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Jesse Winchester 1944-2014

Singer-songwriter Jesse Winchester passed away at his Virginia home on April 11 after a battle with cancer. Born and raised in the US South, Winchester brought his incredible talents north to Quebec's Eastern Townships in 1967 as a conscientious objector to the Vietnam War. He wrote and sang about his choice in 1977's Nothing But a Breeze: “Me I want to live with my feet in Dixie and my head in the cool blue north.”
Winchester boasted that he was the fifth cousin of Robert E. Lee and that his father served in the second World War but he chose instead to renounce his family's militaristic tradition and "spend his time gardening". Despite having been pardoned in 1977 by President Jimmy Carter, Jesse remained in his adopted home for many more years, before settling in Virginia in 2002. [more inside]
posted by rocket88 on Apr 20, 2014 - 16 comments

"I guess I’m an artist. That’s my super power."

A short and sweet 10-minute documentary on musician and artist Daniel Johnston. [SLYT] [more inside]
posted by Room 641-A on Mar 6, 2014 - 14 comments

A time to be born and a time to die

Pete Seeger, singer, musician, songwriter, political activist for more than 7 decades died, age 94. As a song writer, he is best known as the author or co-author of Where Have All the Flowers Gone?, If I Had a Hammer, and Turn, Turn, Turn! [more inside]
posted by nickyskye on Jan 27, 2014 - 314 comments

"I'll be up like a rose bud, high on the vine."

Though Cy Coleman enjoyed early success as a jazz pianist, the songwriter would eventually make his biggest mark on Broadway with scores for musicals such as "Wildcat" and "Sweet Charity". Before he died in 2004, he had won five Tonys, two Emmys and the lasting admiration of a great many artists. But enough of the balloon juice; get to the music! [more inside]
posted by AlonzoMosleyFBI on Sep 9, 2013 - 10 comments

Dodger Blue

Yo Dodger Blue (L.A. Loves You) (SLYT) "It's no surprise [Harry] Nilsson was a Dodger fan. They were both Brooklyn born, and both eventually relocated to Los Angeles. In the late 80s and early 90s, when Harry was doing little in terms of his "career," he was still actively writing songs and still coming up with ideas like this to amuse his creativity. These unreleased recordings probably come from 1990. The first version is a studio recording (musicians unknown) while the second version comes from KABC in Los Angeles, where Harry personally showed up to premiere the sing along. It's a catchy, rousing stadium chant that coulda/shoulda worked, though it was never officially adopted by the team." Links to both downloadable versions can be found at the blog For The Love of Harry Nillson. (via) [more inside]
posted by Room 641-A on Jun 11, 2013 - 7 comments

Skeptical cat . . . doesn't believe you.

Youtube user Seth Cutler lovingly crafts powerpoint presentations of various Christine Lavin songs, including this test for psychic powers. [more inside]
posted by PhoBWanKenobi on Apr 16, 2013 - 11 comments

You ain't a poet, just a drunk with a pen

Hayes Carll is a Texan alt-country singer who's known, if he's known at all, for the soundtrack to Country Strong and the novelty song She Left Me For Jesus. Slate ranked his latest album, KMAG YOYO (and other American stories), as one of the best albums of 2011, partly on the strength of its poetic title-track about an Afghan war vet and partly due to the Red State/Blue State love song duet Another Like You. Other Hayes Carll hits include Drunken Poet's Dream, his duet with Ray Wylie Hubbard, and the melancholy Wish I Hadn't Stayed So Long .
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants on Mar 6, 2013 - 17 comments

I lost my heart to a ...

