Call for Essays About Any Aspect of Popular Culture, Present or Past

Sean Murphy
Image: Sean Murphy

Sean Murphy loves music, books, and movies and can’t imagine a world without sub-titles. He was born in northern Virginia and has never found a compelling reason to leave. He studied English at George Mason University and has an MA in Literature. One of his thesis papers dealt with the utopian impulse in ‘70s rock (which, depending upon one’s perspective, at least partially explains why he opted not to purse that PhD in Cultural Studies). During his time at PopMatters he has written extensively about music, movies and books, and his column “The Amazing Pudding” appears every other month. His memoir Please Talk about Me When I’m Gone is now available via paperback and Kindle at Amazon. Visit him online at


Monday, August 11 2014

What Is and What Will Always Be: A Fresh Look at Led Zeppelin's Familiar Masterpieces

With the exception of the Beatles, no other band has loomed quite so large as Led Zeppelin, to the extent that we’ll never run out of things to say: good, bad and great.

Friday, February 7 2014

We've Seen This Movie Before: Trying to Make Sense of Philip Seymour Hoffman

The death of Philip Seymour Hoffman hurts more than the typical "gone too soon" tragedy because we are being robbed of an artist performing at the height of his considerable powers.

Sunday, January 19 2014

Beware Soaring Yarmulkes! Jon Madof and Zion8 Are Making World Music for a New World

With Zion80, Jon Madof is not making a departure so much as a logical, if inspired, continuation of the ground he’s covered the past decade.

Tuesday, May 21 2013

Ray Manzarek: The Key to the Doors

Ray Manzarek left his handiwork all over several of the more resilient and extraordinary songs from one of the enduring American bands.

Tuesday, May 14 2013

In Defense Of... The Greatness of the Gatsby

Kathryn Schulz’s failure to appreciate F. Scott Fitzgerald’s masterwork, as professed on, is a contemporary case study for how not to assess literature.


Thursday, September 18 2014

How About Some Unironic Love for Emerson, Lake & Palmer?

Love them or loathe them, Emerson, Lake & Palmer wore immoderation like a badge of courage.

Wednesday, July 23 2014

Ripe with Rich Attainments: Jethro Tull's 'A Passion Play', Reassessed

A Passion Play tends to draw the most resistance from even prog-rock aficionados; it obliges time and attention to let it work its charms.

Wednesday, May 7 2014

Never One for Striped Trousers: Talking Shop with Steve Howe

Steve Howe and his Yes bandmates are obviously driven by a desire, perhaps an obsession, to measure up favorably, and to improve upon what they’ve already achieved.

Wednesday, March 5 2014

The Holy Trinity: Genesis

During this three album stretch, Genesis evinced as much growth and glory as any of their prog brethren, and the banner they raised still casts a huge and heavy shadow over everything that followed.

Tuesday, November 12 2013

The Holy Trinity: Jethro Tull

Jethro Tull have always confounded critics, and despite albums sales, hit songs, influence and longevity, it is above all the brain of frontman Ian Anderson that ensures they will remain forever on the outside, looking in.


Wednesday, March 5 2014

Don Drummond Was One of the Five Best Trombonists to Ever Play the Instrument

One comes away from Don Drummond with a clearer sense of who the man was and why he is considered by many to be the best musician so few people have ever heard of.

Sunday, February 23 2014

Aram Bajakian: There Were Flowers Also in Hell

Aram Bajakian's second album is a testament of his love affair with the guitar.

Monday, January 27 2014

Howard Sounes' '27' Has That Train Wreck Kind of Appeal

This is an exhaustive, if exhausting analysis of the debauchery and bad decisions that link the most famous members of the "27 Club".

Monday, October 28 2013

Slobber Pup: Black Aces / New Zion Trio: Chaliwa

Today, musicians like Saft can bring colleagues together to record, without the agendas or idiocy of corporate middlemen. Celebrate accordingly.

Monday, October 28 2013

The Master Musicians of Jajouka: The Road to Jajouka

This is world music, envisioned and reimagined by musicians who instinctively stay a step (or two) removed from the safety and boredom of the mainstream.

Bottle Rocket [8.Jan.09]
Love Story [31.Jul.08]
Stanton Moore: III [29.Nov.06]


Monday, March 3 2014

Harold Ramis (1944 - 2014): Empathy for the Rebel

Harold Ramis’s oeuvre comprised a Hall of Justice for the nerds; people old enough to know there are no super heroes, but young enough to realize we could use them from time to time.

Thursday, September 19 2013

Bright Moments Past: On Music and Loss

Music is first and foremost a very real and easily identifiable source of extreme pleasure. It’s also a vehicle, something I use to help me get around in life.

