Music Articles

Does The Boss Love The Donald?

Springsteen has not objected to Trump's use of 'Born in the U.S.A.'
1:39 PM, Jan 13, 2016
Canada-born Texas senator Ted Cruz may be annoyed that Donald Trump has begun playing Bruce Springsteen's "Born in the U.S.A." at his rallies. But one person evidently isn't: Mr. Springsteen himself. Read more

The Consummate Pop Star

David Bowie, 1947-2016.
9:01 AM, Jan 12, 2016
In reality, the real Bowie wasn’t Ziggy Stardust or Aladdin Sane or the Thin White Duke—he was David Bowie, consummate pop musician and songwriter closer to the Bing Crosby mold than anyone might have realized. Read more

Once Upon a Time on Wall Street

About that two-million dollar Wu-Tang album . . .
2:21 PM, Dec 22, 2015

Two years ago, Forbes broke the news that famed rap group the Wu-Tang Clan had created, and would soon be auctioning, a single copy of their latest album, Once Upon A Time in Shaolin. Literally, a single copy.

The one-of-a-kind production, safeguarded somewhere in "the shadow of the Atlas Mountains," was soon garnering the kind of predictable hype accompanying pricey modern artwork marketed through sham philosophic statements.

Wu-Tang rapper and producer, RZA had this to say:

History demonstrates that great musicians such as Bach, Beethoven and Mozart were held in profoundly high esteem. They were considered sublime artists and masters of exploring emotion. Their work forged windows into

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Jingle Hell

The debasement of Christmas songs
Dec 21, 2015

In the city where I live, one of the pop music radio stations shifts to an all-Christmas music format beginning in .  .  . oh, I don't know, late August?

Kidding! No, I think the transition takes place a couple weeks before Thanksgiving, which gives us all plenty of time to get sick of our seasonal favorites long before the season officially begins. The all-Christmas programming used to start Thanksgiving week. And before that, many years ago, it began the weekend after Thanksgiving.

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Tangled Up In Green

What explains Bob Dylan's commercial endorsements?
12:31 PM, Nov 12, 2015

As much as one loves Bob Dylan, it is always best to resist the temptation to write about him. He is a slippery fish, who is routinely put-off by the industrial-level attempts to access his soul through the interpretation of his lyrics.

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A Brief Exegesis of the Central Illinois Music Scene

11:05 AM, Oct 02, 2015

The central Illinois music scene (the ostensible subject of my magazine piece this week) was amazingly fecund in the 1970s, and worthy of a self-indulgent blog post all its own. The alpha and omega of this time and place was REO Speedwagon, and Gary Richrath enjoyed an intensely loyal following around town even before he joined REO.

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Jon Bon Jovi, American Hero

He wasn't Petty.
1:17 PM, Jun 30, 2015

Jon Bon Jovi is nobody’s idea of a conservative. Indeed, the hirsute rocker is a well-known Democrat. And yet, when Chris Christie announced his bid for the Republican nomination for president on Tuesday, and played a Bon Jovi tune in the process, the musician didn’t complain.

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Music Video: 'Chelsea's Mom Has Got It Going On'

1:01 PM, Jun 25, 2015

The band Well Strung has released a music video called "Chelsea's Mom," in support of Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign:

As MSNBC's Alex Seitz-Wald reports, "Today in unauthorized political music videos: 'Chelsea's mom has got it going on' by a band called Well Strung."


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Free World? Neil Young Objects to GOP Candidate Playing His Song

7:04 AM, Jun 17, 2015

On Tuesday, a big announcement was made by a publicity-seeking has-been with bad hair. Oh, and Donald Trump also declared that he was running for president.

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On Campaign Songs, Don't Be Petty

11:04 AM, May 27, 2015

With so many Republican candidates announcing their bids for the presidency these days, one our most hallowed election-year rituals can’t be far behind. I refer, of course, to when fading musical acts attempt to prove their progressive bona fides by making a stink when a candidate they disagree with plays their music at a rally.

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The King Is Dead

B.B. King, 1925-2015.
9:47 AM, May 15, 2015

B.B. King, born Riley B. King and also called the Beale Street Blues Boy and the King of the Blues, has died at the age of 89. Earlier this month, he announced he was in hospice care due to complications from diabetes. (Nearly 15 years ago, B.B. had become a paid spokesman for a blood glucose test device OneTouch. “OneTouch gave me everything,” he crooned in the TV ad.) Even at his advanced age, his death comes as a shock, since the blues legend toured well into his eighties.

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Bird Still Lives?

Sixty years on, the legacy of Charlie Parker
Mar 16, 2015

Charlie Parker never achieved stardom, at least not by the standards of the music business. He never had a gold record to hang on the wall or enjoyed a significant radio hit. He never had a contract with a major record label. His face didn’t appear, even in a bit role, in a Hollywood film. If you measure a musician’s worth at the cash register—the ultimate arbiter of talent nowadays, or so it seems—Parker can only be called a minor figure, operating at the fringes of the entertainment industry.

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Mozart Turns 259

6:12 PM, Jan 27, 2015

It's worth re-reading Fred Baumann on Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, who was born 259 years ago today:

IN BEYOND Good and Evil, Nietzsche rejoices that Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, "the last chord of a centuries-old great European taste . . . still speaks to us" and warns that "alas, some day all this will be gone."

