Monday, December 19, 2011

The Billionaire Who Loved Bluegrass

The Bay Citizen has a colorful obituary for F. Warren Hellman, a banjo-picking billionaire and philanthropist. Hellman was a highly-successful financier, which gave him the opportunity to pursue his love of bluegrass and become a moderately successful banjo player; his band the Wronglers appeared on A Prairie Home Companion with Jimmie Dale Gilmore and at South by Southwest. Among his many philanthropic efforts was founding and endowing San Francisco's Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival.

The article describes how Hellman took up banjo:
It was also around that time that Hellman discovered the banjo. He bought an instruction book, “How to Play the 5-String Banjo,” by folk legend Pete Seeger. Frustrated at how slowly he was learning, Hellman decided he wanted to take lessons from Seeger himself and called up the singer’s manager. Hellman took it in stride when he was rejected.
We offer no promises that it will turn you into a billionaire, but the library does have Pete Seeger's book, MT562.S44 H6.

The Billionaire Who Loved Bluegrass

Thursday, December 15, 2011

RIP Music Therapy Pioneer Clive Robbins

Clive Robbins, who with Paul Nordoff pioneered music therapy methods for disabled children, died December 7. The library's collection includes lots of material by Robbins. The Nordoff Robbins web site has a full obituary.

In memoriam: Clive Robbins 1927-2011 - Nordoff Robbins - Music Transforming Lives

Monday, December 12, 2011

Unique Grammy Campaigning

The library has lots of books on music marketing such as Booking, Promoting and Marketing Your Music: A Complete Guide for Bands and Solo Artists by Nyree Belleville (ML3790 .B44 2000) and Music Marketing: Press, Promotion, Distribution, and Retail by Mike King (ML3795 .K56 2009). But Christopher Morris reports in Variety about a unique marketing scheme. Linda Chorney had not chalked up a single sale of her self-released album Emotional Jukebox on SoundScan, but she still managed to get a Grammy nomination for it through vigorous self-promotion aimed directly at NARAS members.

Grammy's self-help poster girl - Entertainment News, Weekly, Media - Variety

Thursday, December 8, 2011

RIP Blues Guitarist Hubert Sumlin

Blues guitarist Hubert Sumlin, who worked as a sideman with Howlin' Wolf, died December 4 at the age of 80.

Downbeat has an obituary.
Hubert Sumlin, Guitarist for Howlin’ Wolf, Dead at 80

Chicago radio station WXRT has reported that Mick Jagger and Keith Richards have offered to pay for the funeral expenses.
Local Memorial Set For Hubert Sumlin, Mick And Keith Reportedly Pay For Funeral

The library has CDs and DVDs featuring both his work with Howlin' Wolf and his solo material.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

RIP Soul Singer Howard Tate

Soul singer Howard Tate died December 2 at age 72. Andy Schwartz pays tribute to him in Rock's Backpages Writers' Blogs:

Howard Tate – REDISCOVERED (2003 CD, liner notes by A.S.)

Discover Tate for yourself with these CDs in the Media Center:

Get It While You Can: The Complete Legendary Verve Sessions (CD 32939)
Howard Tate (CD 19263)
Rediscovered (CD 25975)

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Jason Moran named Kennedy Center Artist Advisor for Jazz

Pianist and composer Jason Moran, 36, has been appointed the artistic advisor for jazz for the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C. He replaces Dr. Billy Taylor, who died last year. A Blog Supreme from NPR Jazz offers an analysis praising the appointment.

Gangsterism On The Potomac: Jason Moran And The Kennedy Center : A Blog Supreme : NPR

You can also listen to Moran's work in the Media Center.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Sultan Khan, an Indian musician whose career included Hindustani classical music, ambient/electronica and work in Bollywood films, has died at 71. NPR provides an overview of his career, and you may hear more about him at "The Music and Culture of Bollywood and Beyond II" on Wednesday, November 30 at 6 p.m. in the Media Lab.

One Of India's Leading Musicians, Sultan Khan, Dies At Age 71

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Thoughts on Motian….

Ralph Rosen, Media Center Manager and a drummer himself, is our guest blogger for this post.

Paul Motian, one of the most prolific and unique drummers in the jazz field, died Tuesday, November 22, 2011 due to a bone-marrow disorder. He was 80 years old. He was raised in Rhode Island and became a professional drummer after leaving the Navy in 1954. He went on to play and record with countless major jazz artists. Here is a partial list: Thelonious Monk, Coleman Hawkins, Lennie Tristano, Tony Scott, George Russell, Steve Lacy, Bill Evans, Paul Bley, Charles Lloyd, Carla Bley, Keith Jarrett, Charlie Haden, Gary Peacock, Bill Frisell, etc.

In 1972, while a member of Keith Jarrett’s quartet, he began recording and performing as a leader, eventually releasing almost 50 of his own albums. This does not include his many collaborative projects or his countless recordings as a sideman.

Being a drummer myself I was very influenced by Paul Motian’s concepts. He seemed to fly in the face of the standards that most of us follow regarding technique and the jazz “language” yet he understood and had absorbed all of it. While we were all trying to master the great ideas of Baby Dodds/Chick Webb/Jo Jones/Kenny Clark/Max Roach/Roy Haynes/Elvin Jones/Tony Williams etc. Paul Motian played more and more like a little kid who simply didn’t know any of this- just played with no precedent. As a result there were no “licks” in his work. Sure, his playing was joyous and child-like but with a great groove. He could sound like a punk rock drummer at times or play with the most moving and complimentary impressionistic colors- always in service of the music. As Keith Jarrett said of him- he always loved the “song.” Through it all he always swung but in a wholly original way. He was truly one-of-a-kind.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Learn More about a Legendary Jazz Impresario

On November 20, the Boston Globe featured a front-page story on Lennie Sogoloff, who ran the legendary West Peabody jazz club Lennie's-on-the-Turnpike. Now 87 and retired, Sogoloff is booking musical acts at the nursing home where he lives.

The online version of the Boston Globe is now available only to paid subscribers, but Berklee users have access to the content via ProQuest, which also offers a more robust advanced search function than the Globe's own web site. Berklee users can access this under "Search Articles & More" from the library's home page. To see this article from off campus, you may be prompted for your wireless PIN.

Still getting in the groove: Legendary impresario jazzes up nursing home in Marblehead by booking classy local artists

To learn more about the importance of Lennie's-on-the-Turnpike in Boston's musical history, explore the Berklee Oral History Project collection. Many of the people interviewed have long histories in the Boston jazz scene, and Lennie's gets mentioned frequently as an integral part.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Another Take on Fake Bands

Nigel Tufnel Day (11/11/11) has come and gone, but our display of fake bands in honor of the event is still up. Here is yet another perspective on the subject, this time from Paste Magazine.

