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I Want to See Some History

I recently interviewed Tim Mohr for Billboard on the topic of his excellent new book, Burning Down the Haus, which tells the story of punk rock in East Germany before the Berlin Wall fell–in other words, a punk scene that had real political stakes (unlike many in the United States). He told me, “The German […]

posted 29 September 2018 in Articles, Outside. no comments yet

Aretha Franklin at the Kennedy Center

Three days before Aretha Franklin died, I got a call from an editor at the New York Times, asking if I could put together an oral history of the Queen of Soul’s amazing 2015 performance of “Natural Woman” at the Kennedy Center (honoring Carole King). The catch was that since she didn’t have very long […]

posted 10 September 2018 in Articles, Outside. no comments yet

I Want My Music Video

Sometimes the pleasure of journalism is that you learn everything you can about a topic and then share that information with the world. A few weeks ago, I knew a lot about the music-video business in the 1980s–that’s what happens when you cowrite a book with the original MTV VJs–but I wasn’t too savvy about […]

posted 15 August 2018 in Articles. no comments yet

The Day the Music Died

I drove down to Monroe, North Carolina, and spent a bittersweet day at Holloway’s Music Center–a musical-instrument store that, after 106 years of ownership by the same family, is turning off the lights. (They hope that if they liquidate enough stock, they’ll find somebody who wants to buy the business.) The air conditioning was busted, […]

posted 12 June 2018 in Articles, Outside. no comments yet

Neil Tennant Q&A

In early March, I wrote an article for The New York Times about the American debut of The Most Incredible Thing, a ballet based on a Hans Christian Andersen story, with choreography by Javier de Frutos and a score by the Pet Shop Boys. It was a pleasure to report for many reasons–not least getting […]

posted 27 April 2018 in Articles. no comments yet

The Golden Age of Francis Spufford

I recently had the pleasure of interviewing the brilliant author Francis Spufford for the Barnes & Noble Review. I suggest you go read our conversation, but I suggest even more strongly that you read his books, including Red Plenty (a brilliant fictionalized history of the Soviet Union) and the new Golden Hill (a exhilarating novel […]

posted 29 June 2017 in Articles. no comments yet

R.I.P. Leonard Cohen

Leonard Cohen, poet, genius, and gentleman, has died at the age of 82. I interviewed him two years ago in a banquet room at the Canadian Consulate in Los Angeles, and although I didn’t have a lot of time in his presence, every sentence he uttered was a pearl. I wrote two completely different articles […]

posted 11 November 2016 in Archives, Articles. no comments yet

99 Luftballoons

Have you been wondering what Nena, the German singer best known in the States for her 1984 single “99 Luftballoons,” has been up to for the past three decades? Then you’re in luck, because I wrote an article for the New York Times about her. Be warned: the history of the song becoming an American […]

posted 12 October 2016 in Articles. 1 comment

The Rocking Dead

I wrote an article for the New York Times about Jeff Jampol, who manages musicians including Kurt Cobain, Janis Joplin, and Rick James–as I put it, “the performers that the music business calls legacy acts and that the general public refers to as dead people.” If you’re interested in that niche of the show-business ecosystem, […]

posted 24 June 2016 in Articles, Outside. no comments yet

Custard Magpie

The jury is still out (literally) on whether Led Zeppelin plagiarized elements of Spirit’s “Taurus” for “Stairway to Heaven,” and whether that Wayne’s World scene will have to be updated with a sign that says NO STAIRWAY AND/OR TAURUS. But that’s not the only time Plant and Page cheekily borrowed somebody else’s work–I wrote up […]

posted 23 June 2016 in Articles. no comments yet