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October 11, 2008

Shorties (Lucinda Williams, Joe Hill, and more)

Lucinda Williams talks to Newsday about her new album, Little Honey.

One main topic is the music industry, which she tackles in "Little Rock Star" and "Rarity." "Both of them had little mini events that kicked off the writing of the song, but they became much bigger than about that one person," she says. "In the case of 'Rarity,' there's an artist named Mia Doi Todd, and I was just really impressed with her - how poetic her songs were, how sophisticated her writing was, the beauty of her voice. 'Little Rock Star' came from observing different people in the press. It's not about Amy Winehouse, but the situation she's in. Before her, it was Ryan Adams, then it was Pete Doherty, now it's Amy Winehouse. A while ago, it was Kurt Cobain. I'm always part of these songs, too, because I look at these situations from an empathetic point of view; otherwise, I wouldn't be able to write about it." Those songs, as well as the touching ballad "Plan to Marry," are more topical than usual for Williams, yet another departure to differentiate the new album.

Joe Hill talks to the Portsmouth Herald about genre and literature.

"I think part of what's happening is a merging of traditional genre forms," says Hill. "You see a lot of literary writers tackling other genres. Jonathan Lethem started in the science fiction genre. His 'Fortress of Solitude' is about growing up in Brooklyn but there's magical ring to it. In the '60s and '70s realism was the only acceptable writing. Now you have literary writers writing ghost stories." One of Hill's most popular short stories found in his collection "20th Century Ghosts" is "Pop Art," about a young juvenile delinquent who befriends an inflatable boy.

"It's not its."

Audiotuts lists 7 unexpected moments of guitar awesomeness.

Al Green talks about his life in the Times Online.

I could live in New York or Los Angeles, Denver, Colorado or pretty much anywhere I choose, but the fact is I’ve lived in Memphis for about the past 40 years. I think the city put some kind of mumbo-jumbo spell on me the first time I pitched up there. I’ve been trying to leave ever since, but something keeps preventing me. The thing about Tennessee is not just that it’s a very musical state, but that it’s musically so diverse. In Nashville you’ve got country, gospel and Christian music. And in Memphis you’ve got the rock’n’roll tradition epitomised by Elvis Presley and the R&B one of B.B. King. There’s this richness and variety of vibes that you just don’t get anywhere else.

NYU Local is counting down the 16 greatest books of all time.

The Broward-Palm Beach New Times lists the top 10 songs that warned us about the recession.

Bostonist interviews Sarah Vowell about her latest book, The Wordy Shipmates.

Barbara Ehrenreich's recent op ed in the New York Times says we should be more pessimistic, like the Puritans. What do you think of this idea?

"It's an interesting argument and I probably more or less agree… [pessimism] is a Puritan trait but it's also just a kind of one of basically two world views... it's basically glass half empty or full. But I actually think the Puritans' pessimism is something that recommends them, especially like with Winthrop and that model of Christian charity. And his hope that New England shall be as city on a hill and how that got passed down as a beacon of hope... but to Winthrop and his shipmates, to be a city on a hill meant that everyone's watching and they might watch you fail. And how much more horrible is it to fail in plain sight of the whole world? To [Winthrop], this wasn't something that spurred him on to greatness… everyone's watching, we're totally blessed, we could reach this height and be this beacon of hope, and if we're not, everyone will know it and we'll be a huge failure and embarrassment and it will be a black mark on our name." There's a "fear of reckoning" that the Puritans had, Vowell says, and "We sort of lost that [fear] and that fear of failure is a great motivator."

The Guardian lists ten of the greatest mistaken identities in literature.

The Brooklyn Rail interviews Phil Elverum of Mount Eerie and the Microphones.

Rail: Did you make the conscious decision to scale down your involvement with the indie-rock apparatus? You’re no longer putting out things on K Records, which had its own PR—now you’re just doing your own thing.

Elverum: Yeah, it was a conscious decision, when I started putting out my own records. I decided to just put out vinyl, and not do promotion because I don’t like CDs. But now I’m actually doing promotion and putting out a CD for this next release to experiment with what that’s like again. The effect that I’ve noticed of only putting out vinyl, and doing it myself, is that I have fewer fans who are specialists, the kind of people that buy every single thing. That in turn alienates the casual fan. It just becomes more and more specialized and more fanatical. My friends are scared away from my shows. It makes me want to be more accessible to the normal person who doesn’t want to feel like they want to get all the way into it, like they’re joining a cult or something.

In the Wall Street Journal, chef Mario Batali chooses albums for the perfect dinner music playlist.

Swordfishtrombones' by Tom Waits (1983)

This album represented a departure for Mr. Waits, featuring irregular time signatures and barking, raspy vocals. But it's an easy one for diners to appreciate, Mr. Batali says. "He was a little bit more of a crooner on that record. It's less high art and just more of the regular, basic, beautiful ballads that he's really a specialist at."

The Cleveland Plain-Dealer reviews Jonathan Carroll's A Ghost In Love.

Carroll leaves us with a satisfying, quirky end, and perhaps a fresh insight or two about that fault line that both attracts and repels us -- the boundary between the living and dead. That makes "The Ghost in Love" a fetching, well-timed story in the run up to Halloween.

see also: Carroll's Largehearted Boy Book Notes essay for the novel

The Washington Times examines indie rockers' love of baseball.

Minnesota Public Radio's Talking Volumes interviews author Richard Russo.

ReadWriteWeb examines the salaries of top tier bloggers.

MadeLoud lists the top indie music videos of 2008.

Minnesota Public Radio's The Current features an in-studio performance by Magnetic Fields and an interview with Stephin Merritt.

also at Largehearted Boy:

daily mp3 downloads
Try It Before You Buy It (mp3s and full album streams from this week's CD releases)
this week's CD releases


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