Strange New Worlds Indeed

Featured image Until someone provides us with the inevitable “Hitler Learns About the Miley Cyrus MTV Stunt” video, this mashup of Captain Kirk and the crew of the Enterprise will have to do: »

Long long time

Featured image Via Rosanne Cash’s Twitter feed yesterday I learned the sad news that Linda Ronstadt has been diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease. Rondstadt discovered that the disease accounts for the loss of her singing voice. The Telegraph reports the story here. According to the Telegraph story Ronstadt has been experiencing the symptoms of Parkinson’s for the past eight years. We saw her perform at Orchestra Hall in Minneapolis about five or six »

My Favorite Model…

Featured image …has long been Bar Rafaeli, for reasons that require no explanation. When a woman looks like Bar you can forgive anything, even dating Leonardo DiCaprio. But Rafaeli has not been terribly popular in her native Israel, mostly because she dodged service in the IDF and later explained, in a moment of ill-advised candor: I don’t regret not enlisting, because it paid off big time. That’s just the way it is; »

Sunday morning coming down

Featured image I saluted singer/songwriter Shawn Colvin in “If these walls…” as she was about to visit the Dakota Jazz Club and Restaurant in Minneapolis earlier this year. By my lights she is a gifted artist. In the video below Shawn is joined by Mary-Chapin Carpenter on Merle Haggard’s “That’s the Way Love Goes.” Haggard is of course a national treasure. He should be named America’s poet laureate while he is still »

People, let me put you wise

Featured image In a long career now spanning more than fifty years, Dion Dimucci has experienced many ups and downs. Through it all, he has maintained a rare purity in his work. At every stage of his career you can hear the blues coming through. I love this guy. Dion arrived in 1958 with the Belmonts, giving vocal group harmony an outrageous Bronx twist in “I Wonder Why,” the Pomus/Shuman song that »

Snowden and the NSA! (With Apologies to the Kingston Trio)

Featured image If you know the old Kingston Trio tune “Charlie and the MTA,” well, it was only a matter of time until someone re-wrote the tune for Edward Snowden.  That someone was me.  Herewith “Snowden and the NSA,” with a rough cut Karaoke version below you can download for your listening pleasure: Verse: Oh let me tell you of a story ‘bout a boy named Snowden on this tragic and fateful »

That’s Everman, not Everyman

Featured image Clay Tarver worked in a grunge-era Seattle band that brought him into contact with Nirvana and Soundgarden on their way up. He therefore crossed paths with Jason Everman, who was a member of each of these bands just before they hit it big. Everman’s musical talent, which must have been substantial, failed to compensate for a quality of moody introspection that made him undesirable in the eyes of his bandmates. »

If the Summer Changed to Winter. . .

Featured image . . . Theirs is No Disgrace indeed.  I first saw Yes at the Hollywood Bowl in 1975, and if you’d asked me then if I ever thought I’d see them nearly 40 years later out in the middle of the oaks and wine grapevines of Paso Robles, I’d have said it was more likely the Soviet Union would collapse in a heap and America would elect a radical black »

Sunday morning coming down

Featured image Solomon Burke — “the King of Rock ‘n’ Soul” — was one of the last great exponents of the pinnacle of Western civilization known as soul music. Burke died in an Amsterdam airport in 2010 at the age of 70. Burke was the surprise hero of Peter Guralnick’s Sweet Soul Music and the subject of a brilliant chapter of the book. (Guralnick named songwriter Dan Penn the “secret hero” of »

There’s something about Proud Mary

Featured image John Hinderaker to the contrary notwithstanding, I have long held that there’s something about “Proud Mary.” Ike and Tina Turner may have ruined the song for many, as they did for John. Marc Myers helps us return to the song with fresh ears in his wonderful Anatomy of a Song column in the Wall Street Journal a few weeks back. Myers checked in with John Fogerty, the composer of the »

Color Him Father

Featured image My father was a thoughtful man. In the last years of his life he listed the things he was most grateful for and in retrospect I can see he thought about gratitude a lot. He itemized the three things he was most grateful for in this order: 1) that his grandfather didn’t miss the boat from Russia to the United States, 2) that when his grandfather arrived in New York »

The Lowdown on Boz

Featured image Musician Boz Scaggs celebrates his sixty-ninth birthday today. You may be familiar with Boz through his string of hits in the ’70s, but the guy is still a vital artist. His new disc — Memphis — seems to me an inspired throwback. The Wall Street Journal’s Marc Myers in any event took the release of the disc as the occasion for an appreciative visit with Boz about the recording. In »


Featured image When Ronnie White (of Smokey Robinson and the Miracles) brought Steveland Morris over to the Motown offices in Detroit in 1961, Berry Gordy was at first unimpressed. After Morris sang the Miracles’ “Lonely Guy” and performed on piano, harmonica and bongo, Gordy signed the 11-year-old boy to his label. According to Nelson George’s Where Did Our Love Go?, “Berry, in one of his more inspired name changes, decided [Morris] would »

Live from pump 16, Burbank

Featured image I learn via Twitter that the video below featured this past Wednesday on the Tonight Show has gone viral. BuzzFeed explains: “Pumpcast News” is a Tonight Show sketch in which actor Tim Stack, posing as the anchor of a (fake) news show aired at gas station pumps, starts to talk directly to the unsuspecting gas station patrons. While usually the intention of the sketch is to frighten and shock normal »

American Music and the Music of America

Featured image   David Tucker, my sometimes colleague out at the Ashbrook Center, is one of America’s underrated writers and thinkers, chiefly because he toils away most of the time out of view on the arcana of counter-terrorism and intelligence work at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, such as can be seen in his book Illuminating the Dark Arts of War: Terrorism, Sabotage, and Subversion in Homeland Security and the New »

George Jones, RIP

Featured image Country singer George Jones died this past Friday at the age of 81. I think the consensus is that Jones was the best country singer of the era. You can certainly hear his influence in just about every younger country artist worth listening to. Jon Pareles gives Jones his due in the New York Times obit “His life was a country song.” Pareles renders a fine appreciation of Jones’s life »

Sunday morning coming down

Featured image In my tribute to Ella Fitzgerald on her birthday last week, I mentioned mentioned that, after he sold the Verve label, Norman Granz founded the Pablo label to continue recording Ella. To test the market for a new label, Granz put together an all-star concert featuring Ella and the Count Basie Band at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium in June 1972 that was to be recorded and released (unsuccessfully, with »