Few of us today, in search of unconventional artistry, would imagine mid-20th-century CBS game shows as a promising resource.[...]
Through turn-of-the-century America meandered blues, bluegrass, and “old time” music. Gospel hymns, waltzes, and marches.[...]
Remember listening to Peter and the Wolf as a child, how the narrator would explain that certain instruments correspond to particular characters: the duck – an oboe, the wolf – three horns, and so on?
In the above TED-Ed lesson (memorably animated by Compote Collective), music historian Betsy Schwarm fulfills much the same role f
Avant-garde composers of the 20th century have left a vexing legacy, beginning perhaps with one of the century’s first minimalists, Erik Satie (1866 –1925), whose career illustrates a central paradox of experimental music: it can seem to most of us totally inaccessible, alien, and frustrating, yet it is also a pervasive influence[...]
Most musicians have little chance of achieving lasting wealth and fame. It’s a profession in which only a tiny percentage of people ever “make it”—at least according to the impossibly high standards of celebrity we tend to apply.[...]
Some moments in history strike us as dramatic ruptures. Certainties are superseded, thrown into chaos by a seismic event, and we find ourselves adrift and anxious. What are artists to do? Gripped by the same fears as everyone else, the same sense of urgency, writers, musicians, filmmakers, painters, etc.[...]
Image by or Rob Bogaerts/Fotocollectie Anefo
To properly honor your cultural role models, don’t try to do what they did, or even to think what they thought, but to think how they thought.
When I was growing up, protest music meant Public Enemy, Rage Against the Machine, and—for some few Americans and very many Brits—Billy Bragg: an artist “at home with both socialist politics and heartbreak,” writes Allmusic, “styled on the solo attack of early Dylan and the passion of the Clash.[...]
“The joys of motoring are more or less fictional,” wrote Zelda Fitzgerald to Ludlow Fowler, a friend of her husband F. Scott, in 1920. But what an inspiring breadth of fiction they’ve inspired on the page and screen, mostly set along the seemingly endless road-miles of America.[...]
Image of Robertson (left) and Bob Dylan (right) by Jim Summaria, via Wikimedia Commons
A quick heads up: Marc Maron released this week a long, probing and quite excellent interview with The Band’s Robbie Robertson.