What do you think about bathroom?
How about this?
These are bathrooms of 60’s. Many people may think “What’s the deal with bathroom?” You know what? Bathroom has a long history about its revolution. It’s not as bloody as French Revolution or Russian Revolution, but it has a very distinctive and interesting tale. The easiest way to learn about this is to listen to the legendary “The Bathrooms Are Coming!” album from American Standard, the popular plumbing fixtures company.
“What? American Standard released a music album about bathroom?”
Technically, it’s free given to many AS employee back in 1969. Back then, many companies had their own stage musical show for their employee (especially salesman) in order to motivate and encourage them to sell more products. For instance, GE has a musical about silicone , Coca-Cola wrote a song about how great it was, McDonald’s had motivational musical which features song that sounds exactly like Beatles’ Back in The USSR , and Chevrolet had a whole show to drive sales force. Why did they have to spend TONS of money on things like this? Well, in 50’s-70’s stage musical was a really popular form of entertainment and the economy was skyrocketing. This made many companies to hire professional lyricists, actors, and musician in order to create spectacle shows. But later on, this form of corporate entertainment slowly passed away due to the fact that it requires truckload of money to do it. Also, there’s a cheaper way to do it, like writing a song that means to be played in office in order to motivate employees or issuing LPs that sums up the whole convention while Disco music playing in the background. (Yep, Westinghouse did it in ’79 and it’s called ” ’79 Fever“. That record is beyond hilarious).
From the modern point of view, this looks more like a parody of capitalism society because every industrial musical are super cheerful and have lyrics about how great their products are. They sound too uplifting to be true, but whether you enjoy it in straight-forward or cynical way, “The Bathrooms Are Coming!” is probably the most well-known industrial musical album due to its weirdness.
“What’s the show and this album are all about?”
According to back cover of this album…
The Bathrooms are Coming premiered a new decade of bathroom fixtures born out of exhaustive human and product research by American-Standard. The story began with the introduction of a mythical Greek goddess Femma, the epitome of all women’s attitudes, reflections and desires and the leader of all women’s movements. In the play Femma is called upon by other women to start a bathroom revolution – “Join the fight for bathroom safety, Femma…the fight for beauty and luxury. We need freedom from bathroom oppression. Join the fight for better bathrooms.”
And so it was that Femma led the story. It began with a declaration that “plumbing” is a feminine business, shoring a profile of the “woman of the 70’s,” and the case for change against the status quo, She carried the audience through the Cornell research, to a view of markets in terms of people. Then, the Revolution unfolded in terms of new attitudes, new programs. Then one by one, the real stars of the show were revealed – Economy Wall Surround, Proximatics, Ultra Bath, Bone and Spectra 70.
We sincerely hope that this delightful music helps you to recapture the excitement, color and laughter of the original show.
That’s right. This album is an audio version of the musical. The first two tracks are odes about American Standard’s products and its distributors (“We carry our customers 90 days…We may be conservative, but it pays”). And the rest of them are songs about bath, technology in bathroom products, etc. Songs in this album are campy and create unintentionally comedic reaction. Here are examples…
– Behind Every Man Is A Woman: A waltz-tempo song about how many historical figures became successful because there are women behind them.
– The Time For Change: An upbeat “protest” song about how we need a change in bathroom. We need more luxury, better design and better quality bathroom. Time to change…time to change. Sha na na na na na na na na….Sha na na na na. You get an idea, right?
– …and the most famous one: “My Bathroom“.
If you have to listen to only one song in this album, look no further than My Bathroom. It becomes a cult classic among novelty music fans and weird music aficionados. Why? Just listen to it.
This is a beautiful ballad about an importance of bathroom. It’s not only a place that you can take a bath, take your shit. or wash your face, it’s also a place that you can escape from confusing world and be free. Think about it, how many times that we spend more than 15 minutes to take a dump. We usually read book or listen to music in that place, although we have living room or better places in the house. I guess because we can all escape from reality and take a short break at a small but beautiful place called bathroom.
Overall, this album has low re-listenable value (who wants to hear a ballad about bathroom more than once?), but it’s a fun record to listen to. It reflects not only how serious companies took on issues like this, it also reminds us that bathroom is another important aspect of the house.
– For the full version of this album, WFMU radio station uploaded it few years ago as a part of 365 Project, in which contributors show us weird records for the whole year.
– For the full version of Westinghouse disco song that I mentioned, you can listen at this website, which is a website about the book that cover story about industrial musical.
– There’s 16mm print of this musical available elsewhere. Let’s hope it will surface on YouTube soon.