The Graduate at 50: Simon and Garfunkel, “The Sounds of Silence” (1965)

(Fun fact: that leg belongs to Linda Gray, or so she claims.) Every semester, in every class I teach, I save time on the last day for a lecture I call "So, What Didn't I Teach You?" It's an opportunity for students to question me about anything that they were expecting to cover in the … Continue reading The Graduate at 50: Simon and Garfunkel, “The Sounds of Silence” (1965)

12+ Blogs of Christmas: Just Like The Ones We Used To Know

(Above: The author, exactly 45 Christmases ago.) Nostalgia is Christmas, and vice-versa. What happens when the family gets together for the holidays?  As Andy Williams put it, "the tales of the glories of Christmases long ago."  So much of the Christmas celebration is tradition. Normally I am opposed to "we've always done it that way," … Continue reading 12+ Blogs of Christmas: Just Like The Ones We Used To Know

12+ Blogs of Christmas: It Must Be Saint Nick

(Above: A man who has sold a lot of product.) December 6th is the Feast of Saint Nicholas. The story "A Visit from St. Nicholas" has been a longtime Christmas classic.  From these events, we got Santa Claus, who has had an important role in the marketing of the Christmas season. Santa has also figured … Continue reading 12+ Blogs of Christmas: It Must Be Saint Nick

12+ Blogs of Christmas: Band-Aid, “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” (1984)

32 years ago today - December 4, 1984 - one of the most polarizing Christmas songs ever was released. It's the song that people love to hate. Time is not necessarily kind to all music.  Some songs, when you look at them closely, aren't as, well, nice. Songs like "Ahab the Arab", "Speedy Gonzales", and … Continue reading 12+ Blogs of Christmas: Band-Aid, “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” (1984)

Election week special: Presidential satire albums (1962 – 1982)

Radio history trivia: for a number of years, it was against the law for anyone to impersonate the voice of the President of the United States on the radio. This was a response to the "scare" of The War Of the Worlds (1938). I say "scare" in quotation marks because media research has shown us … Continue reading Election week special: Presidential satire albums (1962 – 1982)

Election week special: The Royal Guardsmen, “Snoopy For President” (1968)

There hasn't been much funny nor entertaining about the election season this year.  Rational discourse has gone out the window in favor of the repeated posting of memes. Even the most benign and apolitical of subjects take a turn in that direction in the comments sections on social media.  If only we could go back … Continue reading Election week special: The Royal Guardsmen, “Snoopy For President” (1968)

Greatest Concert Ever, Unknown Band Division: The Exponents, “Why Does Love Do This To Me” (1992)

(Above: Maybe the best band you've never heard of, Americans. I highly recommend you find this album.) Any time you get a discussion going among music fans the question comes up: what was the greatest concert that you ever saw?  Conversely, who did you see that didn't live up to expectations on stage? I was … Continue reading Greatest Concert Ever, Unknown Band Division: The Exponents, “Why Does Love Do This To Me” (1992)

Songs and ceremonies: Semisonic, “Closing Time” (1998)

Quickly, now - think of the last wedding that you attended.  What was the song that the bride and groom danced their first dance to? Now, think again - can you name a song that was referenced in the ceremony itself? I'm guessing that the first question was a lot easier than the second one.  … Continue reading Songs and ceremonies: Semisonic, “Closing Time” (1998)

Welcome back: Steely Dan, “My Old School” (1973)

Above: Bard College, Annondale, NY. Above: Mary Idema Pew Library, GVSU, Allendale, MI. Donald Fagen and Walter Becker of Steely Dan attended Bard College in Annondale-on-Hudson, New York. I attended - and now teach at - Grand Valley State University in Allendale, Michigan. Aside from seemingly similar town names, the schools don't have a lot … Continue reading Welcome back: Steely Dan, “My Old School” (1973)

Mixtape Review: “Music Tape, Summer 1988”

(Above: That's an awfully cute cassette tape.) In a post last week I suggested that the summer of 1988 was my last carefree summer. There's really no way for me to argue with that.  The summer between my first (and last) year as a traditional undergraduate student can best be described as being free of … Continue reading Mixtape Review: “Music Tape, Summer 1988”