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Folk Historical

Bruce Springsteen: “John Henry”

Like Neil Young, Bruce Springsteen has managed to remain relevant as a musician and as a lyricist despite being a superstar. Being a superstar likely leads to an insular life — one that is quite unlike the life that person led before. Maintaining creativity probably is a difficult thing to do.

Like Young, Springsteen has two identities: Folk singer and rocker. Springsteen clearly revels in his links and debts to Leadbelly, Pete Seeger (the clip above is from “The Seeger Sessions”), Dylan, Woody Guthrie and others. He mentions them often.

Perhaps the synergies and tensions between the two overlapping worlds — rock superstar and folk musician with something to say — helps both Springsteen and Young (who recently released an album of folk and traditional songs) remain creative.

Here are We Take Care of Our Own, Johnny 99, Murder Incorporated,Β State Trooper (with Arcade Fire) and The Ghost of Tom Joad (with Tom Morello).

Here’s What’s Here

The Daily Music Break explores every genre of music, from hip hop to opera. It's simple: Boundaries are dumb. It's all good. Here is more about the site and here is our index:

--A Tribe Called Quest to The Dick Hyman Trio (In other words, A to H)

--Indigo Girls to Queen Ida (I to Q)

--Radiohead to ZZ Top (R to Z)

Reading Music

The stories of the great bands and musicians are fascinating. Musicians as a group are brilliant, but often troubled. The combination of creativity and drama makes for great reading.

Here are some books to check out.

Duke Ellington brought class, sophistication and style to jazz which, until that point, was proudly unpolished and raucous. His story is profound. The author, Terry Teachout, also wrote "Pops," the acclaimed bio of Louis Armstrong. Click here or on the image.

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What else is there to say? Here is the story behind every song written by The Beatles. Click here or on the image.

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The Grateful Dead don't get enough credit for the profound nature of its lyrics. Many of the band's songs are driven by a deep and literate Americana ("I'm Uncle Sam/That's who I am/Been hidin' out/In a rock and roll band" and "Majordomo Billy Bojangles/Sit down and have a drink with me/What's this about Alabama/Keeps comin' back to me?").

David Dodd's exhaustive study tells the story, song by song. Click here or on the image.

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