I’ve written an essay on John Mellencamp’s masterpiece, Scarecrow, for the Progressive, and its enduring musical and political relevance. Read at the Progressive Magazine!
Tag Archives: Music
New Essay at CounterPunch – “Getting Away with Murder: Gov’t Mule as Model of Countercultural Excellence
After attending a recent Gov’t Mule performance, which was characteristically intense, creative, and profound, I was inspired to write about the band as a model of countercultural excellence, advancing the tradition of everything from Walt Whitman’s poetry to The Grateful Dead’s freewheeling music. As an exercise in dissection, I attempt to determine what makes Mule’s music so uniquely powerful, and how it can serve as an instrument of hope for anyone attempting to color outside the lines in an increasingly cold and corporate culture.
Read at CounterPunch.
New Interview with Norah Jones
I had the immense pleasure and privilege of interviewing one of our greatest songwriters and performers – the brilliant and elegant, Norah Jones!
We discussed the deluxe box set edition of “Come Away with Me,” her magnificent debut album, now available to mark its 20th anniversary. Read our conversation at Salon.
New Podcast Interview on “Mellencamp: American Troubadour”
Perfect for a rainy day: The premiere of a new episode of the outstanding podcast, Songfacts. The gracious guest host, Carl Wiser, interviewed me about John Mellencamp’s music, and all things related to the forthcoming publication of my book, Mellencamp: American Troubadour, in an updated paperback edition!
New Essay at the Progressive: Neil Young’s Righteous Crusade
I have a new story at the Progressive on Neil Young’s “righteous crusade” against Spotify. In my analysis, it represents a much larger fight against the corporate capture of the arts, and the dominance of greed as a decision-making calculus, no matter how destructive to public health or the common good. As Neil himself sings, “Have to shut the whole system down!”
Story on Gov’t Mule’s New Record featuring Interview with Warren Haynes
I recently had a great conversation with musical colossus Warren Haynes about Gov’t Mule’s new record, Heavy Load Blues. Read my story about the new record, and why blues music is most important and effective in times of hardship at No Depression.
A New Interview with Kirk Hammett
I recently interviewed Kirk Hammett, lead guitarist of Metallica. This is the fifth time we’ve talked, and he is always full of insight and joyful spirit. I first interviewed Hammett, along with all the other members of Metallica, while writing my 33 1/3 book on the Black Album. We had a fascinating and freewheeling conversation about the composition, recording, and seemingly endless life of the record – a conversation that also touched on Hammett’s acceptance of Buddhist philosophy, how the Civil Rights and anti-war movements influenced him at an early age, and his broader thoughts on music.
Since then, we’ve talked about Lemmy Kilmister, and the collaboration album with Lou Reed, Lulu. The release of the Black Album boxset, and the debut of the Black Album episode on the 33 1/3 Spotify podcast, presented the perfect opportunity to have another discussion.
On October 1st, I interviewed Kirk Hammett about the Black Album, his philosophy of creativity, and the often misunderstood identity of Metallica. 333 Sound, the website for the outstanding 33 1/3 book series, has published our discussion.
Read our wide ranging conversation about Metallica, the Black Album, creativity, intellectual curiosity, and Woodstock ’99.
“Pushing Back Against Authority”: Son Volt, and the Power of Protest Music
The new Son Volt record, Electro Melodier, is the best collection of political songs in many years. I had the pleasure of exchanging emails with Jay Farrar, songwriter and singer for the band, in July. I’ve written an essay on Son Volt, and the importance of protest music, for the July 30th weekend edition of CounterPunch.
The Dark History of The Indian Runner, Sean Penn’s Meditation on American Violence, By Way of Bruce Springsteen
I have a new essay at CrimeReads about Sean Penn’s screenwriting and directorial debut, “The Indian Runner” – a profound and deeply moving film that Penn based on the Bruce Springsteen song, “Highway Patrolman.”
“The Indian Runner” powerfully applies to America’s current crises, as it deftly and bravely explores the violence in American history and the American psyche. Read my essay to get the full story behind the movie, and my own interpretation.
Interview on “Pause for Justice” Radio Program
I was recently a guest on the “Pause for Justice” radio program, broadcasting out of the University of St. Francis in Joliet, IL. Gracious and thoughtful host, Allison Heard, and I had a great conversation about my book, “I Am Somebody: Why Jesse Jackson Matters,” as well as related issues of civil rights and social justice.
Ms. Heard also gave me the opportunity to select the songs that would play during the broadcast. Here were my choices:
- “Think” by Aretha Franklin
- “What’s Going On?” by Marvin Gaye
- “I Remember, I Believe” by Lizz Wright
- “Peaceful World” by John Mellencamp with India.Arie
- “People Have the Power” by Patti Smith