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January 31, 2015

Daily Downloads (The Week's Best Music Downloads Including Darren Hayman, James Vincent McMorrow, Drew Holcomb, and more)

Every day, Daily Downloads offers 10 free and legal mp3 downloads.


Today's free and legal mp3 downloads:

Annalibera: "Black Cat White Cat" [mp3] from Nevermind I Love You (out March 24th)

Colleen Green: "TV" [mp3] from I Want to Grow Up (out February 24th)

Connor Zwetsch: What Comes After EP [mp3]

Darren Hayman: Chants for Socialists album [mp3]

Drew Holcomb and the Neighbors: Collection EP [mp3]

Ellie Holcomb: Collection EP [mp3]

Guthrie Brown: Spirit of the Elk EP [mp3]

James Vincent McMorrow: Live at the Theatre at the Ace Hotel album [mp3]

Kris Orlowski: Columbia City Theater Sessions EP [mp3]

William Wild: William Wild album [mp3]


Free and legal live performances at other websites:

Parquet Courts: 2015-01-28, Athens [mp3]


search for more free and legal music downloads at Largehearted Boy


also at Largehearted Boy:

other daily free and legal mp3 downloads

Essential and Interesting 2014 Year-End Music Lists

covers collections
100 Online Sources for Free and Legal Music Downloads

Book Notes (authors create playlists for their book)
musician/author interviews
Note Books (musicians discuss literature)
Short Cuts (writers pair a song with their short story or essay)
Shorties (daily music, books, and pop culture news and links)
Soundtracked (composers and directors discuss their film's soundtrack)
weekly new album lists


Posted by david | Permalink | Comments (View)





January 30, 2015

Book Notes - Kevin Morris "White Man's Problems"

White Man's Problems

In the Book Notes series, authors create and discuss a music playlist that relates in some way to their recently published book.

Previous contributors include Bret Easton Ellis, Kate Christensen, Kevin Brockmeier, George Pelecanos, Dana Spiotta, Amy Bloom, Aimee Bender, Jesmyn Ward, Heidi Julavits, Hari Kunzru, and many others.

Kevin Morris's short fiction collection White Man's Problems is filled with diverse and skillfully told stories.

Kirkus wrote of the book:

"Life undermines the pursuit of success and status in these rich, bewildering stories … a finely wrought and mordantly funny take on a modern predicament by a new writer with loads of talent."

Stream a playlist of these songs at Spotify.


In his own words, here is Kevin Morris's Book Notes music playlist for his short story collection White Man's Problems:


White Man's Problems is a collection of nine stories about nine guys at different stages in their lives and from varying socioeconomic classes. It's hard to locate where and when pieces of music kicked in on the matrix of thinking, writing, rewriting and arranging the stories, but at a point each of these was in my head, inspirational and aspirational, sometimes on-the-nose, sometimes in the vague background of memory.

Summer Farmer
"Waltzing Matilda" - Tom Waits

There's a melancholy mood to this story of two men from different parts of Los Angeles—one is a wealthy producer named Harrigan and the other is an elevator repairman named Kingsley. They've both suffered a loss that connects them for a single moment as they go about their separate daily lives. The slow tempo of "Matilda" and raw, woeful tone of Tom Waits's voice captures the sadness that lingers over these characters.

The Plot To Hold Hands With Elizabeth Tremblay
"Thunder Road" – Bruce Springsteen

Simply straight up East Coast love song for a love struck ninth grader living in the outskirts of Philadelphia in the 1970's. "I would do anything for you." That's high school wrestler and protagonist Roman's mindset.

Slipstream
"Olympia" – Hole
"I Shall be Released" – The Band

Klezak, the lawyer/homeless man in this story, has the crazy dissonance and righteous indignation of "Olympia," and Richard Manuel's voice on "I Shall be Released" has the perfect spiritual hopefulness that comes out of nowhere – I watch The Last Waltz a lot, and was thinking about that song wrapping up the whole chaotic and mystical evening at the end of this story.

Here Comes Mike
"Above the Clouds of Pompeii" - Bear's Den
"I Keep Faith" – Billy Bragg
"Wonderful Remark" – Van Morrison

"Here Comes Mike" is full of mourning and sadness and trying to pull out of it with a spiritual solution. These three touching songs go at the inevitable need for faith. They convey vulnerability and strength at the same time.

Mulligan's Travels
"Janie Jones" – The Clash
"It Was An Accident" – NRBQ
"Middle of the Road" – The Pretenders

The Clash's "Janie Jones" catches the noise in the title character's head. NRBQ's classic is the ultimate plea for the hapless male who has messed up, and "Middle of the Road" describes the place where Mulligan finds himself. Middle of the book, too.

Starting Out
"Modern Girl" – Sleater Kinney
"One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer" - George Thorogood

"Modern Girl" has always struck me as such a multi-dimensional song, sneering and romantic, disaffected and sensitive, mocking and angry, big heart inside…all kinds of layers. It gets at the personality of the first-year law associate hero of this story who rolls into the office late with a hangover, not sure about anything, more than a little alienated even so young, and definitely hating the jerk he shares an office with. And he ends up, for better or worse, with Thorogood's swagger.

Rain Come Down
"Ooh La La" – The Faces
"You Are So Beautiful" – Joe Cocker (RIP)

The Faces's "Ooh La La" speaks to wistful memory and hints at the feelings between the characters of the story, a husband and his dementia-stricken wife. And Joe Cocker—may he rest in peace—sang everything there is to sing about when a man looks at the woman he loves in "You Are So Beautiful".

Miracle Worker
"Take the "A' Train" – Billy Strayhorn
"Take the A-Train" comes to mind because the central character in this story, Elliot, is an old-fashioned guy, almost from another era, and it's set in New York, but in a throw-back, WASP-y, moneyed milieu, which the song so gloriously evokes.

