How to Be Unapologetically Creative

Liz Phair on “Rebel Rebel” After finishing my 33 1/3 volume on David Bowie’s Diamond Dogs, I’d had enough ruminating about the album on my own. Now I wanted to hear what other people had to say. So I wrote to some of the smartest and most interesting people I know to ask them for their thoughts and feelings about Bowie and Diamond Dogs. The amazing and wonderful Liz Phair—who needs no introduction for readers of this blog—generously took a moment from her current tour to send me this anecdote and appreciation. It was a…

Proximity to Blackness

Daniel Alexander Jones on David Bowie After finishing my 33 1/3 volume on David Bowie’s Diamond Dogs, I’d had enough ruminating about the album on my own. Now I wanted to hear what other people had to say. So I wrote to some of the smartest and most interesting people I know to ask them for their thoughts and feelings about Bowie and Diamond Dogs. One of those people was Daniel Alexander Jones, a Guggenheim award-winning performance artist, playwright, director, essayist and educator who teaches at Fordham University. At the…

D’Angelo’s Age of “Soulquarius” – Part Two

A deeper thread is unraveled when an Aquarius is a Black man. “The key definition, I believe, of being African American…is tied into anti-Blackness,” astrologer Samuel Reynolds explained. “So, an Aquarian Black man is going to be immensely sensitive to how he both functions on that perimeter and also be attentive to others who function in that throwaway space, in those spaces where they’re not visible or heard.”  On Voodoo, D’Angelo touched on those exact themes with cuts like “Devil’s Pie,” “Africa,” and “Greatdayindamornin’.” He embraced masculinity without being poisoned…

35th anniversary of We Are the World

This January 28th marks the 35th anniversary of We Are the World’s initial recording. Originally recorded by the super-group USA for Africa in 1985, this song raised over $63 million in humanitarian aid in Africa and the US, as well as becoming one of the fastest-selling American pop singles in history. Bringing together some of the most famous artists in the 80’s music industry, the accompanying music video is a beautiful, and very amusing, trip down memory lane. Looking back on this remarkable feat, we sat down to watch the…

The Journey of Writing a 33 1/3 on Massive Attack

Ian Bourland just wrote published his new 33 1/3, Massive Attack’s Blue Lines, and now he’s back to tell us about the process of how it came to be. Is it all about the finished product, or the journey it takes to get there? Writing Massive Attack: Blue Lines is the most fun writing assignment I’ve ever had, though it wasn’t really because of the subject matter. Sure, music journalism is about the apex of coolness in our industry, and certainly Massive Attack are synonymous with a certain cosmopolitan mystique.…

33 1/3 B-sides Week, Day 1: Welcome to the B-sides!

This week is publication week for The 33 1/3 B-sides! We’ve been anxiously awaiting this book for a while now, and we cannot wait for everyone to read it. Throughout this week, we will be sharing some blog posts from the contributors of the book (all past 33 1/3 authors) discussing the albums that they still dream about today. Below, D. Gilson and Will Stockton introduce us to The 33 1/3 B-Sides… This is the week we welcome into the world The 33 1/3 B-sides: New Essays by 33 1/3…

33 1/3’s are for students, too!

A few years ago, we posted some excerpts of undergraduate essays that discuss 33 1/3s. We love seeing our 33 1/3s in classrooms, so we decided to post some more! Below you will find the beginnings of three undergraduate student papers. Samantha Bennett is a senior lecturer in the School of Music at the Australian National University, and author of her very own 33 1/3, Siouxsie and the Banshee’s Peepshow! These excerpts come from Professor Bennett’s “Popular Music: In Culture and in Context” class, and make for very interesting reads. Do…

Remembering Woodstock

This weekend marks the 50th anniversary of Woodstock! The music lineup for Woodstock was iconic. A myriad of the musicians featured in 33 1/3 frontlined the festival, including Neil Young, Jimi Hendrix, The Band, Sly & the Family Stone, and more. For instance, in The Band’s Music from Big Pink music writer John Niven tells a fictionalized but historically driven account of The Band’s 1968 album that helped to define Woodstock as a hippy mecca. With 50 years of Woodstock behind us, so many of our impressions of the festival…

Woman Crush Wednesday: Tori Amos

This week’s Woman Crush Wednesday goes to one of our favorite feminist warriors, Tori Amos. The list of reasons why Tori Amos deserves all of our awe and respect is infinitely long, but we will mention a few here. A rock ‘n’ roll legend, Amos has been a musical virtuoso since the age of three, when she taught herself how to play the piano. She was later admitted to the Peabody Institute at Johns Hopkins University at the age of five—the youngest person to ever be admitted. To make her…

Video Vault: Björk, “Big Time Sensuality”

Introducing our new “throwback Thursday” segment, Video Vault! On select Thursdays, we’re going to post our favorite music videos through the ages.  Our first video vault is Björk’s “Big Time Sensuality,” the fourth single from her 1993 album Debut.  “Big Time Sensuality” features a fresh faced Björk, dressed all in white, dancing on top of a truck driving through New York City. It’s not a swan costume, but it’s still pretty funky. Watching the video, one gets the sense that Björk spent way too much time meandering through Icelandic wilderness…