Sarah Brightman, multi-million selling singer, actress and songwriter, has taken her medical and will soon start training to become the 7th or 8th 'Space Tourist', visiting the ISS in 2015. [more inside]
posted by Wordshore on Oct 10, 2012 - 51 comments

Lucy got some 'splaining to do

Ever had one of those nights that made you think about giving up drinking? Lucy Spraggan says it leads her to Beer Fear. (DLYT) [more inside]
posted by notashroom on Aug 31, 2012 - 20 comments

I'm your toy, I'm your old boy

Gram Parsons: Fallen Angel - An excellent 90 minute BBC documentary, the story of the legendary country rock pioneer as told by contemporary musicians, family, and friends. It includes rare performance footage. (Via Dangerous Minds) [more inside]
posted by madamjujujive on Aug 28, 2012 - 17 comments

Dory Previn, 1925 - 2012

"Whether writing as herself, or through one of the many voices she heard in her head, Previn's sinister riverboat chansons revealed the pain, games, lies and loneliness behind the L.A. free love myth. 1971's Mythical Kings And Iguanas was, perhaps, the peak point of Previn's eerily confessional style containing the searingly honest Lemon Haired Ladies and The Lady With The Braid, both of which recount encounters between young men and single older women in chilling detail. Her third album, Reflections In A Mud Puddle was a concept album based upon her life with her father, and contained the astonishing Doppelganger, a Weillian Sympathy For The Devil in which the world's evils are found to lurk in all of us. " Singer-Songwriter Dory Previn has died. (previously on Metafilter).
posted by The Whelk on Feb 22, 2012 - 13 comments

Birdcloud is Two Tennessee Girls with Stringed Instruments and Potty Mouths

"Birdcloud met in Murfreesboro and immediately didn’t like eachother. At a party in 2009 they had some whiskeys and became friends and started dicking around on guitar, writing their first song, a song about going down on your best friend, now lost to the sands of time. Despite a lukewarm reception at Nashville’s Bluebird Cafe, they have been sitting on eachother’s faces ever since, showing eachother their bruises and generally doing whatever they want when it works out that way." Songs on the inside NSFW if you can't tell. [more inside]
posted by cmoj on Feb 21, 2012 - 14 comments

"Hopes and dreams... will end up killing you."

Daniel Knox prophecies calamity and doom on piano and kazoo. A Chicago musician and songwriter with the voice of a 1920s troubadour, Knox composes tragicomic ballads reminiscent of Will Oldham or Tom Waits. Listen to Evryman for Himself, the harrowing Ghostsong, the poignant You Win Some, You Tie Some, and Disaster. [more inside]
posted by oulipian on Nov 8, 2011 - 7 comments

Nervous Norvus

A unique (to say the least) musical voice from the past emerges, with a timely tune to those along the Eastern Seaboard of the United States. Yes, friends, it's Nervous Norvus, with Evil Hurricane. [more inside]
posted by flapjax at midnite on Aug 26, 2011 - 19 comments

Eugene McDaniels, RIP

Somewhere along the line, you might've heard one of the biggest hits to ever come out of the world of jazz: it was a song originally made famous by Les McCann and Eddie Harris back in 1969, called Compared To What. If you were in the right place at the right time, you might've even caught them doing it live. Or, if you were born a little too late for all that, you might've heard the song performed by John Legend and the Roots. Well, the man who wrote the song, Gene McDaniels, has just left us at age 76. RIP Gene McDaniels.
posted by flapjax at midnite on Aug 2, 2011 - 25 comments

Laura Nyro - singer, songwriter.

Laura Nyro - singer, songwriter. Covered by others: "Eli's Coming" - Three Dog Night ; "And When I Die" - Blood, Sweat & Tears. An occasional performer: "Poverty Train" - Monterey Pop Festival ; "He's A Runner" (TV) ; "Blowin' Away" and "Wedding Bell Blues" - Pittsburgh, 1994 ; "Save the Country" (TV). And media glitz: "Stoned Soul Picnic" - The Fifth Dimension ; "Sweet Blindness" - The Fifth Dimension w/Frank Sinatra. Video quality and loudness vary.
posted by Ardiril on Jun 19, 2011 - 19 comments

Papa Tried

Dispatches From a Guy Trying Unsuccessfully to Sell a Song In Nashville. [more inside]
posted by msalt on Oct 3, 2010 - 36 comments

You'll Be Missed, Ms. Lincoln

Not just a singer, but a songwriter. Not just an actress, but an activist. Abbey Lincoln helped to push the expectations that the jazz loving public had of jazz vocalists beyond the stereotype of sexy chanteuse delivering someone else's lyrics. From sexy and sultry (as in this clip from "The Girl Can't Help It") to quirky and passionate to elegant and expressive, Ms. Lincoln was a true original in every sense of the word. [more inside]
posted by jeanmari on Aug 14, 2010 - 21 comments