White Man's Problems
"Don't Mess Around With Jim" – Jim Croce
The title story is about a divorced guy, Doug Hansall, who is chaperoning his son's 5th grade class on a field trip to DC. He is a jackass and full of bravado, and I love the tone of the Jim Croce song for the story, which is hopefully funny as much as anything. When Croce sings that "he's big and dumb as a man can come," it reminds me of Hansall, who is not exactly the most self-aware man on the planet.


Kevin Morris and White Man's Problems links:

the author's website
the author's Wikipedia entry

Foreword Reviews review
Kirkus review
Newark Star-Ledger review


also at Largehearted Boy:

Book Notes (2015 - ) (authors create music playlists for their book)
Book Notes (2012 - 2014) (authors create music playlists for their book)
Book Notes (2005 - 2011) (authors create music playlists for their book)
my 11 favorite Book Notes playlist essays

List of Online "Best of 2014" Book Lists
Essential and Interesting 2014 Year-End Music Lists

100 Online Sources for Free and Legal Music Downloads
Antiheroines (interviews with up and coming female comics artists)
Atomic Books Comics Preview (weekly comics highlights)
Daily Downloads (free and legal daily mp3 downloads)
guest book reviews
Librairie Drawn & Quarterly Books of the Week (recommended new books, magazines, and comics)
musician/author interviews
Note Books (musicians discuss literature)
Short Cuts (writers pair a song with their short story or essay)
Shorties (daily music, literature, and pop culture links)
Soundtracked (composers and directors discuss their film's soundtracks)
weekly music release lists
Word Bookstores Books of the Week (weekly new book highlights)


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Atomic Books Comics Preview - January 30, 2015

In the weekly Atomic Books Comics Preview, Benn Ray highlights notable new comics and graphic novels.

Benn Ray is the owner of Atomic Books, an independent bookstore in Baltimore. The Mobtown Shank is his blog, and his comic Said What? is syndicated weekly in the Baltimore Sun's B-Paper.

Atomic Books has been named one of BuzzFeed's Great American Bookstores, as well as one of Flavorwire's 10 greatest comic and graphic novel stores in America.


Casanova Acedia #1

Casanova Acedia #1
by Matt Fraction / Michael Chabon / Fabio Moon / Gabriel Ba

The new of Casanova finds Cassiday at a lush party, seduced and sexily embattled. But then, the world's ending in 9 days (if one can believe occultists), so what's to worry? And in the Metanauts we have a paparazzi stunner and a jaded rock critic unshamed. But look at the names behind what's in this book - in Casanova you have Matt Fraction and Fabio Moon. In The Metanauts you have author Michael Chabon and Gabriel Ba. Plus, lettering by the always precise Dustin Harbin. Yes, I'm calling out and praising the lettering.


Hobo Fires

Hobo Fires
by Robert Earl Sutter III

A futuristic tale of philosophical, anarchist hoboes. It's a devastated, post-apocalyptic landscape that these hoboes travel, via rail, going from one community or music festival to another. This comic's heart, and politics, are totally in the right place. And Sutter's art is impossibly endearing. Hobo Fires (for some reason, I keep wanting to call it "Hobo Fries") is the type of graphic novel that you don't want to put down once you pick it up - you want to just tear though this journey and see where it takes you.


Old Ground #1

Old Ground #1
by Noel Freibert

Noel continues to develop his awesome, crazy, style I've taken to calling pscyhe-fluid. It's all melty, drippy, and full of motion. The title of this comic refers to the condemned Old Maple Grove Cemetery - the unlikely site of a lot of goings on. There are the adventures of a frog and a dog - there's the conversation of two dead kids from their graves, and then there are the demolition men who are on their way to dismantle the cemetery. There's plenty of wild action, and alternating moments of horror and humor.


TITLE

TITLE
by Noah Van Sciver

Ever see someone while you're walking down the street and their lives look so pathetic and needlessly dramatic you can't help but wonder how they get there? Many have made the same sorts of poor decisions as Van Sciver's protagonist Joe. Saint Cole is another masterpiece of bleak despair and irredeemable characters by an artist at the top of his game. As soon as you see Noah's rain effects on one of the first pages, you just know the art is going to be amazing - and it is.


Questions, concerns, comments or gripes – e-mail benn@atomicbooks.com. If there’s a comic I should know about, send it my way at Atomic, c/o Atomic Books 3620 Falls Rd., Baltimore, MD 21211.


Atomic Books & Benn Ray links:

Atomic Books website
Atomic Books on Twitter
Atomic Books on Facebook
Benn Ray's blog (The Mobtown Shank)
Benn Ray's comic, Mutant Funnies


also at Largehearted Boy:

other Atomic Books Comics Preview lists (weekly new comics & graphic novel highlights)

List of Online "Best of 2014" Book Lists

Antiheroines (interviews with up and coming female comics artists)
Book Notes (authors create music playlists for their book)
Librairie Drawn & Quarterly Books of the Week (recommended new books, magazines, and comics)
musician/author interviews
Note Books (musicians discuss literature)
Short Cuts (writers pair a song with their short story or essay)
WORD Bookstores Books of the Week (weekly new book highlights)


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Shorties (Richard Ford Interviewed, Courtney Barnett Profiled, and more)

Bookworm interviewed author Richard Ford.


Rolling Stone profiled singer-songwriter Courtney Barnett.


38 online "best books of 2014" lists were added to the master aggregation at Largehearted Boy last week.


The Largehearted Boy list of essential and interesting "best of 2014" music lists.


The New York Times interviewed Bjork.


W.H. Auden's syllabus for a class at the University of Michigan.


MOJO listed Nick Cave's best albums.


A new Salman Rushdie novel, Two Years Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights will be published in September.


Stereogum ranked Steely Dan albums.


The Rumpus interviewed author Josh Weil.


PopMatters previewed February's new music releases.


Flavorwire recommended essential books about the female experience.


Paste interviewed Merrill Garbus of tUnE-yArDs.


Vanity Fair recommended bleak books to read this month.


Classic food moments in Ween songs.


