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Category Archives: Music

Electronic Drum Set Is the Best Choice

Recording the best beats using the electronic drum set is also much easier. You may actually end up making some money after selling them. You may also play along some of the songs that stand as your favorite. All you need to do is plug the headset or amp and then start.

Another remarkable thing about the electronic drum set is the fact that it is extremely portable. This makes it a great choice when you are going to practice. It makes it also ideal for gigs and travel.

Cost is another thing that one can enjoy with the electronic drum set. They tend to be better priced when compared to the traditional choices.

The electronic drum set is also very versatile. With many kits, you can enjoy over 200 sounds that can be changed in a matter of seconds.. With every hit, you can enjoy the best sound. With electronic drum, sets, it is never possible to mishit or ruin the play. You get a much better sound quality. This is because the sounds that are available are recorded beforehand and therefore produced to the greatest perfection.

The electronic kits are also durable. There is less wear and tear and this is what makes them last so long. You won’t have to keep on replacing them like the acoustic kits. These are drum kits that are the best for the beginners. There are those that have some learning and practice modes. This is the best way that you can kick start a career in drumming.

How to choose

To get the most out of an electronic drum set, you need to make a wise choice. There are some things you should look out for and they include:

Sound

Whether you are a professional or a hobbyist player, the quality of sound is always important. Get an experience with the instrument so as to determine whether it is up to your standards.

Materials

You should choose between mesh and rubber by comparing the pros and cons of each.

Durability

The electronic kit should be durable as it is a long term investment

Price

If you will be doing gigs where you get some payment, invest in a higher priced kit since they are more superior. Cheaper versions may be ideal for beginners. There are lots of options in the market that don’t cost too much.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/9790948

Recording the best beats using the electronic drum set is also much easier. You may actually end up making some money after selling them. You may also play along some of the songs that stand as your favorite. All you need to do is plug the headset or amp and then start.

Another remarkable thing about the electronic drum set is the fact that it is extremely portable. This makes it a great choice when you are going to practice. It makes it also ideal for gigs and travel.

Cost is another thing that one can enjoy with the electronic drum set. They tend to be better priced when compared to the traditional choices.

The electronic drum set is also very versatile. With many kits, you can enjoy over 200 sounds that can be changed in a matter of seconds.. With every hit, you can enjoy the best sound. With electronic drum, sets, it is never possible to mishit or ruin the play. You get a much better sound quality. This is because the sounds that are available are recorded beforehand and therefore produced to the greatest perfection.

The electronic kits are also durable. There is less wear and tear and this is what makes them last so long. You won’t have to keep on replacing them like the acoustic kits. These are drum kits that are the best for the beginners. There are those that have some learning and practice modes. This is the best way that you can kick start a career in drumming.

How to choose

To get the most out of an electronic drum set, you need to make a wise choice. There are some things you should look out for and they include:

Sound

Whether you are a professional or a hobbyist player, the quality of sound is always important. Get an experience with the instrument so as to determine whether it is up to your standards.

Materials

You should choose between mesh and rubber by comparing the pros and cons of each.

Durability

The electronic kit should be durable as it is a long term investment

Price

If you will be doing gigs where you get some payment, invest in a higher priced kit since they are more superior. Cheaper versions may be ideal for beginners. There are lots of options in the market that don’t cost too much.

Explains Every Song on His New Album

 The hunched 73-year-old recently turned up in a segment on TMZ’s TV show, of all places, reporting on “Putin,” a track from his latest LP, Dark Matter. The song is a biting faux-anthem for the Russian president, with lines like, “When he takes his shirt off/Makes mewanna be a lady!” It’s a goof, but TMZ was stumped. “Is he puckering up—or poking fun?” asked the clip’s cartoonish narrator, after Newman affably tried to explain the song to a paparazzi cameraman in an airport. Then the gossip site’s newsroom launched into an argument about the song’s true meaning—as evidence, one diminutive TMZ staffer even attested to the bigotry of Newman’s 1977 hit “Short People,” a song that was written to expose the ills of baseless bigotry.