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Peter Himmelman, Bob Dylan's Son-in-Law, Writes Song in Support of Israel

10:37 AM, Jul 25, 2014

Musician Peter Himmelman, who is married to Bob Dylan's daughter Maria, has released a song taking the world to task for the reflexive attacks on Israel during the recent Gaza conflict. The song, produced for the StandWithUs Israel Fellowship, is called "Maximum Restraint":  

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The Politics of Music

1:02 PM, Feb 14, 2014

Millions of people get their music through Pandora and this being the age when no data is left unmined, the preferences of this vast audience will soon be used for political purposes.

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State Dept. Webcast Features Guest Who Called Clarence Thomas, Condi Rice 'Uncle Toms'

7:49 AM, Jan 31, 2014

The State Department is presenting a global webcast on February 4, titled "From the Street to Mainstream: The Evolution of Rap/Hip Hop Music."  The host of the webcast, rapper and State Department Music Ambassador Toni Blackman, will be joined by Pras Michel, a founding member of the hip hop group the Fugees, to discuss "how rap and hip hop have increased social awareness of the African-American experience — and raised even broader issues in contemporary society."  Some of Michel's more inflammatory comments in the past raise questions about the appropriateness of his appearance with the U.S.'s music ambassador on a government-sponsored webcast representing America to the world.

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Obama Jokes at Kennedy Center Honors About Carlos Santana's Drug Use

3:43 PM, Dec 09, 2013

In the East Room of the White House Sunday night, President Obama hosted the Kennedy Center Honors Reception to recognize five American artists: Martina Arroyo, Herbie Hancock, Carlos Santana, Shirley MacLaine,  and Billy Joel.  The president gave a brief synopsis of each artist's career, including making light of the drug-induced hallucinations of Carlos Santana as he was introduced to the music world at the 1969 Woodstock music festival:

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John Tavener, 1944-2013

3:03 PM, Nov 13, 2013

There's a black and white photo, a little grainy and slightly out of focus, of Igor Stravinsky greeting Mstislav Rostropovich at the Royal Academy of Music, London, in June 1964. Standing in the background in the upper left hand corner is a tall lanky figure, a 20-year-old music student named John Tavener. Also in the photo, just to the right, is John's brother Roger who was friendly with Ringo Starr.

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And It Was All Right

Lou Reed went down and found a song that will survive.
12:03 PM, Oct 28, 2013

Lou Reed died yesterday in Amagansett, N.Y., thus ending his life on the same island, Long Island, where it began more than 71 years ago in Kings County, better known as Brooklyn.

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Ray Manzarek, 1939-2013

Joseph Bottum on the guy who knew Jim Morrison
Jun 03, 2013

I met him once. Well, met in the loosest sense: I was introduced to Ray Manzarek at a Los Angeles restaurant in the 1980s and got to shake his hand. No more than that, but even at the time it felt like an encounter with passing greatness, a brush with the fading mythology of the age, and down through the years, I’ve never forgotten it.

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The Civic Role of American Music

5:48 AM, May 07, 2013

David Tucker and Nathan Tucker have penned a brief at the American Enterprise Institute about the role music plays in American civic life. Here's an excerpt from the abstract:

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Ain't It Funny How Time Slips Away?

11:36 AM, Apr 30, 2013

Willie Nelson turns 80 today.  As Kelly Phillips Erb writes in Forbes, it has been an interesting, prolific, and unusual career:

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Another Exclusive Party at W.H.—at Taxpayer Expense

Will White House release guest list?
6:34 AM, Apr 09, 2013

On Barack and Michelle Obama's schedule for today, this event is listed:

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State Dept. Announces 'Hip Hop Group Audiopharmacy to Tour'

8:14 AM, Feb 13, 2013

This morning, the State Department announced, "Hip Hop Group Audiopharmacy to Tour Southeast Asia and the Pacific with American Music Abroad."


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10:05 AM, Jan 16, 2013

I predicted on Fox News Sunday on December 30 that the Metropolitan Opera's production of Donizetti's Maria Stuarda would be the entertainment event of the year.

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Kings of the Jingle

How music and commerce combine to make America.
Dec 03, 2012

Could Mozart write jingles? “Are you kidding,” responds the ad copy for a 1990s music marketing production house. “A Little Night Music had ‘beer commercial’ written all over it.”  

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The Wonder Man

A second opinion on Mozart’s final days.
Oct 22, 2012

Discussions of what would prove to be Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s last years tend to fixate on his death. Much talk there is—for Christoph Wolff, too much talk—of Mozart’s decline or fall, of the quality of resignation that supposedly crept into his music, even of the “autumnal world” that his late work is said to inhabit. 

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Emigré’s Song

It’s a long, long while since Kurt Weill got his due.
Oct 15, 2012



Not long ago, a New York Times critic presented his list of the 10 greatest composers of all time. Absent were Handel, Chopin, Tchaikovsky, Mahler, Puccini, and Strauss. Present, though, was Béla Bartók.

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Pop Goes Libya

A little musical rebellion among the Amazigh.
Nov 28, 2011

Zuwarah, Libya

This is my city and I came back again

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A Moderne Master

‘Who can unravel Ravel?’
Jul 18, 2011


by Roger Nichols

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