R.I.P. poet and songwriter Rod McKuen.


Follow me on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Pinterest, Google+, and Stumbleupon for links (updated throughout the day) that don't make the daily "Shorties" posts.


also at Largehearted Boy:

previous Shorties posts (daily news and links from the worlds of music, books, and pop culture)

Essential and Interesting 2014 Year-End Music Lists
List of Online "Best of 2014" Book Lists

100 Online Sources for Free and Legal Music Downloads
Atomic Books Comics Preview (the week's best new comics and graphic novels)
Book Notes (authors create playlists for their book)
daily mp3 downloads
Librairie Drawn & Quarterly Books of the Week (recommended new books, magazines, and comics)
musician/author interviews
Note Books (musicians discuss literature)
Short Cuts (writers pair a song with their short story or essay)
weekly music release lists
WORD Bookstores Books of the Week (recommended new books)


Posted by david | Permalink | Comments (View)

Daily Downloads (William Wild, Garbage Island, and more)

Every day, Daily Downloads offers 10 free and legal mp3 downloads.


Today's free and legal mp3 downloads:

Addison Mills: "Storms" [mp3]

Bowen: "Your Arms Are My Walls" [mp3]

Chyna Carbonneau: Chyna Carbenneau covers EP [mp3]

Jeff Bridges: Sleeping Tapes album [mp3]

Ponderosa: "Every Little Thing" [mp3]

Ralph Danger: Today's Fashion album [mp3]

Ryley Walker: Folkadelphia Session EP [mp3]

Thoughts Detecting Machines: "New Day" [mp3]from Work The Circuits (out March 16th)

William Wild: William Wild album [mp3]


Free and legal live performances at other websites:

Garbage Island Big Band: 2005-02-19, Athens [mp3]


search for more free and legal music downloads at Largehearted Boy


also at Largehearted Boy:

other daily free and legal mp3 downloads

Essential and Interesting 2014 Year-End Music Lists

covers collections
100 Online Sources for Free and Legal Music Downloads

Book Notes (authors create playlists for their book)
musician/author interviews
Note Books (musicians discuss literature)
Short Cuts (writers pair a song with their short story or essay)
Shorties (daily music, books, and pop culture news and links)
Soundtracked (composers and directors discuss their film's soundtrack)
weekly new album lists


Posted by david | Permalink | Comments (View)

January 29, 2015

Book Notes - Stephen Policoff "Come Away"

Come Away

In the Book Notes series, authors create and discuss a music playlist that relates in some way to their recently published book.

Previous contributors include Bret Easton Ellis, Kate Christensen, Kevin Brockmeier, George Pelecanos, Dana Spiotta, Amy Bloom, Aimee Bender, Jesmyn Ward, Heidi Julavits, Hari Kunzru, and many others.

Stephen Policoff's novel Come Away is an impressive study of family, love, and loss.

Stream a playlist of these songs at Spotify.


In his own words, here is Stephen Policoff's Book Notes music playlist for his novel Come Away:


My 2nd novel, Come Away (Dzanc Books, November 2014), was written with a lot of music playing both in my mind and in wherever I was writing. I tend not to read too much when I am constructing something as complex as a novel, but I listen to music constantly, and music has always been as much a stimulus to my work as language.

The folkish rock of the early 1970s was a huge influence on me when I was a very young man; two songs in particular are important to Come Away.

"Only Love Can Break Your Heart"/"Box of Rain." "Only Love Can Break Your Heart" by Neil Young, with its quavery chorus, Yes only love can break your heart/What if your world should fall apart? is a leit-motif in my first novel, Beautiful Somewhere Else (Carroll & Graf, 2004). When I was trying to prod myself into working on Come Away—a companion piece to the first noveI—I was casting about for a song I could reference in the same way. My late wife Kate and I used to joke that we wanted the Grateful Dead song "Box of Rain" to be played at our funerals. For a variety of reasons, this didn't happen at Kate's funeral, but after her tragically early death, I knew "Box of Rain" had to be the ur-song for Come Away. The final line always gets me—Such a long long time to be gone/And a short time to be there. That says almost everything I wanted to say in my book.

I was never a big fan of Queen but apparently Freddy Mercury admired—was even obsessed by—the disturbing masterpiece "The Fairy Feller's Master- Stroke," by the mad Victorian artist Richard Dadd, which hangs in the Tate in London and whose sinister figures are a touchstone of Come Away.

The cover of Come Away is a detail from Dadd's painting.)

Queen's propulsive song, "The Fairy Feller's Master-Stroke," is not as grandiose as a lot of their songs, and captures some of the eerily interconnected imagery of the painting. It is one of the songs my character Dr. Maire, a sort of New Age philosopher, records for his granddaughter Spring to listen to on her flight to London.

The other songs on the CD he sends her are by Fairport Convention and Jerry Garcia. Fairport Convention does some great versions of traditional British folk tunes, with all that vivid, circular energy, plus a famously evocative version of "Who Knows Where the Times Goes?" The question of where time goes is a question asked—I hope—throughout my novel.

For Garcia, I was thinking especially of "The Wheel," a song from his first solo album, with the lyrics, The wheel is turning and you can't slow down/You can't let go and you can't hold on… Come Away is very much about the narrator Paul's fear of losing his child, his new-found stability, his balance. That song alludes to all of those fears.

I heard so many pieces of music in my head as I was sketching out Come Away. In both the scene at the Tate Gallery, where Paul almost has a meltdown, and later, in the scene set at the grim Neo-Changeling Center for Childhood Retrieval in upstate New York, I always heard Philip Glass’s Glassworks in the background, with its seething relentless pulsation, both beautiful and unsettling. I have a horror of sounding pompous, but I feel obligated to add that Glass's music always seems to me to be the soundtrack of consciousness.

