The Mueller Report Released as a Free Well-Formatted eBook (by The Digital Public Library of America)

Boing Boing writes: "Back in April, Andrew Albanese from Publishers Weekly wrote a column deploring the abysmal formatting in the DoJ's release of the Mueller Report, and publicly requesting that the Digital Public Library of America produce well-formatted ebook editions, which they have now done!"

The Digital Public Library of America adds:

The Report On The Investigation Into Russian Interference In The 2016 Presidential Election, or the Mueller Report, is now freely available in ebook format to read on your phone or tablet from DPLA’s website and the Open Bookshelf collection. The Mueller report was released to the public by the Department of Justice as a PDF last month, initially in a format that was not text-searchable. By making the report available as an ebook in our Open Bookshelf collection, anyone can download and read it for free, all in the SimplyE app - no library card or sign in required.

One of the primary objectives of DPLA’s ebooks work is to make the best openly-licensed e-content available to libraries and their patrons. For libraries offering New York Public Library’s SimplyE app, the Mueller Report can be easily integrated into the ebook offerings made available to their patrons. SimplyE and Open Bookshelf are freely available to anyone with an iOS or Android device.

Read the Mueller Report today

Download on the web: Visit, download it in one click, and read it with your computer’s e-reader like iBooks.

Read in SimplyE on your phone or tablet:

  1. Download the SimplyE app to your iOS or Android device.

  2. Use the library selector icon in the upper left corner, select Manage Accounts, then Add Library, and select Digital Public Library of America.

  3. Find the Mueller Report in the top row.

To learn more about Open Bookshelf and other DPLA ebooks offerings, visit DPLA’s Ebook work and the production of the Mueller Report ebook is supported by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.

You can also download The Mueller Report in an epub version here.

Would you like to support the mission of Open Culture? Please consider making a donation to our site. It's hard to rely 100% on ads, and your contributions will help us continue providing the best free cultural and educational materials to learners everywhere.

Also consider following Open Culture on Facebook and Twitter and sharing intelligent media with your friends. Or sign up for our daily email and get a daily dose of Open Culture in your inbox. 

via Boing Boing

Related Content

1,000 Free Audio Books: Download Great Books for Free

800 Free eBooks for iPad, Kindle & Other Devices

1,300 Free Online Courses from Top Universities

1,150 Free Movies Online: Great Classics, Indies, Noir, Westerns, etc.


Todd Rundgren’s Advice to Young Artists: Be Free and Fearless, Make Art That Expresses Your True Self, and Never Mind the Critics

The Internet has redeemed graduation season for those of us whose commencement speakers failed to inspire.

One of the chief digital pleasures of the season is truffling up words of wisdom that seem ever so much wiser than the ones that were poured past the mortarboard into our own tender ears.

Our most-recently found pearls come from the mouth of one of our favorite dark horses, musician, producer, and multimedia pioneer Todd Rundgren, one of Berklee College of Music’s 2017 commencement speakers.

Rundgren claims he never would have passed the prestigious institution’s audition. He barely managed to graduate from high school. But he struck a blow for lifelong learners whose pursuit of knowledge takes place outside the formal setting by earning honorary degrees from both Berklee, and DePauw University, where the newly anointed Doctor of Performing Arts can be seen below, studying his honoris causa as the school band serenades him with a student-arranged version of his song, All the Children Sing.

Rundgren’s outsider status played well with Berklee’s Class of 2017, as he immediately ditched his ceremonial headdress and conferred some cool on the sunglasses dictated by his failing vision.

But it wasn’t all opening snark, as he praised the students’ previous night’s musical performance, telling them that they were a credit to their school, their families and themselves.

His was a different path.

Rundgren, an experienced public speaker, claims he was stumped as to how one would go about crafting commencement speeches. Rejecting an avalanche of advice, whose urgency suggested his speech could only result in “universal jubilation or mass suicide if (he) didn’t get it right,” he chose instead to spend his first 10 minutes at the podium recounting his personal history.

It’s interesting stuff for any student of rock n roll, with added cool points owing to the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame’s failure to acknowledge this musical innovator.

