(What’s So Funny About) Peace, Love, and Understanding

In Letters to a Young Poet, Rainer Maria Rilke advises the following: “Irony: Do not let yourself be governed by it, especially not in uncreative moments. In creative moments try to make use of it as one more means of grasping life. Cleanly used, it too is clean, and one need not be ashamed ofContinue reading “(What’s So Funny About) Peace, Love, and Understanding”

The Lovers That Never Were: The Paul McCartney & Elvis Costello Demos

In 1987, Paul McCartney invited Elvis Costello to write songs together. Over a series of sessions, they created a body of work from which both artists pulled selections for various albums over the years. The songs written by this partnership were used to augment their own individual work, filling in cracks when either member neededContinue reading “The Lovers That Never Were: The Paul McCartney & Elvis Costello Demos”

Uncomplicated

Renowned minimalist Lou Reed once said: “One chord is fine. Two chords are pushing it. Three chords and you’re into jazz.” Rock ‘n roll has plenty of examples of one-chord songs. “Chain of Fools” is filled with such incredible vocal interplay between Aretha Franklin and her background singers that the lack of a chord changeContinue reading “Uncomplicated”

Deportee

Elvis Costello and The Attractions released their album Goodbye Cruel World in June 1984. To say Costello was disappointed with the album is an understatement. In the liner notes for the re-release of Goodbye Cruel World, Costello wrote: “Congratulations! You’ve just purchased our worst album.” After the release of the album, Costello took stock whileContinue reading “Deportee”

Beyond Belief

In 2004, Elvis Costello wrote a lengthy appreciation of The Beatles for Rolling Stone: “I first heard of The Beatles when I was nine years old…I was exactly the right age to be hit by them full on. My experience — seizing on every picture, saving money for singles and EPs, catching them on aContinue reading “Beyond Belief”

See You Later, Allen Ginsberg

“See you later, alligator” is an expression of which we don’t know the original author or point of origin, similar to a street joke. According to research, the first known recorded usage of the phrase was “published in the Honolulu Star-Bulletin (Honolulu, Hawaii) of 1st May 1952” in a column titled “Teenagers’ Slang Expressions AreContinue reading “See You Later, Allen Ginsberg”

Sad-Eyed Lady of the Lowlands

“This is the best song I ever wrote.” So said Bob Dylan with evident pride about “Sad-Eyed Lady of the Lowlands” to journalist Robert Shelton in a Denver hotel room during an impromptu performance on March 12, 1966. Dylan was showing off the song and a few others (including “Positively Van Gogh” covered previously onContinue reading “Sad-Eyed Lady of the Lowlands”

Quinn the Eskimo (The Mighty Quinn)

In the days after my wife and I told our friends that we were expecting our first child, a friend handed me an article torn out of GQ or Esquire with examples of music that parents can play for their kids that won’t turn the parents’ stomach. Included on the list was Bob Dylan’s TheContinue reading “Quinn the Eskimo (The Mighty Quinn)”

Like a Rolling Stone

The first time I listened to Bob Dylan was after seeking him out. I was a junior in high school and had been in a serious Beatles phase for a few years. I had listened to every Beatles song multiple times, even buying bootleg Beatles albums with murky sound quality and murky origins with myContinue reading “Like a Rolling Stone”

I Dreamed I Saw St. Augustine

John Wesley Harding was released in late 1967, the first work heard by the outside world for about 18 months since the release of Blonde on Blonde. It’s also the first Dylan music heard by the general public after the motorcycle accident in which there were varying reports about the severity of Dylan’s injuries. TheContinue reading “I Dreamed I Saw St. Augustine”