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Sir Paul the Crooner

Paul McCartney - Kisses from the Bottom

I was watching an iTunes webcast of Paul McCartney performing songs from his new album live from Capitol Studios in Hollywood when I realized that something was a little…off.

The hands! Paul wasn’t holding a guitar or bass and that’s just not what he’s used to.

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A Night with Leonard Cohen

A few months ago, I received an invitation in the mail from Columbia Records to hear the new Leonard Cohen album “Old Ideas” played at the home of the Canadian consulate in Los Angeles – Leonard in attendance.

I’ve been a disciple of Leonard’s music and poetry since 1968 when his first record, Songs of Leonard Cohen, was released. Attending meant I would be paying for my travel from Seattle to Los Angeles out of pocket. But I told myself: “You want to do this, so go and do it! You’ll never get this chance again.”

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…Still Blowin’ in the Wind

 

Bob Dylan has been famous for so long that it’s easy to forget how he first became famous. It wasn’t as a recording artist or performer, but as a songwriter.

His self-titled debut album appeared 50 years ago this spring and failed to generate much attention, except among some industry insiders, some of whom dubbed it “Hammond’s folly,” a jab at John Hammond, the legendary producer/label exec/talent scout who brought the barely-out-of-his-teens Dylan to Columbia Records.

Preparing material for his second album, Dylan penned an anti-war tune that came to the attention of th

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No Lack of Bacharach

 

Music by Bacharach features 16 prime recordings associated with a man whose name is synonymous with a certain kind of complex yet assessable pop music.

Burt Bacharach transcends the role as a behind-the-scenes songsmith. Despite the fact that he didn’t sing much and mostly worked in the service of others, Bacharach was a ‘60s star. He hosted prime-time television specials, was pictured on magazine covers and, with his wife at the time—screen star Angie Dickinson—appeared in a series of commercials (“Say yes!”).

 

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Precious Moments to Wind Down

 

At last, it’s time to log off. You do the 21st century equivalent of punching the clock and face what remains of the day. It’s time to uncoil a bit and music is a vital part of the process.

Our Timothy J. has put together the brand new Wind Down, a selection of a dozen songs that say “day is done.” Bearing a striking nightscape cover, the CD offers up choice gems by Thievery CorporationMoby,Groove Armada and other modern music innovators. It’s a forum for music with an electronic undercurrent that’s suited for taking things down a notch. Dating from the late 1990s to 2011, these warmly buzzing tracks capture the heyday of international electronica, whether you call it nu jazz, ambient or whatever.

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For Auld Lang Syne

The end of the year is at hand. In the spirit of out with the old and in with the new, here are a few track selections for New Year’s Eve festivities, be they outrageous or intimate.

Pink Martini, “Auld Lang Syne” – A recent creative take on the quintessential midnight sing-along from the Oregon group’s holiday collection Joy to the World.

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Baby, It’s Cool Outside for She & Him

A very She & Him Christmas

A recent addition to the parade of annual holiday programming (A Charlie Brown Christmas, It’s a Wonderful Life A Christmas Story and stop-motion classics like Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer) is 2003’s Elf. The movie stars Will Ferrell as Buddy, an orphaned Santa’s helper who leaves the North Pole to find his father in New York City.

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It’s a December Tradition, Charlie Brown

A Charlie Brown Christmas

Imagine it’s 1965 and you’re a television executive viewing a prospective holiday special for the first time. It’s based on a comic strip that’s popular, but…hey, it’s just a comic strip. The story progresses at an almost uncomfortably slow pace and springs from the misery and misfortune of the main character, who muses in the first scene: “I like getting presents and sending Christmas cards and decorating trees and all that, but I'm still not happy. I always end up feeling depressed.”

Not exactly the feel-good cartoon of the season.

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Eggnog and Pink Martini

Pink Martini - Joy to the World

Holiday music collections are like migratory birds that brighten your environment for awhile before disappearing until the same time next year. It’s called seasonal music for a reason!

Last year, we featured a new contribution from Pink Martini’s Joy to the World. Our own Holly H. played a part in sparking the new album. Noticing that their one-off contributions to our previous holiday albums had a certain sparkle, she suggested they record a full slate of holiday music. The eclectic Portland, Oregon-based ensemble, spearheaded by bandleader Thomas Lauderdale and vocalist China Forbes, rose to the challenge.

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Goat Rodeo Strays from the Herd

The Goat Rodeo Sessions

What do Bach, Beethoven, Brahms, George Strait, Elvis Costello and Condoleezza Rice have in common?

All, in one manner or another, have come into the orbit of the four master musicians who spearhead the new The Goat Rodeo Sessions album. The word “eclectic” gets thrown around pretty easily in music circles, but this collaboration breaks genre barriers with genuine gusto.

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