Music

Sunday morning coming down

Featured image They say deaths come in three, and the death of Mose Allison on November 15 at the age of 89 might be offered as evidence to prove the point. Mose’s death closely followed the deaths of Leonard Cohen on November 7 and Leon Russell on November 13. I want to seize the occasion to draw attention to his work. Allison pursued a long and almost unbelievably productive career as a »

A song for you

Featured image I am sorry to report that Leon Russell died today in Nashville at the age of 74. He was an incredibly accomplished pianist, songwriter and performer in the world of popular music. As a member of the Wrecking Crew he played behind just about everybody. He famously recruited and led the band that accompanied Joe Cocker on the raucous Mad Dogs and Englishmen tour of 1970. He followed up with »

Sunday morning coming down

Featured image Leonard Cohen died this past week at the age of 82. Cohen was a man of many parts, having worked as a poet, novelist, singer and songwriter. Larry Rohter’s New York Times obituary is here. Ruth Wisse’s memorable 1995 Commentary essay/memoir “My life without Leonard Cohen” draws an engaging portrait of the artist as a young man. In 2013 Sylvie Simmons gave Cohen’s life the full-scale biographical treatment. Cohen worked »

Sunday morning coming down

Featured image I have passed on many opportunities to see Joan Baez perform, but I rethought my position when she came through Minneapolis last month. We bought tickets to see her in concert before a sold-out crowd at the State Theater and the tickets were priced such that we didn’t have to draw on a line of credit to do it. Baez turned 75 earlier this past January. Who knows where the »

Sunday morning coming down

Featured image With the arrival of Halloween tomorrow, it may be an opportune moment for a diverting change of pace. If you listen to the right radio stations at this time of the year, you will hear a few songs associated with the holiday. Probably foremost among them is “I Put a Spell on You” by Screamin’ Jay Hawkins. Here is the improbable backstory offered by Bill Diehl at AllMusic: “Hawkins originally »

The improbable Bobby Vee

Featured image I found myself standing next to Bobby Vee in the audience watching the Fabulous Flippers — Midwest favorites — perform in the Pavilion at the Minnesota State Fair in 1968. I was at the fair with my close friend Scott Sansby, drummer extraordinaire, who was there performing with one of the many local Twin Cities bands he anchored in high school. I told Bobby that my parents had lived down »

Saturday Afternoon Coming Down

Featured image Scott was very kind this morning to draw attention to my Weekly Standard article “Crisis of the Conservative House Divided.” I would have done so myself, but I was on the road all day yesterday on a completely frivolous and speculative venture: I drove up to Modesto, the location where American Graffiti was filmed set, to meet up with my two best pals from high school (we call ourselves “The »

Sunday morning coming down

Featured image If the Nobel Prize for Literature is to recognize literary merit, I regret that Philip Roth has not received the award. He has deserved it for a long time. In the course of a long career John Updike distinguished himself in every literary form without ever winning the recognition of the award. His disappointment was refracted through satire in one of his lesser stories about Henry Bech, his fictional alter »

A Nobel for Bob Dylan

Featured image Today the Nobel Committee announced that it is awarding this year’s Prize in Literature to Minnesota native son Bob Dylan (“for having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition”). When we celebrated Bob Dylan’s 75th birthday on Power Line this past May, I observed that he is first and foremost an astounding songwriter. He somehow absorbed the folk, rock, country and blues traditions as a precocious young »

Sunday morning coming down

Featured image Badly needing a pause that refreshes, we went to see Connie Evingson perform with the Travis Anderson Trio at the Dakota Jazz Club in downtown Minneapolis this past Thursday night. Connie is a Minnesota native who was born in Hibbing (Bob Dylan’s hometown). She now lives in Minneapolis. She performs frequently around town and elsewhere, such as Lincoln Center. We absolutely love her. As usual, Connie delivered what we came »

Sunday morning coming down

Featured image Writing about Hillary Clinton “behind closed doors” yesterday reminded me, of course, of the fabulous Charlie Rich (as one of his albums called him). It seems like an opportune moment to recall him and acquaint you with a few of his songs with which you might not be familiar. As a presenter at the Country Music Association awards in 1975, at the height of his career, Charlie Rich committed a »

Sunday morning coming down

Featured image Today we solemnly observe the fifteenth anniversary of 9/11. We vow not to forget. Continuing my notes on lesser known songs and performers with personal meaning to me this week, I want to highlight songs with a spiritual component. I’m guessing you probably haven’t heard of the Cox Family, but I think everyone who has heard them loves them. Alison Krauss has knocked herself out trying to introduce them to »

My opening farewell to Bonnie Raitt reconsidered

Featured image In August 2002 I went to see Bonnie Raitt perform at the Minnesota State Fair. I’d previously seen Raitt perform in St. Paul at the Ordway Center 1986 or so, I think, but she was obviously drunk on that occasion. ZZ Top was performing at the St. Paul Civic Center around the corner from the Ordway and Raitt kept saying: “Man, ZZ Top. They’re playing next door; I can’t believe »

Sunday morning coming down

Featured image I think this will be the next to the last post featuring a few of my favorite lesser known folk related songs with my personal notes on them. I don’t make any claims for the songs other than their meaning to me and my attachment to them. I only hope you may find something here that brightens your day or inspires you to extend your own musical pursuits. Tom Rush »

Sunday morning coming down

Featured image When Don McLean came to Dartmouth in the spring of 1972 or so, he might have been the last man on the circuit I wanted to see. I was done with folk music, so I thought. I had moved on to the Grateful Dead and the Jefferson Airplane and Stevie Wonder and Marvin Gaye. So when a classmate gave me his ticket to see McLean in Spaulding Auditorium on a »

Sunday morning coming down

Featured image This is another installment in my series of personal notes on lesser known songs that have meant a lot to me over the years. My intention is take a break from politics and offer a few songs interested readers might enjoy. I hope they may even provide a spur to your own explorations. Richie Havens grew up in Brooklyn singing with a choir in church and with doo wop groups »

Sunday morning coming down

Featured image Last week I took a look at the modern folk supergroup Cry Cry Cry. I hoped to inspire interest in the songs or the performers. Over the next few weeks I thought I would post videos of some of the same kind of lesser known songs that have hit me with the force of revelation at various points in my life. To me they feel like stones in the road. »