When I bring up this TMZ appearance to Newman, he sounds genuinely amused. “Yeah, there I was!” he drawls. “Actually, I’m probably the only person who likes that cameraman—it’s just that he’s got his camera with him.” That Newman is able to find some humanity in a guy who hounds celebrities and is generally considered a pariah is no surprise. He’s had a lot of practice.

Though he’s likely best known as the composer behind the music in the Toy Story movies, Newman’s most rewarding work lies in the 11 solo albums he’s released since 1968. In the past, he’s written songs from the perspective of slave traders, Alabama racists, California douchebags, and creepy stalkers—not exactly Pixar material—and on Dark Matter opener “The Great Debate,” he plays a slick-talking faith healer type bent on disproving scientists of all stripes. But the record also features less sinister Newman tropes: sentimental ballads that steer clear of easy emotions, sly historical gambits, paranoid dixieland vamps. In an effort to minimize the misunderstandings this time around, the songwriter delved into the backstories and inspirations behind each song from the new album.

1. “The Great Debate”

Pitchfork: This song is an eight-minute mini-musical that pits science against religion to determine, once and for all, who is right when it comes to humanity and existence. Though you are an atheist, in the song, the religious side comes out on top, largely thanks to the power of gospel music.

Randy Newman: Faith wins because it’s got Dorothy Love Coates, the Golden Gate Quartet, Bach, Beethoven, Mozart, Brahms, everybody. I don’t know whether I am a music lover, strictly—it’s hard to say how I feel about it—but I love good gospel music. No doubt. My side, the agnostic, atheist side, has got nothing like that. There’s no great song that’s like, “Let’s all not believe and play our agnostic hymnals!” They got everything: the high ceilings, the confessions—man what a hit idea.

2. “Brothers”

 

What interested me about the song is that they’re brothers, irrespective of who they are. I like the dynamic of an older brother poking fun at the enthusiasms of the younger brother. I didn’t know I was interested in the period itself, but when I think of it now, the Cuban Missile Crisis was a time when you were looking up every time a plane went by—for a few days there, it was scary like it hasn’t been since. So there is something there. And I liked how the trivial the reasons were to support the Bay of Pigs, and that the guy wants to save Celia Cruz. Because the U.S. has done some invading of small countries for not much more than that.

3. “Putin”

When did you start writing this quasi-theme song for Vladimir Putin?It could have been as much as three years ago. It was when all those pictures were appearing of him with his shirt off, and I couldn’t understand why. What did he want? I think it was just personal vanity of some kind, like he wanted to be Tom Cruise. It wasn’t enough to be the richest and most powerful. He wanted to be the most handsome and a superhero, throwing young people around and wrestling. It’s a strange thing.read that you wrote a song about Trump but decided not to put it out. In a way, though, if you changed a couple of lyrics to this song, it could be about him too.Yup. Though this one is way less critical of Putin than I thought I would have been. As I’m doing it, I’m saying to myself, I’m not criticizing him enough. He’s a bad guy. But I was conscious of it being too easy. It’s like writing an anti-war song that goes, “War is bad.” Well yeah, of course it is!

Powerful Experimental Pop

Káryyn seems perpetually overwhelmed—one moment by the complex and unpredictable machinery of life, another by its dazzling simplicity. On an August evening, she sits cross-legged in a cozy north London studio, where she is toiling away at a trove of experimental pop songs that may, if she lets them, become her debut album. The discussion is dense, a voyage through her harrowing family history laced with digressions into the afterlife, quantum physics, and the prefrontal cortex of jazz musicians. At one point, mid-sentence, she interrupts herself by saying, “I want to say something.” After 90 minutes of conversation, she mysteriously apologizes and proceeds to pace the room. She sits in an office chair, puts her face in her hands, and thanks me for listening. Then she asks for a hug and beckons me into a cluttered little space next door.

In the corner of the room looms an upright piano, strings exposed to microphones on angled stands. Barren white walls create a sense of erased space around the instrument, like brackets enclosing an afterthought. Káryyn stands with one foot on the piano’s mute pedal and performs three half-formed songs, her dreamy falsetto scything through ancient-sounding chords. During the finale, which she wrote the day before, the piano drops out as she sustains a rolling vowel sound. Turning to face me, she lets her voice tremble while forming an expanding ball with her hands, as if to demonstrate particles filling a balloon. She holds the note four or five seconds, in the space of which I forget to breathe. The impromptu performance is as strange and poignant as everything else about Káryyn and her curiously affecting music.

