Sign of the Times for Wide Format Printing – 10 Songs, 10 Signs

Wide Format Printing

Signage has never played a more important role in the success of the printing industry than now. As the digital revolution reshapes the print industry into a marketing/social media/information specialist/print/web amalgomation of its former self, new advancements in wide format printing and substrates have made signage more affordable and versatile than ever. Where signs have always directed people and What use to be the realm of the big players is now open to all businesses and individuals: high quality, branded, professional signs, banners, wall murals, floor graphics, vehicle wraps, billboards. So, to highlight awareness of the power of great signage, we compiled a little musical list in tribute:

The Sign – Ace of Base (1993)

“I saw the sign, and it opened up my mind.” This ABBA-esque quartet from Gothenburg, Sweden had their biggest hit in 1994 with “The Sign.” It spent 6 weeks at #1 on the Billboard Hot 100. Unfortunately, news has come forward now that Ace of Base member Ulf Ekberg, in his youth, was in a Nazi band and had ties to a political party that also leans uncomfortably toward the hate-group side of the spectrum. Not a sign we needed to see.

Sign O’ the Times – Prince (1987)

This was the title song of Prince’s first “solo” album without The Revolution. The “O” in the title was printed as a peace symbol, but that was before the name Prince actually became a symbol. All very symbolic.

A Sign of the Times – Petula Clark (1966)

Catchy, perky pop tune from British singer Petula Clark, which she debuted on the Ed Sullivan Show in February of 1966.

Signs – Five Man Electrical Band (1970)

One of the first 45s I ever purchased. From the heydey of social and political change in the late 60s, the song is actually more of an ANTI-sign anthem, “blocking up the scenery, breaking my mind.”

Sign on the Window – Bob Dylan (1970)

Beautiful, classic Dylan tune from the album “New Morning.” The video link below is a live cover by the singer Melanie from 1975. (Jennifer Warnes does a great cover on her 1979 album “Shot Through the Heart.”)

Love Shack – The b-52’s (1989)

“If you see a faded sign by the side of the road that says ’15 miles to the Love Shack…'” The famous tin roofed shack once stood outside Athens, GA, was home for singer Kate Pierson and the birthplace of the group’s first hit “Rock Lobster.”

Gimme Little Sign – Brenton Wood (1967)

Brenton Wood is a soul singer from Louisiana who had an international hit with this song in 1968. Oddly enough, the exact title never appears in the recording; the chorus repeats “Just gimme some kind of sign…”

Sign on the Door – Edwin McCain (1999)

Soulful Greenville, SC native McCain writes: “My heart used to be / The sweet shop of love / But now the sign on the door / It says sorry we’re closed.”

Signs – Snoop Dogg (2004)

This rap tune features Justin Timberlake and Charlie Wilson, and covers illegal drugs, life in L.A. and the perceived glamour of gang culture.


Sounds of Silence – Simon and Garfunkel (1964)

Written in the wake of the assassination of President Kennedy, this song went on to become the duo’s second biggest hit, after “Bridge Over Troubled Water,” and was included on the soundtrack of the film “The Graduate.” “And the sign flashed out its warning / In the words that it was forming / And the sign said, “The words of the prophets are written on the subway walls / And tenement halls.” An iconic tune of the sixties.

Calling All Angels – Train (2003)

From their album “My Private Nation”: “I need a sign to let me know you’re here/ All of these lines are being crossed over the atmosphere.”

Rely on your printer for advice and direction in branding and marketing with signage. They should be able to guide you in the design, creation and application or display of all your signage, murals, graphics, displays… if they can’t, you have the wrong printer! The best advice, always, is to ASK YOUR PRINTER!

ImageSmith is a full-service print and marketing provider located in Arden, North Carolina. Contact us at ImageSmith for quotes on all your marketing projects, and more useful tips on how to create custom, effective, high impact marketing solutions.

11 Songs about Paper & Print

After writing a recent blog-post about the significant role of print and paper in our culture, I started thinking about how that has to show up in our popular music as well. And since blog-posts love to take the form of lists, why not take a look at how print, paper, and ink have been portrayed in popular song…

Paperback Writer – The Beatles (1966)

Seems appropriate to start the list with a classic from pop music’s royalty. The paperback novel emerged in it’s mass market format in the 1930s, and quickly became the affordable, accessible way for works both great and less than great to reach new mass markets of readers. Lennon & McCartney show a man desperate to land a job as just such an author. 1000 pages? That’s one thick paperback.

If You Could Read My Mind – Gordon Lightfoot (1970)

Sticking with the theme of a paperback novel, the simile in Lightfoot’s ode to lost love is a comparison between his thoughts and a book, “the kind the drug stores sell.” The hero, the broken heart, the ending that’s “just too hard to take.” A ton of romance novels have carried that plot-line over the years.

Everyday I Write the Book – Elvis Costello (1983)

The best example I know of a song trying to be a book – Costello describes his love affairs ups and downs as chapters, paragraphs, seeing himself as a man with a mission in “two or three editions.” He knows that regardless of how the affair plays out, he will “still own the film rights and be working on the sequel.”

Paper Roses – Marie Osmond (1973)

Well, originally is was Anita Bryant who had a hit with this tune. But a very young Osmond, well before Weight Watchers and Dancing With the Stars, sang about a false love with a comparison between real roses and ones made of paper. Let’s make it clear, however, paper roses last longer than the real thing, are also biodegradable, and require no pesticides to produce. No reason to go around knocking paper roses!

Centerfold – The J. Geils Band (1982)

An iconic publishing image, the centerfold of a magazine was spotlighted in this 80’s song about a young man discovering his high school homeroom angel in a porn magazine.

Black and White – Three Dog Night (1972)

A hit in 1972 for Three Dog Night, the song uses the image of ink on paper to flesh out their metaphor of racial equality and harmony. Interestingly enough, the song was first written in 1954 in response to the Brown v. Board of Education ruling desegregating public schools. The original verse: “Their robes were black, Their heads were white, The schoolhouse doors were closed so tight. Nine judges all set down their names, To end the years and years of shame.” Pretty cool, huh?

Yesterday’s Papers – The Rolling Stones (1967)

A lesser known Stones ballad compares a fading love affair to old newspapers. A clear illustration of how print and the daily newspaper for many years were central to our culture: “Every day means the turn of a page / Yesterday’s papers are such bad news / Same thing applies to me and you.”

Want Ads – Honey Cone (1971)

A big hit in the early 70s, long before, Tindr or Grindr. This song, redone by Taylor Dayne in the 90s, is about a time not so long ago when trying to find a match by running an ad in the classified section of the newspaper was a novel approach. “He’s been lying… I’m going to the Evening News.”

Signs – The Five Man Electrical Band (1971)

A big, angry protest song from the early 70s, this tune decries the exclusion and intolerance of society for the “long-haired, freaky people.” The printed signs… “blocking up the scenery, breaking my mind.”

Paper and Ink – Tracy Chapman (2000)

Chapman’s fifth album reminds us how print can be valued – especially when printing money.

Legal Tender – The B-52’s (1983)

When print goes bad: the B-52s gave us what is arguably the best dance song ever about a federal crime. Jelly jars and heavy equipment, the B’s were in the basement learning to print.

Any songs yet about a Kindle or iPad? I don’t know, but I’m sure there soon will be. I purposely didn’t include any songs here about letters or mail – there seem to be enough good titles on that topic to merit a future blog-post.

ImageSmith is a full-service print and marketing provider located in Arden, North Carolina. Contact us at ImageSmith for quotes on all your marketing projects, and more useful tips on how to create custom, effective, high impact marketing solutions.

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