Dave Thompson, author of Hearts of Darkness, spoke with Tony Basilio on 99.7 FM, Knoxville, Tennessee’s very own Tony Basilio Show. They spoke about all things James Taylor, Jackson Browne, and Cat Stevens and how they launched the age of the singer-songwriter in the 1970s.
Hearts of Darkness is the story of a generation’s coming of age through the experiences of its three most atypical pop stars. James Taylor, Jackson Browne, and Cat Stevens could never have been considered your typical late-sixties songwriters – self-absorbed and self-composed, all three eschewed the traditional means of delivering their songs, instead turning its process inward. The result was a body of work that stands among the most profoundly personal art ever to translate into an international language, and a sequence of songs – from “Sweet Baby James” and “Carolina in My Mind,” to “Jamaica Say You Will” and “These Days,” to “Peace Train” and “Wild World” – that remain archetypes not only of what the critics called the singer-songwriter movement, but of the human condition itself.
Author Dave Thompson, himself a legend among rock biographers, takes on his subjects with his usual brio and candor, leaving no stone unturned in his quest to shine a light on the dark side of this profoundly earnest era in popular music. Penetrating, pointed, and laced with vivid insight and detail, Hearts of Darkness is the story of rock when it no longer felt the need to roll.
Today, Ian Anderson turns 68 years old! To celebrate the life and career of the man who brought the flute to rock and roll, here is an excerpt from Prog Rock FAQ: All Thats Left to Know About Rock’s Most Progressive Music, published last fall by Backbeat Books, in which author Will Romano writes about Anderson, Jethro Tull, and their album, Aqualung.
We know that the Tull head honcho himself has said that Aqualung is not a concept record; in fact, Ian Anderson has long maintained that it was the public’s interpretation, or misinterpretation, of the origins of this record that inspired him to write the concept album spoof Thick as a Brick. So, why the debate and discussion about whether Aqualung is a concept record? For one thing, there are still lingering doubts as to whether we should be taking Anderson’s word for it, or making up our minds. Anderson has said that the making of Aqualung was the first time he undertook a conscious effort to write material with serious subject matters, a fact that seemingly has offered conspiracy theorists plenty of fodder for the rumor mill.
The character of Aqualung was based on a photograph of a homeless man, taken by Anderson’s first wife, Jenny, who had been studying photography at the time, and her description of the man. These observations were incorporated into the opening song, “Aqualung.” “The mixture of guilt and compassion, embarrassment and sadness, all of these things are slightly more feminine emotions,” Anderson told me. They found their way into this record, anyway; one that’s dirty, heavy, complicated, mean, and, at times, bordering on sexually perverse (i.e., “Cross Eyed Mary,” “Mother Goose,” the latter being a combination of absurd humor and double entendre).
To read more about Jethro Tull and other progressive rock bands, you can buy the book here.
If the fourth of his videos discussing his new book, Shout It Out Loud: The Story of Kiss’s Destroyer and the Making of an American Icon, James Campion talks about why he believes Destroyer was worthy of a book of its own and everything he packed into it!
For over 40 years, the rock band Kiss has galvanized the entertainment world with an unparalleled blitz of bravado, theatricality, and shameless merchandizing, garnering generations of loyally rabid fans. But if not for a few crucial months in late 1975 and early 1976, Kiss may have ended up nothing more than a footnote.
Shout It Out Loud is a serious examination of the circumstance and serendipity that fused the creation of the band’s seminal work, Destroyer – including the band’s arduous ascent to the unexpected smash hit, Alive!, the ensuing lawsuits between its management and its label, the pursuit of the hot, young producer, a grueling musical “boot camp,” the wildly creative studio abandon, the origins behind an iconic cover, the era’s most outlandish tour, and the unlikely string of hit singles.
Extensive research from the period and insights into each song are enhanced by hundreds of archived materials and dozens of interviews surrounding the mid-’70s-era Kiss and its zeitgeist. New interviews with major principals in the making of an outrageously imaginative rock classic animate this engaging tale.
Denise McKinney, author of Morrissey FAQ: All That’s Left To Know About This Charming Man, visited Pop Culture Tonight to talk with Patrick Phillips about what inspired her to write the book and how she to wanted readers to get a more in depth look at Morrissey. Take a listen on the link below!
No one can argue that Morrissey is one of the best lyricists and charismatic front men in music history. But people love to argue about other things – his mysterious personal life, his pompous attitude, and the history and meaning behind his biggest hits.
Morrissey FAQ will put to rest any questions and doubts about the singer known around the world for his meaningful lyrics and biting wit. Readers will also learn about his passions, his weaknesses, the people who love him, the people who hate him, and the people who want to be him. Not since Elvis have fans been so obsessed with a singer; they fight with each other at concerts, they rush and tackle him onstage, they dress and act like him, and they even build shrines dedicated to him. Liking Morrissey isn’t just liking his music – it’s a way of life.
Morrissey is known for his over-the-top lyrics, his stage antics, his philosophies, and his whining. But after reading this book and digging deeper into the brooding mystique that is Morrissey, you’ll also start whining… for more Moz!
This summer, just like every summer since the mid-1930s, musicians and music lovers have come together at Tanglewood in Lenox, Massachusetts. In her book, Tanglewood: A Group Memoir, Peggy Daniel recounts the Tanglewood story as told in first-person accounts by such Tanglewood luminaries as Leonard Bernstein, Serge Koussevitzky, Aaron Copland, Erich Leinsdorf, Phyllis Curtin, Seiji Ozawa, Yo-Yo Ma, Dawn Upshaw, John Harbison, James Levine, and many of the leading musicians, critics, and music professionals who consider Tanglewood a second home.
