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Tuesday, Sep 16, 2014
Last week, Apple answered the question "Why mess with perfection?" by quietly killing off the iPod Classic.

Around 8:30 in the morning, nursing a cup of coffee, I received the following text from a co-worker: “My iPod died.”


Like me, he’s one of those who have 20,000-plus songs loaded on his device. So, my heart couldn’t help but sink a bit when I read his message. I know the hours it takes to put all that material back on the iPod. But until last week, we could at least take comfort in the fact we could always buy a brand new iPod Classic.


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Tuesday, Apr 8, 2014
Twenty years since the world learned of Kurt Cobain's death, what impact does he have on rock music today?

Twenty years ago today, the world learned of the death of Kurt Cobain. Postmortem examination has placed his final moments a few days prior, but it was on April 8th, 1994, that everyone fully grasped the extent of the Nirvana frontman’s inner struggles. Instantly, Cobain was anointed a musical martyr, a voice of a generation whose choice to take his own life meant that he exited this mortal coil in his creative prime, and therefore would be preserved as an idealized memory instead of sullying his reputation with erratic latter-day artistic detours or crass cash-in reunions. Even as the tragic news was first being digested, the sentiment that Cobain should be counted as one of the great icons of rock ‘n’ roll was in the air. Today it is accepted fact—he is one of those names and faces that a person charged with distilling the genre’s vast history into a ruthlessly abridged version would scan over and conclude, “This one, this one is worth remembering.”


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Tuesday, Apr 1, 2014
Dave Brockie forced GWAR fans to take absurdity very seriously. He gave hope to kids all over the world, suggesting that creativity, humor, and heavy metal might be infinitely more powerful than the stultifying, small-minded idiocy that they saw all around them.

I first came into contact with GWAR when I was about 13 years old. This would have been about 1993 when my friends and I somehow came across a copy of GWAR’s album America Must Be Destroyed in the only record store in the small town in Northern California where I grew up. This was the high era of grunge, and the music that we were listening to took itself very seriously. Like so many young kids, we looked to popular music for examples of the kinds of people we wanted to be. Nirvana, Pearl Jam, and Smashing Pumpkins suggested the possibility of channeling our feelings of awkward pre-teen alienation into something cool, or at least fashionable.


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Thursday, Jan 9, 2014
Perhaps because it represented his formation as a solo artist, his manifestation of “Lou Reed”, as opposed to “Lou Reed and the Velvet Underground”, Reed owned the '70s more than any other decade.

Lou Reed was one of those stranger-artists whose life, health, and death interested and affected me greatly. As I spent several years listening to pretty much nothing else but the Velvet Underground and, even more, Reed’s solo work (a duration of which a friend said to me, “God, that must’ve been depressing”), I’ve felt closer to Reed than perhaps any other artist, musical or otherwise. He just seemed to speak a language I wanted hear, simply and effectively.


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Tuesday, May 1, 2012
I can't imagine music without Levon Helm. I can't imagine my world without Levon Helm. Fortunately I'll never have to.

There are probably countless ways to talk about what makes a particular artist compelling, and all of them are true. There are not that many ways to articulate how or why an artist is unique. By virtue of being original, there are few points of comparison and the inability to find a reference point is the whole idea.


American music has blessed us with a great many artists who are both unique and compelling, but it seems safe and not at all reactionary to note they are increasingly difficult to come by. And now, in increasing numbers, they are starting to die. There is nothing we can do about this. It still is at once refreshing and instructive (and, inevitably, depressing) to consider Levon Helm.


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