Streams

John Schaefer

John Schaefer appears in the following:

The remarkable story of "Lili Marlene"

Monday, November 10, 2008

I think “Lili Marlene” is a great example of how a song can be appreciated by people for things that were never intended by its author. Liel Liebovitz and Matthew Miller have told the gripping story of how the song spanned two World Wars, and became a kind of unofficial ...

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For Those About to Chart...

Friday, November 07, 2008

AC/DC

Today’s another installment in our occasional series we call “Who’s On Top – And Who Should Be.” It’s the second part of the title, of course, that’s more interesting. Yeah, AC/DC’s second week at #1 is kind of interesting, if only because of ...

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Trumpets Are From Mars...

Thursday, November 06, 2008

trumpet.jpgWhen I was a kid, around 8 or 9 years old, someone in my neighborhood in Queens tried to form a marching band, recruiting kids from Richmond Hill and Woodhaven to play one of three sets of instruments: there would be, ...

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Leaders in the Arts

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

microphone.jpgAfter the euphoria of the night before, many Americans woke up this morning with a) a hangover and b) the sobering realization of the enormity of the problems facing our new president. Obama has seemed clear-eyed about the challenges ahead, but he ...

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Democracy in Musical Action

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Democracy seems such a basic part of our culture as Americans that it comes as a shock to find that it’s actually quite hard to define. Almost every communist or socialist dictatorship used the word as part of their country’s official name: the German Democratic Republic wasn’t democratic West Germany, ...

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What's a Folk Song? You Tell Me.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Moses Asch at the Folkways office in New York, date not known.

Folkways Records did many things, but chief among them was proving that Big Bill Broonzy was right: “They’re all ...

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What's your favorite topical song?

Friday, October 31, 2008

When I was in high school, I found a record by a comedian I’d never heard of – someone who was apparently big in the 50s – named Stan Freberg. Even though I didn’t get all the references to what were apparently pop culture figures and phenomena of the an ...

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Tra La La Blip

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Annie of Tra La La Blip collectiveI’m betting you’ve never heard of Tra La La Blip. Neither did I, until their founder emailed us yesterday. This rural Australian collective makes electronic pop; and all of ...

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Super Fans

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

A Fusion of Fandom: the Parrothead Van

I’ve been thinking about this whole super fan thing. I like a lot of artists and bands – some I like a real lot. But I would never consider myself a ...

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Wal-Mart and Music

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Wal-Mart
Wal-Mart has become the 600-pound gorilla in the music business. It is the country’s single biggest seller of CDs (antique silvery round things that contain collections of songs – in the 20th century, it’s how we used to get our music before ...

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Musicians as product pitchmen

Monday, October 27, 2008

So Usher is designing and selling lingerie – for men. Opera star Renee Fleming helped design a new perfume, “La Voce by Renee Fleming,” unveiled on opening day of the current Met Opera season. Jennifer Lopez has a new line of clothing, as well as perfume; The RZA of Wu-Tang ...

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Tin Pan Alley

Thursday, October 23, 2008

So Tin Pan Alley is for sale, and people who haven’t thought about Tin Pan Alley in decades, and people who’ve walked past those buildings on West 28th Street for years without ever noticing them, are suddenly up in arms. When I read that the buildings were for sale – ...

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Janis Ian and Society's Children

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

In the mid-70s, the song “At Seventeen” by Janis Ian was unavoidable. Since it wasn’t a song I liked, I never looked any further into what she’d done. If I had, I might’ve learned that almost ten years earlier, in the mid-60s, she’d had another hit song – a far ...

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Musicians and the Campaigns

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

From “Yes We Can”

I’m glad that so many musicians are getting involved in this presidential campaign, and gladder still that so many are supporting the same candidate I like. But I must confess to having mixed feelings. The idea of ...

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Music Videos: Cast Your Vote

Monday, October 20, 2008

No, I wasn’t watching when MTV famously launched its network with the Buggles’ version of the song “Video Killed the Radio Star.” But a friend who lived in south Jersey had cable (NYC was one of the last places on earth to be wired for cable), and I spent a ...

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"Doctor Atomic" and Modern Opera

Friday, October 17, 2008

Doctor Atomic

In the NY Times recently, Anthony Tommasini wrote about how he supports the idea of modern opera, of contemporary composers trying to extend and even reinvent the opera tradition for modern times and for modern America particularly. He also wrote ...

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The NEA's delicate balancing act

Thursday, October 16, 2008

It’s a happy coincidence that today, the opening of WNYC’s fundraising drive, brings Dana Gioia, the chairman of the NEA, to our studio. After all, WNYC and the NEA both survived tough times in the early 90s, when New York’s mayor wanted to get rid of one and political conservatives ...

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Music and the Economy

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

spare_change.jpgRecently, a reporter doing a story on music during hard times asked me if I agreed with the notion that music gets darker and moodier when the economy tanks. I thought of the Great Depression hit, “Brother Can You Spare A ...

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The Buena Vista Phenomenon

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Buena Vista Social Club, the group of elderly Cuban musicians who’d been rescued from obscurity and poverty by a record made almost by accident, has become such a phenomenon that it’s difficult to remember how it all happened. The World Circuit Recording, Ry Cooder’s trip to Cuba (he told us ...

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Reflections on Soundcheck's Songwriting Contest

Friday, October 10, 2008

It really did seem like a good idea at the time. Invite listeners to write lyrics, pick a winner out of the handful or couple of dozen entries, have a band perform the song in the studio… everyone has fun, no one gets hurt, everybody goes home happy.

That ...

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