The 50 Best Fictional Bands

Monday, November 14, 2011

New Research Guides: Citing Sources and Grad School Exam Prep

We have just updated many of our research guides as well as unveiling new ones which are particularly useful this time of the academic year.

Are you writing a paper for a liberal arts class? Has your instructor required you to cite your sources in a particular format? Take a look at How to Cite Print & Electronic Sources for examples of how to cite different types of sources and where to find more help.

Are you applying to grad school and planning to take an entrance exam such as the GRE or LSAT? Check out our Graduate School Admissions Exam Preparation Guide. It is organized by examination, and we have plenty of materials to help you ace those tests.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

For Veteran's Day: Musicians and the Library of Congress

The library, along with the rest of the college, will be closed on Friday, November 11 in observance of Veteran's Day. But we can still honor the day and those who have served our country.

From Paste Magazine:
10 Musicians Who Served In The Military

NPR has a story on East of Underground, a band formed by servicemen during the Vietnam War that the U.S. Army sent on tour to entertain the troops. As David Hollander, the writer of the liner notes for the new reissue pointed out, "The U.S. Army spends an estimated $200 million a year on music, and is the largest single employer of musicians in the country."
The U.S. Army's Rock 'N' Roll Past

The Library of Congress has created the Veterans History Project. "The Veterans History Project of the American Folklife Center collects, preserves, and makes accessible the personal accounts of American war veterans so that future generations may hear directly from veterans and better understand the realities of war."

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

More Fake Bands

For our display Fake Bands: In Honor of Nigel Tufnel Day, we focused on fake bands with representational artifacts. In other words, we wanted fake bands with CDs, DVDs or scores. Spinner assembled their own list of the best fake bands a few months back. Shockingly, Spinal Tap did not make the cut. The only act to make it into their list and our display was Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem. But here are more fake bands to consider, complete with videos.

Top 23 Fake Bands: The Best Fictional Music Groups of Film and TV - Spinner

Monday, November 7, 2011

Make Your Own (Spinal Tap) Life-Size Stonehenge

Do you like the Stonehenge model that is part of our current display, Fake Bands: In Honor of Nigel Tufnel Day? Do you want to make your own Stonehenge or other fake rocks as stage props? These directions may not work if you want to make an 18' life-size replica of the original Stonehenge, but they certainly work for an 18" replica of the Stonehenge from This Is Spinal Tap.

How to Make Styrofoam Rocks

If none of this makes sense, stop by the library to see the display, and come to our screening of This Is Spinal Tap on Wednesday, November 9 at 6:00 p.m. in the Media Lab.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

The Dearth of A&R

Pete Townshend, in BBC 6 Music's inaugural John Peel Lecture, made headlines with his provocative comparison of Apple's iTunes to digital vampires. Less noteworthy but more useful was his constructive criticism, that with the decline of the traditional record industry, iTunes should fill the A&R vacuum. Anyone can get their music distributed on iTunes, but it is hard for artists to build careers without the guidance, nurturing and editorial feedback of knowledgeable music industry veterans to help them stand out from the crowd.

The fashionable view of the record industry is to condemn it for taking artists' money and offering little in return or for pushing aside artistry for the sake of crass commercialism. Trent Reznor has said that A&R interference led to Scream (CD 30744) Chris Cornell's ridicule-worthy collaboration with Timbaland. But the flip side, as Chuck Klosterman argues, is that the lack of A&R interference led to Lulu, Metallica's ridicule-worthy collaboration with Lou Reed. No one was in a position to tell them it was a bad idea.

The library doesn't have Lulu yet. Even if it doesn't hit the Billboard 50, we will probably acquire it as a cautionary tale.

BBC News - Pete Townshend calls Apple 'a vampire'

Chuck Klosterman on the release of the new Metallica and Lou Reed album - Grantland
Injustice For All: The Lou Reed/Metallica Album

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

All-TIME 100-Song Mash-Up

Anyone who has read the book or watched the movie High Fidelity (PR6058.O689 H54 2000 and DVD 595, respectively) knows that making a list of the greatest songs will invite argument and that there is a definite art to making a mix tape. The writers and editors at Time took on both challenges, assembling a list of the "most extraordinary English-language popular recordings since the beginning of TIME magazine in 1923" and culling it into a 180-second mash-up of all the entries. Give it a listen, then argue amongst yourselves. Or head to the media center to hear the songs in their entirety.

Listen to the All-TIME 100 Songs in 180 Seconds

Thursday, October 27, 2011

RIP American Pop Music Historian Charles Hamm

Charles Hamm was a pioneer in taking American popular music seriously, and in doing so, convinced others that it was worthy of scholarship. His books Yesterdays: Popular Song in America (ML3477 .H36 1983) and Music in the New World (ML200 .H36 1983) have become standards in the field, and he was a founding member of the International Association for the Study of Popular Music. He died October 16.

New York Times Obituary: Charles Hamm, Author on American Popular Music, Is Dead at 86

Books by Hamm at Stan Getz Library

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Sister Rosetta Tharpe Honored

Sister Rosetta Tharpe was honored on October 24 with the placement of a official state historic marker in front of her home in Philadelphia. The Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission marker states:
Sister Rosetta Tharpe (1915-1973) One of gospel music's first superstars, she popularized the genre by including secular music elements. A guitar virtuoso and charismatic performer throughout America and Europe, she toured with Count Basie, Cab Calloway, and Benny Goodman. Her home was here.
Listen to her music with CDs available in the Media Center, or learn more from an article in the Philadelphia Inquirer and an NPR interview with Tharpe biographer Gayle Wald.

New marker in N. Phila. labels home of music pioneer Sister Rosetta Tharpe

A Sister Rosetta Tharpe Biography

Monday, October 24, 2011

Happy Birthday, Franz Liszt

October 22 marked the 200th anniversary of Franz Liszt. While Berklee admittedly has a limited focus on classical music, Liszt is notable for the many innovations he brought to performance practice. As NPR discusses, his influence is still be seen today in popular music.

How Franz Liszt Became The World's First Rock Star

To learn more about Liszt, explore the library's collection of materials by and about him.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

We're Prepared for the Noise

Inside the Reading Room is quiet, but we acknowledge that outside the Reading Room has been particularly noisy lately and will be getting worse. Scaffolding is going up around our building, street work on Mass. Ave. and Belvidere St. has brought jackhammers, and workers are preparing to take down the building across the street.

But have no fear. The reference desk always has a bowl of ear plugs available for the taking, and we're making sure to stay well-stocked. We even have a thematic playlist. What else would you suggest?

"Demolition Man" by the Police, from Ghost in the Machine (CD 5994)
Wrecking Ball by Emmylou Harris (CD 5622)
Appetite for Destruction by Guns N' Roses (CD 210)
It Might Get Loud (DVD 3913)
"Cum On Feel the Noize" by Quiet Riot, from Metal Health (CD 14550)

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Stone Roses to Reunite

The Stone Roses have announced their reunion for a pair of shows in 2012 and to record new material. NME has full details from the press conference and a history of the reunion rumors.

