When the Northwestern grunge-rock scene suddenly gained national attention in the early 1990s, Soundgarden had already been around for years. But by 1997, both the band and the musical movement it had helped to define had atomized.
At nearly 80, Willie Nelson remains impressively prolific: lots of songs, lots of kids and, fittingly, lots of autobiographies. The country singer's latest memoir is called Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die, after a song on his Heroes album, released earlier this year. Nelson says those seeking earth-shattering revelations about his life should look elsewhere; that wasn't his intention in writing the book.
This week three of the best pieces of music writing spoke to the conversations happening between musicians and the people heavily engaged with their work — Bowie reaching out to Scott Walker, Kendrick Lamar anticipating listeners' reactions to his songs and the cementing of hip-hop as the "lingua franca" of men's wear.
It's no wonder that pianist Bill Charlap loves the music that has come to be called The Great American Songbook — the songs of great Tin Pan Alley composers such as Jerome Kern, George Gershwin and Irving Berlin. He grew up with it. Charlap was born and raised in New York, the son of Moose Charlap (a Broadway composer) and Sandy Stern, a self-described "popular singer with jazz overtones."