The Ballad of Willie Nelson

By Ron Rosenbaum Vanity Fair November 1991 The night before I left for South Texas to join Willie Nelson as he went back on the road again to sing for the I.R.S., I had dinner with a woman from L.A. who’d known him. She told me a fascinating story about Willie Nelson,...

Melancholy Baby

By Ron Rosenbaum Esquire October 1985 Let’s get sad. Let’s get very, very sad. Let’s get profoundly sad. Let’s talk about the saddest songs ever sung. In fact, let’s not just talk about them. Let’s get inside them. Let’s crawl inside the very chord structure of...

Oedipus Rocks

By John Eskow New Times May 29, 1978 Karl Wallenda plunges to his death, and the man beside me booms out “Gawd!” In the slow-motion TV replay, Wallenda’s last-second grab for the wire seems to sum up everyone’s will to live, in one gesture. Then he falls. It’s a...

Elvis Costello is Angry and Convincing

By Fred Schruers Circus June 22, 1978 It’s 1:30 am in the Bootlegger Lounge in Syracuse, N.Y. Elvis Costello, the one with the owlish stare and the spitting mad vocals, the man whose songs may be the worst thing that’s happened to feminism since Jack the Ripper,...

Forever John Prine

By John Schulian The Stacks Reader April 8, 2020 When I heard that John Prine lay dying in a Nashville hospital, I couldn’t help wondering if he had found time beforehand to fill out his 2020 census questionnaire. It was hardly the kind of reverent thought the moment...

Angry Young Man with a Horn

By Bruce Buschel GQ February 1987 Wynton Marsalis leans forward, peers through his glasses and says with his usual fervor, “People actually want to discuss music with me. Me! Their knowledge of music is so limited that I don’t understand how they even think they can...

Diana Ross: An Encounter in Three Scenes

By O’Connell Driscoll Rolling Stone August 11, 1977 One: A Backstage Party September 1976: The Performer’s Lounge, Backstage at the Ahmanson Theatre in Los Angeles. A windowless basement room with concrete-block walls. The furniture consists of several couches, some...

Madonna: The Naked Truth

By James Kaplan Entertainment Weekly May 17, 1991 She is small, and her hair looks terrible. Distressed. Long and ratty, a bad white-yellow with a greenish tinge (dark roots are struggling back), it appears to have fallen victim to one too many dye jobs. Blond...

Dylan Brings It Home: Memoir Is a Ballad to the Beat Village

By Ron Rosenbaum The New York Observer October 14, 2004 Thaddeus Stevens? Who knew? One of the least-understood of Dylan mysteries has to do with influences: His music seems to come from everywhere, and from nowhere but him. You can listen to endless droning folk...

Raising Kane

By Alex Belth The Stacks Reader December 17, 2019 Last year, Harlem, 1958, a beautiful book celebrating the 60th anniversary of the most famous picture in jazz history was published. It remains a perfect gift for the jazz lover or the pop culture history buff in your...

Is Randy Newman a Redneck Cole Porter—Or Just Strange?

By Grover Lewis Playboy September, 1983 Randy Newman is chary of interviewers by reflex, bless his level sense, but bent even more unbendingly in that direction since the critical shitstorm mounted in the pop-squeak press against his fifth album of art songs, Good Old...