Why is this a big deal? Their 1989 classic self-titled debut (CD 14216) is a crucial part of the Madchester scene, a movement of Manchester, England-based bands that fused rock music with dance rhythms. Listen for yourself or check out Alex Green's contribution to Continuum's 33 1/3 series on the album (ML421.S754 G74 2006) as well as our other material by the band.

They have brought new meaning to their song "I Am the Resurrection."

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Happy Birthday, Chuck Berry

Chuck Berry celebrates his 85th birthday on October 18. Duck walk on over to the library to find ways to honor the ground-breaking rock and roll guitarist. Some highlights of our collection include:

The Chess Box by Chuck Berry (CD 5937-5939)

Taylor Hackford's Chuck Berry: Hail! Hail! Rock 'n' Roll (DVD 4181-4184) Covers the concert at the Fox Theatre in St. Louis, Missouri, to celebrate Chuck Berry's sixtieth birthday and also discusses his life and career.

Chuck Berry transcribed by Fred Sokolow (MP126.B477 C42 1999) Includes a guide to notation and an introduction by Fred Sokolow explaining Chuck Berry's guitar style.

Brown Eyed Handsome Man: The Life and Hard Times of Chuck Berry: An Unauthorized Biography by Bruce Pegg (ML410.B477 P44 2002)

Monday, October 17, 2011

Magnet Resurrected

Magnet, a Philadelphia-based magazine covering alternative music, is back in print and in the library. Magnet was founded in 1993 but ceased publication in 2008. It continued as a web-only magazine. They have resumed publishing a monthly print version, and issue 81 is on the shelf with our periodicals. If you like the cover story on Wilco, give a listen to their new album, The Whole Love, CD 33257-33258.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The 20 Most Underrated Bass Guitarists

Paste Magazine generates a list of the day, and their entry for October 12 is the 20 Most Underrated Bass Guitarists. Writer John Barrett start with a useful point:
First things first: Nearly all bass players are, by definition, underrated and overlooked, since the focal point is usually the lead singer or the guitarist. But even in discussions of great bass guitarists, a select few names get thrown around all the time: Victor Wooten, Flea, Les Claypool, Geddy Lee, etc.. So this week we thought we’d pay tribute to a few of the less-celebrated bass guitarists with fantastic chops from the past several decades of popular music.
While Paste's list compilers have a tendency to run to the willfully obscure, this list contains a thoughtful balance of lesser-known bands, lesser-acknowledged bassists from well-known bands and well-known singers whose bass skills are often overlooked.

The 20 Most Underrated Bass Guitarists

Paste's focus is on popular music, but to explore the full range of genres for bass, take a look at the library's bass research guide. Or give a listen to a Sound Opinions interview with Bootsy Collins, who qualifies as one of those select few names that gets thrown around all the time.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

RIP Pianist Roger Williams

Roger Williams, whose 1955 single "Autumn Leaves" was the only piano instrumental to reach number one on the Billboard pop charts, has died. "Autumn Leaves" remains the best-selling piano record of all time, with more than 2 million sold. NPR has a full obituary.

Famed Pianist Roger Williams Dies At 87

Thursday, October 6, 2011

How Do You Make Money As a Jazz Musician?

No, this is not a how-to but the basic question of a survey. NPR reports that the Future of Music Coalition is trying to find out about revenue streams for jazz artists to get an accurate measure of how the field is doing. Take the survey if you're a jazz artist whose making any money (we hope there are plenty in the Berklee community), and spread the word.

Artist Revenue Streams - Future of Music Coalition
NPR story on the Artist Revenue Streams project

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

RIP Bert Jansch

Prolific folk artist Bert Jansch has died of cancer at 67. NPR has coverage, including his World Cafe performance from earlier this year. Explore his career with The Best of Bert Jansch (CD 19267) and Heartbreak (CD 20735).

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Timberlake to Play Neil Bogart: Find Out Who He Is

Paste Magazine has reported that Justin Timberlake will produce and star in Spinning Gold about Neil Bogart, the founder of Casablanca Records. As a producer and label owner, Bogart helped to define the sound of 1970s disco. Hear for yourself with The Casablanca Records Story (CD 14082-14085), with tracks from the Village People, Donna Summer and many more.

Although Casablanca was best known for their disco output, KISS was also on the label from their start in 1977 until 1982. The library has plenty of their recordings from their commercial heyday on Casablanca.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Thinking of a Master Plan: Explore This Year's Rock Hall Nominees

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame has announced this year's nominees for induction. The final announcement of who makes the cut will probably be in December. Here's a starting point for each of the nominees to get to know their work.

Eric B. & Rakim - Paid in Full (CD 23208)
Joan Jett - Joan Jett & the Blackhearts: [piano, vocal, guitar] (Limited Access Scores MP1630.J488 J6)
Heart - Dreamboat Annie (CD 2765)
Rufus with Chaka Khan - Rags to Rufus (CD 4734)
Guns 'N' Roses - Appetite for Destruction (CD 210)
Red Hot Chili Peppers - Blood Sugar Sex Magik (CD 9646)
Beastie Boys - Beastie Boys Video Anthology (DVD 444-445)
The Spinners - The Best of the Spinners (CD 988)
The Small Faces/The Faces - Ogden's Nut Gone Flake (CD 12539)
Freddie King - Freddie King (1934-1976) (CD 2749)
Donna Summer - VH1 Presents Donna Summer: Live & More Encore! (CD 15701)
Laura Nyro - Time and Love: The Art and Soul of Laura Nyro [piano, vocal, guitar] (MP1630.N97 T5)
War - Anthology: 1970-1994 (CD 1501-1502)
Donovan - Donovan's Greatest Hits (CD 15500)
The Cure - Disintegration (CD 21656)

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Remembering R.E.M.

As has been widely reported, R.E.M. announced on September 21 that they were breaking up. Sure, lots of legitimate and facetious criticism could be leveled at them:

  • They sold out when Michael Stipe stopped mumbling and started enunciating.
  • They sold out when they accepted induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame before the Monkees were inducted.
  • They should have broken up when drummer Bill Berry retired from the band.
But to give them their due, they had many significant accomplishments. Among them:
  • They didn't move the mountain. The mountain moved to the them. When they emerged in the early 1980s, their sound was far removed from what was popular. It took years for them to score big hits, but their sound changed less over that time than did the tastes of listeners.
  • They are one of the last bands for which fans knew all the band members' names, which speaks to how much each of them contributed to the whole effort.
  • They were gracious to the very end. Take a look at the statements from each of the band members.
  • For a generation of their fans (this writer included), R.E.M. defined a period in musical history and period in their lives. They epitomized a world of musical possibility beyond all that was sleek and shiny as something that could be personal and quirky, yet embraced by many for that very reason.
Explore their legacy in our collection with works by and about the band.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Clinics by a Genius

Jazz percussionist and composer Dafnis Prieto has been named a 2011 MacArthur Fellow. These fellowships have been nicknamed the genius awards. Berklee students have already experienced his talents firsthand, and you can relive the experience with DVDs of his two Berklee clinics, from Oct. 14 (DVD 4402) 15, 2009 (DVD 4397).