Paul is a rather melancholy soul, an often-thwarted romantic. He can’t love anyone without fearing that he will lose her. His fear of losing his daughter Spring, who has suffered a frightening, inexplicable accident before the novel begins, is not entirely unrealistic, and is mingled with an inchoate fear of losing the life he has cobbled together with his young, more upbeat wife Nadia. As I was working out that relationship, I kept hearing the beautiful Cole Porter standard, "Everytime We Say Goodbye," with its poignant but elegant lyric, Every time we say goodbye/I want to die a little/Every time we say goodbye I wonder why a little/Why the gods above me/Who should be in the know/Think so little of me/They allow you to go…

There are many versions of this great song (Ella Fitzgerald, Annie Lennox) but I love the Ray Charles/Betty Carter version because, come on, Ray Charles, Betty Carter…

Although it is so well-known as to be a 60s trope, the Beach Boys' "God Only Knows" always evokes a shiver from me. The opening of that song, the almost hymn-like musical intro followed by I may not always love you really feels to me like something Paul would hear in his head when he is having his…well, you’ll have to read the book to find out what he’s having, but it involves love and loss, like virtually everything else I’ve ever written!

Two other pieces of music belong on this somewhat eclectic playlist. The Dylan/Manuel classic "Tears of Rage," a song for a daughter which like "Box of Rain," is also a lament about the ephemerality of all we love, should definitely be in there somewhere, everywhere: Come to me now/You know we are so low/And life is brief… With its spectral vocals, the recently re-released Basement Tapes version of this amazing song is the one I love.

Finally, and perhaps a bit out of place but still…at the end of Come Away, when things have been (more or less) put right, and Paul’s life appears (more or less) (at least for now) back on track, there is a scene where Spring takes part in her preschool graduation, on an early summer morning. I always imagined Erik Satie’s limpid Trois Gymnopedie in that scene. (I favor the version by Aldo Ciccolini). It’s Satie's best known piece; and though its magical blend of joy/sorrow has been used on the soundtrack of a number of films, I still claim it for the finale. I have loved that piece of music since I was 20, and it resonates so completely with the mingling of dark/light in Come Away that it has to be part of my playlist, part of the way in which Paul perceives the world. OK, sure, me too.


Stephen Policoff and Come Away links:

Kirkus review

CarolineLeavittville interview with the author
The Manifest-Station interview with the author
My Book, the Movie contribution by the author
Writers Read contribution by the author


also at Largehearted Boy:

Book Notes (2015 - ) (authors create music playlists for their book)
Book Notes (2012 - 2014) (authors create music playlists for their book)
Book Notes (2005 - 2011) (authors create music playlists for their book)
my 11 favorite Book Notes playlist essays

List of Online "Best of 2014" Book Lists
Essential and Interesting 2014 Year-End Music Lists

100 Online Sources for Free and Legal Music Downloads
Antiheroines (interviews with up and coming female comics artists)
Atomic Books Comics Preview (weekly comics highlights)
Daily Downloads (free and legal daily mp3 downloads)
guest book reviews
Librairie Drawn & Quarterly Books of the Week (recommended new books, magazines, and comics)
musician/author interviews
Note Books (musicians discuss literature)
Short Cuts (writers pair a song with their short story or essay)
Shorties (daily music, literature, and pop culture links)
Soundtracked (composers and directors discuss their film's soundtracks)
weekly music release lists
Word Bookstores Books of the Week (weekly new book highlights)


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Librairie Drawn & Quarterly Books of the Week - January 29, 2015

In the weekly Librairie Drawn & Quarterly Books of the Week, the Montreal bookstore recommends several new works of fiction, art books, periodicals, and comics.

Librairie Drawn & Quarterly is one of Montreal's premiere independent bookstores.


The Just City

The Just City
by Jo Walton

The Just City (Jo Walton)

In Walton's latest, the goddess Pallas Athene decides to spearhead a time-travelling social experiment: she assembles over ten thousand children, a handful of adult teachers from various eras, some robots from the future, and even the god Apollo who takes on a human incarnation for one lifetime. All residents are eager to become their best selves, which is the aim of the entire endeavour. Many familiar historical and mythical figures, even Socrates himself, crop up in the city. With such an array of characters and the utopian premise, the wittiness level of the dialogue is off the charts, and it's easy to be immersed in Walton's imaginative world of philosophers and gods.


City Beasts: Fourteen Stories of Uninvited Wildlife

City Beasts: Fourteen Stories of Uninvited Wildlife
by Mark Kurlansky

In this all new collection of short stories, Kurlansky visits urban spaces where humans and animals intersect. The topic takes readers on a journey all over the world, and provides rich fodder for an exploration of how our lives are interconnected, despite our tendency to view ourselves as separate from the natural world. Kurlansky's revealing stories are at once funny and touching, and ultimately remind us that like it or not, humans are animals, after all!


Sweatshop

Sweatshop
by Peter Bagge

Originally serialized by DC Comics, Bagge's portrait of Mel Bowling, the ficitonal creator of an abominably bad daily newspaper comic strip (a wretched hybrid of Garfield and Dilbert, apparently) is now available as a complete collection for the first time. Bagge's unmistakable rubbery drawings perfectly suit the sit-com cast of overworked studio assistants and frazzled cartoonists that flesh out Bowling's world. However, Bagge's signature style is also complemented by the contributions of some renowned guest comics artists, such as Stephen DeStefano (Popeye) and Johnny Ryan (Prison Pit). Keep your eyes peeled for a cameo by Neil Gaiman!


I Hope This Finds You Well

I Hope This Finds You Well
edited by Dan Stafford

Comics aficionado Dan Stafford, whose documentary on John Porcellino, Root Hog or Die, has been garnering plenty of praise since its debut last year, is a busy guy. In addition to co-owning Kilgore books and being heavily involved in the independent comics world, he has been conducting hand-written interviews with cartoonists, writers and musicians he admires since 2003. Now you too can read and enjoy his correspondence with such comics heavyweights as R. Crumb, James Kochalka, Jeffrey Brown, Adrian Tomine, Joe Matt, Peter Bagge, Anders Nilsen and Johnny Ryan to name but a few!


