Music

Color Him Father

Featured image I wrote this on Father’s Day a few years ago. It is a post that struck a chord with at least a few readers. I am taking the liberty of reposting it today in honor of the day. My father was a thoughtful man in his own way. In the last years of his life he recited for me the things for which he was most grateful. In retrospect I »

Sunday morning coming down

Featured image Albert O spins the tunes on WUMB’s four-hour Saturday morning show featuring music of the ’60’s and 70’s. The show takes its name from Bob Dylan’s album Highway 61 Revisited — that’s the name of the show. Dylan is the show’s tutelary spirit. Albert observes Dylan’s birthday each year by devoting the show to Dylan’s songs, mostly as performed by others. The show can’t help but prompt one to reflect »

Not dark yet, cont’d

Featured image Bob Dylan is first and foremost a songwriter. He somehow absorbed the folk, rock, country and blues traditions as a precocious young man and then recapitulated them in his own voice many times over while adding a twist of modernist poetry to the mix. On his birthday, I want to take the liberty of reposting some notable cover versions of great songs you may not have heard before, at least »

Not dark yet

Featured image Today is the birthday of Minnesota native son Bob Dylan; he turns the ripe old age of 78. It’s not dark yet, but it’s getting there. We’re going to celebrate him as long we’re both still around to enjoy the occasion. 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 »

Sunday morning coming down

Featured image I want to ask you to stay tuned for our annual Bobfest in honor of Dylan’s birthday this coming Friday. As long as it’s not dark yet, we will continue to celebrate him. These notes on David Bromberg are something of a placeholder in advance of May 24. There is of course a Dylan connection. Dylan is one of the many great artists with whom Bromberg has played and recorded »

Sunday Morning Coming Down [with update from Terry Teachout]

Featured image According to Yeats, the intellect of man is forced to choose between perfection of the life or of the work. Does anyone choose perfection of the life? It doesn’t seem like a realistic alternative. Perfection of the work, however, is a different story. Driving home one day from court last week, I listened to Ann Hampton Callaway spin the songs on SiriusXM’s Siriusly Sinatra channel. Playing Favorites is the name »

God Bless America? No, Please Don’t!

Featured image We live in a world that is almost too stupid for words. Here is the latest: the New York Yankees and the Philadelphia Flyers have stopped playing Kate Smith’s iconic recording of “God Bless America.” Why? Because Smith recorded a couple of other songs, during the 1930s, that some liberals now consider objectionable. The Washington Post takes this idiocy seriously: The voice of singer Kate Smith is rapidly disappearing from »

Sunday morning coming down: Philip Furia, RIP

Featured image On Friday we received the sad news that University of North Carolina-Wilmington Professor of English Philip Furia had died at the age of 75. Professor Furia died on April 3 following a stroke and fall at his home in Wilmington. The news came to us via Professor Furia’s friend Tony L. Hill, who is aware of the many acknowledgements of my debt to Professor Furia’s work deepening our understanding of »

Sunday morning coming down

Featured image It’s been a few years since we last explored the work of Emmylou Harris. Emmylou celebrates her birthday this coming Tuesday. She is, to say the least, still going strong. In the world of the Cosmic American Music, attention must be paid. I want to take the opportunity to revisit her career with a few examples of her work. For me, anyway, this is the pause that refreshes. I’m a »

Spring can really hang you up the most

Featured image I’m taking the liberty of reposting this tribute to a great song with an unusual story behind it. From Ella Fitzgerald to Fran Landesman to T.S. Eliot and Geoffrey Chaucer, here we go: 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 »

You must believe in spring

Featured image Judging by the variety of performances by artists on YouTube, “You Must Believe in Spring” must be a beloved and well-known song. It is popular as an instrumental — you can find it on the first posthumous Bill Evans album in a fantastic trio version — and you can understand why. What a melody. But the sentiment expressed in the English lyrics by Alan and Marilyn Bergman overlaid on that »

The best thing…

Featured image Everyone is complaining about yesterday’s supposedly boring Super Bowl game — that would be Super Bowl LIII, if you’re counting in Latin. With the rules of the game having been recalibrated continually to favor never ending offense, I appreciated the return of defense. If the halftime show was concededly a lowlight, the singing of the national anthem must be deemed the highlight. Out strolled Gladys Knight to sing the anthem. »

Sunday morning coming down

Featured image Tomorrow is the anniversary of the birth of singer/songwriter Richie Havens. Richie died in 2013 at the age of 72. I want to take a walk down memory lane with a few videos and a fan’s notes this morning. Richie grew up in Brooklyn singing with a choir in church and with doo wop groups on street corners. He crossed the river to figure out how to make a go »

Sunday morning coming down

Featured image This morning I want to revisit the secular pop songs that seize on Christmas in one way or another for their own artistic purposes. Last year I had notes on so many songs to choose from I thought I would continue in the same vein this year. I’m adding three more selections that fit right in to last year’s. Here they are in chronological order along with a few notes »

Thoughts from the ammo line

Featured image In the interest of humor Ammo Grrrll identifies THE WORST SONG EVER WRITTEN. She writes: It is time for another of my patented Break From Politics columns. Scott has graced us with beautiful and interesting musical offerings and commentary for many years, in an effort to preserve his – and our – sanity. Today, however, we will be talking about a very, very stupid song. And not even a recent »

Sunday morning coming down

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

Sunday morning coming down

Featured image I’ve just about exhausted my knowledge of popular music in this series. This morning I would like to turn to the the weekly John Pizzarelli/Jessica Molaskey syndicated radio show that they call Radio Deluxe to deliver the goods. I usually catch it on Saturday afternoons at 5:00 on the KBEM in the Twin Cities. I love the show. Having missed most of yesterday’s show I went looking for it online »