There’s a certain breadth to her handful of songs to date, uploaded to her SoundCloud page over the last six months and sometimes accompanied by videos compiled from childhood home-movies shot in her second home of Syria. On “Yajna,” her synths sound nuclear, mangled by unsettled beats; “Moving Masses,” recorded seven-hours deep into a nocturnal jam, is altogether gentler, a work of celestial simplicity. Despite joking about her talent for disrupting technology—on her first day in this studio, the entire complex had a power outage as soon as she started singing—she describes a meticulous process for manipulating sounds and space. She’s been called a “sonic architect”; in fact, she’s as much like a wrecking ball. Both sides will likely be on full display during her latest project’s upcoming debut headlining show in London, and they’re also apparent on her deconstructed debut single, “Aleppo,” a meditation on the Syrian city; snares shudder, shrapnel synths gleam, and operatic vocal fragments scatter like dust in the stratosphere.

Although borne by wild imagination, the story of “Aleppo” has tangled personal roots. From a young age, Káryyn understood that a legacy of misfortune has haunted her family all the way back to the Armenian Genocide of the early 20th century. “My grandfather was in my great-grandmother’s belly when her husband’s head was delivered to her door,” Káryyn tells me, her active eyes swiveling behind gold-framed glasses. “They collected the intellectuals and beheaded them and then delivered them back to their wives.”

Káryyn grew up between the States and Syria with her mom and “badass classical guitar player” dad. (He was a doctor by day.) In her youth, for three months a year, Syria was young Káryyn’s anchor, a second home. Her Syrian-based relatives lived in Aleppo and the nearby city of Idlib, where they owned a hotel and restaurant before ISIS took over in 2011. After the country’s civil war spread to the capital, it became too dangerous for her to return. “I thought I’d get married there,” she tells me. “It is devastating to know that there’s an entire place in this sepia tone in my mind, dusty and bustling, that is gone.”

She moved from Alabama to Indiana as a baby, and then, at age 10, to L.A., where she lives today. By her teens, she was writing hyperactive, narrative folk songs; her singing was inspired by Arabic music, and she says she played her guitar “like a machete.” This volatile oeuvre eventually won her an unlikely sit-down with a high-profile record label. “They made me listen to the Beatles for an hour,” Káryyn recalls, raising both eyebrows. “They told me, ‘You should do this, and then that to get here.’ I literally left. My sister was waiting for me outside, like, ‘That’s your way in! You have to go!’ I was like, ‘No, I’m going to do my own thing.’”

She did. What she calls a “reservoir of confidence” buoyed her to young adulthood, and at 16, she quit high school and transferred to Mills College in the Bay Area. A class called Women in Creative Music, tutored by the electronic composer Pauline Oliveros, inspired her to abandon medical studies. She made music by smashing light bulbs, manipulating tapes, and mastering various samplers and programming units. Her anarchic shows—fusing punk, electronic, and jazz—were a hit, at least among the 40 or so people who showed up. (Part of the reason she declines to publicize her full name, it seems, is to avoid detection of music from this period in her 20s.) Again, labels gathered. And again, something in Káryyn snapped. “One day, it was like, ‘Oh, I’m very deeply unhappy,’” she recalls.

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The Music of Twin Peaks

Trouble were one of many acts who played the fictional bar during one long production day that also saw handpicked artists including Nine Inch Nails, Sharon Van Etten, and Eddie Vedder take their turn to be directed by Lynch while pretending to play their own music. Early on in the series’ run, these Roadhouse scenes could seem incongruous, like clunky appendages often added to the end of every episode. Yet their role began to reveal itself as the show evolved: The scenes, and the music within them, are used as a guide back toward something resembling reality, a reassuring embrace of the familiar following the rest of the show’s deeply disturbing and bizarre images. In “The Return,” once you’re in the Roadhouse, you know you’re safe—relatively speaking, at least.

