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Behind The Song

Irving Berlin’s “God Bless America”

Irving Berlin’s “God Bless America”

“I’d like to write a great peace song,” Irving Berlin told a journalist in 1938, “but it’s hard to do, because you have trouble dramatizing peace.” Years before John Lennon or Bob Dylan were even born, Berlin took up the challenge of penning an anthem that would inspire his fellow men to live in harmony. […]

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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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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

Henry Mancini

Henry Mancini

In 2004 the U.S. Postal Service issued a stamp honoring Henry Mancini, portraying the late composer with baton in hand, in front of a movie screen. There’s a partial list of the films he scored: Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Days of Wine and Roses, Charade, Peter Gunn, The Pink Panther, Two for the Road, Touch of […]

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Nat King Cole

Nat King Cole

On what would have been Nat King Cole’s 95th birthday, Performing Songwriter honors the man with one of the most influential pianists and memorable voices in American music.

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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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Recent News and Features

Dylan Plugs In: July 25, 1965

Dylan Plugs In: July 25, 1965

| July 25, 2014 | 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, 2014 | 2 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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The Mysterious Death of Jim Morrison

The Mysterious Death of Jim Morrison

| July 8, 2014 | 19 Comments

Paris. July 2, 1971, early evening. Jim Morrison and his girlfriend Pamela Courson went to the cinema to see Pursued, a western starring Robert Mitchum. At another theater, Jim Morrison sat alone, watching a documentary called Death Valley. Across town, at the Rock ’n’ Roll Circus nightclub, Jim Morrison scored some heroin and OD’d in […]

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Duke Ellington at the 1956 Newport Jazz Festival

Duke Ellington at the 1956 Newport Jazz Festival

| July 7, 2014 | 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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Do What You Love

Do What You Love

| June 11, 2014 | 3 Comments

With age is supposed to come wisdom. Well, I’m racking up those age points, but the wisdom part seems to barely be keeping up.

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