I hear babies cry and I watch them grow. They'll learn much more than we'll know. And I think to myself: What a Wonderful World

You may not know who Israel "Brudda Iz" Kamakawiwoʻole was, but you're probably familiar with his medley of "Over the Rainbow / What a Wonderful World," which has been included on several movie soundtracks and used on television shows & commercials throughout the world.... [more inside]
posted by zarq on Jun 8, 2010 - 72 comments

"Kevin, you look beautiful."

Kevin Coyne plays his song "Having A Party" live in Köln, 1979. [more inside]
posted by koeselitz on Mar 22, 2010 - 8 comments

Ruby Hunter

We were supposed to really actually forget about that lifestyle. But it'd come back to me in song.
Ruby Hunter, award winning songwriter, has died.
posted by Fiasco da Gama on Feb 17, 2010 - 7 comments

Logged off!

retired postal worker & struggling songwriter bingo gazingo, is dead. [more inside]
posted by msconduct on Jan 11, 2010 - 8 comments

The leader of the pack, and now she's gone.

Ellie Greenwich, one of the foremost songwriters of the rock and roll era, has died at the age of 69. [more inside]
posted by ricochet biscuit on Aug 26, 2009 - 37 comments

Is this what they mean by "differently abled?"

Melody Gardot was a New York fashion student, until a hit-and-run driver left her disabled and in need of therapy—musical therapy. [more inside]
posted by Mr. Anthropomorphism on Jun 29, 2009 - 32 comments

Chiseled in Stone

"The ability to convey the depths of despair, the heights of jubilation and the serenity of an abiding faith are all that is required to be known as “The Voice.” Unfortunately, very few possess the ability to do all that and what’s more unfortunate, we lost one of those few–possibly the best of those few–with the death of Vern Gosdin at the age of 74." [more inside]
posted by dawson on Apr 29, 2009 - 7 comments

"I'll be glad when I'm not still the only one."

Alice Randall is best known, perhaps, for her novel The Wind Done Gone, a parody of Gone With the Wind that tackles the earlier book's treatment of race. But Randall, a Vanderbilt professor and Harvard graduate, isn't just a novelist: she's a country music songwriter, the first black woman to have a No. 1 song on the country music charts. [more inside]
posted by ocherdraco on Mar 11, 2009 - 9 comments

Steampunk has its Orson Welles

New Hampshire's Drawing Room at the Edge of the Universe. A Christmas carol for the coming depression. A ballad about accidental second chances. A canceled fireworks display leads to a midnight balloon ride and a mysterious quest. Welcome to Atoms, Motion, and the Void. You are the guest of septuagenarian Sherwin Sleeves, and these are his stories. [more inside]
posted by Pastabagel on Dec 10, 2008 - 9 comments

I Heard It Through The Grapevine...

Legendary Motown songwriter and producer Norman Whitfield dead at 65. Whitfield co-wrote (often with Barret Strong) many of Motown's greatest songs, including I Heard It Through The Grapevine, War, Papa Was A Rolling Stone, Ball Of Confusion, Cloud Nine and Just My Imagination. He also worked as a producer for The Temptations, among others, and won a Grammy in 1976 for the score to the film Car Wash.
posted by The Card Cheat on Sep 17, 2008 - 31 comments

Se necesita una poca de gracia

"I mean he quite literally -- and in no way do I exaggerate when I say -- [Paul Simon] stole the songs from us." [more inside]
posted by Sys Rq on Apr 19, 2008 - 75 comments

Grievous Angel

Gram Parsons fans take note - there's a recent new biography and a release of 90 minutes of vintage Flying Burrito Brothers. Some rare footage has also recently surfaced online: performing with FBB and duets with Emmylou Harris 1, 2, 3. Other items of note: Emmylou talks about Gram in 2000; British biographical sketch; Keith Richards on Gram in Rolling Stone; an interview with Manuel, the designer of the famous Nudie suit. [more inside]
posted by madamjujujive on Mar 7, 2008 - 38 comments

The 28 Most Recognizable Guitars

The 28 Most Recognizable Guitars.
posted by Soup on Dec 6, 2007 - 84 comments

Richard Thompson and his exquisite songs.

