All the Songs Are Now Yours: Every Song Ever

All the Songs Are Now Yours: Every Song EverBen Ratliff’s Every Song Ever is a music appreciation guide for our era of free or very cheap music, instantaneously available everywhere and to nearly everyone, delivered from the cloud to tiny, relatively inexpensive devices that deliver loud, clear, and accurate sound.

Bizet Opera Wins at the Met

Bizet Opera Wins at the Met

“It’s a B-opera,” a voice purred sardonically in the row behind me at the Met, making a small puncture mark in what felt otherwise like general warm enthusiasm following a performance of Georges Bizet’s Les Pêcheurs de Perles. The speaker had a point. If a B-opera is something like a B-movie, then The Pearl Fishers has some of the same characteristics—brevity, spareness (four solo voices and a chorus carry the whole show), and rapid exposition—and is built around a libretto whose central elements might call to mind a Hollywood second feature along the lines of /i>Bird of Paradise or Pearl of the South Pacific: an exotic isle (Ceylon), a prohibited desire, two friends torn apart by their love for the same woman, a devastating storm interpreted by superstitious islanders as a manifestation of divine wrath.

Read more about Bizet here: 

Catastrophic Coltrane and his late Music

Catastrophic Coltrane and his late Music

Geoff Dyer


Offering: Live at Temple University offers further evidence of the catastrophe of the last phase of John Coltrane’s work. “Last” rather than “late” because he became ill and died too suddenly (on July 17, 1967), too early, to have properly entered a late period. He was forty. In any other field of activity that would be a desperately short life. Only in jazz could it be considered broadly in line with actuarial norms. So there’s no late phase in the accepted sense of Beethoven having arrived at a late style, only a sudden ceasing of the unceasing torrent of sound

The interest of recordings from John Coltrane’s final phase—in which his playing became increasingly frenzied and the accompaniment more abstracted—lies partly in what they preserve and partly in any hints they contain as to where Trane might have headed next.

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Soul Legend Bobby Womack Passes Away


Bobby Womack was a rare musical talent who made an indelible influence in early  Rock n’ Roll history. This was before he became famous as a soul singer. Recording as the Valentinos, one his songs ‘It’s All Over Now’ was remade by the Rolling Stones early in their career. This song would eventually end up on Billboard U.K Top 10 list. Bobby Womack had a very illustrious career and his musical achievements are too numerous to list. Readers of The Literati are provided with excerpts and links to two excellent tributes.

Readers are also encouraged to listen to both versions of ‘It’s All Over Now’ and comment on which they think is the best.

Here is the original version:  

This is the Rolling Stones version:



Bobby Womack’s death is a huge loss. There are other soul singers and songwriters who are ranked higher in the pantheon because they’re considered auteurs: Marvin Gaye, obviously, and Curtis Mayfield, and Sly Stone. But Womack belongs among them, now and forever. He started out with his brothers in Cleveland, in a family gospel act; first hit the charts as a teen after the group, renamed the Valentinos, was discovered by Sam Cooke; wrote that first hit, “Lookin’ for a Love”; also wrote one of the early classics of the rock-and-roll era (“It’s All Over Now,” famously covered by the Rolling Stones); became an in-demand session guitarist (for Aretha Franklin and others) and songwriter (for Wilson Pickett and others); went solo; stayed solo; released a string of albums through the early seventies that combined his increasingly sophisticated compositions, his profoundly soulful covers of other people’s hits, and long between-song monologues; co-wrote “Breezin’,” later for George Benson; continued to write, record, and tour; became an elder statesman; appeared on the Gorillaz’s “Plastic Beach”; had a comeback record produced by Damon Albarn; was diagnosed with cancer; beat cancer; was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s; and, finally, Friday, left the earth a far better place than he had found it.

read more about Bobby Womack’s legacy by Ben Greenham for the New Yorker

Here is another excellent tribute in Rolling Stone Magazine by Jason Newman


Will Ferrell and Chad Smith Face Each Other in a Doppelganger Drum Off



Will Ferrell and Chad Smith in a Doppelganger Drum OffWill Ferrell and Chad Smith in a Doppelganger Drum Off



Will Ferrel fans who are fans of the Red Hot Chilly Peppers and could stay up past their bedtime with a child like enthusiasm for a freak show, had a very special treat last night on the Jimmy Falon Show. In real life, the band’s ace drummer Chad Smith bears an uncanny resemblance to Will Ferrell.

 Sitting together as guests they are almost indistinguishable, except for when they speak, because their mannerisms are unfortunately not doppelganger proof.  The superstar comedian’s manner of speech is obviously more familiar to audiences around the world. However, for the first few minutes as they are seated and introduced as guests, their resemblance seems too perfect to be true. We wonder briefly, if there were special effects involved? Neither are interested in discussing this doppelganger aspect of their lives. There is only one question to be answered. Who is the better drummer? In this earnest drum duel, the humor is not compromised for musical talent and Will Ferrell has unsurprisingly put up a good show against Chad Smith. 

