Nathan Wolfson

Nathan Wolfson is a Digital Marketing Manager for AtlanticLIVE.
  • Track of the Day: 'Tom's Diner'

    Today’s the day in history—July 14, 1995—that the MP3 format was released to the public. Suzanne Vega’s a cappella song “Tom’s Diner,” off her 1987 album Solitude Standing, was the first song used to test the revolutionary format:

    (The most popular version of “Tom’s Diner” is a dance remix by a British group called DNA, which appeared with a handful of other covers on Tom’s Album in 1991.)

    The story goes: While German electrical engineer Karlheinz Brandenburg was working on a type of file compression that would make CD-quality recordings available as computer files, he heard “Tom’s Diner” playing down the hall from his office. He figured it would be nearly impossible to compress the song without detrimental effects to Vega’s “warm a capella voice” and decided to make it the test subject for his development of the “MPEG-1 Audio Layer 3,” a.k.a. the MP3.

    According to Vega, Brandenburg’s early attempts at reformatting the song produced “monstrous distortions, as though the Exorcist has somehow gotten into the system, shadowing every phrase.” In spite of these early failures, he used the song to fine tune his compression techniques, making sure the format was capable of picking up incredibly subtle vocal and instrumental effects. The end result of this experimentation is likely how you’re listening to Tom’s Diner right now. Its use in the process became a folk tale among engineers and Vega became known in audiophile circles as “The Mother of the MP3.”

    (Submit a song via hello@. Track of the Day archive here. Pre-Notes archive here.)

  • Track of the Day: 'Creep' by Prince

    Prince was notoriously wary of the Internet. He sued YouTube and eBay over unauthorized use of his content and—as people lamented on the day of his death—he pulled his catalogs from all streaming services except the Jay Z-led Tidal. This aversion to digitization of his performances led to an unusual spat with Radiohead’s Thom Yorke in 2008.

    That year, Prince played Coachella. He glided onstage, almost ephemeral in the evening light, and blew the audience away with a soaring rendition of “Creep,” imbuing the Radiohead song with the gravitas and sensuality only Prince could. The crunching guitars before the chorus are softened by synthesizers, and he builds to a roaring guitar solo and then into a delicate falsetto interlude before returning to the solo, reminding all in attendance why he is a musical icon. The lyrics played perfectly into Prince’s otherworldly persona, with the occasional pronoun flipped around for further personalization of the song’s intensely inward gaze. It was a transcendent experience to behold.

    But then, in standard fashion, Prince issued takedown notices to all YouTube videos of the performance. “Really? He’s blocked it?,” a confused Thom Yorke said. “Well, tell him to unblock it. It’s our... song.”

    Prince didn’t. And it wasn’t until 2015 that his version was made available online. Oddly, it was Prince himself who released the recording, via a tweet linking directly to the video. The video title includes a nod to this controversy, stating that the recording is “Uploaded via Permission from Radiohead & NPG Music Publishing.” Whatever his reasoning for the change in heart, music fans everywhere are better off for it.

    (Track of the Day archive here. Access it through Spotify here. Submit via hello@)