Singer/songwriter and guitarist extraordinaire Richard Thompson: songs of bittersweet longing, sublime eloquence, dark exuberance and ominous allusion. [more inside]
posted by flapjax at midnite on Nov 24, 2007 - 37 comments

Multiple personalities.

Well, someone's gone and made a feature-length biopic on Bob Dylan. It was bound to happen, right? Didn't necessarily expect Cate Blanchett (along with 5 others) to be cast in the role of Bob, but, hey, she looks great with the flyaway hair and the cigarette. Here's a clip, wherein Cate as Bob meets Ginsberg in a golfcart. Here's a trailer and an IMDB page. Here director Todd Haynes talks about the film. He discusses his casting of Blanchett, and offers observations on other aspects of the movie here and here. And if you want to read reviews, there's plenty of 'em.
posted by flapjax at midnite on Nov 21, 2007 - 27 comments

You may not know the man, but you know the songs.

There's a whole lotta Mefiers interested in the upcoming Led Zeppelin reunion, and it got me to thinking, let's pay a little visit to the Poet Laureate of the blues, Mr. Willie Dixon. After all, without him, there wouldn't have been a Whole Lotta Love, or a Bring It On Home, or... hell, there might not have been any Zep at all... His music has been interpreted and reinterpreted by an astonishing number of musicians. The man wrote a whole lotta songs. Oh, and, he played a little bit of bass, too. He was a whole lotta great.
posted by flapjax at midnite on Sep 13, 2007 - 28 comments

If You Are A Dreamer, Come In...

"If you are a dreamer, a wisher, a liar, a hope-er, a pray-er, a magic bean buyer..." ShelSilverstein.com bills itself as "the Official Site for Kids" but, if you're familiar with Sheldon Allan Silverstein's ecclectic career, you don't have to be a kid to enjoy it. Shel was best known for his books and poetry, but he was also a prolific songwriter, working extensively with Dr. Hook & The Medicine Show [sorry, Tripod link]. He also wrote Johnny Cash's hit "A Boy Named Sue" and was posthumously inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall Of Fame in 2002. More songs and stories here. And his amazingly extensive Wikipedia page is here.
posted by amyms on May 1, 2007 - 13 comments

Townes van Zandt

Townes van Zandt. In some theaters now is a new documentary about his life called Be Here to Love Me--a life that followed the all-too-typical path of a star that burns too bright: the promise of talent, addiction, and untimely death. (see the trailer here or here). Townes van Zandt was a singer/songwriter, often included in the folk or country genres, whose biggest accomplishment was when Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard took his song Poncho and Lefty to the top of the charts. But even though he never was famous, he has achieved legendary status. Steve Earle once said "Townes Van Zandt is the best songwriter in the whole world and I'll stand on Bob Dylan's coffee table in my cowboy boots and say that."
posted by dios on Jan 18, 2006 - 40 comments

Bye Bye Miss American Pie . . .

The Day the Music Died. Charles Hardin Holley. Rest in peace. A remarkably influential songwriter/performer/producer who left us so much in such a short time.

Plus, this guy and that other guy.
posted by geekyguy on Feb 3, 2004 - 6 comments

The Worrier King

Warren Zevon, one of the best damned songwriters I've ever heard, patron saint of many famous curmudgeons, and a real cool SOB in his own right, turns 56 today.

Last September, he was told he had inoperable lung cancer, and so he's living out his remaining years in the studio, recording as much as he can. I for one am glad he's got at least one more album in him. Is there a moral to this tale? Enjoy every sandwich.
posted by chicobangs on Jan 24, 2003 - 16 comments

Gravel Road Requiem

Gravel Road Requiem hits the spot. In Scott's May 14th posting he discusses then links to an amazing song, which he wrote and recorded. This was a nice gentle way to break into my day.
posted by vanderwal on May 14, 2001 - 4 comments

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