Even though the show’s music has been largely defined by those star-studded Roadhouse performances, they were never part of the original plan. “It wasn’t in the script,” Hurley tells me, adding that the scenes were constructed to allow editorial fluidity—to act as a punctuation tool—because Lynch imagined “The Return” not as a TV show but rather an 18-hour film broken down and shown in parts.

As composed by Angelo Badalamenti, the role of music in the original “Twin Peaks” remains as crucial to the program as any character or plot line. Its moody, melodramatic presence was embedded into the show’s most fundamental DNA, running through the town’s core with the same tangible presence as its gushing waterfall or buzzing sawmill.

Music remains a big factor in much of the new series, but its form has altered. Badalamenti remains the show’s primary composer—his original theme still plays over the opening credits and he contributed several original and previously unreleased compositions to the series—but overall the music has become much more disparate. The new series features a mix of industrial sound design akin to what Lynch employed on his 1977 feature debut Eraserhead—thuds, whirs, malevolent drones, static hums, looming tones of dread—with a more traditional soundtrack featuring those Roadhouse tracks along with older songs from artists such as ZZ Top, jazz great Dave Brubeck, and, for that instantly classic dawn-of-the-atomic-era sequence, Polish modern classical composer Krzysztof Penderecki.

Lynch mentioned including some songs in the new script, including the Platters’ “My Prayer” and the Paris Sisters’ “I Love How You Love Me,” but the director’s gut instinct pointed him toward the man who made the sound of the original series so iconic. So Badalamenti was sought out to create the tone of “The Return” before the revolving door of Roadhouse bands came to augment it.

Along with Badalamenti’s solo work, the show’s soundtrack features the composer’s collaborative side project with Lynch, Thought Gang, which was created for the 1992 film Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me.Lynch, who is credited as the new series’ sound designer, also worked on original musical pieces with Dean Hurley, while dream-pop auteur Johnny Jewel contributed both instrumentals and songs to the show.

Despite being more involved than most in the musical process, Jewel too was working in the dark. “No storyline, no script, nothing,” he tells me. “I didn’t want to know anything either. I’m very secretive about how I work so I can completely sympathize with someone who wants to just capture people on a really instinctual level, without a preconceived notion.” In this spirit, he chose to not re-watch any of the original “Twin Peaks” before working on his own compositions for the new series. “Everything was based on emotional memory,” he says.

Of all the Roadhouse acts, Jewel’s band Chromatics get the most screen time, including performances in the opening and penultimate episodes. In that second-to-last part, Jewel and his bandmates back the defining musical voice of “Twin Peaks,” Julee Cruise, on the Badalamenti/Lynch song “The World Spins,” which she also sang in the original series. “I was really manic about doing it because the song is six minutes long and it’s non-linear—it’s a very, very odd piece of music,” says Jewel. “For about a week and a half, it was the only song we listened to—we would play it six to eight hours a day, over and over.” He even played the original Rhodes piano from 1973 that Badalamenti used for the original series on set.

Jewel and his bandmates were so keen for Cruise to be the focus when filming that they consciously tried to fade into the background. “I didn’t want there to be any distraction on stage,” he says. “The old Roadhouse bands were these rockabilly greaser types, all in black, so I had the band wear black. We were aiming to be shadows.”

Though Lynch generally let the various Roadhouse bands simply do their thing, according to Jewel, the director did whisper something to Cruise that changed their scene dramatically. “The first take felt very logical, but then after David spoke to her, the second take was insane. The feeling on stage was so incredible. The difference was night and day.” The performance with Cruise proved to be an overpowering one for Jewel. “I held it together at the Roadhouse, but when we left I completely lost it and was sobbing uncontrollably for hours,” he says.

Singer Julee Cruise and Chromatics onstage at the Roadhouse in “Twin Peaks: The Return.”

Many that were invited to the Roadhouse share similar feelings of intensity on set. Heather D’Angelo of the synth-pop group Au Revoir Simone found the environment to be otherworldly. “It was literally like stepping into someone else’s dream,” she says.

