Monthly Archives: January 2012

10 Commandments of Guitar Playing

I just came across the “10 Commandments of Guitar Playing” as written by Captain Beefheart and handed down to Moris Tepper, the band’s guitarist from 1976 – 1982. 1. Listen to the birds. That’s where all the music comes from. … Continue reading

Posted in Jazz, Rock n Roll | 2 Comments

I Sing Because I’m Happy, I Sing Because I’m Free

MLK Day usually finds me in a slightly sour mood by nightfall. Usually, as today, I’ve had to endure a fair amount of diversity talk. Now, I’m all for pluralism – for me a less fraught word than diversity, because … Continue reading

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Take a Load for Free

How can Mavis Staples sound exactly as good as ever? Nick Lowe has something of the sweet, sweet sound of Papa Staples. But, as much as Billy and Dad like Jeff Tweedy, he doesn’t quite have the wild-eyed voice of … Continue reading

Posted in Rock n Roll, Soul | Leave a comment

Auditory Cheesecake?

A little while back I read in Steven Pinker’s How the Mind Works that he thinks music is “auditory cheesecake,” and “it could vanish from our species and the rest of our lifestyle would be virtually unchanged.” The obvious poverty … Continue reading

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Karl Barth’s Letter to Mozart . . . Courage, Tempo, and Peace

My dear Conductor and Court Composer: Someone got the curious idea of inviting me and a few others to write a “letter of thanks to Mozart” for his newspaper. At first I shook my head and even looked at the … Continue reading

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Ben Webster

If a jazz improvisation is its performer’s personality, as Duke Ellington once said, then Ben Webster was one of the greatest personalities in all American art of the twentieth century. I would put him alongside William Carlos Williams, I have … Continue reading

Posted in Jazz | 3 Comments