About 10 years ago, I was trapped on a train in Wyoming for fours hours in the middle of the night. I was on a cross-country trip to discover an "off-the-interstate" version of America. We were stuck on the side of a mountain while the Union Pacific coal trains passed through the West on their way to factories somewhere in the Midwest -- Illinois or Indiana presumably. The noise of the passing trains prevented me from sleeping; instead, I curled up in my seat, stared out the window, dozed…Continue
Posted on April 26, 2013 at 7:46am — 13 Comments
There are a number of songs that serve as a musical roadmap in my life, and for every one of them, I can remember the exact moment when I heard the song - the exact moment that the song made me stop in my tracks, grab the record sleeve, look at the album photos and read the liner notes in a desperate attempt to learn everything I could about the music.
And, yet, I have no recollection of the first time that I heard the song which may have had the greatest influence on my life, because…Continue
Posted on March 12, 2013 at 8:00pm — 16 Comments
As a child growing up in a small town just outside New York City, I first came to conceive of America - the mythic America - through our cultural arts. I created an imaginary picture of the American plains and the West through folk tales, storybooks and movies. My parents bought my brother and me Davy Crockett coonskin hats to wear when we played in the woods behind our house. It didn't matter that those woods abutted the Bronx; for us, they were the wild unknown.
The West may have…
Posted on January 28, 2013 at 3:37pm
The music world suffered some deep losses in 2012. We saw pioneering talents in nearly every genre leave this world for the great beyond: Kitty Wells, Dave Brubeck, Earl Scruggs, Etta James, Whitney Houston, MCA, Duck Dunn, Ravi Shankar and one of my own personal and musical heroes, Levon Helm. And, yet, as is often the case with keeping the balance of all things, audiences were also given some of the finest new rock 'n' roll albums in recent memory.
Bob Dylan's Tempest is…
Posted on December 17, 2012 at 1:25pm — 6 Comments