John Hiatt is not a musician I know as much about as I probably should. I don’t think I could name you one of his songs without looking, though I’ve heard plenty. And this is strange, because he plays with people I love – Lyle Lovett, Ry Cooder. He grew up a few blocks from […]Read more "Now is the cool of the day"
I first decided to try to learn to play guitar about six years ago. I was living in Illinois, near the last stop on the Northwest train line from Chicago. We’d had a really bad storm that knocked out our power (and with it our access to our well water) and had gone to find […]Read more "13 Ways of playing “Blackbird”"
Yesterday, my husband handed me an article by New Yorker staff writer Vinson Cunningham on his love for Motown and Holland–Dozier–Holland (H–D–H). This passage jumped out at me: H-D-H always wrote and arranged the music first, and even without lyrics their compositions speak of romance that is wrenching and helpless, though not always sexual. There’s […]Read more "chicken/egg"
I don’t remember why I started listening to so much Sam Phillips. I was working on an article a year or two ago on music on the TV show Gilmore Girls, so that might be what started it, but I’ve been a fan since the late 1980s when she released The Indescribable Wow. “Holding on to […]Read more "The Sam Phillips Project"
Back in middle and high school I used to write really terrible songs. I’d write them at the piano. This was an odd choice in retrospect, because I was a violinist. But it wasn’t so easy to sing and play violin at the same time. And really, until I discovered Laurie Anderson my sophomore year, it […]Read more "The Songwriter’s Toolkit"
On a very hot day in the summer of 2015, I left my apartment near Prospect Park in Brooklyn and went for a long and very sweaty walk to clear my head, not thinking too hard about where I was going. Normally when I need to get out, I head to the park where I can […]Read more "Why song?: A love story"