For Rebekah Del Rio, who sang the Spanish version of Roy Orbison’s “Crying” in an unforgettable scene in Lynch’s 2001 film Mulholland Drive, returning to the director’s realm was especially poignant. After undergoing brain surgery to remove a tumor in 2012, she thought she may never perform again; the ordeal forced her relearn how to sing from scratch.“When I got to the Roadhouse, I was once again transported into that world,” she says.

One of the oddest Roadhouse scenes—in which a woman crawls and screams on her hands and knees through the crowd—was soundtrack by doomy London band the Veils. According to the group’s frontman, Finn Andrews, though, lending sound to strangeness has become something of a specialty, as other bold auteurs like Tim Burton and Paolo Sorrentino have also placed the band’s music in their work. “We seem to sound good paired with generally pretty unwholesome imagery,” he says. “If there’s ever a scene with someone having sex with an amputee, or a horse is dying, or there’s a slow-motion hanging, we get the call.”

The Success Of ‘Despacito’

The song “Despacito” by Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee been streamed over 4.6 billion times, and has kept its number one spot on Billboard‘s Hot 100 since before the official start of summer. Fonsi, the song’s singer and songwriter, says he’s ecstatic that the No. 1 in the world is in Spanish.

“The whole world is singing in Spanish,” he says. “We have everybody Googling, ‘What does Despacito mean?'”

“Despacito” was originally released in January of this year and quickly began climbing the global charts to become an international hit. When Justin Bieber jumped on the song’s remix this spring, it gave “Despacito” the boost it needed to hit No. 1 in the US.

The song has also brought up conversations about the power of crossover culture. Fonsi is far from the first Latin artist to cross into the mainstream, though his predecessors typically did so in English.

“‘Despacito’ was just the song that exploded through the door,” Fonsi says. “But I give a lot of credit to amazing artists who have done these kinds of fusions in the past, like Ricky [Martin], Enrique [Iglesias] and Shakira.”

“Despacito” also broke records this summer as the most-streamed song in history. Jesus Lopez, President and CEO of Universal Music Latin Entertainment, says that streaming has played a big role in the song’s success, partly because it makes more information available about how many times a given track is played.

“Before, you cannot see how the market was working because of the piracy. On the charts you only saw the official sales,” Lopez says. “Now you can see all the consumption of the music on the charts.”

Rocio Guerrero, Spotify’s Head of Latin Culture, says that “Despacito” is one of a growing number of cross-cultural team-ups she’s seen lately, including collaborations between Romeo Santos and Drake, and J Balvin and Pharrell.

“I think ‘Despacito’ creates even more buzz about something that was already happening,” Guerrero says. “This is something that didn’t happen overnight — we’ve been working really hard for many years to push the Latin culture to the forefront of the music business.”

“The timing is quite perfect, you know, in this environment we live in,” he says. “I don’t want to turn this song into a political environment, because it’s not. It’s a great song to make us feel good. But in the times that we live, where some people want to divide and want to build walls — we’re going through a lot of change, so it’s quite lovely that a Spanish song is No. 1 right now.”

Not only is the song in Spanish — it’s in the style of reggaeton, a genre born in Puerto Rico that mixes hip-hop with Jamaican dancehall music.

Petra Rivera-Rideau, assistant professor of American Studies at Wellesley College and author of Remixing Reggaeton: The Cultural Politics of Race in Puerto Rico, says that reggaeton “has endured a lot of attempts to get rid of it.” The music, she says, was created in working-communities where many identified as black and/or close to Afro-diasporic culture.

“The communities that were associated with [reggaeton] culture were also communities that were stigmatized by the Puerto Rican government,” Rivera-Rideau says. “They were targets of anti-crime initiatives in the mid-1990s that represented [them] as chaotic, perpetrators of violence, tied to drugs and all kinds of stereotypes. So reggaeton became a cultural symbol of these establishments. They were looking at reggaeton as emblematic of all the ills and problems of this community.”

Rivera-Rideau says this moment is significant: Reggaeton has become a worldwide genre, with increasing numbers of pop artists drawing from its sounds. It’s a position many wouldn’t have ever thought possible for reggaeton back in the 1990s.

