Back in 1982 when I was covering rock’n’roll for The Aquarian, we decided to try for interviews with the biggest stars of the day, one of them Joe Strummer of the Clash.
Strummer’s publicist at Epic Records politely told me that Joe had taken some time off to go to France and write some new songs. But the publicist asked if I would be interested in speaking with one of Epic’s new and upcoming bands, a group called Culture Club with a flamboyant lead singer.
That’s how I became one of the first American journalists to interview Boy George – and it’s also why we made it a point to find Joe Strummer’s home while we were in Newport, Wales.
“A pamphlet, no matter how good, is never read more than once, but a song is learned by heart and repeated over and over.”
– Joe Hill, songwriter and labor activist
In the spirit of Joe Hill’s quote about the power of song and with all due respect to the excellent reporting done on the campaign trail, here is a musical look at the Democratic Party’s 2020 presidential candidates.
(Click here to listen to my May 17 radio show about the presidential race or keep reading to learn what songs I played – and why.) Continue reading
References to the New York Times and the (New York) Daily News in “New York State of Mind” are the most obvious connections between Billy Joel’s lyrics and the world of journalism. But journalists also can find connections in several songs from the Piano Man’s extensive catalog. As Joel turns 70 today, here are five of his compositions that will resonate with the hard-working members of the Fourth Estate. Continue reading
When sports and politics collide, the debate that follows usually revolves around the question of whether politics should kept out of sports.
But let’s flip the question and explore what might happen if we injected a bit of the sports world into politics. The results could have a positive impact on public policy. Continue reading
Five years ago, when a U.S. diplomat used a four-letter word to express her frustration with the European Union, most media reports did not include the word she used.
Lexicographer Jesse Sheidlower was troubled by the omission, and in a New York Times opinion piece, he argued that the media was behind the times and that the exclusion of words – even four-letter words – made it difficult for readers to fully comprehend the significance of news reports. Continue reading
Does the name Suzy Q sound more familiar to you than Cardi B?
When you hear the name Kendrick, do you picture Eddie Kendricks, an original member of the Temptations, instead of the rap star Kendrick Lamar? Continue reading
The government shutdown has ended. So too has the uncertainty remains over when the president will deliver the 2019 State of the Union address.
But the debate over the timing of this year’s State of the Union raised a question about what function these types of events serve in the 21st Century Continue reading
Ten years ago today, Barack Obama’s took the oath of office and became the nation’s 44th president. Not only was it a historic day for America, it also turned out to be one of the most unusual days of my career.
On the morning of the inauguration, I was home with plans to watch the ceremony on TV. For me, the big story had been the historic 2008 presidential campaign and election. The inauguration was just a ceremony – more pageantry than news.
Then my cell phone rang. Continue reading
Rock ’n ’roll is old enough to have its share of Christmas classics. You know it’s the holiday season once you start hearing John and Yoko’s “Happy Xmas (War is Over),” Springsteen’s “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” and any of the tracks on Phil Spector’s classic Christmas album.
But rock ’n’ roll also has produced some terrific Christmas songs that exist under the radar. Continue reading
Check election records from 1988, and the numbers will tell you that New Jersey voters re-elected Democrat Frank Lautenberg to the U.S. Senate by a comfortable margin of 8.4 percentage points.
But the numbers don’t tell the full story of Lautenberg’s victory over Republican challenger Pete Dawkins. The contest profoundly impacted the nature of future electoral campaigns by setting a disturbing tone for political discourse, which continues to play out across America today. Continue reading