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)