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 particular translation—by Robert Fitzgerald with an added “oh”—puts Homer somewhere between singing and storytelling. And now, taking his seat next to Homer, at least according to the 2016 Nobel prize committee for literature, is Bob Dylan.

Dylan closes his Nobel lecture with this timeless invocation—alongside his interpretation of Odysseus’ encounter in the underworld with the greatest of Greek warriors, Achilles. …

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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 …

Does Blink-182 Know Something California’s Governor Jerry Brown Doesn’t?

While Politicians Keep Trumpeting the State’s Success, This Summer’s Songs and Films Sound Skeptical

How is California doing these days? The answer may depend on whom you believe: Governor Brown or Blink-182.

This summer has exposed a divide in perception of California, between the political …

Your Mother’s Favorite Song

It’s that song that makes her
close her eyes and nod her head,
music sending her back to a time

before she had you, reverie
back to that tight-waist hip-hugger
pants …

Have We Turned the Last Page in America’s Songbook?

Tracing the Great Songwriting Tradition, From Cole Porter to Joni Mitchell

The Great American Songbook isn’t really a book. Rather, it’s a notional collection of several hundred pop songs. The precise identity of the songs varies according to who is doing …