Leon Russell dies

Another icon of my youth, Leon Russell, passed away at age 74.  A piano player from Lawton, Oklahoma, Russell became a member of the “wrecking crew,” that set of session musicians who were responsible for most of the pop music coming out of L.A. in the early sixties, from the Beach Boys to the Mamas and the Papas and the Byrds.  From there, he started playing with British stars, of the magnitude of John Lennon, George Harrison, Joe Cocker, and Eric Clapton.  Also Bob Dylan, Willie Nelson, and. . .you name it.  The man knew everybody and his eclectic taste meant that he played just about everything.

He was also the main originator of the “Tulsa Sound,” with its country rock boogie-woogie shuffle that made a mark in the 1970s.  I grew up in the Tulsa area around then, and Leon was part of that silly teenaged scene on local late night TV with Mazeppa Pompazoidi (Gaylord Sartain) and Teddy Jack Eddy (Gary Busey).  I remember driving to Tulsa to hear a free concert in a park with Leon and B.B. King, one of the best concerts I’ve ever heard.

After the jump, a link to an informative obituary and a video of what he could do. [Read more…]

Bob Dylan was just “speechless”

What was Bob Dylan’s reaction to the news that he had won the Nobel Prize for Literature?  Nothing. He made no reference to it in the press or in his concerts.  He didn’t call or take a call from the Swedish academy.

Lot of people, including the Nobel Committee, considered this to be arrogant.  We fans considered it just another example of Dylan’s utter coolness.  To ignore the Nobel Prize!

But now Dylan has responded.  It turns out, he says, the award just left him “speechless.”  Read more after the jump and follow the links. [Read more…]

Bob Dylan wins the Nobel Prize

Bob Dylan has won the Nobel Prize.

The Peace Prize for “Blowin’ in the Wind” and “Masters of War”?  No.  The Chemistry Prize for his duets with Joan Baez?  No.  The Prize for Music?  There is no prize for music.  He won the Prize for Literature.

OK, even many of us Dylan fans responded to the news with a “huh?”  Are songwriters to be counted in the ranks of novelists, dramatists, and poets?  Well, why not?  Poetry used to be accompanied by music anyway, which is why we call it “lyric.”  And Dylan is nothing if not a poet.

So congratulations to the one true Bob.  And I hope that Pete, our resident Dylan scholar here at the Cranach Institute, weighs in.  I can’t wait to hear what Dylan will say at his acceptance speech. [Read more…]

A meditation on Elvis 

Elvis Presley died on August 16, 1977.  In honor of that anniversary, Sarah Condon at Mockingbird posted a meditation that is both nostalgic and moving. [Read more…]

“O, Death”: Ralph Stanley dies

 

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Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven” compared with Spirit’s “Taurus”

A lawsuit claimed that the opening riff to Led Zeppelin’s iconic “Stairway to Heaven” was plagiarized from the earlier song “Taurus” by the rock group Spirit.  A jury has  just ruled in Led Zeppelin’s favor.

Go to this site, which lets you play both tunes.  Do they not sound EXACTLY THE SAME? [Read more…]