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Happy July 4th From Chuck Berry, Keith Richards, Linda Ronstadt, Robert Cray and Dick Clark

I wanted to feature Chuck Berry playing “Back in the U.S.A.” for the fourth of July. The problem was that I found two great versions. One is from the episode of “The Dick Clark Saturday Night Beech-Nut Show” that aired, according to the overly precise notes, on July 18,1959. [column size=one_half position=last]The lip syncing is terrible and Berry is not playing his guitar half the time (though the sound magically appears). But he is at his most gymnastic and charismatic.

The second is from the other end of Berry’s career. More specifically, it’s from Keith Richards’ great movie “Hail! Hail! Rock ‘N Roll,”  which features Richards, Robert Cray and Linda Ronstadt. Ronstadt had a hit with the song, and does a great job here. She’s just fabulous.

It was quite a quandary. The solution came in a flash: Post both. I wish all my problems could be solved this easily. Have a great, happy and safe July 4th.

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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.


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


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.