Whether or not the Class of 17 were familiar with their speaker prior to that day, it’s probable most of them were able to do the math and realize that the self-educated Rundgren would have been their age in 1970, when his debut album, Runt, was released, and only a couple of years older when his third album, 1972’s two disc, Ritalin-fueled Something/Anything shot him to fame.

After which, this proud iconoclast promptly thumbed his nose at commercial success, detouring into the sonic experiments of A Wizard, a True Star, whose disastrous critical reception belies the masterpiece reputation it now enjoys.

Rolling Stone called it a case of an artist “run amok.”

Patti Smith, whose absolutely mandatory Creem review reads like beat poetry, was a rare admirer.

Did a shiver of fear run through the parents in the audience, as Rundgren regaled their children with tales of how this deliberate trip into the unknown cost him half his fanbase?

How much is Berklee's tuition these days, anyway?

Autobiographical urges from the commencement podium run the risk of coming off as inappropriate indulgence, but Rundgren’s personal story is supporting evidence of his very worthy message to his younger fellow artists :

  • Don’t self-edit in an attempt to fit someone else’s image of who you should be as an artist. See yourself.
  • Use your art as a tool for vigorous self-exploration.
  • Commit to remaining free and fearless, in the service of your defining moment, whose arrival time is rarely published in advance.
  • Don’t view graduation as the end of your education. Think of it as the beginning. Learn about the things you love.

Related Content:

David Byrne’s Graduation Speech Offers Troubling and Encouraging Advice for Students in the Arts

John Waters’ RISD Graduation Speech: Real Wealth is Never Having to Spend Time with A-Holes

The First 10 Videos Played on MTV: Rewind the Videotape to August 1, 1981

Ayun Halliday is an author, illustrator, theater maker and Chief Primatologist of the East Village Inky zine.  Join her in New York City this June for the next installment of her book-based variety show, Necromancers of the Public Domain. Follow her @AyunHalliday.

How Computers Ruined Rock Music

There are purists out there who think computers ruined electronic music, made it cold and alien, removed the human element: the warm, warbling sounds of analog oscillators, the unpredictability of analog drum machines, synthesizers that go out of tune and have minds of their own. Musicians played those instruments, plugged and patched them together, tried their best to control them. They did not program them.

Then came digital samplers, MIDI, DAWs (digital audio workstations), pitch correction, time correction… every note, every arpeggio, every drum fill could be mapped in advance, executed perfectly, endlessly editable forever, and entirely played by machines.

All of this may have been true for a short period of time, when producers became so enamored of digital technology that it became a substitute for the old ways. But analog has come back in force, with both technologies now existing harmoniously in most electronic music, often within the same piece of gear.

Digital electronic music has virtues all its own, and the dizzying range of effects achievable with virtual components, when used judiciously, can lead to sublime results. But when it comes to another argument about the impact of computers on music made by humans, this conclusion isn’t so easy to draw. Rock and roll has always been powered by human error—indeed would never have existed without it. How can it be improved by digital tools designed to correct errors?

The ubiquitous sound of distortion, for example, first came from amplifiers and mixing boards pushed beyond their fragile limits. The best songs seem to all have mistakes built into their appeal. The opening bass notes of The Breeder’s “Cannonball,” mistakenly played in the wrong key, for example... a zealous contemporary producer would not be able to resist running them through pitch correction software.

John Bonham’s thundering drums, a force of nature caught on tape, feel “impatient, sterile and uninspired” when sliced up and snapped to a grid in Pro Tools, as producer and YouTuber Rick Beato has done (above) to prove his theory that computers ruined rock music. You could just write this off as an old man ranting about new sounds, but hear him out. Few people on the internet know more about recorded music or have more passion for sharing that knowledge.

In the video at the top, Beato makes his case for organic rock and roll: “human beings playing music that is not metronomic, or ‘quantized’”—the term for when computers splice and stretch acoustic sounds so that they align mathematically. Quantizing, Beato says, “is when you determine which rhythmic fluctuations in a particular instrument’s performance are imprecise or expressive, you cut them, and you snap them to the nearest grid point.” Overuse of the technology, which has become the norm, removes the “groove” or “feel” of the playing, the very imperfections that make it interesting and moving.

