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The Time Pink Floyd's Giant Inflatable Pig Floated Away

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A huge inflatable pig had been a fixture at Pink Floyd's flashy live concerts since the balloon was featured on the album artwork for 1977's Animals. The giant prop became synonymous with their stage shows, and it even was included in a custody battle after Pink Floyd broke up.

In 1986, after years of animosity, guitarist David Gilmour and bassist Roger Waters battled over the Pink Floyd name and iconography in court. While Gilmour was awarded the rights to the band name, the court granted Waters the rights to the pig. Gilmour, who planned to continue touring with Pink Floyd’s name and music, paid his former bandmate to license the inflatable icon, even though hostility between the two remained intense.

Waters has continued to use giant inflatable pigs at concerts during his solo career. During his 2006 The Dark Side of the Moon Live Tour, a pig was released at one of his concerts with the words "Impeach Bush" graffitied on its side.

During the pig’s long career as a stage prop, it seemed inevitable that someone would lose hold of its ropes and release it (in a repeat of what happened when artists working for the band first tried to get the shot for the Animals cover), and that’s exactly what happened during Waters’s performance at the 2008 Coachella Festival.

The ninth Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival attracted more than 150,000 people to the California desert. Headliners that year included Prince, Jack Johnson, and Roger Waters, who closed the festival on Sunday, April 27.

Waters’s set was accompanied by his usual fog and pyrotechnics, and it also saw the two-story-tall pig ascend over the audience. The balloon’s handlers trudged their way through the crowd, trying their best to control the prop. But, appropriately, during the song “Run like Hell,” the pig became unmoored and slowly floated off into the desert sky.

“That’s my pig,” Waters told the crowd, but—as he said on The Wall — the show must go on. He and his band continued the set.

Coachella organizers offered a $10,000 reward and four lifetime festival passes for the return of the pig. Three days after its escape, the balloon was found in tatters across the properties of two families in the nearby town of La Quinta, California.

“We found your pig, but it looks more like pulled pork,” one of the homeowners told Coachella organizers. The two families split the passes and gave the $10,000 away to local children’s music nonprofits.

As for the pig, Coachella’s organizers kept its tattered carcass as a memento.

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This Just In
Police Recover Nearly 100 Artifacts Stolen From John Lennon’s Estate
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Keystone Features / Stringer / Getty Images

A collection of artifacts stolen from John Lennon’s estate, including diaries, glasses, and handwritten music, has been recovered by German police, the Associated Press reports. After arresting the first suspect, law enforcement is now working to apprehend a second person of interest in the case.

The nearly 100 items went missing from the New York home of the late Beatles star’s widow Yoko Ono in 2006. Years later, German police were tipped off to their whereabouts when a bankruptcy administrator came across the haul in the storage facility of a Berlin auction house. The three leather-bound diaries that were recovered are dated 1975, 1979, and 1980. One entry refers to Lennon’s famous nude photo shoot with Annie Leibovitz, and another was written the morning of December 8, 1980, hours before he was shot and killed. In addition to the journals, police retrieved two pairs of his iconic glasses, a 1965 recording of a Beatles concert, a 1952 school book, contract documents for the copyright of the song “I’m the Greatest”, handwritten scores for "Woman" and "Just Like Starting Over”, and a cigarette case.

German authorities flew to New York to have Ono verify the items' authenticity. "She was very emotional and we noticed clearly how much these things mean to her,” prosecutor Susann Wettley told AP. When the objects will be returned to Ono is still unclear.

The first suspect, a 58-year-old German businessman from Turkey, was arrested Monday, November 21, following a raid of his house and vehicles. The second suspect is one of Ono's former chauffeurs who has a past conviction related to the theft. Police officers are hoping to extradite him from his current home in Turkey before moving forward with the case.

[h/t AP]

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Scientists Analyze the Moods of 90,000 Songs Based on Music and Lyrics
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Based on the first few seconds of a song, the part before the vocalist starts singing, you can judge whether the lyrics are more likely to detail a night of partying or a devastating breakup. The fact that musical structures can evoke certain emotions just as strongly as words can isn't a secret. But scientists now have a better idea of which language gets paired with which chords, according to their paper published in Royal Society Open Science.

For their study, researchers from Indiana University downloaded 90,000 songs from Ultimate Guitar, a site that allows users to upload the lyrics and chords from popular songs for musicians to reference. Next, they pulled data from labMT, which crowd-sources the emotional valence (positive and negative connotations) of words. They referred to the music recognition site Gracenote to determine where and when each song was produced.

Their new method for analyzing the relationship between music and lyrics confirmed long-held knowledge: that minor chords are associated with sad feelings and major chords with happy ones. Words with a negative valence, like "pain," "die," and "lost," are all more likely to fall on the minor side of the spectrum.

But outside of major chords, the researchers found that high-valence words tend to show up in a surprising place: seventh chords. These chords contain four notes at a time and can be played in both the major and minor keys. The lyrics associated with these chords are positive all around, but their mood varies slightly depending on the type of seventh. Dominant seventh chords, for example, are often paired with terms of endearment, like "baby", or "sweet." With minor seventh chords, the words "life" and "god" are overrepresented.

Using their data, the researchers also looked at how lyric and chord valence differs between genres, regions, and eras. Sixties rock ranks highest in terms of positivity while punk and metal occupy the bottom slots. As for geography, Scandinavia (think Norwegian death metal) produces the dreariest music while songs from Asia (like K-Pop) are the happiest. So if you're looking for a song to boost your mood, we suggest digging up some Asian rock music from the 1960s, and make sure it's heavy on the seventh chords.

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