How to Think About Exercise

How to Think About Exercise
by Damon Young

The School of Life series always provides practical life-advice in a thoughtful, and thoroughly readable format, and this latest installment is no exception. Young challenges the pernicious notion of mind/body dualism, and seeks out ancient and modern philosophical texts that bolster the connection between a sound mind and body. Particularly timely at this juncture of the season, when so many people are struggling to maintain health-related new year's resolutions, this little tome filled with wisdom is a helpful companion to good intentions! Join Schopenhauer, Darwin and Murakami, and discover how taking care of your body is also one of the best ways you can nurture your mind.


Librairie Drawn & Quarterly links:

Librairie Drawn & Quarterly's blog
Librairie Drawn & Quarterly Facebook page
Librairie Drawn & Quarterly Tumblr
Librairie Drawn & Quarterly on Twitter


also at Largehearted Boy:

other Librairie Drawn & Quarterly Books of the Week

List of Online "Best of 2014" Book Lists

52 Books, 52 Weeks
Antiheroines (interviews with up and coming female comics artists)
Atomic Books Comics Preview (weekly new comics and graphic novel highlights)
Largehearted Word (weekly new book highlights)
Book Notes (authors create music playlists for their book)
guest book reviews
musician/author interviews
Note Books (musicians discuss literature)
Short Cuts (writers pair a song with their short story or essay)
WORD Bookstores Books of the Week (weekly new book highlights)


Posted by david | Permalink | Comments (View)

Shorties (An Interview with Bjork, Kelly Link on Books and Reading, and more)

BBC Radio 1 interviewed Bjork.


Kelly Link talked books and reading with the New York Times.


38 online "best books of 2014" lists were added to the master aggregation at Largehearted Boy last week.


The Largehearted Boy list of essential and interesting "best of 2014" music lists.


The Boston Globe profiled author Laura van den Berg,


PopMatters interviewed Meric Long of the Dodos about the band's new album Individ.


Nick Harkaway discussed naming characters at the Guardian.


Stream a new Hayden song.


Flavorwire interviewed Ned Beauman about his new novel Glow.


Grantland profiled singer-songwriter Natalie Prass.


Gawker listed the 50 best first sentences in fiction.


Taylor Swift trademarked several phrases from her 1989 album.


CarolineLeavittville interviewed author and musician Emma Hooper.


Consequence of Sound listed the top 10 4AD albums.


The next round of literary cups at Chipotle will feature Aziz Ansari, Julia Alvarez, Walter Isaacson, Barbara Kingsolver, Paul Coelho, and Augusten Burroughs.


Stream new music by Torres.


The L Magazine interviewed author Sarah Gerard.


Pitchfork shared a history of digital album leaks.


Russian-born author Alina Bronsky discussed the challenges of writing in German at English PEN.


Follow me on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Pinterest, Google+, and Stumbleupon for links (updated throughout the day) that don't make the daily "Shorties" posts.


also at Largehearted Boy:

previous Shorties posts (daily news and links from the worlds of music, books, and pop culture)

Essential and Interesting 2014 Year-End Music Lists
List of Online "Best of 2014" Book Lists

100 Online Sources for Free and Legal Music Downloads
Atomic Books Comics Preview (the week's best new comics and graphic novels)
Book Notes (authors create playlists for their book)
daily mp3 downloads
Librairie Drawn & Quarterly Books of the Week (recommended new books, magazines, and comics)
musician/author interviews
Note Books (musicians discuss literature)
Short Cuts (writers pair a song with their short story or essay)
weekly music release lists
WORD Bookstores Books of the Week (recommended new books)


Posted by david | Permalink | Comments (View)

Daily Downloads (James Vincent McMorrow, Alex Calder, and more)

Every day, Daily Downloads offers 10 free and legal mp3 downloads.


Today's free and legal mp3 downloads:

Boudoir Noir: "Change It Up" [mp3]
Boudoir Noir: "Summer Skin" [mp3]

James Vincent McMorrow: Live at the Theatre at the Ace Hotel album [mp3]

Nick Lutsko: "Predator" [mp3] from Etc. (out Match 17th)

Opus Orange: Outside In EP [mp3]

Sorren Maclean: "Rows and Rows of Boxes" [mp3] from Way Back Home EP (out March 9th)

Taylor Locke: "Time Stands Still" [mp3] from Time Stands Still (out February 23rd)

Una Lux: "Black Carbon" [mp3]
Una Lux: "Simon" [mp3]


Free and legal live performances at other websites:

Alex Calder: 2015-01-11, Brooklyn [mp3]


search for more free and legal music downloads at Largehearted Boy


also at Largehearted Boy:

other daily free and legal mp3 downloads

Essential and Interesting 2014 Year-End Music Lists

covers collections
100 Online Sources for Free and Legal Music Downloads

Book Notes (authors create playlists for their book)
musician/author interviews
Note Books (musicians discuss literature)
Short Cuts (writers pair a song with their short story or essay)
Shorties (daily music, books, and pop culture news and links)
Soundtracked (composers and directors discuss their film's soundtrack)
weekly new album lists


Posted by david | Permalink | Comments (View)

January 28, 2015

Book Notes - Tara Murtha "Bobbie Gentry's Ode to Billie Joe"

Bobbie Gentry's Ode to Billie Joe

In the Book Notes series, authors create and discuss a music playlist that relates in some way to their recently published book.

Previous contributors include Bret Easton Ellis, Kate Christensen, Kevin Brockmeier, George Pelecanos, Dana Spiotta, Amy Bloom, Aimee Bender, Jesmyn Ward, Heidi Julavits, Hari Kunzru, and many others.

Tara Murtha's fascinating 33 1/3 book on Bobbie Gentry's Ode to Billie Joe album explores the mysterious recording artist's life through the lens of her work.

The Utne Reader wrote of the book:

"Murtha pulls free the threads of truth from a tangled knot of personal mythology and contradictions. Her book is likely to be a hit with casual listeners and pop-culture obsessives alike."

