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R.I.P. Dr. John

Dr. John, the New Orleans singer and piano player so mighty that he exerted his own gravitational force, died last week. I wrote his obituary for the New York Times. (The vagaries of obituary writing being what they are, I actually wrote it three years ago, but I’m thankful that he stayed around for as […]

posted 10 June 2019 in Articles, News, Outside. no comments yet

I Know Times Are Changing

A few weeks ago, I was driving across North Carolina to interview a photographer–but halfway to my destination, I needed to pull over someplace where I could do two crucial interviews for an article I was writing for The New York Times about Originals, the next album drawn from Prince’s vaults. That’s how I ended […]

posted 6 June 2019 in Articles, Outside. no comments yet

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

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

Sittin’ on the Dock of the Ballet

Hello! In case you missed them, I wanted to call your attention to two pieces I wrote for The New York Times in recent months. The first one was on the 50th anniversary of Otis Redding’s “Sittin’ on the Dock of the Bay.” I spoke with an extraordinarily cool range of people for the article: […]

posted 4 April 2018 in Outside. no comments yet

R.I.P. Tom Petty

Tom Petty died three weeks ago, and I’m still not used to a world without him. I interviewed him just once (for the first Mudcrutch album, about ten years ago)–he was gracious and professional and insisted that I stick around to listen to rehearsal rather than be ejected into the afternoon rush hour of the […]

posted 24 October 2017 in Outside. no comments yet

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

We’re Putting It on Wax

Because I had never recapped a TV show before, I tried it for The New York Times with the first season of Vinyl, HBO’s lavish reconstruction of the early-1970s music business. The series had a promising but flawed beginning (with a two-hour pilot directed by Martin Scorsese), then it gradually got worse, then it perked […]

posted 9 May 2016 in Outside. no comments yet

Hi, We’re the Replacements

A few favorite artists I missed on seeing live when I was younger and probably won’t ever get to now: Talking Heads, Hüsker Dü, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. (Okay, that last one definitely isn’t happening, because he’s dead.) The Replacements would have been high on that wish list, except I caught the reunion tour at […]

posted 25 March 2016 in Outside. 1 comment