Backstage at the Grand Ole Opry is a convivial commotion of rehearsing and visiting, a friends-and-family ethos that infuses the show on stage with heart, even if the audience can’t see it directly. On February 13, that energy and affection was focused on a single performer, a gentleman with a beatific smile and a signature silver pompadour who slipped easily from conversation to the stage for multiple collaborations. A double-take birthday cake in the coffee lounge told the story. This evening was designated the “Grand Del Opry,” celebrating the 80th birthday of America’s most revered and influential living traditional bluegrass artist, Del McCoury.Read More
I refuse to give up on the idea of the record label.
You can talk about creative destruction and market disruption all you like, but the way I see it, a well-practiced dance of art and commerce became a violent mosh pit around the year 2000. Record companies were hurt worst of all in the great digital dislocation. Some of the labels that nurtured my own music fandom either went away or were absorbed into multi-layered corporations. Some newfangled artist development companies popped up that treated releases like part of the marketing department. And yet the idea – the ethos – of the independently run record label must live on. New West Records, going strong at 20 years old, gives me faith that it will.Read More
It’s a time in America when fights that felt settled, struggles that felt vindicated, are back. Maybelle Carter, Loretta Lynn and Reba did not travel and travail to leave to their heiresses a country music business that looks like it did in 2018. Women in Nashville aspiring to write and record country music for a living end the year incredulous and exasperated.Read More
A few weeks ago, I got caught off guard – yet again - by Bob Dylan. Passing some highway drive time with one of those Spotify new release mixes, amid new cuts from Colter Wall and Rosanne Cash, I heard an unmistakable voice from decades ago. Dylan, sounding as tender and tuneful as any acclaimed folkie of today, was singing “You’re A Big Girl Now” with only his acoustic guitar and harmonica. This was not the version I know in my cells from 1975’s Blood On The Tracks.
I listened with new ears, quietly singing along to the sad, succulent lyrics: “Bird on the horizon, sitting on a fence/He’s singing his song for me, at his own expense.” What started as commuter’s surprise became a time tunnel back to the late 1980s when I pored over that album as if it was scripture. As soon as I could safely check my phone, I found this previously unreleased version of the song had just come out on an official bootleg recording called More Blood, More Tracks, the fourteenth volume of Columbia Records’ official Dylan bootleg series. Its six CDs include all the surviving tape, with multiple takes, studio banter, false starts and rehearsals. When it comes to Dylan, there is always more.
Brain's Song: Vanderbilt Researchers Seek a New Kind of Harmony as Music Unlocks the Secrets of the Mind
In college — well before she decided to become a neuroscientist, or even knew there was such a thing — Reyna Gordon studied opera singing. Her questions for the faculty, however, began drifting beyond melodies and appoggiaturas into the realm of science. Why does music make us feel such strong emotions? How does it work on us?
Nobody had answers. Yet the more intense the feelings a piece of music provoked, the more her curiosity grew.Read More