Music Book Club July – ‘From Cradle to Stage’ by Virginia Hanlon Grohl

Earlier this year when I was in the music section of the book shop I was disappointed to see only one book written by a woman. That spurred me on to starting this monthly book club, so I thought it would only be fitting then to review the one book which I saw on the shelf. From Cradle to Stage by Virginia Hanlon Grohl is not just the story of her son’s rise to fame but also an interesting and thought provoking project where she interviews and writes about the mothers of musicians such as Miranda Lambert, Haim, Michael Stipe and Kelly Clarkson. Continue reading “Music Book Club July – ‘From Cradle to Stage’ by Virginia Hanlon Grohl”

Dolly Parton’s Discography – “My Favourite Songwriter, Porter Wagoner”

Dolly’s tenth studio album released in 1972 was a tribute to her boss and mentor Porter Wagoner, who had also been acting as her uncredited producer and manager since she joined The Porter Wagoner Show in 1967. Dolly’s reasons for recording songs by Porter were outlined in the album notes: ‘Porter has performed many of the songs I have written since I have been associated with him, and it is a great pleasure for me to be able to do this album of his songs.’ My Favourite Songwriter, Porter Wagoner was Dolly’s way of honouring the man who had supported her songwriting and helped shape her career in so many ways. Continue reading “Dolly Parton’s Discography – “My Favourite Songwriter, Porter Wagoner””

Thoughts on Rolling Stone’s ‘The 100 Greatest Songs of the Century’ List

A couple of weeks back Rolling Stone magazine published their list of the ‘100 Greatest Songs of the 21st Century’ and while these lists may seem arbitrary to some, I always find them a useful gauge of the state of the music industry as a whole. This blog aims to promote better representation for women in music so I thought I would analyse the list and see what conclusions could be drawn. Continue reading “Thoughts on Rolling Stone’s ‘The 100 Greatest Songs of the Century’ List”

Film Review: ‘Whitney’

Since her premature death in 2012, Whitney Houston’s life has been the subject of films, articles, books and television shows but this documentary directed by Kevin MacDonald is the first to gain the cooperation of Whitney’s family. Despite a strong first half eventually this film falls into speculation, cheap gossip and outrageous accusations about her personal life and eventual death.

Continue reading “Film Review: ‘Whitney’”

Why the TRNSMT ‘Golden Circle’ and All Exploitative ‘VIP’ Standing Areas Must Go

At TRNSMT festival on Sunday in Glasgow I witnessed one of the most depressing sights in my twenty-plus years of concert going. As the headline act, The Killers, took to the stage there was a huge expanse of empty space in a ‘golden circle’ section at the front of the stage, while tens of thousands of people who had paid good money to see the show were fenced off and squashed behind a barrier. From our stand point it looked like there was essentially two festivals: one for the rich and one for everyone else. Continue reading “Why the TRNSMT ‘Golden Circle’ and All Exploitative ‘VIP’ Standing Areas Must Go”

Music Book Club: Linda Ronstadt’s ‘Simple Dreams’

In 1965 aged just 20 Linda Ronstadt left behind her Arizona home and headed off to Los Angeles in the hope of becoming a success on the folk music scene. The night she left her father took gave her a gift of a Martin acoustic guitar and told her what his Mexican father had once said to him: “Ahora que tienes guitarra, nunca tendras hambre” (Now you own a guitar you will never go hungry). Those words would prove true. Ronstadt’s long and illustrious career is explored in Simple Dreams, her excellent self-penned memoir which takes us from the deserts of her childhood, to her chart success and beyond. Continue reading “Music Book Club: Linda Ronstadt’s ‘Simple Dreams’”

Album Review: Neko Case – Hell-On

On the startling front cover of her new album, Neko Case’s head is covered in cigarettes and she starting to catch fire. It is somewhat alarming on first inspection, especially considering her house actually burnt down recently, but maybe using the violent imagery is her way of accepting such an unlucky fate. Hellion is a word for a rowdy or mischievous person and you feel that spirit and don’t give a fuck energy radiating out of her very core. Hell-On was mostly recorded before the fire so don’t except songs to directly reference that incident but Case has always made art out of life’s disasters and these songs continue in that vein. Produced by Neko herself, with Bjorn Yttling, this album offers no simple narrative and makes no concessions to genre or trends. Because of this sense of originality, Hell-On feels like a vital addition to her already impressive discography.  Continue reading “Album Review: Neko Case – Hell-On”

Under Her Influence: Songs Inspired by Bobbie Gentry’s ‘Ode to Billie Joe’

Since it’s the 3rd of June I thought we’d take a walk down to Tallahatchie Bridge and contemplate the influence of Bobbie Gentry’s ‘Ode to Billie Joe’ on country music and beyond. I wrote about this song, and Bobbie herself, at length last year in my post ‘Bobbie Gentry and the Power of Mystery’ but today I wanted to focus on how she has inspired the songwriting of so many others.

Continue reading “Under Her Influence: Songs Inspired by Bobbie Gentry’s ‘Ode to Billie Joe’”

On Chvrches & The Problem With Negative Reviews

This week Lauren Mayberry from Chvrches responded to a negative review the band’s new album received from Stereogum by posting a long reply on social media. In the post she discussed her own experiences as a critic and expressed her frustration at the writer’s condescending take on the album, before asking ‘If you shit on something and the people who make it, then ‘pin’ it to your profile what does that say about you?’ As a blogger that question, and also a recently published anonymous article about the mental health of artists, got me thinking about the role of the critic and the problem with negative reviews. Continue reading “On Chvrches & The Problem With Negative Reviews”

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