For more about Prieto:

Dafnis Prieto - MacArthur Foundation
Dafnis Prieto holdings at our library

Monday, September 19, 2011

Your Quiet Refuge on Campus

Most of Berklee is focused on the creation of sound, but the Reading Room at the library is one of the few places on campus notable for the absence of sound. Besides being a place where you can find books, scores and recordings, the library is also a place where you can find a quiet refuge to study. We even have earplugs if the street noise from outside it too distracting. If you haven't visited yet, come by for our comfortable armchairs and spacious tables.

With this in mind, here's a video from a band called Library Voices. But please use your headphones if you're watching it in the Reading Room.

Traveller's Digest - Library Voices from Nevado Records on Vimeo.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Bill Monroe Centennial

September 13 is the 100th anniversary Bill Monroe's birth. There are many ways you can celebrate and learn more about the Father of Bluegrass.

Bill Monroe 100th Birthday Celebration

From NPR: Bill Monroe: Celebrating The Father Of Bluegrass At 100

A few highlights from our own collection of materials by or about Monroe:

Bill Monroe: Father of Bluegrass Music (DVD 1190)

Blue Moon of Kentucky: Bill Monroe, 1936-1949 (CD 28899-28904)
This 6-disc box set includes all 60 of the legendary Monroe Brothers duets from 1946-38; all 16 of the 1940-41 performances that marked the very first appearance of Bill Monroe's recordings under his own name; and all of the classic Columbia sessions from 1945-49, including ... sides with Lester Flatt, Earl Scruggs and Chubby Wise as well as every alternate take from the Columbia sessions, a total of 50 previously unheard and unreleased out-takes" The book comprises a biographical essay by Charles K. Wolfe, notes on the songs, and a discography by Neil V. Rosenberg.

Can't You Hear Me Callin': The Life of Bill Monroe, Father of Bluegrass by Richard D. Smith (ML420.M65 S6 2000)

Monroe Instrumentals: 25 Bill Monroe Favorites transcribed by Todd Collins (MP131.M66 I5 2002)

Monday, September 12, 2011

Feedback Wanted on Kindles and Nooks

The library is considering making Kindles and Nooks available for check-out. We'd like to get some feedback from our users, regardless of whether you are a student, alum or faculty or staff member. Is this something you would use? If so, how? If we had them preloaded with books, what ones would you want or expect?

Let us know what you think. You can post feedback here or send email to

Friday, September 9, 2011

More 9/11 Music-Related Events and Web Sites

In addition to our current display of music related to the 9/11 attacks, here are links on the subject, including 9/11 memorial concerts on Sunday at Berklee, Tufts and the Hatch Shell on the Esplanade.

Stan Getz Library Berklee College of Music's 9/11 Display

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Happy Birthday, Buddy Holly, Chrissie Hynde and Gloria Gaynor

September 7 is a big day in pop music birthdays. Buddy Holly was born in 1936, disco diva Gloria Gaynor in 1949 and Chrissie Hynde, leader of the Pretenders, in 1951. Of course the library has plenty of recordings and scores of their works, but here are some highlights that you may not know about.

Rave on Buddy Holly (CD 33016) is a Buddy Holly tribute album featuring artists such as Patti Smith, Kid Rock and Modest Mouse covering his songs. It came out earlier this year and reached No. 15 on the Billboard 200 album charts. With a few exceptions, the library gets every album in the Billboard Top 50 within a week of its hitting the charts.

Gaynor's classic disco empowerment anthem "I Will Survive" is included in Audition Songs. Number One Hits: [20 Essential Audition Songs for Women] (MP1631.A93 N8 2005). What makes this score unusual is that it includes CDs with instrumental backing tracks, perfect for practicing or bringing to an audition. Or your next karaoke party.

In addition to her work with the Pretenders, Hynde also appears on Frank Sinatra's Duets II album (CD 6441). Especially if you are new to Berklee, you may not realize just how thorough our library catalog is. For most recordings and scores, our catalog indexes not only the main performer but other contributors who helped to create the work such band members, producers, composers and guest vocalists.

So celebrate these birthdays by making use of our library's uncommon resources.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Welcome, Freshmen. What Are Your Parents Listening To?

Welcome incoming freshman and returning students. As you get settled in, give some thought to what your parents will be listening to after they drop you off. Bob Boilen of NPR's All Songs Considered wrote about his own empty nester playlist and solicited stories from parents about their own experiences. Let us know what you'll be cranking up or what you think your parents will be listening to, perhaps "I'm Free" by the Who (from Tommy, CD 27561) or "Enjoy the Silence" by Depeche Mode (from Violator, CD 13801)

Music For Empty Nesters And College Freshmen

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

David 'Honeyboy' Edwards dies at 96; Chicago bluesman

David "Honeyboy" Edwards, considered the last of the original Delta bluesmen, has died. When the library reopens next week, you can explore his legacy by checking out his autobiography The World Don't Owe Me Nothing: The Life and Times of Delta Bluesman Honeyboy Edwards (ML420.E28 W6) which the Chicago Tribune's Howard Reich called "a memoir that has become a landmark of American musical history" in his obituary.

David 'Honeyboy' Edwards dies at 96; Chicago bluesman

Friday, August 19, 2011

Punk and Post-Punk in the Public Library

With our emphasis on popular music, most of our library displays are about that. But it is an unexpected subject for most public libraries, especially when the subject is more specifically British punk and post-punk. Steven Rosen reports on this display created by a member of the community at a Cincinnati branch library in CityBeat:

Madeira Celebrates British Punk Rock

Our own current display highlights the work of Berklee alumni on Broadway. Although the library will be closed for two weeks, we'll have a new display up during Check-In week.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Library/Musician Connections

Of course we love both libraries and music here at Stan Getz. But we recently found what may be a unique distinction: Dave Faulkner of Australia's Hoodoo Gurus may be the only musician represented in our collection whose mother has a library named for her. As a councillor for the shire of Belmont (as it was then known) in the Western Australian state government, she campaigned in support of free public libraries. As a result of her efforts the Ruth Faulkner Public Library was named for her when it opened in Belmont 40 years ago. Ruth Faulkner was on hand to celebrate the library's 40th anniversary.

