Hornsby, a mind-boggling piano virtuoso who runs the gamut stylistically from jazz to bluegrass, didn’t actually start playing the keyboard until he was about 17 years old — although he does confess that he and his brothers did actually take piano lessons for about a year when he was seven. “My brothers and I all [...]
Gordon Lightfoot turns 74 on November 17th of this year, but to those of us who came of age during the folk revival of the early ‘60s and the singer/songwriter boom of the mid ‘70s, the man is already immortal. “Early Morning Rain,” “For Loving Me,” “If You Could Read My Mind,” “Sundown,” “The Wreck [...]
Neil Young was born in Toronto, Canada on November 12, 1945. By the time he settled in Los Angeles in 1966 he had been performed as both an acoustic folkie and a grungy guitar rocker, so he was primed and ready for his roles as a solo artist as well as the pioneering Buffalo Springfield, [...]
Forty-three years ago today, on November 10, 1969, Sesame Street premiered on PBS television stations and went on to become the most widely viewed children’s television show in the world. It was one of the first programs to combine research with television production and, as a result, was the first children’s program with a set [...]
Let’s just put aside for a moment the fact that Bonnie Raitt is one of the most important musicians of this century, showing the world that a woman can wield a guitar while holding her own alongside the legends. And let’s ignore the detail that as a singer, this whiskey-voiced performer nails every note, and [...]
November 7, 1943 gave the world one of the most influential singer-songwriters of the 20th Century when Roberta Joan Anderson was born in Alberta, Canada. A few years later her family moved to the Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, where she attended public schools and lucked out in having what she called “one radical teacher who drew out [...]
Excepts from a Performing Songwriter interview with Lyle Lovett where he discusses his songs and approach to writing.
Bobby Pickett never wanted to be a singer. When he moved to Hollywood in the early ‘60s, his ambition was to be a movie actor. His resume included a knack for impersonations—he’d learned to mimic quite a few stars, one of whom was horrormeister Boris Karloff. Little did Bobby know, that imitation would earn him both his fortune and a permanent middle name.
Years ago when his friend Bob Dylan told him he was a poet, Petty was flustered. “I couldn’t help feel it was like being told you’re an archer,” he said, “and you know you don’t even own a bow.” His reluctance to consider himself a poet is probably one of the reasons he endures as such an extraordinary and prolific songwriter.
“And When I Die,” “Stoned Soul Picnic,” “Wedding Bell Blues,” “Save The Country,” “Sweet Blindness,” “Eli’s Comin’,” “Stoney End.” These are just a handful of the gems Laura Nyro gave us. Songs that start playing in our heads just by reading their names. Songs that bring back memories of a certain day or person or [...]
In celebration of Paul Simon’s birthday today, I thought you’d enjoy a few of his most memorable quotes from the last three decades. Happy birthday, Paul! “I was eating in a Chinese restaurant downtown. There was a dish called ‘Mother and Child Reunion.’ It’s chicken and eggs. And I said, ‘Oh, I love that title. [...]
“I guess I always loved to write, but I never had anything to really encourage it. I never thought I could be a journalist or novelist or anything, I just had a wild imagination and songwriting gave me enough rope to run with it.” From that imagination has sprung some of the most beloved characters, [...]
It seems the word “genius” is bandied about far too often, but when you’re talking about Ray Charles, no other word will do. As a pianist, singer, songwriter, arranger and band leader, Charles almost single-handedly invented modern R&B music. Born Ray Charles Robinson on Sept. 23, 1930, he climbed up on a piano bench at [...]
On this anniversary of 9/11—as on every previous anniversary—I listen to music. No television, no newspapers. Just music. Because songwriters create the melodies that reach places I can’t quite get to on my own, and the words I long to say. Their songs become my heart’s voice and companion. Eleven years ago I couldn’t imagine [...]
“What the world needs now is love, sweet love/It’s the only thing that there’s just too little of.” Those words from the 1960s standard “What the World Needs Now Is Love” came from the pen and imagination of lyricist Hal David. If that had been the only song he’d ever written, his place in contemporary [...]
On August 25, 1970, Elton John made his U.S. debut in a legendary six-night sold-out run at West Hollywood’s Troubadour. John’s eponymous first album—which was released in the states on July 22—had landed on the Troubadour owner Doug Weston’s desk with a request for the undiscovered pianist to play a date as his club. Weston, [...]
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 [...]
Scoring movie soundtracks, writing Broadway musicals, penning Top 40 pop hits, conducting and composing full classical symphonies for orchestras, accompanying Liza Minelli, Barbra Streisand and Groucho Marx – you name it, Marvin Hamlisch has done it. Not only has he done it, but this award-winning, world-renowned composer/arranger has a list of accomplishments that would make [...]
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 [...]
As we celebrate what would be Woody Guthrie’s 100th birthday this year, a look back at the life of this extraordinary everyman and his musical legacy.
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 [...]
I have a confession to make: I’m not crazy about our National Anthem. Something about it has never quite resonated with me. “The Star Spangled Banner” was written as a poem in 1814 during the shelling of Fort McHenry, complete with bombs and rockets and tattered flags. I’ll give you that it’s a great military song, [...]
There are songwriters who follow trends. There are songwriters who create trends. And then there are songwriters whose catalogs go beyond any trends, who create the sound of an era and whose influence is still felt decades later. The team of Lamont Dozier, Eddie Holland and Brian Holland fall into that third category. Motown songwriting [...]
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 [...]