A lifelong friendship with David Bowie – In photos

Rock ‘n’ roll with me Text by Emma GarlandPhotography © Geoff MacCormack Singer, songwriter and producer Geoff MacCormack was by David Bowie’s side from their primary school days to touring the world. His new photographic memoir gives a unique and intimate insight into the man who changed music. When David Bowie calls you up and asks you to join him on tour, you say yes. For singer, songwriter and producer Geoff MacCormack, the decision was even more obvious. The pair first met at Burnt Ash Primary School in Bromley in the mid-1950s, when Bowie was just a boy known as David … Continue reading A lifelong friendship with David Bowie – In photos

Give the drummer some

The Roland TR-808. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia As AI drum machines embrace humanising imperfections, what does this mean for ‘real’ drummers and the soul of music? Jack Stilgoe is a professor of science and technology policy at University College London, where he researches the governance of emerging technologies. He is also a fellow at the Turing Institute. There’s a moment five minutes into ‘Funky Drummer’ (1970), an instrumental jam by James Brown, when the clouds part and Clyde Stubblefield is left alone. We can hear on the recording Brown instructing his band to ‘give the drummer some’. He tells Stubblefield not … Continue reading Give the drummer some

The Dharma of Popular Music

An exercise for mindful listening, because even where you least expect it, music can present opportunities for reflection. By Bradley Donaldson  In 2019, I spent a breezy summer afternoon lying on the grass of a local park, nodding my head to Lana Del Rey’s just-released album. That day would turn out to be emblematic of much of my summer: wistful and pensive, yet hopeful. My most recent romantic relationship had unraveled, and the album was a soothing balm; I listened to it on repeat, daily. The fourteen-track record turned out to be Del Rey’s most critically acclaimed album to date, a … Continue reading The Dharma of Popular Music

Herbie Hancock’s Antidote to Burnout

“We usually define ourselves by what we do… There’s a big trip with all of that.” BY MARIA POPOVA We are makers of our own myths, but the more we live into them, the more we risk becoming their captives. All creativity rests upon unbelieving our own myths — seeing the world and our place in it afresh over and over, so that we may go on making what has not been made before, remaking ourselves in the process. Burnout is simply what a creative person experiences when they have begun believing their own myth too much. E.E. Cummings hinted … Continue reading Herbie Hancock’s Antidote to Burnout

David Bowie on Creativity and His Advice to Artists

“It’s terribly dangerous for an artist to fulfill other people’s expectations” BY MARIA POPOVA Every creator’s creations are their coping mechanism for life — for the loneliness of being, for the longing for connection, for the dazzling incomprehension of what it all means. What we call art is simply a gesture toward some authentic answer to these open questions, at once universal and intimately felt — questions aimed at the elemental truths of being alive, animated by a craving for beauty, haunted by the need to find a way of bearing our mortality. Without this elemental longing, without this authentic … Continue reading David Bowie on Creativity and His Advice to Artists

How Bob Dylan used the ancient practice of “imitatio” to write songs

Because Dylan “samples and digests” songs from the past, he has been accused of plagiarism. But imitatio isn’t the same. by Raphael Falco Over the course of six decades, Bob Dylan steadily brought together popular music and poetic excellence. Yet the guardians of literary culture have only rarely accepted Dylan’s legitimacy. His 2016 Nobel Prize in Literature undermined his outsider status, challenging scholars, fans and critics to think of Dylan as an integral part of international literary heritage. My new book, “No One to Meet: Imitation and Originality in the Songs of Bob Dylan,” takes this challenge seriously and places Dylan within … Continue reading How Bob Dylan used the ancient practice of “imitatio” to write songs

Music and the Body: Richard Powers on the Power of Song

“The use of music is to remind us how short a time we have a body.” BY MARIA POPOVA In a lifetime of living in this body, I have known no more powerful a homecoming than music — nothing roots us more firmly into the house of being, nothing levitates us more buoyantly to that transcendent place beyond marrow and mind. Stripped of its nihilistic drama, there is an elemental cry of truth, for me at least, in Nietzsche’s pronouncement: “Without music life would be a mistake.” Even Edna St. Vincent Millay, for all her lyrical love of life, echoed the sentiment: “Without … Continue reading Music and the Body: Richard Powers on the Power of Song

Why Music Is Positive For Autistic Individuals

by Jennifer “Jay” Palumbo, CEO of Wonder Woman Writer & Mom to two boys, one with autism. While everyone has a unique way of connecting to their loved one with a disability, Danielle Filippone, a 36-year-old nurse at Staten Island Hospital and mom to an 8-year-old son with autism, found the best way to communicate with her non-verbal son was by singing to him. This is supported by research that has found music intervention improves social interactions in children with autism. Research from the journal “Frontiers in Integrative Neuroscience” proposes a rationale for how rhythmic input can improve sensorimotor functioning and overall growth … Continue reading Why Music Is Positive For Autistic Individuals

Nick Cave on Songwriting, the Mystery of the Unconscious, and the Sweet Severity of Truth

“Metaphor can create a merciful sense of distance from the cruel idea, or the unspeakable truth, and allow it to exist within us as a kind of poetic radiance, as a work of art.” BY MARIA POPOVA “Once a poem is made available to the public, the right of interpretation belongs to the reader,” the teenage Sylvia Plath wrote to her mother upon the publication of her first tragic poem. A poem — like a prayer, like a song — is a record of an inner reckoning that need not fully resolve, a dynamic contemplation that need not deliver a single … Continue reading Nick Cave on Songwriting, the Mystery of the Unconscious, and the Sweet Severity of Truth

How the Brain Allows the Deaf to Experience Music

Our sensory systems for hearing and touch overlap to stir a wealth of emotions. BY ELENA RENKEN Evelyn Glennie began percussion lessons around age 12, after losing much of her hearing to nerve deterioration. Her teacher struck a timpani drum and let the sound resonate, wondering aloud how they could make use of the drum’s vibrations. “He asked me to put my hands on the wall of the music room,” Glennie said recently, in a conversation from her home in England. She could feel the first impact of a drumbeat, but she could also feel the vibrations reverberating afterward. “It … Continue reading How the Brain Allows the Deaf to Experience Music