January 12, 2017


How to Listen to Music

I can determine with some precision when music began to matter to me. Until I was about 12 1/2, music was something that played in the background at times, but to which I paid no real attention. I heard it mostly on AM radio. It meant nothing to me. Then, quite suddenly, with no warning, in the middle of January, 1964, I heard The Beatles for the first time, singing “I Want to Hold Your Hand.” It's hard to overstate what a shock this was.


November 15, 2016

Leonard Cohen, tracks

“Hallelujah” by Leonard Cohen

The history of Leonard Cohen's song “Hallelujah” is a fascinating one. Cohen's songs had never really been embraced by the masses, and his first recording of “Hallelujah” in the early eighties was part of an album so lacking in obvious commercial appeal that the president of CBS Records responded to it by saying: “What is this? This isn't pop music. We're not releasing it. This is a disaster.”


February 22, 2015

Film, Richard Glatzer

The Name Above the Title

Etched forever in my memory is one snowy night on South U. in Ann Arbor, when Rich Glatzer and I stood for an hour in the freezing night, unable to stop talking about the film we had just seen.


February 21, 2015

Lyle Lovett, tracks

If I Had a Boat

This has always been my favorite Lyle Lovett recording. The singer starts with the chorus, which is then repeated after each verse. Both musically and lyrically, it starts out as a simple children's song, with gentle, bright finger-picking on the guitar.


February 16, 2014

Film, Frank Capra

My Favorite Capra Movies, in Glorious Black and White

Frank Capra's films offer a wonderful take on America, still as relevant today as the day they were when first released.


Next: The Name Above the Title