Irving Berlin

Have we reached the end of the pop Christmas canon?

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Finished My Reddit AMA

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.

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The notion of a “cover”—the performance of a song that the performer did not write as something exceptional—is a relatively recent one in the long history of song. The act was simply called “singing” for the many centuries when composers did the work of creation, and singers took care of the separate but significantly creative work of interpretation. Blues, folk, and other vernacular musicians, abandoning the hierarchal rules of the specialization model, transformed the song culture in this country and made songwriting and singing a unified art of individualistic expression.

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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!

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