Music

Sunday morning coming down

Featured image Jimmy Webb seems to me a songwriting genius. He has certainly made some permanent contributions to the Cosmic American Music. In 2010 Webb called on several of his friends and admirers to revisit a few of those contributions with him on the disc Just Across the River, recorded in Nashville. (He did it again, incidentally, for the 2013 disc Still Within the Sound of My Voice.) The friends who turned »

Eyes of the World (with Comment by Steve)

Featured image Chatting at a Claremont Institute event ten years ago, Steve Hayward blessed my love of the Grateful Dead. Steve is an expert consumer not only of prog rock, but also of jam bands. He even sent me his own compilation of favorite numbers by the jam band String Theory stringing it out. Essential Dead member Jerry Garcia died in rehab in 1995. The surviving members of the group have reunited »

Sunday morning coming down

Featured image After much thought and deliberation, I’m moving Hall & Oates out of the category of guilty pleasures. Among other things, their best work honestly draws on their background in Philly soul. Moreover, in the spirit of the Supreme Court’s gay marriage diktat, I ask (facetiously) who’s to judge? As Justice Kennedy might put it, all music seeks to comfort the lonely heart; all music must be accorded equal respect. (Not.) »

My Traveling Star

Featured image Sirius XM has turned over one of its channels to James Taylor 24/7 in connection with the release of his new compact disc. I first saw him perform in a basement dive with Joni Mitchell in Boston in the fall of 1968, a week or two before his first album was released on the Beatles’ label. I’ve been a fan ever since, though I have not kept up with all »

A rumor of the Rumour

Featured image Graham Parker & the Rumour kicked off their current American tour in Minneapolis last night. My usual excuse for posting these notes on local concerts is to alert you to worthy shows that may be appearing soon at a venue somewhere near you. My excuse applies here; Parker and band’s brief tour continues with performances in Chicago, Cleveland, New York, DC (at the Birchmere in Alexandria) and elsewhere. The schedule »

Sanders the Socialist Crooner

Featured image I decided to take a pass on the story that Bernie Sanders misfired with some kind of rape fantasy essay way back in his college years (though since it was fair game to jump on Mitt Romney for giving some kid an atomic wedgie 50 years ago in prep school was fair game, then Sanders deserves the full proctology treatment), but his attempt at a folk song ambum is truly »

Not dark yet, part 2

Featured image WUMB’s Saturday morning radio show Highway 61 Revisited devoted its four hours yesterday to a celebration of Mr. Bob’s birthday today. Host Albert O played songs written by Dylan nonstop. Given the limits imposed by applicable law, he filled out the show with cover versions. It was an illuminating exercise. The variety of artists to have covered Dylan is wide. The Band, Solomon Burke, the Byrds, Johnny Cash, Rosanne Cash, »

Not dark yet

Featured image Today is the birthday of Minnesota native son Bob Dylan; he turns 74. He is a remarkable artist, self-invented, deep in the American grain. A few years back I visited Dylan’s old home at 2425 7th Avenue East in Hibbing. The house is a small two-story residence with a one-car attached garage on the side. The house is exactly two blocks from Hibbing High School, Dylan’s alma mater. A Dylan »

Sunday morning coming down

Featured image Blues giant B.B. King died this past week at the age of 89. Tim Weiner covers his life and works in a good New York Times obituary. King lit out from Mississippi for Memphis in 1947 to undertake the career of a professional musician. In Memphis he connected with Sonny Boy Williamson (one of two) and landed a job at WDIA in which he hustled the patent cure-all Pep-ti-kon. “If »

Sunday morning coming down

Featured image I flipped over singer Suzy Bogguss when I saw her perform with her band at the Dakota Jazz Club and Restaurant in downtown Minneapolis in 2011. I wrote about the show here. Suzy played many of her hits and previewed her then unreleased recording of traditional American music. She has a moving voice and a perfect feel for great material, including the traditional music she brought back to life on »

Jorma returns

Featured image Jorma Kaukonen was the lead guitarist of the Jefferson Airplane. Together with bassist Jack Casady, he split off from the Airplane to form Hot Tuna and pursue other interests, originally in acoustic blues. Their first album, recorded live in Berkeley, has been reissued in a deluxe two-disc format and sounds better than ever. The heart of the album consists of traditional blues songs with updated arrangements of numbers by Rev. »

Higher Ed Bubblegum?

Featured image Glenn Reynolds (among others) likes to write about the “higher education bubble.”  But maybe we’ve all missed higher education bubblegum?  With all of the difficulties law schools are having right now with declining enrollment (applications off overall by more than 50 percent from 10 years ago), it is good to know that at least Touro Law School has it’s priorities straight: Billy Joel and the Law: A Touro Law Conference »

Mick Jagger, Cat Stevens, and feminism

Featured image The Camille Paglia interview in which she recalls being denounced by feminists for taking too soft a line on the Rolling Stones song “Under My Thumb,” coupled with Steve’s reporting on “sexual paranoia in academe,” reminded me of an article by the feminist rock music critic Ellen Willis that appeared in the New Yorker more than 40 years ago. The late Ms. Willis, whose voice I miss, argued that “Under »

Spring Can Really Hang You Up the Most

Featured image There are a few torch songs that lament the coming of Spring. This time of year, if you’re tuned to one of the right stations, you may well find yourself listening to Ella Fitzgerald’s memorable rendition of “Spring Can Really Hang You Up the Most.” The song is a buried treasure on Ella’s 1961 quartet-backed jazz set Clap Hands, Here Comes Charlie! (I love the Amazon review that rates it »

Free Country

Featured image Steve Dobrogosz is a Power Line reader, an American expatriate living in Sweden and a composer of multifarious talents. His new recording is Free Country, a 70-minute collection of improvisations inspired by country music. I’ve listened to it several times through and can only say I love it. In addition to the country/blues inspiration, I hear melodic invention throughout. The late, great rock pianist Nicky Hopkins used to do something »

Taylor Swift is stalkin’ him

Featured image Ray Stevens has been creating novelty hits since I was a child; his recording career dates back to 1957. I haven’t heard about Stevens for a long time and didn’t know his creative juices are still flowing. I was therefore delighted to discover when we received a message from Stevens’s Nashville publicist yesterday that in his newly released video (below), Stevens “claims the world’s biggest superstar, Taylor Swift, is watching »

The circle game

Featured image Tom Rush made his name in the sixties folk revival; he is a peer of Joan Baez, Bob Dylan, Eric Andersen, and Judy Collins. Today he turns 74. I’ve loved his music for a long time and want to take the occasion to celebrate his birthday with previously posted notes from my 2011 interview with him. I hope readers who may have missed the interview might find the notes of »