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The Donald Fagen Papers

The Donald Fagen Papers

I SAW HIM in concert once. It was a Steely Dan concert, 2006, at an outdoor venue in summertime Virginia. While we waited for Donald Fagen and Walter Becker — the founding members of the Dan — to ...

Freedom at the End of a Gospel Song

Freedom at the End of a Gospel Song

ON A SUNDAY in April 1965, the Staple Singers — Roebuck “Pops” Staples and three of his children: Mavis, Cleotha, and Pervis — performed for a large congregation at New Nazareth Church on Chic...

The Sounds of Soulsville, U.S.A.

The Sounds of Soulsville, U.S.A.

WITH THE DECLINE of magazine page space and the withering of once-towering institutions like Rolling Stone and The Village Voice, many have declared music writing dead. It’s certainly changed since ...

Parker’s Theme: An Overture

Parker’s Theme: An Overture

TO GET THAT QUIVER he wanted, he’d take the reed of his saxophone and make it just the right kind of fine, applying sandpaper, fire, and knife. “He was trying everything he could think of to push ...

The Man in Black in Shades of Gray

The Man in Black in Shades of Gray

JUST SIX MONTHS after Johnny Cash released At Folsom Prison in May 1968, he followed it up with The Holy Land. Documenting an early-morning concert in January 1968, the former has a well-earned reputa...

Pete Seeger was no Llewyn Davis

Pete Seeger was no Llewyn Davis

“Pete, I have heard you play that melody for all of twenty years.” “Fifteen, but who’s counting?” —  Lee Hays and Pete Seeger on The Weavers at Carnegie Hall (1955)   ONE OF T...

The Lonesome Deaths of Bob Dylan

The Lonesome Deaths of Bob Dylan

TO THE UNCHARITABLE, books about Bob Dylan might seem like Dylan concerts: needlessly numerous, comprising curious or barely competent recapitulations of work done better long ago. In Once Upon a Tim...