First lady of the library

Listen to Dave Faulkner with the Hoodoo Gurus here at our library, which has more Hoodoo Gurus materials than the Ruth Faulkner Public Library:
Hoodoo Gurus in Blue Cave (CD 8070)
Mars Needs Guitars! (CD 6364)

Ruth Faulkner's love of libraries could explain why, on at least one occasion, her son's band played their set in alphabetical order by song title.

Monday, August 15, 2011

UK Indie Label Relief Fund Established

A Sony distribution center that housed the entire inventory of many UK independent labels was destroyed in last week's riots in London. A relief fund has been established, started with donations from the larger indie labels that are in a better position to weather the damage. They are also accepting individual donations. The NME has full coverage.

£250,000 relief fund set up for labels affected by Sony warehouse fire

Friday, August 12, 2011

RIP Warrant's Jani Lane

Jani Lane, the lead singer of '80s hair metal band Warrant, was found dead in a California hotel. Explore his legacy at the library:

Cherry Pie by Warrant (CD 20587)
Monster Ballads (CD 15725) contains "Heaven"

Guitar Hero (MP125 .G7464 2007) contains "Cherry Pie"
Power Ballads: 30 Rock Anthems (MP1631.R6 P6 2008) contains "Heaven"

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Citation Accuracy on the Web, Steve Albini and Odd Future

Steve Albini recently had some rather choice words about Odd Future. Or did he? It depends on whether you unquestioningly believe everything you read on the web, and it shows the importance of making sure you cite accurately when you quote others.

Here's the background: Steve Albini is a legendary producer, having worked with Nirvana, the Pixies and many other artists with both high and low profiles. He is also legendarily prickly, especially because he is outspoken when he encounters nonsense (to use a polite term) from anyone. Odd Future is a rap group that has attracted attention for being outspoken in different ways. Albini recently shared an airport shuttle with the group, and posted some rather harsh words about them online.

John Robb reported this in a blog post on Louder Than War. The same entry was posted on Rock's Backpages Writers' Blogs. Robb quoted Albini at length, citing as his source Albini's studio’s Electrical Audio website, but the link was to Electrical Supply and Information Center.

So did Albini really make any statements about Odd Future? Good research means going back to primary sources to verify the accuracy, not just taking someone else's word for it, especially when someone gives an inaccurate citation. A Google search of Steve Albini and Odd Future shows that lots of web pages are discussing the topic, but that still doesn't make it true; false information repeated many times is still false information. However, at least one source reporting the issue,, included a link to the precise post by Albini in the Electric Audio website forum section.

Remember when you are doing your own research to cite your sources accurately because accurate information cited inaccurately carries no more weight than inaccurate information. And be willing to seek out primary sources for citations by others.

Friday, August 5, 2011

More MTV History

To follow up on Monday's post about MTV's 30th anniversary, the library has several books on the history of music videos in general and MTV specifically:

Money for Nothing: A History of the Music Video, from the Beatles to the White Stripes by Saul Austerlitz (PN1992.8.M87 .A97 2007)

Gender Politics and MTV: Voicing the Difference by Lisa A. Lewis (PN1992.8.M87 L49 1990)

Inside MTV by R. Serge Denisoff (PN1992.8.M88 D4 1991)

While MTV didn't invent the music video, the network certainly helped raise it to an artform. To see some of the best videos ever created, come watch the Directors Label series of DVDs, each volume devoted to the works of a different director. Among the many highlights are "Sabotage" by the Beastie Boys, directed by Spike Jonze (DVD 1373), "Closer" by Nine Inch Nails, directed by Mark Romanek (DVD 1941) and "Virtual Insanity" by Jamiroquai, directed by Jonathan Glazer (DVD 1937).

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Name That Drum Fill, Then Make Your Own

NPR's All Songs Considered has put together a fun interactive quiz where you can try to match a drum fill with its source album.

Name That Drum Fill Pt. III

After playing the game, why not learn to make your own drum fills in the hopes that you can create something equally distinctive with the instructional DVD Rock Drum Fills (LVD 482). As our catalog describes it, "Drummer Mansaku Kimura demonstrates over 230 fills for rock, funk, blues, and Latin styles of drumming. Includes two live performances with a variety of camera angles enabling you to see how each fill is performed."

Monday, August 1, 2011

I Want My MTV

MTV turns 30 today. The cable network itself is doing little to mark the occasion, perhaps because it is now older than its target audience. has an interview with Mark Goodman, one of the five original VJs. The first hour of their broadcast is up a playlist in 10 minute segments on YouTube. It is well-known trivia that "Video Killed the Radio Star" by the Buggles was the debut video, but it is fascinating to see what else they aired, dictated by a limited library, everything from Rod Stewart and the Who to local Boston sensation Robin Lane & the Chartbusters.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Today in Rock History: Dylan Crashes His Motorcycle

On July 29. 1966, Bob Dylan was injured in a motorcycle accident near Woodstock, New York. Why is this important enough to be mentioned by both the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Rock's Backpages? Rather than give the answer, I'll point out a library resource that contains it: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music. We own it in print as part of our reference collection, ML102.P66 G84 1998. We also have it available online as part of the Oxford/Grove Music Online database, under E-Resources: Search Articles & More from the library's home page. One advantage of the online version is obvious: Berklee users can access it from anywhere with an internet connection. But you can also search within the text of an article, for example for "motorcycle" within the Bob Dylan biographical entry. Here's a hint: the article questions whether the accident really happened.

This weekend also marks the Newport Folk Festival, where Dylan went electric and was famously booed in 1965. Although many have claimed the audience turned on him as a traitor to folk music, musician, songwriter, A&R man and witness to the event Al Kooper insists there has been much misinformation about the incident in an interview earlier this year on Sound Opinions.

Monday, July 25, 2011

RIP Amy Winehouse

In a modern landscape of manufactured pop stars, Amy Winehouse was an original, unique and self-made. Explore her legacy with her breakthough album Back to Black (CD 29052) and the score (MP1630 .W574 2007).

Although no cause of death has yet been determined for Winehouse, she struggled publicly with addiction, squandering her talent to a disease that can be treated. While the library provides Berklee students with resources to perform like Winehouse, LiveWell provides Berklee students with resources so they don't have to live like Winehouse. Check out their health and wellness programs on Campus Cruiser ( under Student Life.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Free Nevermind Tribute Album

Our 1991 display will be coming down soon, but there is yet another way to explore the legacy of that landmark year in music. The new August issue of Spin, which will be on our shelves shortly, has a cover story on what Nirvana's monumental album Nevermind means today. In conjunction, they have assembled a tribute album, cleverly dubbed Newermind. It features covers by the Meat Puppets and the Vaselines, bands that influenced Nirvana, as well as newer artists such as Amanda Palmer and Titus Andronicus. The tribute album is available as a free download via Facebook. The original is available in the Media Center, CD 1333.

