Hedwig and the Angry Inch, cinematic history’s first transsexual, glam-rock musical, follows German expatriate Hedwig and her hilariously unpopular band The Angry Inch (named for Hedwig’s semi-botched sex-change operation). Their cross-country tour plays a chain of cut-rate family seafood restaurants in a film about pain, love, and what identity means.
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In How Music Works, David Byrne examines the joy, physics, and business of music, often through the lens of his own diverse career. Most people know David Byrne as the shy, awkward lead singer of the Talking Heads. He is also an author, painter, photographer, producer, and uber-talented eccentric.
Here’s Byrne giving a TED Talk about how architecture helped music evolve, a topic he writes about in How Music Works.
“Write this down, and don’t forget, that the best of times ain’t happened yet,” sings William Elliott Whitmore in the title track from his latest album, Field Songs. Whitmore is a one man folk band whose well-worn voice carries the ambitions, longing, and occasional anger of the working class man.
February 3, 1959 was christened as The Day the Music Died by Don McLean in his iconic song, “American Pie.” It was the day that Ritchie Valens, the Big Bopper, and Buddy Holly died in a plane crash near Clear Lake, Iowa. Rock and roll is full of untimely ends, but the music lives on.
Click here for musicians that died unfortunately early.
It is almost a cliché, these days, for rappers to be business moguls. Puffy did it. Jay Z did it. 50, too…but Pharrell Williams is not your average rapper gone business mogul. He’s changed the game. He has done everything from fronting bands to producing bands to designing clothes, jewelry, shoes, and toys – all before he was 40. Pharrell: Places and Spaces I’ve Been is his collaborative memoir of ambitions and inspirations.
Did you know that Zooey Deschanel – the wide-eyed actress from The New Girl – has a holiday album? So does Johnny Cash, Sufjan Stevens, Lady Antebellum, Justin Bieber, and Stevie Wonder. Don’t leave your holiday spirit up to the radio! Find new and traditional music at the Library.
Click here for classic Christmas music.
Click here if you want a more country Christmas.
Try here for pop stars singing holiday tunes.
Finally, If you’re in the mood for the obscure, click here for quirky holiday music.
The Chitlin’ Circuit was a string of venues in the American South where African American musicians and entertainers played through the early 19th century, when racial segregation was rampant. Preston Lauterbach’s The Chitlin Circuit: And the Road to Rock ‘n’ Roll examines Southern history and the musicians, promoters, and personalities on the circuit that may have never hit it big, but helped create the world of rhythm, blues, and rock and roll.
New Wave is a subgenre of rock that developed in the late 1970s and gained popularity in the 1980s. It’s marked by a highly experimental approach, a reliance on electronics (such as synthesizers), and an eccentric but modern mode of dress.
To meet the women of New Wave music, click here.
It is arguable that Bob Dylan has made the world a better place. His songs have motivated mass cultural change, stimulated decades of dancing, and inspired legions of musicians who themselves have possibly, probably, made the world…if not better, at least more interesting. Chimes of Freedom: The Songs of Bob Dylan is a compilation of over 70 songs covered by classic and contemporary artists. Big names like Johnny Cash, Elvis Costello, Patti Smith, Dave Matthews, and Sting appear, alongside new artists like Miley Cyrus, The Avett Brothers, Rise Against, and Adele. All of the musicians dedicate their Dylan covers “…to people worldwide who are unjustly imprisoned or threatened for the peaceful expression of their beliefs.”
Peter Gabriel’s album, So, is probably best known for “In Your Eyes” and the iconic image of John Cusack holding up a boombox to win back his girlfriend in Say Anything. Gabriel used experimentation, world music influence, and thoughtful – almost heartbreaking – lyrics to create a classic album.