4 (1982)
Find it at GEMM
871 836-7 wo. picture sleeve
[high resolution scan]
 

O kay, let’s settle this once and for all. Is it morally wrong for an advertising company to use a familiar song to sell a product on television? Let’s not address where the culpability lies (agency, artist or industry) and focus on the act itself. First of all, commercials use original music to sell products all the time. Since the emergence of the merchant class, commerce has been a steady patron of the arts. This relationship doesn’t always produce the best art, but it does foster an art industry that sometimes produces great artists. So, relationship between art and commerce: okay. Is music art? Sure it is. Can existing art be re-sold and taken out of its original context? Yes, says Andy Warhol, and I agree. Art is partially defined by its relationship to its environment, so we’ll admit that using Led Zeppelin’s “Rock & Roll” to sell SUVs alters the song’s artistic composition for that moment, but do we as a society have a moral obligation to protect art in its original context? No, we’ve handed off that responsibility to the original artist. If the artist or the individual(s) representing the artist’s estate wish to re-sell the rights to a work of art, we assume (as non-artists) that it is done in a spirit of responsible stewardship that protects the interests of both art and commerce. Sometimes they just want the money, but a good society rewards its artists. So, yes, you can re-use an existing work of art (a song) in a commercial venture (advertising). However, advertising is an admittedly nefarious little business that relies upon subliminal messages to sell products to (sometimes) unsuspecting consumers. Girls playing volleyball with guys drinking Coors Light means that hot chicks dig guys who drink Coors Light. Soft music and heart-tugging human relationships underscore the fact that Bank of America cares about people. Listening to Led Zeppelin while watching an SUV splash through the mud promises that you can feel young again by driving this vehicle. The advertising agencies know that particular songs resonate with specific demographics (the artists must know this as well), and these ads in many cases target the artist’s original fan base. Is this much different than a musician selling the mailing list for the fan club to a direct mail company? Yes, because with a mailing list you’re selling a known quantity. Re-using a song is a much riskier proposition for advertisers; some listeners (like myself) have an adverse reaction, others may identify with it, still more may be hearing the music for the first time. In the case of “Wonderful Tonight,” which is being used to sell some sort of music download thing I think, the advertisers even borrowed some of the Clapton legend (how the song was written) for their commercial. It’s the "commoditization" of celebrity, perhaps, but not of the listening experience itself (the original artist/audience relationship), which remains uncorrupted. If an artist can profit from the re-presentation of their art on stage, why not on television? If it’s okay to use an existing song in a movie (itself more product than art), why not a short advertisement? Don’t get me wrong, I don’t like advertising or television, but it’s the manipulation of minds I’m worried about, not the perceived sanctity of some old piece of plastic. Oh, yeah, if you actually came here to read about “Wonderful Tonight,” there’s some wonderful stuff on Songfacts.

TRACK LISTING

  1. WONDERFUL TONIGHT
  2. PEACHES AND DIESEL

    US "Timepieces" 7-inch single
  3. WONDERFUL TONIGHT    (Eric Clapton)    3:42
  4. PROMISES    (Richard Feldman/Roger Lynn)    2:59

    GER CD single
  5. WONDERFUL TONIGHT
  6. I SHOT THE SHERIFF
  7. LAYLA (FULL VERSION)
  8. WONDERFUL TONIGHT (LIVE VERSION)

CREDITS

return to ERIC CLAPTON discography

REGION RELEASE DATE LABEL MEDIA ID NUMBER FEATURES
US April 1978 RSO 7" RS 895  
US 1978 RSO 7PRO 895 feat. A mono on flip
NZ 1978 RSO 7" 2090 289  
US 1982 Polydor 7" 871 836-7 "Timepieces" single
GER 1988 Polydor CDS 887 754-2  

 

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