Spin’s Nirvana Nevermind tribute

Monday, July 18, 2011

A View from Inside a Guitar

Getting a jump earlier in the week on our friends in the Learning Center and their blog theme Waveform Wednesday, NPR presents not only a video "Guitar Oscillations Captured with iPhone 4" but also an explanation of why the guitar strings appear the way do. As Bob Boilen says, "beautiful and mystifying."

Crazy Vibrations: What Strings Look Like From Inside A Guitar

Friday, July 15, 2011

Happy Birthday, Johnny Thunders

Johnny Thunders, a member of the New York Dolls and leader of Johnny Thunders and the Heartbreakers, would have turned 59 today. Thunders died in 1991, but you can explore his glam and punk legacy at the library. Among the highlights:

New York Dolls by the New York Dolls (CD 10544)

Johnny Thunders and the Heartbreakers: Dead or Alive (DVD 550) Includes the songs "Chinese Rocks," "Personality Crisis," and "You Can't Put Your Arms Around a Memory."

Johnny Thunders: In Cold Blood by Nina Antonio (ML420 .T49 2000)

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Today in Rock from Rock's Backpages

Rock's Backpages is currently experiencing sporadic technical difficulties which they hope to resolve shortly, but their "It Happened Today" list for July 13 is up and particularly vibrant. A few highlights, including how to explore these events further with the library's resources:

1936: Birthday of saxophone virtuoso Albert Ayler. The library has many recordings by him.

1937: Guy Hart of Gibson Guitars is issued the first patent on an electric guitar pickup, the Gibson EH-150 Pickup, also known as The Charlie Christian Pickup. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office web site has the patent with its illustrations.

1976: The first issue of influential UK punk fanzine, Sniffin' Glue, is published. The library has a reprint of its entire run, Sniffin' Glue: And Other Rock'n'Roll Habits: The Essential Punk Accessory by Mark Perry (ML3534 .P47 2009).

1985: The Live Aid concert benefitting Ethiopian famine relief is held simultaneously in London and Philadelphia. The library has the 4-DVD set of the concert that includes performances by U2, Madonna and many of the other biggest names of the era (DVD 1402-1405).

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

New Theory on Mozart's Cause of Death

A researcher has theorized that vitamin D deficiency led to Mozart's death. While the theory can't be proven, William Grant has argued that the many ailments from which Mozart suffered can be caused by lack vitamin D, and these afflicted him during times of the year when Austria gets limited sunlight. Exposure to sunlight enables the body to produce vitamin D.


What does this have to do with the library? A few things. If you are interested in reading the study on which Grant's theory is based, you can access the journal Medical Problems of Performing Artists through the International Index to Music Periodicals database:

Dawson, William J., "Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart--Controversies Regarding His Illnesses and Death: A Bibliographic Review." Medical Problems of Performing Artists 25:2 (June 2010) p. 49-53.

Another library-related issue is a concept that we teach in our library instruction sessions for LENG-201, which is to consider the authority and possible biases of a researcher. The Discovery News article notes that Grant "is not a doctor, but is affiliated with the Sunlight, Nutrition and Health Research Center, a pro-vitamin D research and education association." It is difficult to give much weight to his theory when it isn't possible to prove that it is correct and Grant's affiliation implies bias on the subject.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Explore our Magazines

You probably already knew that the library subscribes to magazines such as Billboard and Rolling Stone. But did you know that the library has 450 different magazines and journals? We have just set up new display shelving in our reading room to highlight some of our unexpected and lesser-known periodicals holdings. Right now, we're showing off titles such as The Economist, Bust, Words.Beat.Life and The Nordic Journal of Music Therapy, and the selection will be changing about once a month.

Come into the reading room and browse our selection of periodicals for your school-related or leisure reading, and scan the QR codes on the covers to discover more of what the library has.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

RIP Jane Scott

Jane Scott, who wrote about rock and roll since around the dawn of rock and roll, has died at 92. The legendary rock critic for Cleveland's Plain Dealer, covered the beat for decades, starting at a time when newspaper coverage of rock music was rare and female rock critics were rarer. The Plain Dealer obituary includes a collection of her writing for the paper and audio clips.

Jane Scott, legendary Plain Dealer rock writer, dies at age 92

Friday, July 1, 2011

Hey, Baby, It's the 4th of July

A Blog Supreme, the NPR jazz blog, has a jazz-oriented playlist for Independence Day,
Five Platters For Your Fourth Of July Picnic. I won't argue with any of them, but I will offer a few more suggestions.

X, "4th of July," from See How We Are (CD 23529)
Bruce Springsteen, "Independence Day," from The River (CD 5185-5186)
Violent Femmes, "American Music," from Add It Up: (1981-1993) (CD 7407)
Jimi Hendrix, "The Star-Spangled Banner," from Jimi Hendrix: Woodstock (CD 1745)

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Chocolate Records: The Ultimate Social Object

Last week, George Howard posted to the Tunecore blog 10 Inaccurate, Erroneous or Irrelevant Things Being Stated about Marketing, Promotion, and Success in the Music Industry. First on his list debunked myths was that the resurgence in vinyl was due to sound quality; he posited that vinyl is popular as a social object, something tangible that can be shown to and shared with others in ways that digital music can't.

Taking this idea to its logical conclusion is a baker who is creating chocolate records that are both playable and edible. The video shows how he took the idea from conception through several failed prototypes until he came up with a solution that worked.

Fife baker creates vinyl record out of chocolate

Monday, June 27, 2011

Film Scoring Takes Center Stage

The Sunday Boston Globe movie section devoted an article to film's greatest score composers:
Keeping score of the greatest film composers

The article also highlighted the two upcoming series at the Brattle Theatre in Cambridge marking the centennials of composers Bernard Herrmann and Nino Rota. Of course the library has works by Herrmann and Rota, but their film scores can best be appreciated watching their movies on the big screen.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Happy Birthday, Jeff Beck

Guitar dynamo Jeff Beck turns 67 today. His career is showing no signs of slowing down, so why not mark the occasion by checking out his music at the library? We have CDs, scores, and videos of his performances. We also have a method book, In Session with Jeff Beck (MT588 .B436 1999) with six works in standard and tablature notation for electric guitar, with chord symbols. It includes biographical information and a CD containing full and backing tracks, and demonstration of solos.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Celebrating Summer in Song

It's the first day of summer. PopMatters has compiled their own list of the Best Music for Summer that includes some favorites of the library staff, including "It Must Be Summer" by Fountains of Wayne from Utopia Parkway (CD 18601) and Spilt Milk by Jellyfish (CD 17902); their staff must share our fondness for power pop.

