Singer-songwriter Paul Simon was listening to a box set of old American recordings one day. Among the songs, he found a Christmas sermon bearing the voice of Atlanta's Rev. J.M. Gates, a hugely popular preacher in the 1930s and '40s. That sermon stayed with Simon, who turned it into a song.
For a while now, Paul Simon has been shuffling and reshuffling the basic ingredients of his 1986 masterwork Graceland, trying new combinations of exotic, often African rhythms with elements of American blues and roots music. It's a rich area that has led him to some amazing songs, and also some retreads.
Originally published on Thu December 29, 2011 12:30 am
At 22 years old, Adele was inspired by the works of Etta James, Jeff Buckley and Jill Scott when she decided to enroll in the BRIT school. By the time of graduation she had perfected her sound and emerged as a soulful songbird and MySpace sensation in 2007 and 2008.
I still remember when I heard the Minneapolis band The Jayhawks' 1992 album Hollywood Town Hall for the first time. It was so fresh, yet so familiar at the same time, that I stopped dead in my tracks and declared it my favorite album of that year.
Sam Beam, better known by his stage name Iron and Wine, released his first album, The Creek Drank The Cradle, on the Sub Pop label back in 2002. He wrote, performed, recorded and produced every track by himself at a studio in his home.