 

A Composer Who Made The Everyday Extraordinary

Born Dec. 9, 1927 in Paris, Pierre Henry was enchanted by everything he heard. He entered the Paris Conservatory when he was just 10 years old. There, he studied with the great teacher Nadia Boulanger, whose students eventually included everyone from Aaron Copland to Quincy Jones. It was an auspicious start to an audacious career.

In his early 20s, he helped usher in a musical revolution with a style called musique concrète — “concrete music” — collages of prerecorded and manipulated sounds from both electronic and acoustic sources.

In The Art Of Sounds, Henry spoke about how deliberately he created those collages. “Musique concrète is the art of decision,” he said. “It’s the art of choice. You select one sound over others and that’s where composing begins.”

Musique concrète was born just after World War II — as France rebuilt, the government established a public radio and television channel, RTF. The project included an experimental studio where composers could create new work.

It was in that studio that Henry and his then-mentor Pierre Schaeffer, wrote a groundbreaking piece, their Symphonie pour un homme seul (Symphony For A Lone Man). It became a legend among musicians. Of this composition, Schaeffer wrote:

“The lone man should find his symphony in himself, and not just solely in conceiving music abstractly, but in being his own instrument. A lone man possesses much more than the 12 notes of the voice [in an octave]. He cries, he whistles, he walks, he pounds his fist, he laughs, he moans. His heart beats, his breathing accelerates, he utters words, he calls out and others respond.”

And Pierre Henry’s own compositions found a home in pop culture. In 1967, along with Michel Colombier, Henry wrote the score for a ballet by choreographer Maurice Béjart called Messe pour le temps present (Mass For The Present Time). That ballet included some music, in a section called “Psyche Rock,” that became a touchstone for generations of DJs and producers who followed Henry.

Its clanging chimes and wailing, fuzzy electric guitar have turned up in decades of movie and TV scores, both credited — and not.

You hear it in the score of Costa-Gavras’ 1969 Oscar-winning film, Z. Henry and Colombier’s original music appears in the screen version, but composer Mikis Theodorakis penned a very similarly styled piece for the soundtrack.

The lead singers for the band Linkin Park

Chester Bennington is, one of the lead singers for the band Linkin Park and a former singer for Stone Temple Pilots, has died. His death was confirmed to NPR Thursday afternoon by the Los Angeles County Coroner’s office, which said that his body was discovered at a house in the 2800 block of Palos Verdes Estates in Los Angeles and that investigators are currently on the scene. The death is “being looked at as a possible suicide at this time,” according to Brian Elias of the coroner’s office. Bennington was 41 years old.

Linkin Park member Mike Shinoda posted that he is “shocked and heartbroken” and that an official statement from the band is forthcoming.

Earlier this month, Linkin Park finished a European and U.K. leg of an international tour in support of its current album, One More Light, with guest artists Machine Gun Kelly, One OK Rock and Snoop Dogg; the band’s next scheduled tour date is July 27 in Mansfield, Mass.

Although Linkin Park never gained much critical acclaim, the rap-rock band was a popular staple in the early 2000s. Its debut album in 2000, Hybrid Theory, became the best-selling rock album of that decade, and the group went on to sell more than 50 million units. At the height of its popularity, Linkin Park toured relentlessly — the band reportedly tallied 342 live shows just in the year 2001. Overall, Linkin Park scored six Top 20 hits on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. But Linkin Park got credibility for some collaborations with hip-hop artists, including Collision Course, a 2004 EP the band recorded with Jay-Z.

Today is also the birth date of one of Bennington’s close friends, the late Soundgarden and Audioslave frontman Chris Cornell, who killed himself in May. Cornell and Bennington were close friends, and the Linkin Park singer sang at Cornell’s memorial service in May

 

Rickie Lee Jones

The pirates first announced themselves to Rickie Lee Jones in New Orleans, in the fall of 1979, with a delivery of mysterious gifts.

Jones was traveling in support of her self-titled debut for Warner Bros., the slinky, imaginative sui generis blend of pop, soul and jazz that had already hit No. 3 on the Billboard 200, landed her on her first Rolling Stone cover, and associated her forever with the beret. In a couple of months, she would win the Grammy for best new artist. She was almost 25.