If you want to track down more songs about summer, or songs about almost any subject, take a look at The Green Book: Songs Classified by Subject, compiled by Jeff Green (Reference ML128.S3 G74 1989). It includes songs from across musical genres and is a boon not only for radio DJs but anyone trying to assemble a themed playlist or set list. Under "Seasons: Summer" are songs such as "Summer in the City"by the Lovin' Spoonful (on CD 5004) and Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong's performance of "Summertime" from Porgy & Bess (CD 18756).

While some subjects lend themselves to novelty (food; insects), some could be helpful for class assignments (peace; war, battles, military, soldiers) or finding appropriate music for a Halloween party (monsters, ghosts, vampires).

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

We Want Your Opinion

The library wants to hear from you! If at least 40 people fill out this survey, we'll randomly select one of you for $10 at Crazy Dough. If we make it to 100 people, we'll enter everyone into a drawing for a $50 Newbury Comics gift card, so tell your friends to fill it out, too.

Only currently enrolled Berklee students who are not employees of the library are eligible for prizes, but anyone can respond to the survey.

Stan Getz Library Media Center Survey

Monday, June 6, 2011

RIP Producer Martin Rushent

Martin Rushent, a producer whose work in the early 1980s created songs that were staples in the early years of MTV, has passed away at 63. Slicing Up Eyeballs has an obituary:

Martin Rushent, Producer of Human League, Buzzcocks and Stranglers, 1948-2011

Music he produced is available at the Media Center, including:

Buzzcocks: Operators Manual: Buzzcocks Best (CD 5418)
The Go-Gos: Go-Go's Greatest (CD 10187)
Human League: Dare! (CD 16446)
Human League: Greatest Hits (CD 6473)
The Stranglers: Greatest Hits 1977-1990 (CD 24750)
XTC: Waxworks: Some Singles 1977-1982 (CD 4886)

Friday, June 3, 2011

Hot Books from the Library on your iPad

You may already know that the library has a sizable collection of eBooks, but did you know that we have hot new titles and that you can read them on your iPad?

You can find our eBooks by searching our catalog, just as you would for any other materials. The collection will say "Electronic Books," and the item information will include a URL to allow you to view and download the book. You will need to install Adobe Digital Editions on your computer.

On your iPad, install Bluefire Reader, a free app. Bluefire provides complete instructions on how to download library eBooks and put them on your iPad.

So what are you going to read? How about Out of the Vinyl Deeps, a collection of writing by pop music critic and feminist Ellen Willis. Willis was the first pop music critic for the New Yorker. She started in 1968, at a time when rock criticism was a fledgling profession and women in that field were a rarity. The book has been generating a lot of press, such as this report from NPR's Fresh Air. Why not add it to your non-required summer reading list?

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

What's Going On - 40 Years Later

NPR offers a commentary on the 40th anniversary of Marvin Gaye's groundbreaking album What's Going On and its title track. The library has plenty of resources to revisit and learn more about the topic including:
From NPR: What's Going On: A Departure That Defined A Generation

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Learning resources beyond the library:

Library staff members just got outfitted with some new technology. As we figure out ways to make good use of it to serve the Berklee community, it's a good time to give a shout-out to Hosted locally by Training and Support, the website offers an amazing variety of software and technology tutorials. The subjects go beyond the functionality of many software packages to more general tips on photography to hardware tutorials.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Today in Rock

For the historically-minded, the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame web site includes a Today in Rock listing. Among the highlights for May 27: In 1969, Neil Young released Everybody Knows This is Nowhere (CD 10398), his first album with Crazy Horse. In 1972, the Chi-Lites hit #2 with "Oh Girl" and Cat Stevens hit #6 with "Morning Has Broken" on the singles charts. You can find the Chi-Lites song on their Greatest Hits album (CD 6518). We don't have a recording, but we do have many scores with the Cat Stevens hit,  including The Great Songs of Cat Stevens (MP1630.S736 G7).

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The Mothership is Landing at the Smithsonian

It's not just a stage prop. It's an important cultural artifact. The Smithsonian has acquired the Parliament-Funkadelic Mothership for the National Museum of African American History and Culture. Admittedly, it is the 1990's replicate of the mysteriously missing original, but the Washington Post reports on the acquisition and its cultural significance and links to its April 2010 story about the missing original.

Smithsonian acquires Parliament-Funkadelic Mothership

The library has the Parliament album Chocolate City (CD 2309) referenced in the article plus lots of other material by Parliament, Funkadelic and group mastermind George Clinton.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Happy Birthday, Bob Dylan

Bob Dylan turns 70 today. It is impossible to underestimate his influence on popular music, so I'll focus on a minute aspect: he even relates to our new ukulele display. Tiny Tim includes a Dylan medley on Rare Moments. Volume 1: I've Never Seen a Straight Banana (CD 32810). We also own Bob Dylan Song Book (MP1630.D93 B68 ), which includes ukulele tabs. It is a limited access score, so you'll need to ask for it at the circulation desk.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

If Any Library Owns It, It Should Be Our Library

Admittedly I'm a library geek (or I wouldn't have this job) and I'm relatively new at this library, but I am thrilled by and proud of some of the weird things in our collection. Some recent discoveries:

Rhythm is the Cure: Southern Italian Tambourine: Dedicated to the Healing Powers of the Tarantella Rhythm by Alessandra Belloni (MT725.T3 B45 R49 2007). I am amazed by the specificity and obscurity of the subject matter. But if any library is going to own this, it should be Berklee's library. We aren't the only library that owns it, but we may be the only one within a 500-mile radius.

I took delight in stumbling upon Renegade: The Lives and Tales of Mark E. Smith (ML420 .S627 A3 2008). I didn't know that he had penned an autobiography, let alone that the cantankerous and obtuse Smith was capable of writing one. Smith's long-running band the Fall is decidedly an acquired taste, but they have rightfully earned their cult following.

My final recent fun find was Punk Rock Aerobics: 75 Killer Moves, 50 Punk Classics, and 25 Reasons to Get Off Your Ass and Exercise by Boston locals Maura Jasper and Hilken Mancini (RA781.15 .J37 2004). It contains moves inspired by the likes of Iggy Pop and the Undertones demonstrated by people in torn fishnets and ripped t-shirts, and it is interspersed with plenty of punk rock history and trivia.

What weird things have you found in our collection? What weird things do you think we should have but don't?

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Preserving Your Hearing

"Turn that down! You'll ruin your ears," can be countered with "Keep on playing. You'll retain your hearing." NPR reports on a study about the hearing benefits of being a lifelong instrumentalist.

In the short run, we do have a bowl of earplugs available for the taking in the Reading Room. While they are mainly intended to block the noise coming from outside the building so you can concentrate while studying, they will also protect your ears in louder environments.