Stream a playlist of these songs at Spotify.


In her own words, here is Tara Murtha's Book Notes music playlist for her book Bobbie Gentry's Ode to Billie Joe:


I still clearly recall the first time I heard Eddie Rabbitt's "I Love a Rainy Night." My cute mom stopped dusting the furniture long enough to start dancing in our living room while singing along. I love to hear the thunder, watch the lightning! Most people don't have a flashbulb memory around hearing "I love a Rainy Night." I only do because it gilds a fond scene.

Almost universally, though, people remember the first time they heard "Ode to Billie Joe," especially when it first hit the charts in the summer of 1967. Bobbie Gentry said fans felt compelled to share with her where they were and what they were doing—usually driving—when they first heard her sing her signature spooky story-ballad about a teenage suicide in the South.

I've tried to imagine what "Ode" must have sounded like to a person in 1967. I picture someone driving to the grocery store or work, but wishing they were headed for the ocean or the desert or anywhere far away from the chaos of the country or the boredom of their lives.

Roger Douglass, Bobbie Gentry's one-time bandleader told me that he first heard "Ode" as a teenager when his dad pulled the family station wagon over the side of the road, and instructed the kids to listen. Recently, Tony Joe White told me he remembers turning on the radio and listening to "Ode to Billie Joe," and that the song made him realize he could write tunes about his life instead of just playing Elvis covers in Texas saloons. Bobby Craig, former bandmate of rockabilly legend Jody Reynolds, remembers the first time he heard the song, too. He was hanging out at Reynolds' guitar shop in Palm Springs one day when Bobbie Gentry, before she was famous, plucked a guitar off the wall and played the boys a song she had been working on.

People mostly remember Bobbie Gentry for "Ode to Billie Joe," but she had a wild, record-setting career for more than a decade after her debut. She broke the glass ceiling in the music business by becoming one of the first women, if not the first, to write, perform and produce her own material. Though Gail Davies is often credited as country music's first female producer for producing The Game in 1979, Bobbie Gentry earned full production credit for Patchwork in 1971—and, as I lay out in my book, arguably produced the tracks on Ode to Billie Joe in 1967.

In Vegas, where she spent most of the 1970s performing in over-the-top productions, she broke showroom attendance and paycheck records. Then, she walked away from it all. She hasn't given an interview or performed as Bobbie Gentry since the early 1980s, and remains one of rock and roll's biggest mysteries.

Listeners tried to figure out what was thrown off the Tallahatchie Bridge in an effort to solve one piece of the bigger puzzle: Why did Billie Joe jump? Like them, I dug into the much-disputed genesis of the record Ode to Billie Joe looking for clues to the bigger, real-life mystery of why Bobbie Gentry walked away from it all, without a trace.

Along the way, I got to listen to some great music.


"Where is Bobbie Gentry?," Jill Sobule

Like Bobbie, Jill is a music business pioneer in her own right. She was one of the first artists to figure out that in the wake of a crumbling music industry, fans were the new producers. The connection between Jill and Gentry runs deeper than that, though: when Jill was a little kid, she watched Bobbie Gentry perform "Ode to Billie Joe" on The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour. She found herself mesmerized by the scene where Gentry plucked her signature parlor guitar while sitting on a window sill in front of creepy white-plaster mannequins gathered around a supper table. That performance inspired Sobule (who like a boss wrote about this experience as the foreword to Ode to Billie Joe), to pick up the guitar and play music. Fast forward a few decades, and we find Jill writing the song, "Where is Bobbie Gentry?" It's a send-up of "Ode" and a tribute to Bobbie Gentry, perfectly at home on her 2009 album California Years.

Out in the desert where the sun slowly cures deep brown
She's got a little shack, a pickup truck
Parked out on the edge of town
It's just what I imagined, no one knows where she'd be
Maybe she's in heaven passing black-eyed peas
Where is Bobbie Gentry?

"Dig Me Out," Sleater-Kinney

Old school. After all these years, "Dig Me Out" still makes me want to speed down a highway, into the next frame, out of the ache. Years ago, I seriously meditated on this song while planning an exit strategy for my requisite twenty-something cohabitation disaster. Sometimes, you can look up from love long enough to glimpse the horizon and realize it's time to pull the parachute cord. So I packed my friend Janine's little red car with some of my stuff, threw everything else out, and moved into a motorcycle garage in North Philly. I heard Janet Weiss' furious drumming as my marching orders. "You got me." Pause. "For now." This song is still a reminder to stop dwelling, cut my losses and keep moving. While under deadline for the book, this trusty hype track helped me get through those long winter nights pounding it out at my kitchen table.

"Fucked My Way to the Top," Lana del Ray
This track off Ultraviolence slays me. Elizabeth Grant, or Lizzy Grant, or Lana del Ray is saying, "I know all you sexist assholes think I fucked my way to the top anyway, so here it is, here's a song straight-up saying I fucked my way to the top." In other words, this song is Lana del Ray's "Fancy." "Fancy" is Bobbie Gentry's other well-known hit, off her 1970 Muscle Shoals album. (Yes, Reba McEntire's version is a cover. Personally, I recommend Irma Thomas's take.) In a profile of Lana, a music writer asserted that the Internet was Lana del Ray's "albatross and instrument." But like so many female performers, I think femininity is Lana del Ray's albatross and instrument. Here, she performs it grotesquely, lids so heavy, heels so high, back so arched. She's built an aesthetic with the airtight uniformity of an Instagram filter, which gilds the grinding gears of performing femininity while making yet another commentary on it. As Courtney would say, Lana del Ray fakes it so real she is beyond fake. Perhaps we should not have been surprised by the rejection of her performing live. What does it matter? We're paying for the atmosphere, you know, and Ultraviolence is pure aural gauze, gorgeous hazy bicoastal millennial ennui, a night-drive to the empty beach house where anything might happen, and maybe already did. "Mimicking me is a fucking bore," she sings, "to me."