Beato’s thorough demonstration of how digital tools turn recorded music into modular furniture show us how the production process has become an mental exercise, a design challenge, rather than the palpable, spontaneous output of living, breathing human bodies. The “present state of affairs,” as Nick Messitte puts it, is “keyboards triggering samples quantized to within an inch of their humanity by producers in the pre-production stages.” Anyone resisting this status quo becomes an acoustic musician by default, argues Messitte, standing on one side of the “acoustic versus synthetic” divide.

Whether the two modes of music can be harmoniously reconciled is up for debate, but at present, I’m inclined to agree with Beato: digital recording, processing, and editing technologies, for all their incredible convenience and unlimited capability, too easily turn rhythms made with the elastic timing of human hearts and hands into machinery. The effect is fatiguing and dull, and on the whole, rock records that lean on these techniques can't stand up to those made in previous decades or by the few holdouts who refuse to join the arms race for synthetic pop perfection.

Related Content:

When Mistakes/Studio Glitches Give Famous Songs Their Personality: Pink Floyd, Metallica, The Breeders, Steely Dan & More

The Distortion of Sound: A Short Film on How We’ve Created “a McDonald’s Generation of Music Consumers”

Brian Eno Explains the Loss of Humanity in Modern Music

Josh Jones is a writer and musician based in Durham, NC. Follow him at @jdmagness

Johannes Kepler Theorized That Each Planet Sings a Song, Each in a Different Voice: Mars is a Tenor; Mercury, a Soprano; and Earth, an Alto

Johannes Kepler determined just how the planets of our solar system make their way around the sun. He published his innovative work on the subject from 1609 to 1619, and in the final year of that decade he also came up with a theory that each planet sings a song, and each in a different voice at that. Mars is a tenor, Mercury is a soprano, and Earth, as the BBC show QI (or Quite Interesting) recently tweeted, "is an alto that sings two notes Mi and Fa, which Kepler read as 'Miseriam & Famem', 'misery and famine'" — two phenomena not unknown on Earth in Kepler's time, even though the scientific revolution had already started to change the way people lived.

Not all of the best minds of the scientific revolution thought purely in terms of calculation. The blog ThatsMaths describes Kepler's mission as explaining the solar system "in terms of divine harmony," finding "a system of the world that was mathematically correct and harmonically pleasing." Truly divine harmony could presumably find its expression in music, an idea that led Kepler to explain "planetary motions in terms of harmonic relationships, a scheme that he called the 'song of the Earth.'"

According to this scheme, "each planet emits a tone that varies in pitch as its distance from the Sun varies from perihelion to aphelion and back" — that is, from the nearest they get to the sun to the farthest they get from the sun and back — "producing a continuous glissando of intermediate tones, a 'whistling produced by friction with the heavenly light.'"

Kepler named the combined result "the music of the spheres," but what does it sound like? Switzerland-based cornettist Bruce Dickey wants to give us a sense of it with Nature's Whispering Secret, "a project for a CD recording exploring the ideas about music and cosmology of Johannes Kepler." Demanding the musicianship of not just Dickey but composer Calliope Tsoupaki, singer Hana Blažíková, and a group of singers and instrumentalists from across Europe and America as well, all "among the most distinguished musicians performing 16th-century polyphonic music today." The Indiegogo campaign for this ambitious tribute to Kepler's ideas at the intersection of science and aesthetics, which involves an album as well as a series of live performances into the year 2020, is on its very last day, so if you'd like to hear the music of the spheres for yourself, consider making a contribution.

via Quite Interesting

Related Content:

Hear the Declassified, Eerie “Space Music” Heard During the Apollo 10 Mission (1969)

NASA Puts Online a Big Collection of Space Sounds, and They’re Free to Download and Use

Relax with 8 Hours of Classical Space Music: From Richard Strauss & Haydn, to Brian Eno, Philip Glass & Beyond

The Soundtrack of the Universe

Kepler, Galileo & Nostradamus in Color, on Google

Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities, language, and culture. His projects include the book The Stateless City: a Walk through 21st-Century Los Angeles and the video series The City in Cinema. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall, on Facebook, or on Instagram.

