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From the music archives

A Pit Stop on the FM Band The San Diego radio blues. 6:00: Our listening session kicks off about a third of the way into "Take Me Out" by Franz Ferdinand. You know, past the ...

Soundtrack

The music that tells us we’re alive.

I'd press play on my older brother's boom box, and listen to the Beach Boys' "Surfin' USA." The volume never passed two; I was terrified of discovery by my mother who had a ban on rock music.

I Grew Weary of Three-Chord Rock

My first favorite album was the original cast recording of Oklahoma. Mom says when I was a baby, she'd put on the record as she lay me down to sleep and by the second line ...

The Hiss Was Bylsma Himself

Before puberty, before a scalding flood of hormones seared my synapses and boiled my cerebellum, I was a smart kid. My parents blame the eventual change on a month spent in the mountains of Wyoming ...

Trouble Man

I'm a lousy housekeeper, and by the end of the week dishes are stacked on every available surface of my kitchen. The thought of cleaning them is overwhelming. So I've developed this ritual. I slip ...

The Woes of a Woman in Love

My hand paused before the mascara reached my lashes and I inhaled deeply — it was almost time. The mounting passion in her voice, off-key yet somehow harmonizing with the piano's crescendo, jerked me to ...

We Carried Each Other

In 1991, God seized my attention. So did Homer, Plato, Aristotle, and U2. I was 20, a freshman in college, raised Catholic but without much understanding or interest in practicing my faith. I had plenty ...

The Psychedelic Furs' Talk Talk Talk

"If you like Hendrix, you'll like this," my guitar teacher said, handing me a cassette of the Psychedelic Furs' second album, Talk Talk Talk. More than 20 years later, I have no idea what he ...

Whoooooooo

Though I had anticipated its arrival, I dreaded this day. The exact hour when the desire to experience something thrilling had effervesced within me for so long, it expired. Cognitive reservoirs of gumption, drive, purposefulness ...

Stranded

RE: the rock and roll album and unfurnished island situation. I'm going to have a problem packing my rucksack. The fact is, I don't have a relationship with music, although at one time in my ...

A Rage Against Monotony

I was grounded, which was a worse proposition than it sounded in my house. I was 14. It was 1965. My father's decree, he knew not to what he was consigning me. A summer in ...

Alto Workouts

It was the stuff we did in high school band class that eventually told how my life would play out. It's hard to imagine any public school music class as being influential, but this was ...

Love-Drunk Kid

When I was 12, most of my time was spent (a) being mad at absolutely everybody and everything, (b) writing furiously, or (c) being mad at absolutely everybody and everything and writing furiously at the ...

Family Music

It's not that I listen to it very often -- I don't think I've listened to it once in the past 15 years. Even if I owned a copy I wouldn't be able to play ...

Forth From My Pioneer Speakers

The summer of 1976, PBS broadcast The Unanswered Question: Six Talks at Harvard by Leonard Bernstein. Each week Bernstein explained the structure and the meaning of music as well as the crisis of harmony composers ...

Leontyne and Me

I met Joseph when I was 25 and he was 52, eight years younger than I am now. I shared my one-bedroom apartment on the Lower East Side in New York City with night-crawling cockroaches ...

The Ultimate Love Song

In the age of the iPod, I can't imagine not bringing a music mix with me to the proverbial desert island. In fact, it goes further back than the iPod. I grew up in the ...

Loud, Shrill, Piercing, and Unpleasant

This is a weighty matter, or would be if there was the slightest possibility that it might actually happen. In my case it's complicated by the fact that I'm older than dirt, and have more ...

Could I Start Over?

These days when you can download all sorts of music into an iPod and burn your own CDs, it's odd to think of taking one prerecorded CD to a desert island. But the spirit of ...

Black Celebration by Depeche Mode

My life changed forever when I was 13 years old. Up until this time, my thoughts were filled with jumping my BMX bike off curbs and lighting things on fire in my back yard. This ...

In Love with Two Daughters

I've been sleeping on a lumpy sofa for several days, and my back is on fire. The sofa isn't in my own house, a take-no-prisoners zone I return to only to collect fresh clothes, but ...

Joni's Hejira

Stranded on a desert island, I'd find relief from the blazing sun in the wintry imagery of Joni Mitchell's album Hejira. Just gazing at the black-and-white album cover would start cooling me down: Joni in ...

A Summer on Desolation Row

"Like a Rolling Stone," the most famous song on Bob Dylan's Highway 61 Revisited, portrays somebody who thought she was on top contending with her fall to the bottom. It's a fun song but not ...

From "American Tourist" to "Loser"

"Dancing in September" wept from the doorway of a music shop. I pulled my scarf and jacket collar open, exposing my neck and ear. I stayed on that street for the day. I wanted to ...

Notes Give Pathos to Clouds

Artur Schnabel Plays Beethoven, Volume 1 Sonata no. 19 in G Minor, op. 49, no. 1 My father bought my first piano from the Briscoes in Sumter, South Carolina. We knew the Briscoes from church ...

My Junior High High

James Taylor was the soundtrack for my adolescence. I would sit in the living room and play his records over and over on our big console while I tried to imagine what anyone would ever ...

An Album with a Singer

What one album would I take with me to a desert island? Immediately, it occurs to me that perhaps I shouldn't take any music with me at all. I'd have my untainted memory of other ...

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