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Behind The Song

Neil Young’s “Ohio”

Neil Young’s “Ohio”

On May 4, 1970, a student demonstration at Kent State left four students dead, one paralyzed and eight others wounded.  The protest, meant to be a demonstration against the Vietnam War, ended when the Ohio National Guard opened fire into the crowd with over 60 rounds for a solid 13 seconds. When Neil Young saw […]

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The Lion Sleeps Tonight

The Lion Sleeps Tonight

Wimoweh. For the last 50 years, that happy little word has been a universally recognized shorthand for the song known as “The Lion Sleeps Tonight.” From Pete Seeger’s version in 1952 (titled “Wimoweh”) to the Tokens’ No. 1 single in 1961 to its featured role in the hugely popular Disney film and Broadway musical The […]

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Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On”

Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On”

In memory of Marvin Gaye who died on April 1, 1984—and whose 75th birthday would be April 2—here’s the story behind the enduring classic “What’s Going On.”

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Legends of Songwriting

Harold Arlen

Harold Arlen

The story of Harold Arlen, the great American songwriter who gave the world such classics at “That Old Black Magic,” “One For My Baby,” “Come Rain or Come Shine,” and his crowning masterpiece “Over the Rainbow.”

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Felice and Boudleaux Bryant

Felice and Boudleaux Bryant

Behind the legendary songwriting duo of such classics as “Wake Up Little Susie,” “Bye Bye Love,” “All I Have to Do Is Dream,” “Love Hurts” and “Rocky Top.”

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Stephen Foster

Stephen Foster

He was America’s first professional songwriter. He was also the first songwriter to be unfairly exploited by music publishers. Although his songs never generated the fortune Stephen Foster deserved during his brief life span, many of them, such as “Oh! Susanna,” “Old Kentucky Home,” “Jeanie with the Light Brown Hair” and “Old Folks at Home,” […]

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Recent News and Features

The Perseverance of Michael Johnson

The Perseverance of Michael Johnson

| August 8, 2017 | 16 Comments

A tribute to the brilliant singer, songwriter and artist Michael Johnson, who died on July 25, 2017, along with an essay he wrote for Performing Songwriter: “Thoughts on Perseverance.”

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Dylan Plugs In: July 25, 1965

Dylan Plugs In: July 25, 1965

| July 25, 2017 | 3 Comments

Bob Dylan stepped on stage July 25, 1965 at the Newport Folk Festival with an electric band in tow, which many folk purists in the crowd considered a heresy.

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Bono’s Defining Moment at Live Aid, July 13, 1985

Bono’s Defining Moment at Live Aid, July 13, 1985

| July 13, 2017 | 3 Comments

The 1985 Live Aid event is the perfect example of how U2 frontman Bono masterfully understands the emotional heft that can be communicated by just the right gesture.

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Duke Ellington at the 1956 Newport Jazz Festival

Duke Ellington at the 1956 Newport Jazz Festival

| July 7, 2017 | 0 Comments

When he brought his orchestra to the Newport Jazz Festival on July 7, 1956, 57-year-old Edward Kennedy “Duke” Ellington revitalized his career with an inspired performance.

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Marian Anderson’s April 9, 1939 Lincoln Memorial Performance

Marian Anderson’s April 9, 1939 Lincoln Memorial Performance

| April 9, 2017 | 1 Comment

On April 9, 1939, celebrated African-American contralto Marian Anderson performed for 75,000 people on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial after being denied use of a D.C. Hall over segregation rules.

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