Paisley Park: lonely palace or insightful museum?

Paisley ParkPaisley Park stands beside a highway in a quiet suburb some distance from Minneapolis. If you’ve been living under a rock or are too young to know much, you might not know that this is where legendary musician Prince lived and made music, and where he died in April 2016. Prince was arguably the most gifted and accomplished musician in popular music of the 20th and early 21st century. Without doubt he can claim the title of most prolific. In 1987 he constructed the 65,000 square foot complex, named after one of his songs that described a place of “profound inner peace.” Reporter Amanda Petrusich visited Paisley Park and described her experience for The New Yorker (June 25, 2018). Seeking to better understand the enigmatic genius, she came away disappointed by the experience, which evoked the sensation “of being near Prince, but never quite with him.” Continue reading →

Is it true that rock is dead?

Led Zeppelin IV rock albumDan Ozzi writes in a June 14 article in “Noisey” that rock is dead. A provocative declaration. Eclipsed in popularity by EDM, rap, and pop, the genre hangs on for nostalgic elders and young aficionados who follow niche styles like heavy metal. At least so claims Ozzi. I have no doubt this contains some truth. Well-known rockers may still be able to sell out shows, but who is the audience? The charts and tastes of younger audiences favor anything but rock, which has fallen away much as has R&B/soul. Continue reading →

Sheila E. releases powerful anti-Trump album

Sheila E.'s Iconic album coverSheila E. has released a powerful new album, Iconic: Message 4 America, one of the best musical efforts in reaction to a catastrophic presidency and poisonous social climate. Rooted in the socially conscious music of the 60s and 70s, the album aims to reclaim that era’s spirit and its fight for justice. Americans seem to be helplessly watching the most corrupt, self-serving, and dangerous presidency in the history of the republic. Who do you appeal to when the authorities themselves renege on their role to protect basic values? Iconic sends a message to inspire Americans to band together, rise up, and force a change. The album could rightly be called the soundtrack for a movement. Continue reading →

Protest songs and a Trump-free America

30 Days, 30 Songs protest songsIn this strange and scary election year, I was glad to see that a host of musicians have voiced their disapproval of Donald Trump through song. The website “30 Days, 30 Songs”–recently updated to “30 Days, 40 Songs“–bills itself as being written and recorded by artists for a Trump-free America. Moby, R.E.M., Aimee Mann, Sun Kil Moon, Death Cab for Cutie, and Ani Di Franco are some of the artists releasing protest songs through the website. A new song is released each day through Election Day on November 8. Continue reading →