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The Method Singer

The Method Singer

THERE SHE STANDS in the spotlight on a dark stage, an elegant woman wearing a white gown and a white gardenia in her hair. Depending on the year, Eleanora Fagan is either young and fresh and radiant, ...

The Significance of Philip Glass

The Significance of Philip Glass

“MAIS CE N’EST PAS LA MUSIQUE.” Philip Glass seems to beam with pride when remembering this phrase (“But it’s not music.”), tossed almost pityingly at him by some of Nadia Boulanger’s ot...

Exquisite Failure

Exquisite Failure

WHEN I WAS A TEENAGER in suburban New Jersey, drowning in late-’80s malaise, my lifeline was the legendary radio DJ Vin Scelsa. On Sunday nights he hosted Idiot’s Delight, one of commercial radio...

You Better Work

You Better Work

TOMB RAIDER pulled her in. As she listened to Nathan McCree’s music for the 1996 game, Winifred Phillips decided she might compose music for games herself. So that’s what she did. A pianist and v...

Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Black Bird

Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Black Bird

1. THE LOGO for LA rock band The Airborne Toxic Event is a black bird, flying alone through an arid winter sky, that’s been shot through with an arrow and is spraying blood out of its right side. I...

No Wave Feminism

No Wave Feminism

What’s it like to be a girl in a band? I don’t quite understand That's so quaint to hear I feel so faint, my dear — Sonic Youth, “Sacred Trickster,” The Eternal (2009) IN HER LYRICS to th...

After The Fall

After The Fall

THERE’S A CERTAIN doggedness required to play the bass: a sonic obligation to carry the weight of others while keeping things together. It’s no surprise, then, that the recent biography from Steve...

How I Got Over: The Soul of Aretha Franklin

How I Got Over: The Soul of Aretha Franklin

DAVID RITZ’S new biography of Aretha Franklin, Respect, is not the book Franklin wanted written. The Queen of Soul already published the book she wanted, From These Roots, which Ritz himself ghostwr...

The Escapes and Escapades of Rick James

The Escapes and Escapades of Rick James

THERE’S NO LOGICAL REASON Rick James should have lived as long as he did. That he didn’t die in prison, overdose on crack, commit suicide, or get shot by a jealous husband or lover is a secular ki...

Work It on Out

Work It on Out

IN THE SUMMER of 2003, you couldn’t miss “Crazy in Love.” The Beyoncé single with a horn hook from the Chi-Lites and a rap from the singer’s future husband Jay-Z was everywhere. I heard it o...