David Hajdu

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Books about John Lennon shouldn't leave out his music.


High Hopes

Yes We Can” “You and I” “Let’s Put a Woman in Charge” Among the things that happened in early February, when Barack Obama’s campaign for the Democratic nomination seemed suddenly to kick into a higher gear, was the emergence, through YouTube, of a new music video called “Yes We Can,” a mash-up of moments from the speech Obama gave after the New Hampshire primary, set to music by Will.i.am of the Black Eyed Peas.


Book of Longing Philip Glass and Leonard Cohen   As anyone who has ever balanced a salad spinner on his or her nose for two days could tell you, the secret of getting into The Guinness Book of World Records is to invent your own category, and the same principle applies in the arts. Distinctiveness, which is something different from distinction, tends to lead to recognition.


They Paved Paradise

Sweet bird of time and change, you must be laughing. Quite a bit of time has passed since Joni Mitchell last picked up the guitar or sat at the piano and wrote a song--about ten years now--and she has changed.


Stolen Moments

Abbey Sings Abbey Abbey Lincoln Love Is What Stays Mark Murphy Near the end of 1956, two young jazz singers made their first albums: Abbey Lincoln's Affair … A Story of a Girl in Love, released by Liberty Records, a quality-conscious shoestring operation, and Meet Mark Murphy, issued by Decca, then a major jazz-pop label. Lincoln was twenty-six and black and a woman, Murphy twenty-four and white and a man, and both had talent and looks. For half a century, they followed separate and circuitous but roughly parallel career paths.


Songbook Jam

Mos Def and His Big Band American Songbook, Lincoln Center The view of Tin Pan Alley from Harlem was so bad during the first decades of the twentieth century, a great time for white songwriters, that the African American lyricist Andy Razaf wrote a mordant work of verse on the subject, a "prayer for the Alley." Published in the 1930s in New York Amsterdam News, the black daily, the piece lamented the Midtown center of popular music as "lacking in soul," a place "where something original frightens the ear" and pandering technicians produce "dull similarities, year after year." Razaf, who died i


A Mighty Wind

Would American music have undergone a radical transformation in the middle of the last century, as it did, without Eric von Schmidt? No doubt and no matter. We all know how popular music changed during the first decades of the postwar era: It grew more informal,rougher and earthier, shifting from an aesthetic of burnishedprofessionalism to one of unschooled authenticity.


Ye Olde Rocker

Songs From the Labyrinth - Sting (Deutsche Grammophon) Rock and rollers, as they age, sometimes find themselves outgrowing a music they cannot outlive. Rock, a style invented for teenagers—or, more precisely, one adapted from an older style made originally for adults, the blues—endures as a bluntly, rudely cogent expression of adolescent anxiety, rage, and sexual fantasy. Long live rock and roll! The beat of the drums, loud and bold!



David Hajdu: High on the music of Anita O'Day.


The Lonesome Road

Haunted Heart: A Biography of Susannah McCorkle By Linda Dahl I cannot say I had the pleasure of hearing Susannah McCorkle sing. I heard her perform many times--at least a dozen, perhaps twenty times from the spring of 1981, when my late friend Roy Hemming, a pedigreed cabaret hound, first brought me to see her at Michael's Pub, to the autumn of 2000, when she had her final run at the Oak Room in the Algonquin. I went to three of her last ten shows.