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May 11, 2009

Shorties (Steve Earle, Ayelet Waldman, and more)

PopMatters interviews Steve Earle about his Townes Van Zandt covers album, Townes.

You’re famously on record for saying that Townes is the greatest songwriter of all time.

That’s not exactly what I said. It wasn’t a quote pulled from an interview, it was a blurb. I was asked for a blurb for a sticker for a record that Townes was putting out. And what I said was Townes Van Zandt was the best songwriter in the world, and I’d stand on Bob Dylan’s coffee table in my cowboy boots and say that. That’s exactly what the quote was. I know, because I, you know, I made it up, and (laughing) that’s how I can remember it verbatim.

I mean: do I think Townes was a better songwriter than Bob Dylan? No. But: do I think he deserves to be mentioned in the same breath? Yes. And I think Bob Dylan believes that, too.

The Contra Costa Times profiles Ayelet Waldman and her essay collection, Bad Mother.

It's likely more than one woman spent yesterday sprawled on a chaise, alternately laughing hysterically and weeping over the book's 18 essays about motherhood, from the seventh grade Halloween parade — 12-year-old girls are either sexy witches or cereal boxes, there is no middle ground — to the agonizing decision to abort a pregnancy after amnio revealed a rare genetic defect. Always candid, Waldman also covers ADHD diagnoses, her own bipolar disorder, public humiliations, and rapturous love for her children and, yes, her husband.

Express Night Out profiles Mastodon.

Mastodon crafts albums that are thematic, from the the lyrics to the packaging, and it plays an epic style of music that looks as much to early '70s prog-rock as it does early '90 death metal. "Crack the Skye" — the quartet's fourth studio album, and its second for Warner Bros. — brings all of the band's multifaceted art into crystal-clear focus.

Religion Dispatches uses a Wilco performance to illustrate the connection between music and worship.

Kasama reposts China Mieville's 2002 list of 50 fantasy and science fiction works that Socialists should read.

The New Yorker features new short fiction by Salman Rushdie, "In the South."

Drowned in Sound is streaming the new Green Day album, 21st Century Breakdown.

Southern Shelter shares mp3s from cover bands at a recent Athens fundraiser for a good cause (Nuci's Space).

This week Five Chapters features five short short stories by Clancy Martin, author of the newly published novel, How to Sell.

Bostonist reviews Amanda Palmer's Neutral Milk Hotel musical.

The show made smart, touching use of the Neutral Milk Hotel songs, some of which nearly brought this Bostonist to tears (but she really likes NMH and is really sappy, so this may not have been everyone's experience). The student actors did a remarkably mature job, and Amanda Palmer, despite having no speaking lines (but plenty of action: see her cue sheet), was a masterful presence on stage. Circus trappings included ringmaster jackets and a tightrope walker with umbrella, whose balancing implement deteriorated over time, much like the spirits of the prisoners.

Slate reviews Colson Whitehead's new novel, Sag Harbor.

I suppose it fits with Whitehead's narrative voice -- which is dry, funny and easily distracted, only to explode into unexpected lyrical passages -- that he asks us to decide what we find important in Benji's summer, rather than be told.

Wakarusa has named the lineup for its music festival, set for June 4th to 7th.

Festival Finder tracks North American music festivals.

The Telegraph examines the convergence of literature and computer gaming.

This week's Largehearted Boy giveaway: three music biographies.

Follow me on Twitter for links that don't make the daily "Shorties" columns.

also at Largehearted Boy:

Online "best of 2008" music lists
Online "best of 2008" book lists
daily mp3 downloads
Try It Before You Buy It (mp3s and full album streams from this week's CD releases)
weekly music & DVD release lists


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