The King James Bible's 400th birthday is everywhere. The current
issue of the Century features Jon
Sweeney's review of three books on the subject; earlier
this year, Timothy Larsen wrote lovingly of the Bible of his childhood.
Why don't more people listen to Ron Sexsmith? The critically acclaimed singer-songwriter crafts masterful pop songs, records them with topflight producers and sings them in an understated croon. Unless you hate music that makes you smile, what's not to like?
Woody Guthrie: American Radical, by Will Kaufman. I love musician
biographies; Humphrey Carpenter’s of Benjamin Britten is the most
fascinating book I’ve read in years. I also love Guthrie’s music--he’s
so much funnier and sharper-edged than the earnest troubadours who
mimicked him in the 60s--and I’ll read anything about politics.
Wanda Jackson may be the queen of rockabilly, but Jack White is king of this collaboration. The roots-obsessed producer takes charge, offering a high-octane reimagination of various '50s styles. But where White's work on Loretta Lynn's Van Lear Rose (2004) came off as reverent and almost subtle, here 73-year-old Jackson's presence seems like an afterthought.
President Obama seems to be moving in the direction of openly supporting same-sex marriage. But when he spoke in New York last week, he stopped short of endorsing it--despite pressure from the audience:
Vic Chesnutt, who died of an overdose in 2009, was one of the best and most unusual songwriters of his generation. Country-rock veterans Cowboy Junkies are far more conventional. So Chesnutt diehards might not find much to like in this collection of his songs, but the album may provide newcomers a bridge to his work.
Stephen Colbert's commencement speech at Northwestern wasn't as funny as Conan O'Brien's at Dartmouth, but the inevitable "now I'm serious kids, please keep listening" section was far better--it was pretty much a hard-hitting sermon.