Why I Wrote a Book About I’m Your Fan

Ray Padgett, a leading expert on cover songs, on his 33 1/3 about Leonard Cohen and the power of the tribute album Bob Dylan got me into cover songs. But it wasn’t one of the million covers of his own songs that did it, nor was it a cover he performed himself. It was a cover he DJ’d. For a few years in the 2000s, Dylan hosted an XM Radio show called Theme Time Radio Hour. In one of the first episodes, he played a version of the George Gershwin…

Reg vs Elton and Other Contradictions

Matthew Restall, author of Elton John’s Blue Moves, on the many contradictions of Elton John. Contradictions are at the heart of rock and pop music. Its genres and its culture are laced with paradoxes. The personality, career, and music of Elton John are no exception. Here are a trio of such contradictions that particularly fascinate me and are reflected in my Blue Moves book. 1. Name changing is an experiment in alchemy. The intention is for the new persona to replace, even erase, the old. For Reginald Kenneth Dwight, it…

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…

The 33 1/3 B-sides Sneak Peek!

Have you ever wondered, if given another chance to write for 33 1/3, which albums past authors would focus on the second time around? This anthology is the answer. Featuring 55 (yes, 55!) compact essays by past 33 1/3 authors, each chapter is about an album they just can’t seem get out of their heads.  The 33 1/3 B-sides is publishing on September 5th, and we’re so excited! Take a sneak peek at the table of contents below, and let us know what you think. Preface Introduction: Superfluous, Redundant, Enduring…

Tom Petty Week: Day 4 – Petty’s death and what happened next

In his final blog post of the week, Michael talks about the plans he had to interview Tom Petty, and how his book changed after Petty’s sudden death. I signed the contract to write Southern Accents in November of 2016. In early 2017 I reached out to Petty’s camp to see if he would be willing to meet with me. I waited those couple of months because I wanted to be sure of what I thought about the record. I didn’t want Petty to have an outsize influence on my…