Turkey’s rock ‘n’ roll imam spurs controversy

Country’s religious authority investigating whether Ahmet Muhsin Tuzer’s music is ‘un-Islamic’, as band faces threats.

On a recent afternoon, Ahmet Muhsin Tuzer recites the Muslim call to prayer in the Turkish village of Pinarbasi – part of his regular religious duties.

Then the 42-year-old imam returns home to blast a few of his favourite heavy rock tunes: Iron Maiden’s “Fear of the dark”, Pink Floyd’s “Hey you” and Metallica’s “Wherever I may roam.” He sways his head rhythmically.

“If God allows,” Tuzer shouts above the thundering chords, “I would love to play music in front of hundreds of thousands of people like they did.”

While Tuzer has had a small taste of that ambition – his own band, FiRock, performed this summer in front of 1,000 people in his hometown of Kas, a tourist city on Turkey’s Mediterranean coast – the state does not appear impressed by his musical talent. Turkey’s government-funded religious affairs directorate, Diyanet, which oversees more than 80,000 Turkish mosques, has set up an inquiry into the imam’s actions.


Postscript: Kalaparusha Maurice McIntyre, 1936-2013


A certain kind of creative magic was happening in the mid-nineteen-sixties on the South Side of Chicago. A group of African-American experimentalists organized themselves into a collective called the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians, or the A.A.C.M., that has produced some of the most revolutionary American sounds of the past fifty years. Rather than adopting any particular style, the A.A.C.M. nurtured the radical individualism of its members, blowing past the idiomatic restrictions of jazz while embracing its tradition of innovation. The combination of a supportive community of fellow outsiders with a committed philosophy of artistic independence and creative investigation resulted in an extraordinary cohort of musicians and composers: Muhal Richard Abrams, the Art Ensemble of Chicago, Anthony Braxton, Wadada Leo Smith, and Henry Threadgill, to name a few. Last week, this family lost one of its members, an artist less known to the wider public but admired deeply by his peers: Kalaparusha Maurice McIntyre, who passed away on November 9th.

Born in Clarksville, Arkansas, in 1936, McIntyre was raised on the South Side, the child of a pharmacist and a seamstress. He was fascinated by the saxophone as a child, but distracted as a teen-ager, first by football, then by drugs. He only returned to the instrument after spending two years in a federal narcotics prison in Lexington, Kentucky, where he passed time in the practice studio and studied music with fellow inmates, including the legendary bebop pianist Tadd Dameron. After his release, in 1962, McIntyre returned to Chicago and began his career as a professional musician, working with local jazz and blues artists. Soon he began crossing paths with musicians like the saxophonist Roscoe Mitchell and the pianist Muhal Richard Abrams, whose Experimental Band was the communal breeding ground for the coming wave of Chicago musical rebels.



Mr. Byrne, do you write songs differently now than you did 30 years ago?

I couldn’t write the same kind of songs now that I wrote then. I am not the same person and you don’t have the same anxieties and passions as you do when you’re in your twenties. But I find other ways of writing. I found that I can write from another person’s point of view or I can even use someone else’s words and make a song out of that. And that is liberating for me because it allows me to express emotions through another person that I would never ever express on my own.

Listening to Elliott Carter

Tim Page

It is now just a year since the death of the composer Elliott Carter and his absence still seems a little unreal. He lived a very long life—he died thirty-six days before his one hundred and fourth birthday—and he remained active up to the end, creating some of the warmest, most direct and intimate music of his career in his final years. Such longevity in itself is astounding: think of long-lived composers like Giuseppe Verdi, Richard Strauss, and Jean Sibelius, and then consider that all of them were either dead or retired at the point when Carter was embarking on his first and only opera, What’s Next?, at the age of eighty-eight, with another fifteen years of work yet ahead of him.

Catching Up with Vijay Iyer


In 2009, the pianist and composer Vijay Iyer experienced what would normally be considered a “career year” in the jazz world. His album “Historicity” had striking original music and distinguished covers of songs by M.I.A. and Julius Hemphill. Yet to the surprise of Iyer, who had more than a decade of touring and recording under his belt, the album took off and became an end-of-year best-album pick among jazz critics. “I didn’t expect everyone to vote for me,” he said over lunch this week. This year has brought him even headier votes of institutional confidence. In addition to receiving a MacArthur “genius” grant and tenure in Harvard’s music department, Iyer has been at work in a variety of artistic practices—even by his standards of variety.


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