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 intoRead more
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.Read more
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.Read more
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.Read more
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.Read more
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."
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.Read more
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.Read more
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.Read more
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.Read more
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."Read more
The State Department is presenting a global webcast on 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.Read more
In the East Room of the White House 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: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 Read more
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.Read more
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.Read more
On Barack and Michelle Obama's schedule for today, this event is listed:Read more
This morning, the State Department announced, "Hip Hop Group Audiopharmacy to Tour Southeast Asia and the Pacific with American Music Abroad."
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.Read more
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.Read more
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