Streams

John Schaefer

John Schaefer appears in the following:

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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When hip hop cameos reach the point of diminishing returns

Thursday, October 09, 2008

I like the fact that mega-selling artists like Jay Z and Lil Wayne will apparently appear on anyone’s record, anywhere, anytime. It shows that these guys, even though they’ve “made it” and probably don’t need the additional work and exposure, still enjoy going into the studio and playing nicely with ...

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Living in a Sampled World

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

We live in a sampled world. Our dominant music genre, hip hop, is built on samples of earlier songs, often quick bursts of percussion or catchy hooks from former pop hits. Our blockbuster movies take captured video elements – visual samples, essentially – and manipulate them through both space and ...

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Lost in (My)Space

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Unpoc

So yesterday, I’m on the plane flying back from Paris, and since I’d already seen a couple of the English-language movies on offer, and didn’t feel like trying to make out the subtitles on the French films, I watched an indie Scottish flick called ...

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What's your favorite musical rivalry?

Thursday, October 02, 2008

One of the reasons we love sports is because it gives us something to argue about. It just wouldn’t have been as much fun growing up a Yankees fan in Queens if I hadn’t been growing up in a family of Mets fans. My brother Jerry and I would argue ...

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In Song, the Eyes Have It

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Two visual artists, Fernanda Viégas and Martin Wattenberg, have created a project called Fleshmap as a visual representation of desire – an easily digested way of showing how humans approach one another’s bodies. The site has pages devoted to the sense of sight, or touch, and a page devoted ...

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Banning Alcohol at Concerts

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

So Van Morrison has banned booze at his UK concerts. The idea of banning alcohol at a concert makes about as much sense as banning beer at the ballpark. Look, no one wants to have to deal with drunken audience members – not the musicians, not the hall owners, and ...

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Philip Glass: The Perennial Lighting Rod

Monday, September 29, 2008

anonymous_color.jpgThe French have this great saying, entre chien et loup. Literally, “between a dog and a wolf,” but of course it’s much more poetic than that – it is used to describe that time of day when the light is fading ...

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Who's on Top Today?

Friday, September 26, 2008

So Metallica is atop the Billboard 200 chart. Sort of reminds me of the 70s and 80s, when the Billboard album charts regularly featured rock bands. Now? Not so much. Aside from heavy metal (Metallica at #1, Slipknot at #12), there is almost no rock music atop the Billboard charts. ...

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Can music motivate you at the gym?

Thursday, September 25, 2008

The big thing in gyms now is apparently music. Various production houses, most notably Muzak, have created music services specifically with gyms and health clubs in mind. The idea is to use music to motivate the gym rats to step it up a notch, on the theory that music will ...

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Another Look at Lenny

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

While writing his article about Bernstein in today’s Daily News, David Hinckley asked if we could talk a bit about Bernstein’s legacy in general, his connection to WNYC in particular, and even more specifically, about what I thought of him. I repeated, for the twentieth time this week, the strange ...

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The '70s: It Was the Best of Times, It Was the Worst of Times

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

While Dave Thompson’s book “I Hate New Music” may be an exercise in hyperbole and provocation, it does make a rather familiar point: many people feel that the music they grew up with is simply the best music ever made. It is almost painfully obvious to anyone who grew up ...

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What Is Opera, Anyway?

Monday, September 22, 2008

Another season at the Met opens this week, and the somewhat traditional opener (Renee Fleming’s voice on display in three acts from three different operas) belies the fact that opera is actually opening up to more contemporary ideas. Peter Gelb at the Met and the incoming Gerard Mortier at the ...

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The changing role of women in country music

Friday, September 19, 2008

As I mentioned on Wednesday’s blog, country music wasn’t really my thing, at least while growing up here in the city. But I was aware that some of the better known singers were women – Loretta Lynn, Dolly Parton, and much later on people like Shania Twain. Since I didn’t ...

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We're Getting the Band Back Together

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Squeeze marquee

In general, I’m not a big fan of reunion tours. I’m trying to figure out why I feel this way, even when it’s bands I like. Part of it is watching the aging process at work. When Devo takes the stage ...

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What I Missed: Hank Williams

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

I am a city boy – always have been. And so country music has long been my musical blind spot. Now, I have to say, in my own defense, that country music itself is at least partially responsible for my longtime ignorance: all that slick, overproduced Nashville stuff tends to ...

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The New Metallica Album

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

When it comes to Metallica, there seem to be two kinds of people: those who believe the band broke new ground in thrash metal in the 1980s and then lost the thread in the 90s; and those who maybe had sort of heard of the band, but then fell in ...

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The Art of the Cover Song

Monday, September 15, 2008

Cover songs can be tricky – on one hand, a cover of a song you like will often simply remind you of why you liked the original in the first place, and will often suffer by comparison. (There are exceptions – I liked “Hurt” by Nine Inch Nails, but let’s ...

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