"Endless Sleep," Jody Reynolds
Bobbie Gentry made her recording debut on two duets with rockabilly legend Jody Reynolds four years before releasing "Ode to Billie Joe." Reynolds, who passed away in 2008, was an Elvis fan, and legend has it he listened to "Heartbreak Hotel" five times on a jukebox, sat down and wrote this song about a forlorn lover sinking into the black waves. Like Bobbie Gentry and "Ode to Billie Joe," Reynolds' debut was his biggest and most career-defining hit, despite writing a slew of other great songs. It also happens to be about suicide, so poetically enough it can often be found on teenage tragedy-themed compilations with "Ode," along with songs like Jan and Dean's "Dead Man's Curve." I'm not sure why more people haven't covered this classic, but maybe I'm just not hanging out in enough rockabilly bars.

"Mary C Brown and the Hollywood Sign," Dory Previn
Somewhere in my book I wrote that Bobbie Gentry's sensibilities was more Dory Previn than Dolly Parton, and because it captures my thoughts so succinctly I've now become the dreaded interviewee that has repeated the phrase multiple times. Like Previn, Gentry was pretty much a musical theater geek versed in pop composition, and a polished club performer with a penchant for literary, clever lyrics and character-driven songs. I almost chose Previn's "Did Jesus Have a Baby Sister?" for its hilarious feminist observation of favorite sons, or the "The Owl and the Pussycat" for its jaunty Gentry-esque rhythm, but given Bobbie Gentry's fascination with fame and illusion in L.A., this gothic nursery rhyme about one woman's reinvention and eventual suicide in Hollywood wins out. When Mary Cecelia jumped, she finally made the grade, her name was in the obituary column of both of the daily trades. Dory Previn forever.

"He Made a Woman Out of Me," Bobbie Gentry
Gentry often sang this profoundly politically incorrect barnburner during her Vegas shows, banging her hips back and forth with the force of Big Ben while strutting in a tight and frilly Chiquita-banana type outfit. Written by Donald Hill and Fred Burch, it was a featured tune on Fancy. One of my favorite anecdotes is how this tune caused beef between soul singer Bettye LaVette and Gentry, at least in the eyes of LaVette. Before Gentry recorded "He Made a Woman Out of Me," LaVette recorded it for the Nashville-based Silver Fox label (fun fact: produced by Leland Rogers, brother of Kenny). LaVette, an insanely gifted soul singer who has long suffered what she calls "buzzard's luck" when it comes to her career, had hoped the tune would help her hit the big time. Though her teenage debut "My Man, He's a Loving Man" shows a supernatural talent, she couldn't find her footing in the industry for a long time. According to LaVette, her version of this song reached 25 on the R&B chart when she heard a white woman—Gentry--singing it on the radio. "I knew that I had outsung her," LaVette wrote in her memoir. But radio stations started banning LaVette's version because of a "semi-sexy line" in the song that Gentry edited out, Gentry got the hit, and LaVette never got over it. Just in case dim readers didn't pick up on how deep this slight stuck in LaVette's craw, LaVette refused to sing on a Bobbie Gentry tribute album years later. In her book, she ended the anecdote on one final, curtain-closing word on the whole affair: Motherfucka.

"Love Took My Heart & Smashed that Sucker Flat," Kelly Gordon
Kelly Gordon was a young producer looking to make his mark when he came across "Mississippi Delta" and "Ode to Billie Joe." But Gordon was also a musician in his own right. This track is from Defunked, Gordon's coyly titled and underrated 1968 solo release. This tune is essentially a duet with Bobbie Gentry, and the meta-fun fact about that is that Gordon and Bobbie were already entangled in an on-again, off-again relationship by the time Gordon released it. But Gordon was married, and Gentry's credited only as "friend." As for the tune, it captures those sparkly shooting-star glimmers of true head-over-heels, up-all-night romance, the fever dream of feeling as if your truest self has finally been seen. Gentry and Gordon collaborated together for several years, and the story goes that Gentry nursed him on his deathbed when he succumbed to cancer in 1981. Gordon's deep and wildly sexy voice pops up on other Gentry tunes too, like "Okolona River Bottom Band" off The Delta Sweete.

"36 Inches High," Jim Ford
Discovering this gem of a song is of the best musical by-products of researching my book. Lord, I never got over being a soldier. Nick Lowe, one of Ford's biggest fans, covered this tune, but it doesn't touch the original. Ford was a man at war with himself, and his pain courses through this song like bad blood. You should listen to it.

"Traffic to the Sea," Hezekiah Jones
Hezekiah Jones is songwriter Raphael Cutrufello and a rotating cast of supporting musicians based in my hometown of Philadelphia. This particular song is a bed of sorrow bobbing in an endless ocean. Sweet, life is so sweet, so sad/ the ones you love the most go by so fast. I've seen them play many times, and this song always kills me. All the water we took from that sea, the sea claims into obscurity, and we don't know a thing yeah we'll pretend we know everything. I can get overwhelmed with to-do lists and deadlines and circuitous thoughts, but this song makes things go still, then a little blurry, and that can be a good thing. Cutrufello's writing is deeply poetic and deceptively complex, able to distill spirit from the grain.

"Desperadoes Under the Eaves," Warren Zevon
‘Desperadoes' is Zevon's ode to the Hollywood Hawaiian, a cheap L.A. hotel known in the 1960s and 70s for housing aspiring musicians and sundry hustlers. And if California slides into the ocean like the mystics and statistics say it will/ I predict this motel will be standing until I pay my bill. PJ Proby, who had a hit with "Niki Hoeky" before Gentry took it on as the sole cover track on Ode to Billie Joe, told me that he met Bobbie Gentry at the Hollywood Hawaiian pool, where she hung out in the mid-1960s with Jim Ford. Strange things happened at the Hawaiian. Legend has it that while staying there in 1971, Jeremy Spencer of Fleetwood Mac walked off to pick up a magazine and some smokes and never came back. Poof, gone. The next time he was spotted, he had a new name and a shaved head, and had joined The Children of God, a shady hippie-trap "religious movement" (read: cult) now known as The Family. Don't you feel like desperadoes under the eaves? Heaven help the one who leaves. The Hawaiian, at the corner of the Yucca Street and Grace Avenue, is now the Princess Grace Apartments.


