Torch Ballads & Jukebox Music

May 24, 2011

Dylan at 70 3


Lurking in everything Dylan has ever done, for better or worse, is the myth of America, its chameleon-like quality to be everything to everybody its greatest asset, permitting openness, not for the sake of change but because of its necessity. This is the history Dylan, who turns 70 years old today, has drawn from to create his own history.

December 29, 2010

Take This Waltz: Leonard Cohen’s Tour Comes to an End 12


I have a hard time describing the concerts themselves. I can describe the external details, but the problem is that words fall flat when describing a religious experience.

November 30, 2010

Things Done Changed: Hip Hop and Literature 18


The juxtaposition of traditional poetry and hip hop is spiky and uncomfortable, to say the least.

June 25, 2010

Why We Wu 6


More than any other modern act—with the exceptions, perhaps, of Miles Davis and B.B. King—The Wu Tang Clan has laid claim to nearly every corner of its genre.

June 2, 2010

Headphone Elegies 5


We’ve become not just curators of music but curators of connections, immersed in an aural landscape and a transporting, internal soundtrack.

May 11, 2010

The Weird Sisters: CocoRosie’s Grey Oceans 8


CocoRosie’s mythology is equal parts Victorian childhood and modern Gothic. The freak folk/trip hop duo are innocents who know about the dark side, but still believe in angels, fairies, God, St. Nicholas, rainbows, unicorns, Armageddon. The sisters’ haunting, perverse lullabies tend to make lovers or haters of their listeners pretty quickly.

January 22, 2010

The Music in My Head 12


A while ago I began wondering if I might use music to my advantage somehow. Because if music exerts the sway over us that I think it does, I might use it to help me ignore the distractions of the outside world.

December 15, 2009

All The Single Ladies: The Problem with Feminist Anthems 18


Perhaps “Single Ladies” can’t be a feminist anthem because, to reduce it to a rallying cry, a slogan, does not acknowledge it for the complex song that it is.

November 23, 2009

Phil Spector: Guilty of Creating the Greatest Christmas Album Ever 6


Released on the day JFK was assassinated, Spector’s album ended up being a much-needed dose of joy in a dark and confusing time.

November 6, 2009

This Is Michael Jackson 12


What could be more compelling than film footage of the King of Pop so clearly not meant for our eyes?