New Web Project Immortalizes the Overlooked Women Who Helped Create Rock and Roll in the 1950s

“For sixty years, conventional wisdom has told us that women generally did not perform rock and roll during the 1950s,” writes Leah Branstetter, Ph.D. candidate in musicology at Case Western Reserve University. Like so many cultural forms into which we are initiated, through education, personal interest, and general osmosis, this popular form of Western music—now a genre with seventy years under its belt—has functioned as an almost ideal example of the great man theory of history.

It can seem like settled fact that Chuck Berry, Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Little Richard, Buddy Holly, and their celebrated male contemporaries invented the music; and that women played passive roles as fans, studio audience members, groupies, personifications of cars and guitars....

The recognition of rare exceptions, like Sister Rosetta Tharpe, does not challenge the rule. But Branstetter’s Women in Rock and Roll’s First Wave project almost single-handedly does.

The reality is, however, that hundreds—or maybe thousands—of women and girls performed and recorded rock and roll in its early years. And many more participated in other ways: writing songsowning or working for record labels, working as session or touring musicians,designing stage wear, dancing, or managing talent…. [W]omen’s careers didn’t always resemble those of their more famous male counterparts. Some female performers were well known and performed nationally as stars, while others had more influence regionally or only in one tiny club. Some made the pop charts, but even more had impact through live performance. Some women exhibited the kind of wild onstage behavior that had come to be expected from figures Jerry Lee Lewis or Little Richard—but that wasn’t the only way to be rebellious, and others found their own methods of being revolutionary.

Branstetter’s project, a digital dissertation, covers dozens of musicians from the period, just a fraction of the names she has uncovered in her research. Some of the women profiled were never particularly well-known. Many more were accomplished stars before the 60's girl group phenomenon, and continued performing into the 21st century.

Meet rockers like Sparkle Moore (see up top), born in Omaha, Nebraska and inspired by Bill Haley in the mid-fifties to play rockabilly in her hometown. She went on to tour the country, putting out record after record. "By 1957,” writes Branstetter, “she had about forty songwriting credits to her name." Teen magazine Dig wrote that Moore had “an amazing resemblance to the late James Dean… Presley’s style and Dean’s looks.” She is still a “favorite with rockabilly fans," notes her biography. Moore "has been inducted into the Iowa Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and also made a new album in 2010 entitled Spark-a-Billy."

Meet Lillie Bryant, one half of duo Billie & Lillie, whose breezier R&B sounds and more wholesome image resonated with early rock and roll fans, promoters, and stars. Bryant began performing in New York City clubs as a teenager. Then producers Bob Crewe and Frank Slay turned her and singer Billie Ford into a duo who went on to star in legendary DJ Alan Freed’s stage shows, “including a six-week tour with Chuck Berry and Frankie Lymon” and an appearance on American Bandstand. Bryant still performs in her hometown of Newburgh, New York.

Meet The Chantels. “Formed in the Bronx, New York in the early 1950s,” they were “among the first African-American female vocal groups to gain national attention.” They also toured with Alan Freed and appeared on American Bandstand and The Dick Clark Show. In 1961, their hit “Look in My Eyes” went to number 14 on the pop charts and 6 on the R&B charts. (Thirty years later, it appeared on the Goodfellas soundtrack.)

Most people who grew up on the music of the 50s and 60s have likely heard of many of these women rockers, or have at least heard their music if they didn’t know the names and faces. But Branstetter’s project does more than tell the stories of individuals—in biographies, interviews (with, for one, Jerry Lee Lewis’s sister, singer and piano player Linda Gail Lewis), blog posts, playlists (hear one below), song analyses, and essays.

