Ashley Cleveland is an admittedly broken person. At an early age, the rickety foundation of a ruptured family, disconnection and shame sent her careening down a dark road paved with self-destruction. Hers has been a journey where alcoholism, drugs, an unplanned pregnancy, single motherhood, and an ever-present longing to fit in and know love were […]
When asked many years ago what he most wanted out of life, Shel Silverstein answered, “Everything.” It was a characteristic answer from this elusive, legendary artist who was born in Chicago on September 25, 1930 and died in Key West on May 10, 1999. He wanted everything out of life, but like the famous subject […]
“The Trouble With Boxes”—premiering exclusively on PerformingSongwriter.com—is from Sara Hickman’s new album Shine. The lovely video was created by Ben Rowe. Be sure to visit Sara’s WEBSITE for and join her on FACEBOOK and TWITTER.
Most of my readers know about my deep, abiding and often embarrassing love for Dan Fogelberg and his music. He filled the soundtrack of my youth, made me want to learn to play the guitar, was the model for all the moody musicians I fell for in college, and trying to figure out how to […]
“People say each of my albums sounds just like the previous one,” says J.J. Cale. “I’ve tried to change, but whenever I finish something, it just sounds like me.” Lots of fans—including Eric Clapton, Mark Knopfler and Neil Young—are happy that’s the case. Beginning with such songs as “After Midnight,” “Cocaine” and “Call Me the […]
In August 1967, Lyndon Johnson announced that he was sending 45,000 more troops to Vietnam. Black power advocate Stokely Carmichael called for violent revolution in the streets. Beatles manager Brian Epstein died from an overdose of sleeping pills. But around water coolers, the hot topic was what Billie Joe McAllister and his girlfriend threw off […]
Once in a blue moon, an artist changes history by giving a festival audience exactly what it doesn’t want. 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. For them, Dylan’s three-song, plugged-in set represented […]
Over the last three decades the world has become accustomed to the dramatic onstage flair of U2 frontman Bono, who masterfully understands the emotional heft that can be communicated by just the right gesture. That was the case on July 13, 1985 when the group took the stage of Wembley Stadium in London for the […]
“The title came from [producer and Monument Records founder] Fred Foster. He called one night and said, ‘I’ve got a song title for you. It’s “Me and Bobby McKee.”’ I thought he said ‘McGee.’ Bobby McKee was the secretary of Boudleaux Bryant, who was in the same building with Fred. Then Fred says, ‘The hook […]
He played with everyone from Bing Crosby to Art Tatum to Groucho Marx to Keith Richards. He had over 40 Top 40 hits. He designed the first solid body electric guitar. He invented multi-track recording. He built the first home recording studio. You could easily make an argument that without Les Paul, the music business […]
“He’s had one of the most perfect lives of anybody I know.” That was filmmaker Jim Brown’s response when asked why he profiled Pete Seeger in a PBS “American Masters” documentary. Few would disagree with Brown’s assessment. In a career that’s spanned over 70 years, the 94-year-old Seeger has embodied the idealism that once defined […]
It absorbs you for the first few minutes you see him. Framed by a thick shock of long red hair and a thatch of beard, Willie Nelson’s face is that of a lifelong storyteller. More specifically, it’s the face of a life lived long … and hard. It is weathered, tracked with troubles and adventures […]
Over four decades and 25 albums, Richie Havens has used his music to convey messages of brotherhood and personal freedom. Cutting his teeth on the fertile ’60s music scene of Greenwich Village and interpreting tunes by Bob Dylan, he gained even more notoriety after opening the Woodstock festival on August 15, 1969. The festival was […]
In 1939 celebrated African-American contralto Marian Anderson was denied rental of Washington, D.C.’s Constitutional Hall because of a segregation clause that only allowed concerts by white artists. Once this news circulated there was public outrage over the discrimination, and First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt—among thousands of others—resigned membership from the Daughters of the American Revolution, which […]
The countless accomplishments spread across Phil Ramone’s five decades in the world of music production all spring from one vital principle: He wanted you to hear what he heard. That notion guided him through career-defining collaborations with Paul Simon and Billy Joel, and was his aim when recording the voices of Frank Sinatra, Bob Dylan, […]
Forty-eight years ago this month Herb Alpert’s landmark Whipped Cream & Other Delights was released and went on to sell over six million copies—and its playful erotic cover with the whipped cream-covered Dolores Erickson launched as many male fantasies. A fashion model from the age of 14, Erickson appeared in magazines such as Vogue and […]
As the definitive snapshot of ‘60s pop culture, artist Peter Blake’s Sgt. Pepper cover was unlike anything the world had ever seen—and almost half a century later it’s still iconic Beatles.
From the moment she and older sister Ann saw the Beatles performing on The Ed Sullivan Show in 1964, Nancy Wilson knew the guitar was the key to her future. Responding to her pleas, her parents gave her a three-quarter-size Stella. “It had a pipe-shaped neck and a movable bridge—which was good, because as it […]
Gazing up at the tall, lean, balding man with the angular planes of his face as familiar as those of a family member, it’s almost impossible to equate this James Taylor with the long-haired ’70s pop icon who lived a very public life of hits, misses, marriages, divorces, addiction, recovery, births, deaths, depression and celebration. […]
Seventy years ago today George Harrison, the youngest of the four Beatles, was born in Liverpool, England. As a boy, George became friends with Paul McCartney, an older student at the Liverpool Institute who was also an aspiring guitarist. It was then that McCartney introduced him to his Quarrymen bandmate, John Lennon, and—after much persistence […]
In Feb. 1967 the Beatles released a double-A side single of “Strawberry Fields Forever” and “Penny Lane” which opened the doors to the wonders of Sgt. Pepper. Here’s the story.
A little James Taylor to celebrate Valentine’s Day: “Beneath the tide the fishes glide, fin to fin and side to side. For fishy love has now begun, fishy love, finny fun.”
Ah, Fat Tuesday. A day of indulgence on every level. Celebrated the day before Ash Wednesday, it’s the last big blowout before Lent kicks in and fasting begins. And of course, Mardi Gras and music go together like floats and parades, jazz bands and beads, purple, gold and green. Songs get stirred up in the […]
“Every time I put the radio on, it’s ‘Oh My Lord,’” John Lennon said in December 1970. “I’m beginning to think there must be a God.” Lennon wasn’t alone. As his former bandmate George Harrison’s debut single blanketed the airwaves, a struggling New York publisher, Bright Tunes Music, must’ve heard divine intervention in the melody […]