Madonna, Bettye LaVette, and Joe Henry: Whose Version of “Stop” is the Best?

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The new album by Bettye LaVette, produced by Joe Henry, features some excellent test cases when it comes to the subject of cover songs. … [Read more...]

Taylor Swift, Nirvana, Andrew Peterson, and Bob Dylan All Appear in This Headline

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Imagine that your favorite band tries on a new sound, or a new look.Imagine that fans are not happy, and they complain about it.Imagine that the band decides to push back... in song.It's happened before. It's happened quite frequently, actually. Taylor Swift, Bob Dylan, The Decemberists, and U2 have all answered their fans and critics in song.  … [Read more...]

What Do Rhiannon Giddens, Sam Phillips, and the Movie “Amélie” Have in Common?

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When a music critic declares an album “perfect,” it tends to say more about that listener’s enthusiasm—and, perhaps, hubris—than it does about the record. So I’m holding myself back from that kind of overreach here.Suffice it to say that I’d have a hard time imagining a stronger “debut” record for Rhiannon Giddens than Tomorrow Is My Turn, an album that seems to immediately negate its own title by declaring “Today! Today belongs to Giddens.” … [Read more...]

The Lone Bellow, U2, Bob Dylan, and Aaron Strumpel – or, How I Learned to Stop Scowling and Love Liturgy

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Catholics. Among the fundamentalist evangelicals who surrounded me as I was growing up, the word bordered the obscene. I trusted that there were good reasons for this. I was always quick to believe unflattering things that adults told me about other cultures, communities, and church denominations. I felt more secure if could dismiss as a waste of time—or as the way of fools and villains—what I did not understand. And from a distance, Catholic tradition looked suspiciously foreign, weird, and mys … [Read more...]

What Breakup Record Cuts Your Heart Open? Readers Respond!

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Last week, I invited you to listen closer to Björk’s song “Stonemilker” — the first song on Vulnicura, the Icelandic artist’s brave and beautiful musical chronicle of struggles with (and, ultimately, severance from) a great love.As I marinated in that music, I began thinking about how commonly I hear songs about heartbreak, but how rarely they have that raw, serrated quality of actual human experience.And then I posted a question on Facebook and elsewhere: What breakup songs or breakup re … [Read more...]

Listening Closer: Bjork’s “Stonemilker”

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On Facebook last week, I asked people to share their favorite breakup songs and breakup albums. I’d become enthralled by a powerful new album lamenting the loss of love and of a family unit, and I wanted reference points to help me evaluate it fairly and avoid exaggeration and hyperbole in describing it.My interest in the specific titles posted on my Facebook page — “Coldplay’s Ghost Stories!” “Adele’s 21!” Simon and Garfunkel’s ‘I Am a Rock!’” — was quickly surpassed by my interest in the sh … [Read more...]

Boyhood: The Podcast!

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It has arrived: The epic podcast conversation about Richard Linklater's Boyhood (and his other films as well). … [Read more...]

At Image: Kelly Foster on “Why I Watch Sex and the City”

I knew that if Image journal ran a piece on the Sex and the City controversy, that I would gain some perspective that I'd been lacking in the heat of the recent debate.Sure enough, Kelly Foster's honest, personal testimony, "Why I Watch Sex and the City, has made me wish I'd waited a month or two before responding. … [Read more...]


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