While he was in pandemic lockdown, Sir Paul McCartney was writing new music for his latest solo album, “McCartney III,” on which the 78-year-old not only served as songwriter and producer but also played nearly every instrument. Correspondent Seth Doane talked with McCartney about the former Beatle’s “rockdown,” and his songwriting relationship with John Lennon, who was killed 40 years ago this month.
By any name, Yusuf Islam is a legend. The man who came to fame as Cat Stevens will soon release a new album, a collection of songs he made famous half a century ago and has now re-recorded with the perspective that 50 years of living can bring. Correspondent Tracy Smith talks with Yusuf about recording “Tea for the Tillerman 2,” including his duet with his younger self for the song “Father and Son.”
During these tough times, Rick Rubin wanted to have a chat with an artist he finds inspiring. Top of mind was John Legend. So he called him up via Zoom, while both were sheltering in place, for a quick chat about his career and the creative process behind two of his biggest songs.
Listen to John Legend’s new single “Actions” below and check for a new album later this year.
The documentary “Once Were Brothers” chronicles the highs and lows of a famous rock group. Lead guitarist and songwriter Robbie Robertson began touring as a teenager and played for Bob Dylan before joining forces with four other musicians to become The Band. Jeffrey Brown reports.
James Taylor has been a household name for a long time now. Taylor was just 20-years-old when he released his self-titled debut in 1968; in the half century since then, he has sold over 100 million albums and cemented his status as one of the most successful American singer-songwriters.
But in Break Shot: My First 21 Years, his audio memoir on Audible, Taylor narrates his life before fame — including details of his struggle with drugs, alcohol addiction and time in psychiatric institutions. Taylor is also looking back with American Standard, a new album that revives the American Songbook tunes of his childhood.
NPR’s Lulu Garcia-Navarro spoke with Taylor about revisiting his fraught early memories, dealing with fame at an early age and his connection to The Beatles. Listen to their conversation in the player above and read on for highlights from the interview — including a few audio excerpts from Break Shot.
The connections to Melville’s masterpiece are metaphorical and allusive, as elusive as the White Whale. The masterly spiritual successor to Lubbock (on everything), Just Like Moby Dick casts its net wide for wild stories, depicting, among other monstrous things, Houdini in existential crisis, the death of the last stripper in town, bloodthirsty pirates (in a pseudo-sequel to Brecht and Weill’s “Pirate Jenny”), the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan (in the “American Childhood” suite), a vampire-infested circus, mudslides and burning mobile homes, and all manner of tragicomic disasters, abandonments, betrayals, bad memories, failures, and fare-thee-wells.
Iconic and iconoclastic Texan songwriter and visual artist Terry Allen’s heartbreaking, hilarious new album, his first set of new songs since 2013’s Bottom of the World, features the full Panhandle Mystery Band, including co-producer Charlie Sexton (Dylan, Bowie, Blaze), Shannon McNally, and Jo Harvey Allen; mainstays Bukka Allen, Richard Bowden, and Lloyd Maines; and co-writes with Joe Ely and Dave Alvin.
Terry Allen (born May 7, 1943 in Wichita, Kansas) is an American Texas country and outlaw country singer-songwriter, painter and conceptual artist from Lubbock, Texas. He currently lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico. He has recorded twelve albums of original songs, including the landmark releases Juarez (1975) and Lubbock (on everything) (1979). His song “Amarillo Highway” has been covered by Bobby Bare, Sturgill Simpson and Robert Earl Keen. Other artists who have recorded Allen’s songs include Guy Clark, Little Feat, David Byrne, Doug Sahm, Ricky Nelson, and Lucinda Williams. Rolling Stone magazine describes his catalog, reaching back to Juarez as “..uniformly eccentric and uncompromising, savage and beautiful, literate and guttural.”
Huey Lewis and the News are in the mood to celebrate, joking about their age as they prepare for the release of what is almost certainly their last album, titled “Weather.” At 69, Lewis, who has performed in bands for most of his life, had no intention of slowing down, but his diagnosis of Meniere’s Disease – a hearing disorder which has affected his voice – has made the decision for him. John Blackstone reports.