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Lucy Kaplansky’s Career Choices

Lucy Kaplansky was a successful, rising young singer/songwriter in Chicago and New York City, but decided to go in a different direction. She continued singing while getting a doctorate in psychology. Kaplansky started her own practice and worked at a hospital dealing with the adult mentally ill population.

She continued singing, however, and “was often pulled into the studio by her by her friends.” One thing led to another – it all is related quite nicely at her site – and Kaplansky realized the fame that had been predicted for her years earlier.

It was hard to decide which Kaplansky songs to feature on this post. I could have chosen from any number of her compositions. According to the bio, one of the groups she was in – Cry Cry Cry (with Dar Williams and Richard Shindell) – released an album of covers that was very successful. Right before reading that, I watched a video (above) of Kaplansky singing Bruce Springsteen’s “Thunder Road,” which she calls “one of the world’s great songs.”

Three thoughts struck me (which is two-and-a-half more than usual). The first is that she delivered a great, emotionally charged version of what really is a masculine song. The second was that the honesty of the unadorned version (it’s a mediocre recording taken with a handheld) adds to the overall impact. It’s a song about imperfect people. A perfect production isn’t necessarily the best treatment.

The third–and probably most important–is that the choices singers make in what songs they cover are very revealing. In fact, those choices may provide as much insight into their personalities, in a slightly different way, than what they write themselves. I’m not talking about a bar band doing “Magic Carpet Ride.” I am talking about an accomplished artist with a long list of her own songs choosing “Thunder Road” from the thousands of choices she has. Just what is it about a particular song that resonates?

Below is “The Beauty Way.”

Lucy Kaplansky’s website was used for this post. The homepage photo is by C. Eugene Emery Jr. 

Our New Things: Links to Music Sites and Info on Analog Tech and Vinyl

TDMB has focused on music and musicians. We will continue to do that, of course. We're also expanding our coverage to include vinyl and analog equipment.

More specifically, we'll look at this huge and interesting world from the perspective of music lovers who want a better experience, not committed non-audiophiles.

Check out is some of what we've written so far:

-- Assessing the Value of Vinyl Records: An Overview

-- 7 Quick Tips on Optimizing Your Turntable Cartridge

-- Why Vinyl Records Continue to Thrive

-- Finding the Best Amplifier

-- Finding the Best Phono Preamp

-- What Speakers Do I Need for My Turntable?

Check out more articles on analog equipment and vinyl.

The site also is home to The Internet Music Mapping Project, an effort to list and describe as many music-related sites as possible.

Our Music

--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.


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.

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