Tara Murtha and Bobbie Gentry's Ode to Billie Joe links:

the book's website
annotated excerpt from the book
excerpt from the book

AllMusicBooks review
The Declaration review
MusicTomes review
WXPN The Key review

33 1/3 interview with the author
Los Angeles Times profile of the author
RadioTimes interview with the author
Rhymes Against Humanity interview with the author
Wondering Sound interview with the author


also at Largehearted Boy:

Book Notes (2015 - ) (authors create music playlists for their book)
Book Notes (2012 - 2014) (authors create music playlists for their book)
Book Notes (2005 - 2011) (authors create music playlists for their book)
my 11 favorite Book Notes playlist essays

List of Online "Best of 2014" Book Lists
Essential and Interesting 2014 Year-End Music Lists

100 Online Sources for Free and Legal Music Downloads
Antiheroines (interviews with up and coming female comics artists)
Atomic Books Comics Preview (weekly comics highlights)
Daily Downloads (free and legal daily mp3 downloads)
guest book reviews
Librairie Drawn & Quarterly Books of the Week (recommended new books, magazines, and comics)
musician/author interviews
Note Books (musicians discuss literature)
Short Cuts (writers pair a song with their short story or essay)
Shorties (daily music, literature, and pop culture links)
Soundtracked (composers and directors discuss their film's soundtracks)
weekly music release lists
Word Bookstores Books of the Week (weekly new book highlights)


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WORD Bookstores Books of the Week - January 28, 2015

In the Largehearted Word series, the staff of Brooklyn's WORD bookstore highlights several new books released this week.

WORD Bookstores are independent neighborhood bookstores in Greenpoint, Brooklyn and Jersey City, New Jersey. Our primary goal is to be whatever our communities needs us to be, which currently means carrying everything from fiction to nonfiction to absurdly cute cards and stationery. In addition, we're fiends for a good event, from the classic author reading and Q&A to potlucks and a basketball league (and anything set in a bar). If a weekly dose of WORD here isn't enough for you, follow us on Twitter: @wordbookstores.


My Life in Middlemarch

My Life in Middlemarch
by Rebecca Mead

Rebecca Mead's book-long rumination on George Eliot's Middlemarch shows how the books of our lives contribute to our own stories.


How to Grow Up

How to Grow Up
by Michelle Tea

The peerless Michelle Tea reflects on her thoroughly extraordinary life.


Lou Reed: The Last Interview

Lou Reed: The Last Interview
by Lou Reed and others

The late legend talks with other legends, including Lester Bangs, Neil Gaiman, and Farida Khelfa.


The Internet is Not the Answer

The Internet is Not the Answer
by Andrew Keen

What's the question, you wonder? How we spend so much of our time, for one; where we store our information is another. Andrew Keen takes on the Net.


WORD Brooklyn links:

WORD website
WORD Facebook page
WORD on Instagram
WORD Tumblr
WORD Twitter


also at Largehearted Boy:

other Word Bookstores Books of the Week (weekly new book highlights)

List of Online "Best of 2014" Book Lists

Antiheroines (interviews with up and coming female comics artists)
Atomic Books Comics Preview (weekly comics & graphic novel highlights)
Book Notes (authors create music playlists for their book)
guest book reviews
Librairie Drawn & Quarterly Books of the Week (recommended new books, magazines, and comics)
musician/author interviews
Note Books (musicians discuss literature)
Short Cuts (writers pair a song with their short story or essay)


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Shorties (The Winner of the Costa Book Prize, The Best Riot Grrrl Songs, and more)

Helen MacDonald's memoir H Is for Hawk has won the 2914 Costa Book of the Year.


10 of the best Riot Grrrl songs.


38 online "best books of 2014" lists were added to the master aggregation at Largehearted Boy last week.


The Largehearted Boy list of essential and interesting "best of 2014" music lists.


Mutha interviewed author Wendy C. Ortiz.


The Rumpus interviewed author Robert Repino.


Thurston Moore interviewed Mark Stewart about the Pop Group reunion at The Quietus.


Authors are sharing their literary influences at the Believer.


PopMatters interviewed singer-songwriter Dan Wilson.


Marie Mutsuki Mockett talked to All Things Considered about her memoir Where the Dead Pause, and the Japanese Say Goodbye.


Singer-songwriter Jim White talked to Flagpole about his collaboration with Packway Handle Band.


BuzzFeed recommended novels about Muslim life.


Stereogum interviewed singer-songwriter Jessica Pratt.


The Washington Post profiled cartoonist Roz Chast.


Jeff Tweedy talked to the Irish Times about making music with his son.


Bustle listed actress Emma Watson's favorite books.


Desaparecidos is releasing a new album.


Critic and author Alan Cheuse discussed his favorite books with WUSF.


Follow me on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Pinterest, Google+, and Stumbleupon for links (updated throughout the day) that don't make the daily "Shorties" posts.


also at Largehearted Boy:

previous Shorties posts (daily news and links from the worlds of music, books, and pop culture)

Essential and Interesting 2014 Year-End Music Lists
List of Online "Best of 2014" Book Lists

100 Online Sources for Free and Legal Music Downloads
Atomic Books Comics Preview (the week's best new comics and graphic novels)
Book Notes (authors create playlists for their book)
daily mp3 downloads
Librairie Drawn & Quarterly Books of the Week (recommended new books, magazines, and comics)
musician/author interviews
Note Books (musicians discuss literature)
Short Cuts (writers pair a song with their short story or essay)
weekly music release lists
WORD Bookstores Books of the Week (recommended new books)


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