She also substantiates her larger claim that women’s “contributions shaped the culture and sound of rock and roll," in numerous well-documented ways. This despite the fact that women in early rock were told versions of the same thing Joan Jett heard 20 years later—“girls don’t play rock and roll." They sometimes heard it from other women in the music business. Pop singer Connie Frances, for example, offered her opinion in a 1958 issue of Billboard: “A girl can’t sing rock and roll. It’s basically too savage for a girl singer to handle.”

Attitudes like these persisted so long, and became so unconscious, that one of the largest guitar makers in the world, Fender, and several other musical instrument makers, may have lost millions in sales before they finally realized that women make up half of new guitar players. Women in Rock and Roll’s First Wave will inspire and enlighten many of those young musicians who didn't grow up knowing anything about Sparkle Moore or The Chantels, but should have. Unless rock historians willingly ignore the work of scholars like Branstetter, subsequent accounts should reflect a more expansive, inclusive, view of the territory. Start here.

via WFMU

Related Content:

How Joan Jett Started the Runaways at 15 and Faced Down Every Barrier for Women in Rock and Roll

33 Songs That Document the History of Feminist Punk (1975-2015): A Playlist Curated by Pitchfork

Chrissie Hynde’s 10 Pieces of Advice for “Chick Rockers” (1994)

Four Female Punk Bands That Changed Women’s Role in Rock

Josh Jones is a writer and musician based in Durham, NC. Follow him at @jdmagness

The Creative Life of Jim Henson Explored in a Six-Part Documentary Series

What is a Muppet? Homer Simpson once offered this explanation: "It's not quite a mop and it's not quite a puppet, but man..." — before cracking up with amusement. "So to answer your question, I don't know." That episode of The Simpsons aired in the mid-1990s, a somewhat fallow period for Jim Henson's puppet-like (though less so mop-like) creations, but the decades between now and then have shown them to be at least as culturally influential as Matt Groening's family of Springfieldians. What gives the Muppets, who made their television debut in 1955 and have now survived their creator by nearly thirty years, their power to endure?

Insight into that question is on offer right now in a new six-part documentary series on Jim Henson's life and work. It comes as a part of Defunctland, "a YouTube series discussing the history of extinct theme parks and themed entertainment experiences" that has recently expanded its cultural purview.

The first episode of Defunctland's Jim Henson explores "the history of Jim's beginnings and his first television show, Sam and Friends"; the second "the origins of Sesame Street, the Muppetland specials, and the failed Muppet pilots"; and the third the proper beginnings of The Muppet Show, whose creators didn't know they were "about to make the most popular show in the world." After you've caught up with the first three episodes of Jim Henson, the next three episodes will appear on the series' Youtube playlist.

As you'll know if you've seen the surreal early filmsexperimental animations, and violent coffee commercials made by Jim Henson previously featured here on Open Culture, the man behind the Muppets hardly sought to produce entertainment for children alone: one of the pilots of The Muppet Show, in fact, was titled "Sex and Violence." Defunctland's documentary series gets into that and all the other aspects of Henson's life and work, two concepts hardly separable for such a famously dedicated creator. There's much more to Henson's legacy than a childhood full of Sesame Street — now in its 50th year on the air — would suggest. As for how rigorous a definition of "Muppet" the series will leave us with, we'll have to wait until it concludes to find out.

Related Content:

Jim Henson Creates an Experimental Animation Explaining How We Get Ideas (1966)

Jim Henson’s Violent Wilkins Coffee Commercials (1957-1961)

A Young Jim Henson Teaches You How to Make Puppets with Socks, Tennis Balls & Other Household Goods (1969)

Watch Twin Beaks, Sesame Street’s Parody of David Lynch’s Iconic TV Show (1990)

Watch The Surreal 1960s Films and Commercials of Jim Henson

Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities, language, and culture. His projects include the book The Stateless City: a Walk through 21st-Century Los Angeles and the video series The City in Cinema. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall, on Facebook, or on Instagram.

When John Waters Appeared on The Simpsons and Changed America’s LGBTQ Views (1997)

On the week where Alabama Public Television banned an episode of the kids’ cartoon Arnold for showing a gay wedding (just after banning abortion the week before), let’s go back to a time when the entire country needed a little bit of an education on homosexuality and used The Simpsons and a guest appearance by director John Waters to make the point.

