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...]

An Hour of Wisdom and Storytelling with Joe Henry

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Joe Henry, who recorded my favorite record of 2014 (Invisible Hour), was the guest on the latest installment of the excellent podcast On Being, with Krista Tippett.He shared a lot of wisdom about the art of songwriting and about the life of an artist. I was frequently moved and inspired, wishing I could reach for a pen (I was driving as I listened).In a late stretch of the show, he spoke about how easy it is to feel small and invisible as an artist. He said, "I'm ashamed to think, in my e … [Read more...]

Listening Closer to Joe Henry’s “Sparrow,” The Lone Bellow, and Jessica Pratt

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It started back when I learned to diagram sentences. Elementary school weirdo that I was, I loved it.I loved taking a complicated sentence and chalking its various parts on the blackboard until it looked like a tree branch stripped by winter. But unlike the dissected frogs in my science class, diagrammed sentences seemed even more alive when we were finished with them. In a way, I’m still pursuing that strange exercise, for there are profound mysteries living within great songs, just b … [Read more...]

Looking Elsewhere: Blood Oranges, Image, Hurray for the Riff Raff, PJ Harvey, Lightsabers, P.D. James, and More.

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The last couple of weeks have been full of terrible news and similarly terrible shows of hard-heartedness and prejudice, with the headlines dominated by violence, racism, injustice, riots, and worse. Thus, I've been especially drawn to rare flashes of goodness, humor, and grace.Some of those have come in the form of the Christmas party playlists that I've published here at the blog, thanks to Joe Henry, Ashley Cleveland, and several more that I'll post in the coming days.And here are a … [Read more...]

Joe Henry Presents a Christmas Playlist

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I've wanted to do this for a long time now. Oh, how I love it when a plan comes together.As I was growing up, my family watched holiday television specials that featured a variety of beloved artists performing favorite Christmas songs. I may not have the stuff to host a TV show, but I have website, and I've been blessed by some generous musicians who have agreed to participate in a Playlist party.So grab your headphones.This post is the first of several playlists I've requested from … [Read more...]

Listen Closer: Joe Henry; Peter Gabriel & Elbow; The Secret Sisters; Hiss Golden Messenger; Belle & Sebastian; Beck Covers Arcade Fire

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Got headphones?For my money, the most exciting title on the summer music calendar is Joe Henry's new album Invisible Hour, which rivals his finest records. (Two of my favorite connoisseurs, Andy Whitman and Josh Hurst, have already declared it the album of the year, and maybe the album of the decade.)Here's a Soundcloud link to the song "Lead Me On," which features Lisa Hannigan.Does anybody write about the mystery of music more beautifully than Joe Henry? Here's an excerpt from his … [Read more...]

Listen Closer: Peter Gabriel, Joe Henry

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My musical journey through 2014 begins with a bunch of my favorite artists together on one record performing Peter Gabriel covers. And right off the bat, I'm impressed. David Byrne's version of "I Don't Remember" is fantastic. … [Read more...]

Linford Detweiler of Over the Rhine interviews Joe Henry in Image

The new issue of Image is out! Order yours today.In the meantime, you can get a preview online... … [Read more...]

Reverie – The New Joe Henry Album

NPR First Listen is streaming one of my favorite 2011 records.And...  … [Read more...]

Happy Half-Century to Joe Henry!

In honor of a man who, as of today, has lived a half-century, here is a birthday song by They Might Be Giants. I've chosen this song for two reasons: … [Read more...]


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