“It was the combination of them and Sal Bernardi’s crew in San Francisco that inspired the concept of Pirates,” she explained. Some of the pirates went to prison and got out. One moved to Costa Rica. One still lives in New Orleans and now, 36 years after the release of Pirates, her second album, so does Jones, although not in the Quarter: Her neighborhood is leafy and quiet, near a park where she can walk her dog and ride her bike, her freshly purple-dyed hair tucked under a helmet.

“To be really clear, I was a drug addict when I lived here,” she said. “It’s not possible to walk in the footsteps I walked then. I woke up late in the afternoon, and I lived at night.” It was a funny thing, really, to take off to the bottom of the U.S. at what seemed like the top of a career and hang around with dope smugglers, aging artists and weird characters — she was there at Professor Longhair’s last recording session, she said, and befriended the one-eyed junkie piano genius James Booker, who’d die in 1983, at age 43 — but it felt right to her, “like a refuge,” she said.

“For me, it was part of feeding who I was. I felt that if I stopped living that way, whatever it was that I really was would stop being authentic,” she said.

New Orleans and its characters helped inspire the cinematic storybook of hip that is Pirates, with its evocative imagery — the ’57 Lincolns, the slow trains to Peking, the Lolitas playing dominoes and poker behind their daddy’s shacks — as did Olympia, Wash., where she started writing it in 1979, New York City, where she was also paying rent, and L.A., where it was recorded. Close to forty years later, she still plays those songs onstage. Some feel different than others — for example, “We Belong Together,” the ecstatic, dreamy stream of consciousness that opens Pirates, inspired by her famous romance and breakup with Tom Waits.

“When I sing that song, to me anyway, it doesn’t have anything to do with me. It’s like a house I built. When I go in, I say, ‘I love this room. I’m gonna sit in this room.’ It’s a structure of its own and I get to experience the ride when I play it. But it’s not about Tom and me. It has a life of its own.”

“There are only a couple of songs that haven’t achieved autonomy,” she said. “And when I sing them, I feel like, ‘I don’t wear my dress that short anymore.”

But 36 years later, Pirates is a dress that’s not out of style, a house that still welcomes new residents. It’s canon, classic, a still-startlingly singular look at America both in style — the way it seamlessly weaves threads of beatnik jazz, fluid soul and aching, theatrical balladry — and in substance, as it captures perfect images of American romance and cool like so many Polaroid snapshots. Few pop artists have ever been as effortlessly cool; still fewer have managed to create a piece of art that sounds like it could have been crafted thirty years before it was, or thirty years after. Pirates has been influential, but rarely imitated. Who could?

Her latest album, 2015’s The Other Side of Desire, clearly has Pirates as an ancestor: the warm-blooded elasticity of her voice, her snappy fluency in the language of cool, and vivid lines like one rhyming “gold capped tooth” with “hot tin roof.” With songs that borrow the language, the structure and the melancholy of a Cajun waltz, Fats Domino piano rhythms and swamp-pop melody, it’s even more audibly rooted in her new (and old) home base — she’s using the same storyteller’s ear and the same keen eye for character, although both, now, she thinks, feel clearer.

Kennedy Center’s First Hip-Hop Honoree

While Kennedy Center Honors acknowledge the lifetime achievements of contributors to American culture, the list has traditionally been limited in scope. But the inclusion of LL, born James Todd Smith, in this year’s honoree list further expands the center’s growing embrace of hip-hop culture. Earlier this year the center appointed Simone Eccleston as its first director of Hip-Hop Culture after naming A Tribe Called Quest’s Q-Tip as artistic director of Hip-Hop Culture in 2016. Historic performances by Kendrick Lamar and Common have also underlined the center’s investment, and more programming for the 2017-18 season is expected to be announced in the coming months.

As rap’s first bona fide solo star, LL was larger than life in the ’80s, the first to embody the street-corner swagger and sex appeal that would become a blueprint for future hip-hop icons ranging from Big Daddy Kane to Biggie. Before an artist like Drake could legitimately mix hip-hop lyricism with R&B vulnerability, LL turned out the first hit rap ballad with 1987’s “I Need Love.” And the ladies loved him for it.