To mark the start of this year’s festival, the Boston Globe compiled its list of “Seven Books About the Tanglewood Music Festival,” and it begins is list with Tanglewood: A Group Memoir.
I love a good headline as much as anyone, and here’s a peach from the Associated Press: “Dowagers Thumb Ride to Symphonic Concert.” It seems these dowagers were among 3,000 hardy music lovers who, one night in 1942, hitchhiked, walked, or biked to Tanglewood, where Serge Koussevitzky conducted Haydn’s Symphony no. 88 and Shostakovich’s Fifth Symphony under the August stars. This was during the war. So many events got canceled that year, due to fuel rationing, but not this one. When Koussevitzky took the stage, the Berkshire Eagle reports, he got a “greeting in which vociferousness surpassed record and remembrance.”
Peggy Daniel has loaded all sorts of goodies like this into “Tanglewood: A Group Memoir” (Amadeus, 2008). It’s full of dowagers with pluck, led by Gertrude Robinson Smith, a socially prominent New Yorker who strong-armed all her connections to launch the music festival during the Depression, fanning out ticket subscription teams to recruit at Rotary and Kiwanis meetings, granges and garden clubs. The recruiters touted the joy of music, plus the joy of jobs: The festival would hire local unemployed electricians, carpenters, and others to build the stages and work the events.
This dowager-meets-laborer quality has set the tone of Tanglewood from the onset. It’s a place of low-price-ticket rehearsals plus high-society picnics, James Taylor plus Anton Dvorak, classical music chestnuts plus avant-garde offerings. The book trumpets Tanglewood’s bolder moments, in fact, like how the festival championed new American composers early on, and how in the 1940s and ’50s, it was the “foremost laboratory for operatic experimentation” according to the conductor/impresario Boris Goldovsky.
There’s also some choice gossip here. The early years contained many catfights with the Boston Symphony Orchestra, it appears, and tales of the vagaries of performing outside. To wit, real thunder and lightning heightened Wagner’s “Ride of the Valkyries,” and when “Peter Grimes” was staged on a broiling day in 1946, stagehands hosed down a tar paper rock just before the tenor “died” slowly upon it, not willing to burn himself for art.
Read the rest of Katharine Whittemore’s list here.
The Art of Horror An Illustrated History is filled with rare and unfamiliar images, sourced from archives and private collections around the world. Fans of horror and the unknown will enjoy this book and its 10 chapters of themed genres such as, vampires, zombies, demons, aliens, and more. This book has a wide range of topics starting from the history of horror all the way to the development of art and graphic design. It will also become a major source book for collectors and traders of horror memorabilia. For a sneak peek click here.
Amazingly, there has never been a book quite like The Art of Horror An Illustrated History (October 13, 2015): a celebration of fearful images, compiled and presented by some of the genre’s most respected names. While acknowledging the beginnings of horror-related art in legends and folk tales, the focus of the book is on how the genre has presented itself to the world since the creations of Bram Stoker and Mary Shelley.
The stunning illustrations featured in The Art of Horror will captivate you right from the start. With chapters like, The Blood Is The Life, Man-Made Monsters, and Giant Behemoths, Editor Stephen Jones showcases an unprecedented collection of some 400 of the finest examples of horror-related art. Each chapter begins with an overview of the featured area of the genre, and also contains two special features on specific topics (e.g. Bram Stoker’s Dracula, or the paintings of Clive Barker). These 10 chapters also showcases quotes from artists/illustrators, and a selection from writers and filmmakers, are featured throughout.
Jones and his stellar team of contributors have sourced visuals from archives and private collections (including their own!) worldwide, ensuring an unprecedented selection that is accessible to those discovering the genre. They also include many images that will be rare and unfamiliar to even the most committed fan. From early engravings, via dust jackets, book illustrations, pulp magazines, movie posters, comic books and paintings, to today’s artists working entirely in the digital realm. It’s all here, from the shockingly lurid to the hauntingly beautiful.
Here’s a sneak preview of The Art of Horror An Illustrated History.
Percussionist and electronic performing artist Josh Bess is the author of Electronic Dance Music Grooves: Techno, Trance, Hip-Hop, Dubstep, and More! , just published by Hal Leonard Books. In the video, Bess takes us behind the scenes as he creates drum grooves!
Electronic Dance Music Grooves provides creative insights to help you understand how to build exciting, powerful, and compelling EDM grooves. Whether you’re into techno, trance, dub-step, drum ‘n’ bass, garage, trap, or hip-hop, author, Ableton Live Certified Trainer, and noted EDM performer Josh Bess helps you take your skills to the next level with an extremely efficient and intelligent groove-making system. And, as an added bonus–providing a valuable basis for your own creations–this book describes the history behind the development of multiple electronic music styles.
A MIDI map, designed to make it simple to use the included grooves and samples with virtually any modern DAW, accompanies each styles. Whether your preferred DAW is Ableton Live, Reason, Pro Tools, Logic, or almost any of the other popular music production and performance software applications, you’ll quickly be equipped to incorporate these grooves and samples into your own creative workflow.
Electronic Dance Music Grooves includes over 300 professional-quality drum and FX samples, more than 300 drum grooves and MIDI files, 17 Ableton Live Drum Racks, and much more, all provided to support your creativity and electronic dance music production. Samples and sessions are delivered online to ensure access to all content, whether you’re using a desktop, laptop, or mobile device.