Thursday, October 31, 2013

Cyrano de Bergerac and Other Free eBooks

Looking for Cyrano de Bergerac or other classic works of literature? Yes, the library has a limited collection of fiction. But if you're writing a paper and need it now, check Project Gutenberg, which bills itself as "the first producer of free ebooks." They have more than 42,000 free ebooks, available because the books are in the public domain, meaning the copyright has expired.

Their collection includes Cyrano de Bergerac in multiple formats. Or, if you are in more a Halloween mood, try Frankenstein or The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.

Monday, October 28, 2013

RIP Lou Reed

"Her life was saved by rock & roll," is a sentiment felt by many of us at Berklee, which makes the October 27 death of Lou Reed, who penned those lyrics, particularly poignant.

The Velvet Underground, Reed's band with John Cale, Sterling Morrison, Maureen "Moe" Tucker and Nico, created the concept of the permanent underground in popular music, a destination unto itself rather than as a way station to mainstream fame. Reed sang overly of drugs ("Heroin") and sex ("Venus in Furs") when others had merely alluded to it. Brian Eno famously observed that few people bought their 1967 debut The Velvet Underground & Nico (CD 241), but “everyone who bought one of those 30,000 copies started a band.” Their intentional minimalism set the stage for punk, earning Reed the designation as a godfather of the genre. "Sweet Jane" from Loaded (CD 11410) contains the riff that launched a thousand ships. Their influence can be heard in every band that glorifies droning or that harnesses feedback, m b v (CD 35402) by My Bloody Valentine being just one of the most recent examples.

As a solo artist, Reed would have his biggest hit with "Walk on the Wild Side" from his 1972 album Transformer (CD 13384). 1975's Metal Machine Music (CD 23521) was notoriously unlistenable but showed his willingness to experiment. Reed continued to earn acclaim later in his career with albums such as New York (CD 219), which celebrated the grittiness of his home, Songs for Drella (CD 23523), his reunion with John Cale to pay homage to their deceased mentor Andy Warhol, and Magic & Loss (CD 464), a moving rumination on mortality inspired the cancer deaths of close friends.

Dive into our collection for more materials by and about the Velvet Underground or by and about Reed.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Charge Your Laptop at the Library


Don't let a low battery get your down. The library now has MacBook Pro laptop chargers available, one at main library desk and one in the media center. They are reserve items, which means that you must leave an ID at the desk, and you can't leave the library with them. They circulate for 2 hours, which is plenty of time to recharge your laptop battery.

Just ask at either service desk to borrow one.

Depending on usage, we will consider getting more.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Nominees

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame has announced the nominees for 2014 induction. Let the arguing commence over who deserves to make the cut, how to define the criteria for admission or, say it isn't so, why Hall and Oates hadn't been nominated previously.

While the library has plenty of materials by and about these artists, here's a starting point for each of them.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Hip-Hop's Golden Year

Our new display, 1993 Rap, was inspired by an NPR Music series looking back on the 20th anniversary of what they have dubbed Hip-Hop's Golden Year.

As with all our displays, the case is filled with mock-ups; the real items are available for check-out right now. So go ahead and listen to crucial 1993 albums from artists like Wu-Tang Clan (CD 14851) and A Tribe Called Quest (CD 10425) while reading essays about that year.

Hip-Hop's Golden Year : NPR

Monday, October 7, 2013

Songwriters on Songwriter

Earlier this year, the New York Times resurrected the Measure for Measure blog, which had been dormant for several years. As they describe it, "How to write a song and other mysteries. Songwriters pull back the curtain on their creative process and on the pleasures and pains of being a musician." Chris Collingwood, one of Fountains of Wayne's two songwriters, observed in a recent column entitled "The Warm Thrill of Confusion,"
Anyway, who can call the Beatles or the Rolling Stones or Paul Simon or Pink Floyd an influence? That’s like saying you like the alphabet.
You'll find insight on the songwriting process in that blog, but you'll find more methodical help in the library's songwriting research guide. As with our other research guides, you'll discover introductory materials from our collection on the topic. This one dips into aspects such as arranging and composing as well as business concerns. While the listening examples do include the Beatles and Paul Simon, they also stretch to Stephen Foster and De La Soul.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Read Like Bowie

The Telegraph has reported on voracious reader David Bowie's 100 favorite books. Want to work your way through the list? As you might expect, you'll find many music-related titles such as Mystery Train by Greil Marcus (ML3534.M37 M9 1997) and Sweet Soul Music: Rhythm and Blues and the Southern Dream of Freedom by Peter Guralnick (ML3521.G87 S9 1986) in our collection. But we also have a limited selection of fiction, such as A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole (PS3570.O54 C66 2002), and general non-fiction, such as The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind by Julian Jaynes (BF311 .J36 2000).

As for the rest, you are likely to find them at the Boston Public Library, which is more accessible than you may realize. BPL's Central Library is at Copley Square, just a short walk down Boylston Street. Moreover, students residing in Massachusetts can get BPL cards to borrow materials and use their services. Their web site has more details, but identification such as your Berklee photo ID and a piece of mail sent to your local address will get you a library card.