Best known today for his starring roles in TV and film, he received his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame last year. But after a career spanning 30-plus years and 13 albums, he’s yet to leave rap alone — he’s rumored to be in the studio recording with Dr. Dre.

In his statement on the Kennedy Center honor, LL credits his grandmother — the same one who inspired his 1990 hit, “Mama Said Knock You Out” — for his success, while dedicating the award to the hip-hop pioneers who preceded and the generations who have since followed.

“My late grandmother passed some wise advice to me: ‘If a task is once begun, never leave it ’til it’s done. Be thy labor great or small, do it well or not at all.’ That adage has guided everything I have ever done in my life and I couldn’t be more grateful because it has led me here,” he says. “To be the first rap artist honored by the Kennedy Center is beyond anything I could have imagined. I dedicate this honor to the hip-hop artists who came before me and those who came after me. This simply proves that dreams don’t have deadlines. God is great.”

But it takes a teen-aged LL to truly put his pioneering achievements in perspective. When rap still in its infancy, LL was already positioning himself as its rising star.

 

Country Music Legend

Campbell was an iconic performer whose career spanned half a century, and who blurred the lines between country and pop.

Campbell once said he didn’t consider himself a “country singer,” but rather a “country boy who sings.” And historian John Rumble from the Country Music Hall of Fame says Campbell had something few do.

“When he was on stage and started to sing, you knew there was a star on stage,” Rumble says. “I don’t know how to explain it. It’s an aura. It’s a feeling. You knew this was somebody special.”

His biggest hit topped both the pop and country charts in 1975: “Rhinestone Cowboy.”

Long before he was a household name, Campbell was a studio musician in Los Angeles, part of the famous “Wrecking Crew,” a loose cluster of studio players who backed stars on many hits of the day.

Campbell was a self-taught guitarist whose training consisted mostly of informal lessons in the lap of his Uncle Boo back in Arkansas. Campbell couldn’t read music, but Rumble says he could play anything.

“Glen just fit right in, he was so doggone good,” Rumble recalls.

The exact scope of Campbell’s output in the ’50s and ’60s is unknown, because producers cloaked who actually played on a session. But he provided guitar parts for records by Jan and Dean, The Monkees, Frank Sinatra and The Beach Boys. Campbell even became a Beach Boy for about six months, replacing front-man Brian Wilson on tour. Years later, Campbell mentioned it in his own concerts.

“It was fun, but I didn’t want to spend the rest of my musical career playing bass and singing the high part,” he joked.

His solo career got off to a slow start. But after a few minor hits, he found a groove. He began a long-term collaboration with songwriter Jimmy Webb, who says he grew up daydreaming about working with Glen Campbell. The two would become musical partners. And Webb says Campbell doesn’t get enough credit for his contributions beyond performing.

“Nobody compared with him when it came to picking a song and then arranging it,” Webb said. “He left his stamp on whatever material he did.”

Together, Webb and Campbell produced such Top 40 hits as “By The Time I Get To Phoenix” and “Wichita Lineman.”

Campbell’s chart success led to opportunities in film and TV, including a stint on network television, where he hosted Glen Campbell’s Good Time Hour. Guests ranged from actor John Wayne to The Monkees to his own family. But at the height of his fame, Campbell hit personal lows — divorces and a drug and alcohol problem. His struggle with cocaine surprised those who knew him best, considering his Christian upbringing and outspoken faith.

Eventually, though, he got his life back in order and continued performing. Then, in 2011, he announced he’d been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. And instead of receding into the shadows, he planned a tour. For more than a year, he played shows around the country, backed by a band that included some of his children

“It was completely embedded in this guy’s psyche and he’d done it since he was five years old,” Keach tells NPR. “It’s his default is that his hands will st <iframe src=”https://www.npr.org/player/embed/542357361/542357362″ width=”100%” height=”290″ frameborder=”0″ scrolling=”no” title=”NPR embedded audio player”></iframe> art doing that. That’s his language. His first language is music.”