“Homer’s Phobia” premiered on February 16, 1997 in the show’s eighth season. Written by Ron Hauge, the episode casts Waters as John, the owner of Springfield’s antique and memorabilia store “Cockamamie’s”, who befriends the family. Bart and Lisa love the retro and campy objects on sale, Marge loves John’s compliments, but Homer freaks out when he realizes (and it takes some time) that John is gay. Panicking that Bart might become gay from John’s influence, he forces Bart to take a tour of the manliest thing he can think of, a steel mill, only to find that it doubles as a gay disco after work (“We work hard and we play hard,” says the foreman).

Homer doubles down, believing that hunting and killing a deer will make Bart a man. John saves the day of course, Homer learns a little lesson on acceptance, and only at the end does Bart understand what the whole panic has been about.

As comedy with a message, the episode still holds up. Homer’s cluelessness (when Marge says “He prefers the company of men,” Homer responds, “Who doesn't?”) and his homophobia (referring to the word “queer” he says “I resent you people using that word. That's our word for making fun of you! We need it!”) is both dopey and pointed, but never vicious. Also delightful is John’s visit to the Simpsons’ home, where he has a vintage collector’s swoon over the kitsch of the entire interior decoration, which as viewers we’ve never really considered. There’s plenty of visual gags, like a pink flamingo in John’s shop and the amazing Sha-Boom-Ka-Boom googie-architecture cafe.

According to Matt Baume’s recent video essay, this episode did more for awareness and exposing intolerance than any live action show at the time. John Waters, despite his filthy filmography, is fun, collected, and cool. He is neither a punchline nor a tragic figure. At this time in America, homosexuality was still a crime in many states. A head censor at Fox objected to nearly every line in the show (although not always from the right--there was also concern that gay people might be offended). Time solved the problem, however. By the time it came back from the animators that one censor had lost his job.

A few months later Ellen Degeneres came out on Oprah and the culture started to shift even a little more. But as this week proved, this episode’s insights still ring true today.

For Waters, it's been a weird legacy, with kids and families recognizing him from the episode and not from his more infamous work. He now has out a new book, Mr. Know-It-All: The Tarnished Wisdom of a Filth Elder.

Related Content:

The Rise and Fall of The Simpsons: An In-Depth Video Essay Explores What Made the Show Great, and When It All Came to an End

John Waters Talks About His Books and Role Models in a Whimsical Animated Video

John Waters’ RISD Graduation Speech: Real Wealth is Never Having to Spend Time with A-Holes

Ted Mills is a freelance writer on the arts who currently hosts the artist interview-based FunkZone Podcast and is the producer of KCRW's Curious Coast. You can also follow him on Twitter at @tedmills, read his other arts writing at and/or watch his films here.

Banksy Strikes Again in Venice

Juxtapoz writes: "Never invited to be the part of Venice Biennale, Banksy once again invited himself to showcase his work. Using a typical pop-up stand that usually sells tacky paintings and souvenirs, he assembled a selection of 9 works that collectively built an image of a massive cruise ship blocking the city."

In recent years, the flood of massive cruise ships into Venice has created tensions between Venetians and tourism companies. It's pretty clear on what side the street artist comes down.

Get more at Juxtapoz.

Would you like to support the mission of Open Culture? Please consider making a donation to our site. It's hard to rely 100% on ads, and your contributions will help us continue providing the best free cultural and educational materials to learners everywhere.

Also consider following Open Culture on Facebook and Twitter and sharing intelligent media with your friends. Or sign up for our daily email and get a daily dose of Open Culture in your inbox. 

