Forty-five years ago today, the Woodstock Music & Art Fair got underway at Yasgur’s Farm in upstate New York, kicking off a weekend of music and memories for 400,000 attendees and four-and-a-half decades of wistful Boomer nostalgia. (More on that next week.) It also resulted in 1970’s Woodstock, one of the most influential and perhaps the greatest of all concert movies — so in honor of the festival’s 45th anniversary, we rounded up the 45 best examples of the… Read More
New York Times readers might have noted with interest the byline on the paper’s review of Haruki Murakami’s new book — it was written by none other than Patti Smith. This is perhaps not as surprising as it might first appear, because Smith hasn’t been averse to issuing an opinion over the years, and she’s written non-fiction throughout her career, most notably in the 1970s. Her writings have covered a fascinating range of subject matter. If you’re interested in delving further into her criticism, there’s an essential reading list just one click… Read More
You may have read last week that an online poll has named The Killers’ song “Human” as the most confusing lyric in rock ‘n’ roll history. But shit, “Are we human or are we dancer?” is inexplicable only for the grudge that it seems to hold against English grammar. There are many more famously obscure songs that have generated all manner of hilariously outlandish theories over the years, so let’s survey some of those ideas. And the best place to find those interpretations? Why, SongMeanings.com, the site that our music editor Jill Mapes recently described as “the Yahoo! Answers of music.” So here’s what the internet has to offer as far as adventurous interpretations of famous lyrics go, along with a highly scientific evaluation of whether or not the theory in question is even remotely convincing. Onwards! … Read More
In the introduction to his book on Kanye West’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, Kirk Walker Graves acknowledges the argument that a four-year-old album should not be memorialized with a volume in Bloombury’s 33 1/3 series on classic albums. But he also makes a convincing case for why he did exactly that in the subsequent chapters, which analyze the album’s songs one by one after 50 pages of general (and brilliant) Kanye scholarship. … Read More
Happy birthday, Bob Dylan. The singer-songwriter turns 73 today. Dylan is as busy as ever, having just teased his cover of Frank Sinatra’s 1945 hit “Full Moon and Empty Arms” in anticipation of a new album due out later this year.
The craggy-voiced icon is known to be a straight-faced, serious performer, rarely smiling on stage or in photos — the perfect accompaniment for his somber lyrics and political anthems. “It’s hard not to feel that the sense of Dylan’s music as so very deep and meaningful would be so persuasive if it didn’t issue from the pouting sloucher on the record sleeves,” pondered The Guardian’s Lindesay Irvine.
Dylan’s stern facade has occasionally cracked to reveal a lighthearted artist who indulges in random headstands, goofy antics, and toothy grins. Check out the photo evidence in celebration of the counterculture poet’s birthday. … Read More
Take heed Lunchbox dads and fathers of cute Internet dogs: classic album cover remixes starring your two adorable sons are the new thing. Dad Lance Underwood recreates famous album covers and casts his sons Taj and Amar in the roles of musicians such as Bob Dylan, Nat King Cole, Marvin Gaye, and more. Judging by the amount of old-school hip hop, jazz, funk, and soul on his Tumblr, we’d say that Underwood’s sons are getting a fine education in music… Read More
For diehard music fans, visiting the exact location where your favorite album cover was shot is a necessary pilgrimage (this is true of even non-diehards: surely not every tourist who’s crossed Abbey Road with a long stride and a purpose has actually obsessively listened to the record). But thanks to Google and The Guardian, you no longer have to spend hundreds or thousands of dollars trekking to one particular set of geographic coordinates. Now, you can see these famous places from comfort of your own computer screen. As part of The Guardian’s Google Street View series, their “Street View Specialist” has pinpointed the exact locations immortalized on classic album covers, then set them against each other like poetic little windows into the past. … Read More
You know how it goes: a band or a musician puts out a stellar first album, receives heaps of praise and success, and then goes back to the recording studio and turns out a second album. What a bummer, it’s not as good. But is this trend a real thing, or just a myth fueled by how disappointed we, as listeners and critics, can be when artists’ albums don’t live up to our expectations? What follows shows that plenty of great artists were able to avoid the sophomore slump — and, in some cases, turned out the best album of their careers.… Read More
Those of us who sat through the entire one-sided Super Bowl drubbing the Seattle Seahawks gave the Denver Broncos did it either because we really wanted to see the Legion of Boom raise the Vince Lombardi above their heads or because we wanted to see the rest of the commercials. For our trouble, we were treated to Axe Body Spray moving beyond their typical sexist stupidity to exploit Middle America’s fears of war waged by people in the Middle East and Asia. Some viewers were upset by Coca-Cola and Cheerios because the brands’ ads didn’t fit their narrow-minded views of what is and isn’t American, and Scarlett Johansson tried to sell us on SodaStream, which, if you don’t know why that’s controversial, I’ll just point you here. … Read More