Category Archives: NPR

Playing By Ear: The Bonesetter’s Daughter

I listened to an NPR Music story about The Bonesetter’s Daughter, a new opera by composer Stewart Wallace and librettist Amy Tan. It’s based on Tan’s novel of the same name and premieres tonight at the San Francisco Opera. The … Continue reading

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What Is Soul? ‘A Ham Hock In Your Cornflakes’

We all know ‘it don’t mean a thing if it ain’t got that swing.’ What is swing? Gunther Schuller’s monumental treatise notwithstanding, it’s a word that defies strict definition. It’s like barbecue (just listen to Louis Armstrong’s Struttin’ with Some … Continue reading

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In Memoriam: Jerry Wexler

Jerry Wexler, the garrulous record producer with the golden ear, died yesterday at age 91. Wexler had so much to do with the sound track of my misspent youth. He gave us Ray Charles, Wilson Picket , Led Zeppelin, the … Continue reading

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Parting Words: George Carlin

George Carlin died six weeks ago. It’s Bad For Ya, his final comedy album, was released last Tuesday. It includes a bit about mourning friends for six weeks, then removing them ceremoniously from his address book like crossing them off … Continue reading

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Playing By Ear: 60 X 365

Composer David Morneau has concluded a heroic yearlong musical project. A doctoral candidate in composition at Ohio State., Morneau has been composing, producing, and blogging one 60-second piece of music daily for the past 12 months on a site called … Continue reading

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After Napalm, The Long Road To Forgiveness

In one of the most iconic images of the Vietnam War, South Vietnamese soldiers follow terrified children, including 9-year-old Kim Phuc (center) as they run down a road near Trang Bang after an aerial napalm attack on suspected Viet Cong … Continue reading

Posted in 1970s, documentary, NPR, photographers, Vietnam | 12 Comments

London’s Gardens: Allotments for the People

Some of my happiest times have been spent in garden sheds, waiting for the rain to stop. I’m easily distracted by any assortment of well-oiled tools, and usually whoever took the trouble to build the shed was a pretty handy … Continue reading

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‘Born Without Earlids’: Tony Schwartz (1923-2008)

Media consultant Tony Schwartz died in New York June 15 at age 84. While he is best known for the legendary “daisy” TV ad that evoked nuclear madness in the 1964 Presidential election, I like to think of him as … Continue reading

Posted in media, New York, NPR, NYT, Playing by Ear, pop culture | 1 Comment

Henry Butler on Blind Photography

Henry Butler promotes his latest recording, PiaNOLA Live, on NPR Music. He also plays some of the tunes on the grand piano in NPR’s Studio 4A. The best part of the interview is a 2-minute clip about Butler’s photography: “I’m … Continue reading

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Playing By Ear: The Soundscape of Modernity

Princeton University historian Emily Thompson is author of The Soundscape of Modernity: Architectural Acoustics and the Culture of Listening in America, 1900-1933. According to Thompson, the sound in the spaces around us has a history; what we hear in the … Continue reading

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