Cole Porter

Where Woody Guthrie's Anti-Commercial Legacy has Lived On
October 23, 2012

Woody Guthrie was one of the fathers of free culture before it was a movement, the Lawrence Lessig of the guitar.

Finished My Reddit AMA
February 22, 2012

This window is now closed. You can read the Compleat Reddit Dialogue now without fretting you'll miss anything. You can read the TNR pre-publication book excerpt that the Reddit AMA ("Ask Me Anything") was at least ostensibly about here. You can read a second pre-publication excerpt that ran in the Atlantic Online here. You can pre-order the book itself here. You can read the Slate series on which my forthcoming book expands in all sorts of invaluable ways here.

Abbey Lincoln on the Axis of the Civil Rights Movement
February 26, 2010

I'd like to stay on the subject of music and Civil Rights for one more post. The ongoing talk about Joan Baez's performance of "We Shall Overcome" at the White House has reminded me how readily we embrace the idea of music as an instrument of political change when, often, music is more a reflection of changes in the political realm—an effect, rather than a cause. Not that songs have no power to influence the way people think or feel; to say that would be to deny the very value of music as a form of art.

Lessons for Obama
September 29, 2009

I confess to reading people on the right. Sometimes with utter dismay. Oftentimes with respect. Among the people I read regularly is Peter Wehner who actually writes for Commentary's website, Contentious, with other conservative intellectuals. And very contentious they are. Wehner actually was one of George Bush's speechwriters. Since I thought some of Bush's speeches quite alright--and even better--this fact is not a disqualifier. Indeed, Wehner is one smart guy ... and a stylish writer besides. What's more, he knows his history.

Stolen Moments
September 10, 2007

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.