Related Content:

How Venice Works: 124 Islands, 183 Canals & 438 Bridges

Venice in Beautiful Color Images 125 Years Ago: The Rialto Bridge, St. Mark’s Basilica, Doge’s Palace & More

The Venice Time Machine: 1,000 Years of Venice’s History Gets Digitally Preserved with Artificial Intelligence and Big Data

Pink Floyd Plays in Venice on a Massive Floating Stage in 1989; Forces the Mayor & City Council to Resign

Watch City Out of Time, A Short Tribute to Venice, Narrated by William Shatner in 1959

Huge Hands Rise Out of Venice’s Waters to Support the City Threatened by Climate Change: A Poignant New Sculpture

Fleetwood Mac Unveils Their New Singer Stevie Nicks, and The World Takes Notice: Watch Bewitching Performances of “Rhiannon” (1975-1976)

Fleetwood Mac lost one lead singer and guitarist after another in the 70s, first to a mental health crisis, then a religious cult, then dramatic firings and relational breakdowns. They were in a bit of a shambles when new prospect Lindsay Buckingham arrived, bringing with him even more drama, as well as an unknown singer, Stevie Nicks. One year later, their breakup coincided with the dissolution of John and Christine McVie’s marriage, and drummer and namesake Mick Fleetwood's divorce, during the recording of the massive-selling Rumors album in 1976.

Somehow, the band kept on, making greater leaps forward with Tusk, surviving into the 90s intact and mounting several reunion tours afterward. How? Many a book and documentary have tackled the subject. But maybe the main reason is plain.

Despite enduring circumstances that would tear most bands apart, despite the cynical lures and traps of wealth and fame, Fleetwood Mac’s professional longevity came from the fact that they were musicians who loved playing together, who knew how good they were at what they did, and knew they were better when they did it together.

Not only did the new five-piece put aside huge personal conflicts and an already legendary history to make some of the greatest pop music ever written, both collaborating and letting individual songwriters take the lead, but they had the smarts to recognize the enormous talent they had in Nicks, who first joined the band at Buckingham’s insistence then quickly became its star frontwoman. Her magnetism was undeniable, her songwriting bewitching, her stage presence transformative.

Fans seeing Nicks onstage with the band after the release of 1975’s Fleetwood Mac have “no idea who Stevie Nicks is,” writes Rob Sheffield at Rolling Stone. They have “heard ‘Rhiannon’ on the radio,” have maybe bought the record, but “they’ve never seen her rock.” Then they did—explaining the origins of “Rhiannon” on The Old Grey Whistle Test (top) before launching into the “song about a Welsh witch,” and going full-on new-age diva with super-feathered hair on The Midnight Special (above).

“She’s the new girl in a long-running band,” writes Sheffield, “but she’s here to blow all that history away. She keeps pushing the song harder, faster, as if she’s impatient to prove the new Mac is a real savage-like rock monster, now that she’s fully arrived.” Buckingham was the right guitarist at the right time in the band’s evolution, stepping into several huge pairs of shoes to help them recreate their sound. But Stevie Nicks provided the voice and electrifyingly weird energy they needed to become their best new selves.

Big, dramatic TV appearances were one thing, but the band’s transition from British blues rockers to pop radio superstars wasn’t a total eclipse of their past. While they may have been promoted as a Stevie Nicks-centric entity, Christine McVie still played a major singer/songwriter role, as did Buckingham. In one of their first live concerts with the two new members, at the Capitol Theatre in New Jersey, above, McVie opens the set with “Get Like You Used to Be” and “Spare Me a Little of Your Love.”

Buckingham shows off his impeccable blues and country chops, and Nicks sits in on backing vocals, then takes the lead three songs in on “Rhiannon." Other new songs in the short setlist include “World Turning,” sung by McVie and Buckingham, and the Buckingham-led “Blue Letter” and “I’m So Afraid.” (They reach as far back in the back catalog as Peter Green’s “Green Manalishi.”) It’s clear at this point that the band doesn’t quite know what to do with Stevie Nicks. But once they debuted on television, she knew exactly how to sell herself to audiences.

FYI: If you happen to be an Audible member, you can download Rob Sheffield's audiobook, The Wild Heart of Stevie Nicks, as a free additional book this month. (It's part of their Audible Originals program.) If you're not an Audible member, you can always sign up for a free 30-day trial here.

