Your Letters: Music-Inspired Battles And Recoveries Host Audie Cornish shares listeners' comments on last week's program, including a rival for the first music video and the power of music to help those suffering from Alzheimer's.
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Your Letters: Music-Inspired Battles And Recoveries

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Your Letters: Music-Inspired Battles And Recoveries

Your Letters: Music-Inspired Battles And Recoveries

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  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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Now time for your letters. We begin with an apology, especially to our northernmost listeners.

Last week, we heard about the resolve of Occupy Wall Street protesters in Fairbanks, Alaska, brought to us by reporter Dan Bross of member station KUAC. Not, KUOC, as I incorrectly stated.

And a bit of a kerfuffle over our story about the first ever music video, at least as identified by the music archivists group, The Speek. They pegged The Big Bopper as the first music video star with a 1958 performance of "Chantilly Lace."


CORNISH: Nick Spark of Los Angeles, heartily disagreed with their choice. No, this certainly is not the first music video and not by a long shot, he writes.

Spark goes on: For over a decade, prior to The Big Bopper's recordings, companies produced and released short films known as Soundies. Often very elaborate and featuring sets, stock footage and props, these short films were also placed in a special jukebox equipped with a movie projector inside. For a few coins invested, you could actually see and hear the video.


CORNISH: Well, we did want to get our history straight. So we called up the guys at The Speek again. They're the ones who anointed The Big Bopper the music video pioneer.

STUART SAMUELS: I'm Stuart Samuels, director of programming and production for The Speek.

CORNISH: Samuels concedes the Soundies came first. But, he says...

SAMUELS: Its distribution system was local, didn't have a national footprint. But it was like a video jukebox and it never went beyond that.

CORNISH: Samuels said The Speek defines the first music video by its intentions to be widely spread on TV. The Big Bopper, in a magazine article, said...

SAMUELS: Music will be films. That's the headline. This was the concept, how do you promote your records. Not, in a niche market how to sell videos on demand?

CORNISH: And finally a letter from Kathleen Flynn of Arvada, Colorado, after hearing our story of a German cellist with severe amnesia. Researchers found the cellist appeared to retain some ability to remember and learn new music.

Flynn writes: My brother is suffering from Alzheimer's. At this stage, he has lost eye/hand coordination and can no longer feed himself. And he apparently does not recognize family members. He and I often enjoyed listening to classical music together. I played a CD of Mozart's "Cosi Fan Tutte" for him. As soon as the overture began, he kept time to the music by waving his hand like a conductor. For those few minutes he got some pleasure and it was heartwarming to see.

Well, whether we're heartwarming or gut-wrenching, we want to hear from you. Go to and click on Contact Us. We're also on Facebook and Twitter at nprweekend.

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