Torch Ballads & Jukebox Music
July 31, 2013
by Bill Morris
Anyone who wants to know what made Motown great and what killed Motown should not go to Broadway. They should turn to books. The body of Motown Lit lays out a tragedy every bit as fascinating, maddening, and depressing as the tragedy of Detroit itself.
May 3, 2013
by John Hobart
There came upon me, not rationally but massively, the conviction that if I continued to sing this song then my parents would die. And yet I could not stop singing it. There I would be, walking blithely through the house, or walking blithely across the garden, and then realize that for the last few seconds, I had, yet again, been singing of Maxwell Edison and his homicidal hammer, and a great dread would invade me, because it meant, this singing, the removal of my parents from the world.
February 13, 2013
Does it matter to us how culture is made? Won’t we swallow the cooked-up laboratory celebrity just as easily as the authentic talent?
January 10, 2013
I have just channeled Beck’s spirit through printed paper! The first versions of Beck’s songs I hear are my own! This is an amazing feeling.
October 24, 2012
Two weeks ago, I told my father I’d been assigned to report Frank Sinatra, Jr.’s concert, told him I had a second press pass for a photographer. My father heard me loud and clear. He went out and bought a telescopic Nikon. It was at that point that dread began to gnaw on his daughter.
July 24, 2012
by Stephen Akey
Blues, country and western, Johnsonian neoclassicism: these are the traditions that nurture Chuck Berry’s lyrical art. But really, who gives a damn about the categories when you’re listening to something as smoking as “Brown Eyed Handsome Man”?
April 6, 2012
by Philip Eil
What Brown wanted to do was lay down a strutting, macho anthem marked by explosions of brass and a guitar that sounds like chrome wheels spinning. He hums a melody to the sax player and a bass line to the bassist. He thumps out a beat for the drummer. He watches a trumpet player struggle, fires him, then re-hires him moments later. And when the singer is ready, he screams out a set of lyrics scratched on a sheet of paper. The song is called “Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag.”
February 2, 2012
by Matt Hanson
Hearing that Nirvana’s Nevermind was 20 years old was kind of like seeing an old drinking buddy turn to Jesus in his autumn years. I was happy for him and everything, but I missed the old days when we shared the fortress of solitude.
January 30, 2012
by Jesse Jarnow
Finding the entrance points to New York’s musical undergrounds has never been quite as simple as decoding MTA maps, though that’s usually the first step. Two excellent new books chart a decade-and-a-half worth of street-level detail, illuminating not only entrance points, but how they were willed into existence.
January 5, 2012
by Sharon Steel
Publishers and authors have begun to experiment more with audio as a natural step in the promotion of their books. But recent trends suggest that readers are looking for even more direct ways to incorporate music into the reading experience.