Related Content:

Stevie Nicks “Shows Us How to Kick Ass in High-Heeled Boots” in a 1983 Women’s Self Defense Manual

How Fleetwood Mac Makes A Song: A Video Essay Exploring the “Sonic Paintings” on the Classic Album, Rumours

Watch Classic Performances by Peter Green, Founder of Fleetwood Mac & the Only British Blues Guitarist Who Gave B.B. King “the Cold Sweats”

Josh Jones is a writer and musician based in Durham, NC. Follow him at @jdmagness

The Strikingly Beautiful Maps & Charts That Fired the Imagination of Students in the 1880s

We all remember the world maps that hung on the walls of our classrooms, the ones at which we spent countless hours staring when we couldn't focus on the lesson at hand. Did we look at them and imagine fleeing school for one of the far-off lands they pictured — or indeed finding a way to escape planet Earth itself? Such time-passing fantasies unite schoolchildren of all eras, though some eras have provided their schoolchildren richer material to fire up their imaginations than others.

Take, for instance, the rich, vivid maps of Yaggy's Geographical Study, which depict not just the world but the cosmos, and which were first produced for classrooms in 1887. The eponymous Levi Walter Yaggy, says Boston Rare Maps, "seems to have viewed himself as an innovator and entrepreneur tapping into a transformational moment in American education."

An advertisement for Yaggy's Chicago-based Western Publishing House lays out the company's mission: "Instead of offering the public old things ‘made over,’ it has come to the help of teachers and schools with a series of appliances which in design, mechanism and manner of illustration, are new, elegant and practical."

It also points to “the enthusiasm which has been aroused in educational circles by this new departure" as "proof of the fact that teachers are tired of stereotyped and worn-out means of school-room illustration."

One can well imagine the enthusiasm aroused among schoolchildren of the late 19th century when the teacher brought out Yaggy's Geographical Study, a plywood box filled with colorful, large-format maps measuring roughly two by three feet that revealed a wealth of knowledge about the Earth and outer space.

The David Rumsey Map Collection has digitized and made available to download everything that came inside, including the cross-section of the geological strata of "pre-Adamite Earth"; the illustration of the civilizations of five climatic zones "Showing in a Graphic Manner the Climates, Peoples, Industries & Productions of The Earth"; the 3D relief map of the United States built into the back of the box; and the jewel in the crown of Yaggy's Geographical Study, the star chart.

The star chart, as National Geographic's Greg Miller describes it, "has five panels held in place by tiny metal latches. Each panel can be opened to reveal a more detailed diagram. One shows the phases of the moon, for example, while another includes a slider to illustrate how the position of the sun changes relative to Earth with the seasons," the whole thing "designed to highlight certain features when a bright light is placed behind it."

Despite displaying here and there what we now regard as scientific inaccuracies (Miller points to how the elliptical orbit of planets are shown as circles) and unfashionable social attitudes, Yaggy's Geographical Study also embodies the spirit of its time in a way that still fires up the imagination. The golden age of exploration had already entered its final chapter and space travel remained the stuff of science fiction (a genre that had only recently taken the form in which we know it today), but with maps like these on the wall, no daydreaming student of the 1880s could doubt that reality still offered much to discover.

via Flashbak

Related Content:

Download 67,000 Historic Maps (in High Resolution) from the Wonderful David Rumsey Map Collection

A Planetary Perspective: Trillions of Pictures of the Earth Available Through Google Earth Engine

3D Map of Universe Captures 43,000 Galaxies

A Massive, Knitted Tapestry of the Galaxy: Software Engineer Hacks a Knitting Machine & Creates a Star Map Featuring 88 Constellations

How Leonardo da Vinci Drew an Accurate Satellite Map of an Italian City (1502)

Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities, language, and culture. His projects include the book The Stateless City: a Walk through 21st-Century Los Angeles and the video series The City in Cinema. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall, on Facebook, or on Instagram.

  • Great Lectures



    Get the best cultural and educational resources on the web curated for you in a daily email. We never spam. Unsubscribe at any time.


  • About Us

    Open Culture scours the web for the best educational media. We find the free courses and audio books you need, the language lessons & educational videos you want, and plenty of enlightenment in between.

    Advertise With Us

  • Archives

  • Quantcast