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070: Buddy Holly, ‘That’ll Be the Day’

The (almost full) story of Buddy Holly’s great song and the night The Grateful Dead backed me singing it. Yeah, for real.

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076: Roy Orbison, ‘Oh, Pretty Woman’

Roy and Claudette were building a home back in Hendersonville, but while he was out on the road, she began an affair with their contractor. Their marriage was on the rocks. One morning in 1964, Roy Orbison was sitting in the kitchen working with his songwriting partner Bill Dees when Claudette came in and said she was going to go into town to buy something. Orbison asked if she needed any money, and Dees cracked, “Pretty woman never needs any money.” By the time she got back from shopping, they had the song.”

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077: J.S. Bach, ‘The Art of The Fugue’ (The Emerson Quartet, ‘Contrapunctus 9’)

My knowledge of classical music is patchier than an Iowa quilt. But my wife still harbors delusions that I’ll grow up some day, and in her mind listening to Bach is a more dignified and mature activity than listening to The Beach Boys. Well, a lot of people with highly-refined musical sensibilities don’t really understand Brian Wilson, but the opposite is the opposite, I believe. Anyone – even a corner-boy drug dealer from West Baltimore, who takes a moment to pause and listen to “The Art of the Fugue” by Johann Sebastian Bach – must grasp that he is standing before a grandeur and beauty rare in the course of our ordinary lives. Like standing on the lip of the Grand Canyon. Like gazing at the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. Like hearing your grandchild say “I love you, Poppa.” Those moments in which we transcend the traffic-jam that is our life.

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239: Ben Howard, ‘Keep Your Head Up’

Some of my best friends (and favorite artists) are Millenials. Especially the ones who show respect for their elders.

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065: Ella Fitzgerald, ‘Spring Can Really Hang You Up the Most’

A beatnik musical (what??), an obscure jazz standard (oxymoron), and high school nostalgia (snore)–the convoluted paths we take to visit our past.

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238: Marvin Gaye, ‘I Heard It Through the Grapevine’

Getting older without growing up – what more could a baby-boomer ask for?
Don’t worry, the suits will take care of you.

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097: Mstislav Rostropovich, ‘Cello Concerto Opus 43, Adagio’ (Mieczyslaw Weinberg)

Holocaust Day just ended, and here’s the stranger-than-fiction story of a Jewish composer, Mieczyslaw Weinberg (1919–1996), whose personal odyssey is emblematic of that of the Jewish people in the 20th century, not only for the trials and tribulations he underwent (although there were more of them than can be grasped), but because of the wholly bizarre, tortuous and miraculous course of events.

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237: Wilbert Harrison, ‘Kansas City’

“C’mon, Wilbert, pick up them feet, you shiftless shuffler you! The lady’s a-waiting!”
“Hey, I ain’t sweating or fretting or agitating for no woman.”

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