Playing An Instrument May Help Preserve Hearing:

Middle-aged musicians scored better on hearing tests than people who didn't play instruments. How we use our senses and brains can shape the people we become, a researcher says.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Spotlight on In-Library Resources: CD Sheet Music

The library has opened its doors to the public again after being closed over break, so it's a good time to point out a library resource that you can only use here. While we do provide remote online access for many of our electronic resources, not every service is available that way. One example is CD Sheet Music. It is only available on the iMac in the library Reading Room, but it contains printable sheet music of vocal, piano and woodwind collections by Bach, Brahms, Beethoven, Chopin, Grieg, Haydn, Mendelssohn, Mozart, Scarlatti, Schubert and Schumann. Included are aria albums, German lieder, methods for both flute and piano and Bach's inventions.

This is a great supplement to our printed score collection. Keep it in mind for both classical scores that we don't own and as an additional source when copies of scores are checked out.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Check Out the Library of Congress While We Are Closed

Stan Getz Library has plenty of resources you can access even when the library's doors are closed, but we are not the only library with a remotely-accessible collection. The Library of Congress has just announced the launch of the National Jukebox, with streaming audio of historical sound recordings made between 1901 and 1925.

If old stuff sounds boring, don't worry. The player includes the disclaimer, "WARNING: Historical recordings may contain offensive language." We do not have a monopoly on offensive language in modern times.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Remembering Bob Marley

Bob Marley succumbed to cancer 30 years ago today. When the library reopens on Monday, come in to check out materials by and about Marley. To tie you over until then, you can listen to BBC Radio 2's documentary Bob Marley in Exile .

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Robert Johnson Centennial

The library is closed this week, but we would be remiss if we didn't mark the 100th anniversary of the birth of bluesman Robert Johnson. Lots of musicians are referred to as "legendary," but Johnson really does come with a legend, that he sold his soul to the devil at the crossroads in exchange for his musical talent.

NPR reports on the man and the myth. Enjoy it now, then return to the library when we reopen Monday, May 16 to explore his music at the library.

Robert Johnson At 100, Still Dispelling Myths

Friday, May 6, 2011

Graduation Music

Berklee Commencement is Saturday, May 7. We wouldn't want to send our graduates off into the world without answering their musical questions. So if you were wondering how "Pomp and Circumstance" by Edward Elgar became associated with graduation ceremonies, Richard Smith of the Elgar Society provides the answer.

Elgar - His Music : Pomp and Circumstance - Why Americans graduate to Elgar

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Breaking Up with Your Favorite Bands

This week's All Songs Considered podcast tackled the topic of breaking up with your favorite band. The show solicited listener input, and the hosts offered their own stories. In some cases, bands took artist turns that their fans just couldn't abide. Other instances were examples of, "It's not you. It's me," where the artists did nothing inherently wrong but the listener's tastes changed.

Listen to the podcast or just the songs they referenced, Splitsville: Breaking Up With Your Favorite Bands, or read the blog with listener stories, After The Love Has Gone: Fans Spill On Ditching Their Favorite Artists.

Then tell us your own stories of breaking up with favorite bands.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

May the 4th Be With You

It's Star Wars Day, which around here is mainly a reason a highlight John Williams' music for the series of movies. Of course we have scores and CDs of the Star Wars music. But did you know we also have streaming audio?

Looking beyond just the music, we also have a book in our reserve collection, The Sounds of Star Wars by Jonathan Rinzler (PN1995.9.S695 R56 2010). But do not underestimate the power of the dark side: reserve materials only get checked out for 2 hours, and you'll incur a $5 fine if you return them late.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Happy Birthday, James Brown

James Brown was born on this day in 1933. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame reminds us of his many honorific titles: Soul Brother Number One, the Godfather of Soul, the Hardest Working Man in Show Business, Mr. Dynamite and even the Original Disco Man. As always, you can explore his work here at the library with both material by him and about him. If you need a suggestion on where to start, watch in awe of his 1964 performance in The T.A.M.I. Show (DVD 4041).

Friday, April 29, 2011

Hal Crook Play-Alongs Online

Yes, finals are approaching and many students will be heading out for the summer, but don't forget about the library while you're away. We can help you keep your chops up wherever you are with our online Hal Crook Play-Alongs. For each piece, you can download an MP3 that includes all instruments or one that leaves out piano, bass or drums and download a PDF of a lead sheet for your instrument. There are over 40 pieces to choose from, and they are rated by level of difficulty and tempo.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Happy Birthday, Kim Gordon

After a few too many posts about death, I wanted to celebrate life. Kim Gordon, the iconic bass player and singer for Sonic Youth turns 58 today. We have plenty of music and videos by the band as well as books about the band. If the full list is too daunting, a good starting point is their 1988 album Daydream Nation (CD 293).

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

RIP Phoebe Snow and Poly Styrene

The death knell keeps sounding, this time for two female singers who carved unique identities in the 1970s, singer/songwriter Phoebe Snow and Poly Styrene, leader of the punk band X-Ray Spex. NPR offers a tribute to Snow, and Slicing Up Eyeballs rounds up some of Styrene's videos and an eloquent tribute from Billy Bragg. Explore more of their work here at the library.

Phoebe Snow:
It Looks Like Snow, CD 4639
Never Letting Go, CD 5898
Phoebe Snow, CD 4648
Second Childhood, CD 9817
Something Real, CD 6653

Phoebe Snow, MP1630.S645 P4

Phoebe Snow and David Bromberg, DVD 85

Poly Styrene
Germfree adolescents / X-Ray Spex, CD 16754

Punk: Attitude, DVD 1705-1706
Punk: The Early Years, DVD 3313

Thursday, April 21, 2011

RIP TV on the Radio bassist Gerald Smith

TV on the Radio bassist Gerald Smith, 36, lost his battle with lung cancer on April 20. Come to the Media Center to listen to and watch his work with the band, including Dear Science (CD 30479 ) which topped the 2008 Village Voice Pazz & Jop critics poll.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

National Grilled Cheese Month

You can't bring food into the library, but that shouldn't stop you from celebrating National Grilled Cheese Month. Some cheese-related items in our collection:

Frank Zappa, You Are What You Is, CD 2823
The liner notes open with an essay by Zappa entitled "Say Cheese" about our being a nation who chooses cheese. Zappa claims that it was written for Newsweek but rejected as too "idiosyncratic."

String Cheese Incident, 'Round the Wheel, CD 15292

Primus, Sailing the Seas of Cheese, CD 9641 and Score MP136.P75 S2

Ween, Chocolate and Cheese, CD 19475

Nirvana, Bleach, CD 25662, Score MP126.N58 B5
Includes the song "Big Cheese"

Robyn Hitchcock, Jewels for SophiaCD 20374
Includes the song "The Cheese Alarm"

George & Ira Gershwin's Strike Up the Band, CD 7602
Includes the song "Fletcher's American Cheese Choral Society"

Edgar Meyer with Béla Fleck and Mike Marshall, Uncommon Ritual, CD 19351
Includes the song "The Big Cheese"