Billy Corgan, frontman of the Chicago-based Smashing Pumpkins rock band, performed a musical interpretation of the Herman Hesse novella in Highland Park (at Madame ZuZu’s tea house) last month. The performance lasted eight hours, and attendees were rotated in groups so that all had a chance to marvel at the Chicago rock legend. How can your favorite novella inspire you?
Acclaimed jazz pianist Marian McPartland died at the age of 95 on August 20. Born in England and trained as a classical pianist, she was “drawn to the improvisational freedom of jazz.” and succeeded, according to critic Leonard Feather in spite of “three hopeless strikes against her: she was British, white, and a woman.” Besides recording over 50 albums, Ms. McPartland composed music, and led the way for other female jazz performers from Carmen McRae to Norah Jones. She is perhaps best remembered for her interviews and performances with other musicians on her long-running NPR program “Piano Jazz” which first aired in 1979. In 1958 she was one of two women included in the famous portrait of jazz musicians which inspired the 1994 documentary A Great Day in Harlem. She won a “Lifetime Achievement” Grammy in 2004 and in 2010, was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire. You can read the entire NPR article here and the Washington Post obit here. And check out the EPL catalog for her recordings.
Better Late Than Never
An F. Scott Fitzgerald story rejected 75 years ago is finally published in The New Yorker. Recently discovered by Fitzgerald’s grandchildren, “Thank You for the Light” is a short, fable-like vignette turned down in 1936 for being too unlike his other work. See what you think.
Reports of My Death are Greatly Exaggerated
The predicted demise of the book is tracked through the ages by the NY Times. Beginning with Theophile Gautier’s 1835 declaration that “the newspaper is killing the book,” the essay traces how every generation has rewritten the book’s epitaph for nearly 200 years.
A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Scientologist
A 7-year-old Neil Gaiman talks to BBC Radio about Scientology in this transcript published by the Village Voice. Discovered in a 1969 church pamphlet, the future sci-fi writer – whose dad was Scientology’s PR chief in the UK – is interviewed to refute Parliament’s objections to the church.
Cross-Pollinating the Arts
Lovers of books and music shouldn’t miss the Literary Jukebox. Matching a daily book quote with a thematically-related song, this new website shares such unique pairings as Ernest Hemmingway with Mazzy Star, Susan Sontag with Andrew Bird, and many others.
NU alum Charlton Heston
All dressed up in its purple best, Northwestern University celebrated last week as it sent a new graduating class out into the world, and odds are good this won’t be the last you hear of them. Over the years, you see, NU has become a veritable assembly line of notable alums – a fact comedian Stephen Colbert duly noted during his much-anticipated commencement address. “Northwestern’s alumni list is truly impressive,” said the 1987 NU grad. “This university has graduated bestselling authors, Olympians, presidential candidates, Grammy winners, Peabody winners, Emmy winners – and that’s just me.” All kidding aside, though, he’s right. From Saul Bellow and Cloris Leachman to Steve Albini and Dan Chaon, Wildcat grads are clearly an accomplished bunch. So to honor their achievements both past and future, we present the following eclectic list of books, movies, and music from some of Northwestern’s talented very own. Enjoy, and stay tuned. The list is growing.
The drive to access media more conveniently has culminated recently in the appearance of the free Amazon Cloud system, among others, designed for a one-stop music experience. This article on ZDNET discusses the various legal issues arising between the music industry and technology companies, as well as linking to other discussions about clouds. Google launched its Music Beta which allows users to upload material they own. One cannot upload or purchase music yet on Music Beta. Stay tuned to see how this shakes out!
Sample the audiobook read by actor Johnny Depp.
He’s a songwriter, lead guitarist, and founding member of the legendary rock band the Rolling Stones. He’s an outlaw folk hero, a pirate hipster, and arguably the originator of the decadent “rock ‘n’ roll” lifestyle. He’s Keith Richards, and it should come as no surprise that everyone is clamoring for a copy of his long-awaited memoir Life. In fact, given Richards’ penchant for death-defying excess, Life’s most surprising characteristic might be that it’s much more than just a gossipy showbiz tell-all. Sure, the juicy bits are all there: the drug busts, the infamous Altamont show, his rocky relationship with Mick Jagger. But, as the NY Times writes, Life is also “a high-def, high-velocity portrait of the era when rock ‘n’ roll came of age…, an eye-opening all-nighter in the studio with a master craftsman…, and the intimate and moving story of one man’s long strange trip over the decades.” So, if you want to raise a little vicarious rock ‘n’ roll hell, know the secrets of the Stones, and glimpse some music magic, look no further than Keith Richards’ uncommonly candid new book Life. If you find, however, that this literary concert is temporarily sold out, please don’t be discouraged. Any of the following critically-acclaimed music memoirs are a great way to pass the time while you wait for Mr. Richards to take the stage.
Poet & musician David Berman
Jeff Tweedy wrote one. Billy Corgan and Jewel did too. 2Pac and Jim Morrison have posthumous collections, and Bob Dylan’s began as an underground bootleg. What, you may ask, is the connection between this diverse group of musical artists? The answer may surprise you. Believe it or not, all of the aforementioned rockers and rappers have a published volume of poetry to their credit, and though the critical and commerical response to each has differed, the books are a collective reminder of the following oft-forgotten fact. Simply put, the arts of writing songs and writing poetry are not one and the same, and it’s no given that a great lyricist will make a great poet. There are a few rare talents, however, who are accomplished in both music and verse, and one such artist is Virginia-native David Berman. Pulling double duty as an indie rock cult hero and a critically-acclaimed poet, Berman’s debut book Actual Air is a sure bet for connoisseurs of fine poetry everywhere.