Music

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 »

Up from Sha Na Na

Featured image We had a prominent speaker with an unusual backstory as the scholar in residence at the Temple of Aaron in St. Paul over the weekend. Dr. Alan Cooper is a Biblical scholar who is both learned and distinguished. As his professional bio has it: “Alan Cooper is the Elaine Ravich Professor of Jewish Studies and provost of The Jewish Theological Seminary. He joined the faculty in 1997 as professor of »

Sunday morning coming down

Featured image Live From Daryl’s House originated online but is now carried by the Palladia cable channel. The show features Daryl Hall and his highly proficient band playing with various musical guests. The whole series, now running to more than 80 episodes, is archived online here. I love the series and thought some readers might find it of interest. For an excellent sample of what it has to offer, including the show’s »

Trying to get to you

Featured image Elvis fans are celebrating the eightieth anniversary of his birth today. As usual, even in the absence of round number anniversaries, it’s Elvis all over the world. The celebrations take in the expected spots such as Elvis’s birthplace in Tupelo (where the North Mississippi Symphony Concert is holding an Elvis-themed show) and Elvis’s Graceland home in Memphis. Commemorative events will also take place in Hollywood, at the Elvis Fest in »

Joe Cocker, RIP

Featured image Two English rock singers channeled the voice of Ray Charles, each in his own unmistakable style. The first was Stevie Winwood, who has been at it since he was about 15 and is still going strong. The second was Joe Cocker; Cocker died today at the age of 70, well before his time. The New York Times has posted an obituary here. In its preliminary notice on Cocker’s death the »

Last call: Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)

Featured image Way back when in the vinyl era, Rolling Stone gave the album A Christmas Gift For You From Phil Spector (1963) five stars in its rock and roll record guides and singled out Darlene Love’s “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)” as one of the highlights. Rolling Stone still rates it the greatest Christmas album of all time. There is no arguing about taste, and my knowledge of the genre is »

Prog Rock Digression for a Lazy Saturday

Featured image Okay, this is one of those posts you need to skip unless you’re a real 1970s obscure prog rock geek like me. No, seriously, I mean it.  Skip this post. You’ll thank me later. If you ignore this advice, you’ll soon know why. Don’t complain I didn’t warn you. I’ve gone as far as having our tech department block this post from Scott’s IP address, because he’ll be horrified. One »

Time Between

Featured image Chris Hillman was a teenage bluegrass star on the Los Angeles music scene in the early ’60s. Within a few years he had moved from mandolin to bass and become one of the founding members of the Byrds together with Roger (then Jim) McGuinn, David Crosby and Gene Clark. The Byrds brought McGuinn’s jangly 12-string guitar and their brilliant Beatles harmonies to the music of Bob Dylan, turning both themselves »

Moon River

Featured image It’s still the anniversary of the birth of Johnny Mercer. The late, great Nancy Lamott devoted a magnificent disc to Mercer’s songs. She died way before her time in 1995 at the age of 43, on the cusp of fame. Terry Teachout introduced me to Lamott in a moving profile of her in the New York Times; he subsequently described her as “the best cabaret singer I ever heard[.]” I »

Midnight Sun

Featured image Today is the anniversary of the birth of Johnny Mercer. With the publication of The Complete Lyrics of Johnny Mercer during the centennial of his birth in 2009, Mercer’s place in the pantheon of artists responsible for the great American songbook was newly secured. Mercer was an utterly brilliant lyricist. Among the more than 1,000 songs for which Mercer is known to have written the lyrics are “That Old Black »

And Now For Something Completely Different

Featured image With the final week sprint to the election next week, a brief time out for some music.  Anyone remember when MTV used to broadcast music videos?  Of course, musicians need to make music videos for anyone to have anything to broadcast, so no wonder MTV now stands for “Mostly Trashy Viewing.” About the only musicians still putting out videos with real effort is the circus act known as OK Go. »

Chesterton in Song!

Featured image For fellow G.K. Chesterton fans out there (and there are a lot of you, it appears), here’s some news you can use. Who knew—I certainly didn’t—that Prof. Ross McKitrick of Guelph University in Canada, who is one of the most important critics of climate change alarmism, is also a music producer! And he has turned his talents to the use of the Nicole Ensing Band, whose debut CD, “Riddles and »

On the Town again

Featured image We visited family in New York last weekend and attended a preview of On the Town on Friday night. The show opens officially on October 16. I have enjoyed a few other musicals as much as I did this one, but none more. I thought the production was spectacular in every respect, from the book (Comden & Green) to the songs (Comden & Green and Leonard Bernstein) to the dancing »

Add some music to your day

Featured image I had not heard of Ann Hampton Callaway before her audacious 1999 recording To Ella With Love, but I’m glad I took a chance on that disc. Ella led me eventually to Ann’s superb show at the Blue Note Jazz Club in New York when I stopped over on my way to Israel in June 2007, and then to the rest of her recordings. There is no arguing about taste, »