Wednesday, March 20 2013

Ten Songs From 1967 That Shaped Prog Rock

If 1967 characterizes a high point in rock music, it also initiated an explicit realignment of what was possible in the genre -- for better or worse.

Tuesday, January 8 2013

Emotional Feedback on a Timeless Wavelength: Rush's 'Permanent Waves'

Permanent Waves is, on multiple levels, an unblinking stride toward the future, while it effectively shuts the door on the ‘70s.

Tuesday, November 20 2012

Gary Clark Jr.: Seeing Is Believing

If you have a chance to check Clark out live, do so. He sounds fine in a studio setting, and I encourage you to grab his new disc. But like most of the better acts, especially of the jazz and blues idioms, he needs to be seen to be appreciated, and believed.

Finding Grace in Beautiful Places (Sound Affects) [13.Sep.12]
Levon Helm: So Real It Makes You Believe (Sound Affects) [1.May.12]
Print the Legend: The Man in Black at 80 (Sound Affects) [28.Feb.12]
Whitney Houston and the Wages of Fame (Sound Affects) [16.Feb.12]
Ben Gazzara and The End Of An Aura (Short Ends and Leader) [8.Feb.12]
Ranking R.E.M.: The 10 Best Albums (Sound Affects) [12.Oct.11]
In Defense of Good Sax (Sound Affects) [9.Aug.11]
(It's Always) Time For McCoy Tyner (Sound Affects) [11.May.11]
An Appreciation of the Compact Disc (Sound Affects) [27.Apr.11]
Billy Bang: Goodbye and Rest in Peace (Sound Affects) [19.Apr.11]
In Memory of Sidney Lumet: Celebrating 'Serpico' (Short Ends and Leader) [12.Apr.11]
Remembering Keith Relf, and the Yardbirds (Sound Affects) [24.Mar.11]
Right Down the Line: R.I.P. Gerry Rafferty (Sound Affects) [11.Jan.11]
A Timely Musical Blessing From Soulive (Sound Affects) [15.Dec.10]
Remembering Frank Zappa: 17 Years Later (Sound Affects) [9.Dec.10]
The Shape of Jazz That Came... (Sound Affects) [8.Sep.10]
Alex Chilton R.I.P. (1950 - 2010) (Sound Affects) [18.Mar.10]
Did You Get the Knack and Doug Fieger? (Sound Affects) [15.Feb.10]
Get Yer Ya-Ya's Out! The Rolling Stones In Concert (Consuming Consumables) [17.Dec.09]
This is Fela Kuti's Time (Sound Affects) [16.Dec.09]
The Day The Music Died, Redux (Sound Affects) [15.Dec.09]
Paint It Black (Sabbath) (Sound Affects) [2.Dec.09]
August Left Our World a Poorer Place x2 (Sound Affects) [10.Sep.09]
“Radical Jewish Culture” Redux (Sound Affects) [8.Sep.09]
R.E.M. - "Exhuming McCarthy" (stream) (Mixed Media) [9.Jun.09]
Kwai Chang Caine R.I.P. (Short Ends and Leader) [4.Jun.09]
See Me, Feel Me, Touch Me…Sell Me (Sound Affects) [23.May.09]
Herbie Hancock: Old School American Idol (Sound Affects) [19.Apr.09]
Got a Beef? Sure ‘Nuff ‘N Yes I Do (Sound Affects) [3.Apr.09]
John Zorn: Rebel with a Cause (Sound Affects) [30.Mar.09]
The Things They Carried (Short Ends and Leader) [30.Mar.09]
Before Bad Brains There Was Death (Sound Affects) [16.Mar.09]
Work Pig: Bringing Home the Bacon (Short Ends and Leader) [15.Mar.09]
Cheever: Straight No Chaser (Re:Print) [3.Mar.09]
"In my stories is where I live." (Re:Print) [24.Feb.09]
Mistaken Identity? (Re:Print) [2.Feb.09]
Freddie Hubbard: An Appreciation (Sound Affects) [30.Dec.08]
It’s All Part of Der Process (Re:Print) [2.Dec.08]
The Whiteness of this Whale (Sound Affects) [24.Nov.08]
Mitch Mitchell: The Perfect Engine (Sound Affects) [16.Nov.08]
Ornette Coleman: Then and Now (Sound Affects) [10.Nov.08]
Five Reggae Albums You Cannot Live Without (Sound Affects) [10.Jul.08]
John Belushi’s Greatest Performance (Sound Affects) [22.Jun.08]
Here's The Thing... (Short Ends and Leader) [17.Jun.08]
Nothing Golden God Can Stay (Sound Affects) [28.May.08]
The David Lynch Dilemma (Sound Affects) [11.May.08]
Earth Day (Sound Affects) [2.May.08]
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