How Southern Rock Reclaims Regional Identity While Facing Down Old Ghosts

By Reinventing Rebel Attitude, the Allmans and Their Brethren Forged a New Genre

The South spawned rock ’n’ roll. Some scholars pin its arrival to the first week of March, 1951, in Memphis, Tennessee. There, in the studio run by record producer, label chief, and talent scout Sam Phillips, the rhythm-and-blues bandleader Ike Turner cut a jump-blues inspired paean to “oozin and cruisin’” in a sleek black convertible called “Rocket 88.” Phillips, of course, would later discover Elvis Presley, son of Tupelo, Mississippi, whose hip-shaking synthesis of blues, gospel, hillbilly, and country music changed American popular culture forever (although Chuck Berry and Little …

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Bob Dylan’s Nobel Speech Reminds Us That Songs Are for Listening, Not Reading

But the Folk Rocker, Like the Ancient Greeks, Thinks Music and Literature Can Co-Exist

“Sing in me, oh Muse, and through me tell the story.” Homer’s opening to the Odyssey is one of the most well-known lines of what we call literature—but the Greeks called song. This …

The Happy Accident of San Jose Jazz

A Festival Had the Good Luck to Start with Few Resources, and That Allowed It to Stay Close to Downtown and Its Community

San Jose is the tenth largest city by population in the country, but its downtown became sleepy after retail moved to the malls in the 1970s. In 1991, a group …

How Alpine Yodeling Mutated Into American Blackface Minstrelry

Vestiges of the Racist Entertainment Persist in Art and Politics

In 1822 the Austrian emperor Franz I and his ally Tsar Alexander I of Russia held a meeting in a remote valley of the war-torn Tyrolese Alps. They were entertained …

Why Is It So Hard to Stop Rave Overdoses?

Heavy-Handed Calls to Ban the Music Events Have Done Little to Curb Their Drug-Related Deaths

When the music comes on at a rave, a synergetic feeling of mass escape and euphoria runs through the crowd. But this unparalleled collective high has come at a cost. …

We Are the World. We Are the Charity Single.

After the Orlando Shooting, the Musical Staple of 1980s Philanthropy Makes a Comeback

A few years ago I took on a research challenge: to listen to every charity single released in the United Kingdom between December 1984 and the end of 1995. I …