Tag: Music


The Crazy Rituals of Creative People

Did you know that Benjamin Franklin started his day with an “air bath” – which means he sat around naked? And that Thomas Wolfe wrote while standing up in the kitchen, utilizing the top of the refrigerator as his desk, fondling his “male configurations”? Jean-Paul Sartre chewed on enough tablets to meet ten times the recommended daily dosage of Corydrane (a mix of amphetamine and aspirin). The painter Georgia O’Keefe rose early to drink tea alone in bed and watch the sun rise before entering her studio. And the writer Honore de......

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Bob Dylan Uncovers Sinatra

Bob Dylan’s new album of ballads from the American Songbook is remarkable, heartfelt, and vulnerable. All ten tracks have one thing in common: they were interpreted and made popular by Frank Sinatra. Yes, the enigmatic ’60s counterculture icon, the raspy-voiced rebellious rocker, is rendering songs made famous by one of the smoothest nightclub crooners of all time. But I don’t think Dylan is selling out.?Shadows in the Night reveals an irrepressible, creative spirit once again upending expectations. Ever idiosyncratic, Dylan does what he always does – arranges, appropriates and interprets to create......

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The One and Only Joe Cocker

I was blessed to grow up with some of the greatest rock’n’roll ever recorded. Recently, one of the most original and emotionally powerful singers of the genre, raspy-voiced Joe Cocker, died of lung cancer at age 70.? To the many tributes already written, I can only add what this mad dog of an Englishman meant to me. Joe Cocker became famous for songs he didn’t write. In a culture that obsessively worships novelty, Cocker’s originality was improving others’ songs by adding a profound new resonance. What courage it took in 1969 to......

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A Meeting of Cultures: Lessons from a Jazz Great - Week in Wisdom

Have you ever left a concert not only feeling joyful and connected to everyone but also knowing you just experienced something that transcended the music itself – that revealed wisdom about life? On Saturday evening I had the privilege of hearing one of the greatest salsa singers in the world – the Panamanian superstar Ruben Blades – together with the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra and Wynton Marsalis. This unprecedented collaboration had Blades singing his own distinctive salsa hits from the 70’s and 80’s alongside and mixed with American jazz standards. The......

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Songwriting: Saving Veterans Lives

Darden Smith is an innovator of the human spirit. I met this charismatic, humble, talented, Texas musician / singer / songwriter a couple of months ago at the BIF10 innovation summit where with guitar in hand, he told his story of how the pursuit of the song has kept him on this planet. Smith, known for his story telling lyrics, weaving folk and Americana influences with rock, pop, and the musical roots of Texas, founded a unique organization called SongwritingWith:Soldiers, which gives military men and women suffering from PTSD the opportunity to......

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Why Apple Users Had an Issue with the U2 Album

Has Apple taken us from 1984 to 2014 and back again? In what is considered one of the greatest commercials ever made, Apple Computer introduced the Mac to the world in 1984 during the Super Bowl, running an ad that instantaneously changed the image of Apple forever. The commercial depicts a futuristic Orwellian dystopia controlled by Big Brother being destroyed by a courageous female runner wielding a sledgehammer – a metaphor for the computer that would change the world. Wearing a white tank top emblazoned with the now-iconic Mac, she hurls the......

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Rapping the Evolution of Religion

“You’ve probably never thought about the evolutionary origins of religion before. And if you have, you certainly haven’t heard it rapped before.”?That’s the message of of Baba Brinkman‘s hip-hop-inspired, meticulously-researched Off-Broadway show “The Rap Guide to Religion.” Brinkman calls his shows “peer-reviewed rap,” having created and performed productions like “The Rap Guide to Evolution” and “The Canterbury Tales Remixed.” His latest foray is into the field of religion. Since I am always looking for interesting and intelligent perspectives on the interaction of science and religion, when a friend of mine told me......

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Glen Campbell Sings Poignantly of Loss and Healing

Glen Campbell’s newest, and likely last, song will make you cry and give you comfort, especially if like me, you know people with Alzheimer’s Disease, or other forms of dementia. Titled “I’m Not Gonna Miss You”, the song invites us to think deeply about what it is we really mourn as we see a loved one drift out of the world. Is it their pain, or ours? I wrestled with that question a lot as my father was dying, and wrestle with it still as others I love suffer with dementia. How......

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 Leonard Cohen: Popular Problems

My Oh My, sings the prophet/poet Leonard Cohen on his just released new album, Popular Problems. Simply put: this is a majestic, mysterious, magical, meaning-saturated masterpiece that I have listened to every day since I bought it. What are the Popular Problems Cohen alludes to? The intractable ones for which there are no final solutions, only ever-new iterations:? war, aging, terror, tragedy, sexual longing, desire, our spiritual yearnings, suffering, moral ambiguity, our religious identities, our mortality, and of course, love for the older you get, the lonelier you become, and the deeper......

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When You Believe

Have you ever seen the DreamWorks animated film Prince of Egypt? The scene when the Israelites leave Egypt is scored by a beautiful ballad, “When You Believe,” sung by Michelle Pfeiffer and Sally Dworsky. The version recorded by Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey, seen here, won an Oscar in 1999:   When the Exodus story is being chanted as a central practice of the Passover holiday, people are invited to experience the “miracle of being redeemed” – of moving from slavery to freedom. Whether historically true or not, the Exodus is one......

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