Category Archives: music

The Staves

How about some music for the week? (The work week in America starts today.) A reader called my attention to this group of three sisters (last name Staveley-Taylor) from Watford, England: The Staves, who for some reason had escaped my attention. Their lovely three-part harmony reminds me of Crosby, Stills & Nash, and one of them, Camilla […]

Google Doodle celebrates Bartolomeo Cristofori

Today’s Google Doodle celebrates the 360th birthday of Bartolomeo Cristofori (could he be an ancestor of Astronaut Sam?). You know who he is, right? (I didn’t.) But we all should, for he invented the piano. As the Guardian explains, According to Encyclopaedia Britannica, the instrument Cristofori invented was referred to during his lifetime as a harpsichord that plays soft […]

Singer of “Louie, Louie” dies at 71

I’ll never forget the first time I heard the classic rock song “Louie, Louie,” by the Kingsmen (it was actually written by Richard Berry and first recorded by him in 1957). It was 1963, and a friend and I had hiked from one Army base to another in Germany, where my dad was stationed. I had […]

The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face

You thought I’d forgotten Gordon Lightfoot, didn’t you? Well, there are a few good songs left from his superb Lightfoot! album, and this is one. If you’re a bit younger than I, you may remember the 1972 version of this song that became a huge hit for Roberta Flack. But I like Lightfoot’s version better. “The First […]

Snowball et moi: In which I visit a renowned dancing cockatoo

I meant to write something about the Tsarnaev trial and the death penalty today, discuss a new survey of world religion, and address the new legal ruling on the rights of chimpanzees, but those will have to wait, for I am working on two essays and a talk (you try putting up eight posts a day on […]

The Rolling Stones back on tour

Well, I never really liked the Stones much anyway (I was a Beatles guy), but I was amazed to hear that they’re going back on the road. And I was even more amazed to hear this from the NBC News reporter: “Their average age is greater than that of the Supreme Court.” And instantly, I thought of […]


Here’s another great song from Gordon Lightfoot’s 1966 album, “Lightfoot!” It’s one of three (out of 14 total) on the album not written by Lightfoot himself: it was composed by Phil Ochs (1940-1976). (Does anybody remember Ochs and his involvement in the protests of the 60s? Remember “I ain’t marching anymore“—an anthem for those opposed to the Vietnam […]

“Rich Man’s Spiritual”

I haven’t forgotten about Gordon Lightfoot Week—it’s just been spread over a month. “Rich Man’s Spiritual” is the first song on Lightfoot’s best album (picture of album below, and I’ll brook no dissent): “Lightfoot!”, released in 1965. The song rests loosely on Jesus’s “camel/eye of the needle” saying from Matthew, and here a rich man tries to buy […]

Happy 100th birthday, Sister Rosetta Tharpe

JAC: Mirabile dictu—we’re having two contributions by Matthew Cobb today. But that is only meet since I’m reading his entire book to furnish him with a blub. (How about this one: “Life’s Greatest Secret is, in the end, no worse than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick”?) Actually, the book is excellent and you should […]

“Don’t Know Why”

Norah Jones‘s (b. 1979) real name is Geetali Norah Jones Shankar, and it’s well known that she’s the daughter of sitar virtuoso Ravi Shanker (her mother was Sue Jones). When I first heard this song in 2002, on her Come Away with Me album, I was blown away. It’s a beautiful jazz-infused song, with only five […]


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 34,644 other followers