Tag Archives: Rolling Stone

How Do You Write a Song, Mark Knopfler?

11 Oct

You know Mark Knopfler. Dire Straits. Sultans of Swing, Romeo and Juliet, Tunnel of Love, Money for Nothing. And solo albums, too. A great songwriter. And that MarkKnopfler.10.10.13.crvoice. So distinctive, gruff yet honest. He mixes different styles and genres of music, blends them to make a sound that is his alone. Put together that voice, the lyrics, the melodies, the music, and he makes you feel what he feels.

But it’s that Mark Knopfler is one of the greatest guitarists on the planet. That’s how I consider him first and foremost. No doubt about it.

He came out with a new album last year, Privateering, which is finally being released here in the U.S. now. He told Rolling Stone that he’s more in love with writing songs than he’s ever been, and credits a sense of discipline that has developed with age … and that his perspective as a writer has definitely shifted over the years:

“I don’t know whether your heart ever necessarily changes, but time changes the way that you perceive the world, and you just hope it gives you more empathy and all those other things.”

Oh, so now Money for Nothing is in your head and it won’t stop? Yeah, try to get that guitar riff out of there. Better yet, don’t! You’re welcome.


Privateering: Mark Knopfler Official Website
Interview: Rolling Stone
Pic of Mark Knopfler performing in Barcelona, Spain: Miquel Benitez/Redferns via Getty Images


Rowling, Rolling Stone, and the Role of Beethoven

19 Jul

Some Friday faves for you.

So there’s this well-reviewed thriller, The Cuckoo’s Calling, modest sales, debut author, name of Robert Galbraith. Turns out this very well written and very well paced novel is by J.K. Rowling. And now sales are going through the roof. But wait, there’s more. Rowling is disappointed about the leak of her pseudonym. She enjoyed the anonymity. Well, she can say goodbye to that.

Hard to miss the brouhaha built up this week surrounding the cover of the Rolling Stone. See, you have to phrase it that way, the cover of the Rolling Stone. Because there’s a song out there that makes it impossible not to refer to it that way. Anyway. Glamorizing terrorism or savvy marketing or good journalism, here’s my take.

FF.Beethoven5.dogAbout that Da-da-da-DAAHH thing. You know those first four notes of Beethoven’s Fifth? How we know, we can feel, we anticipate the rest? That’s because our brain’s transmitters are bustling. A professor of neuroscience explains why that’s such a great thing for music lovers. Oh, and about the pic of Beethoven the Dog…sorry about the mix-up.


Is it Still Cool to be on the Cover of the Rolling Stone?

18 Jul

Rolling Stone is in the business to make money. They need to sell ads and get people to buy their magazines. And they know that provocative magazine covers sell. Founded in 1967 in San Francisco by Jann Wenner, it has been on the forefront of music and journalism for almost a half-century. They want to maintain their relevance, their importance in the national conversation. They want to be the voice and ultimate source for all things cool and relevant. That their reputation as a major marketer of mainstream entertainment may now transcend their bonafides as a publisher of cutting edge cultural critique makes  us wonder: Have their early days of music, peace, and love been replaced with music, peace, and money?

A treasured coveted piece of rock ‘n’ roll real estate. That’s how cool it is to be on the cover of the Rolling Stone. There’s even a song about it, the great Dr. Hook and the Medicine Show’s The Cover of the Rolling Stone. No other words have ever expressed better what that achievement really means:

Oh, we’re big rock singers. We got golden fingers. And we’re loved everywhere we go…We take all kinds of pills To give us all kind of thrills, But the thrill we’ve never known Is the thrill that’ll getcha When you get your picture On the cover of the Rolling Stone…Rolling Stone…Wanna see my picture on the cover. Rolling Stone… Wanna buy five copies for my Mother. Rolling Stone…Wanna see my smiling face On the cover of the Rolling Stone… But our minds won’t really get blown Like the blow that’ll getcha When you get your picture On the cover of the Rolling Stone.

What are we to make of the Rolling Stone August 2013 issue with the Boston bomber on the cover? Is it glamorizing terrorism as many think? The article inside written by Janet Reitman is a thoughtful account of who he was before his act and its devastating aftermath. In 1970, Charles Manson was on the cover. And the article won them a National Magazine Award. Is he getting “rock star” treatment? The cover of the September 1981 issue had a beautiful and still dead Jim Morrison. With an allure founded on a bad boy reputation of drinking, drugs, arrests, and riots. But he left us a legacy of evocative music that still has meaning.

We see rock star hair and a guarded direct gaze. What has he left us? Not anything good. His legacy is one of terror and victims. Is Rolling Stone making him a celebrity? They certainly have a controversial cover that may sell lots of issues. It’s getting a lot of media coverage. And it certainly has a lot of people talking. The question is: Is it still cool to be on the cover of the Rolling Stone?



The Cover of the Rolling Stone lyrics: Shel Silverstein

A Music Journalist Who Raised A Genre’s Standing

24 Jun

Chet Flippo died this week. He was a music journalist who had influence on a music genre. He eloquently garnered it awareness and consideration. Resulting in its lasting presence. At Rolling Stone in the 1970’s, it was Chet Flippo’s profiles of Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, and Dolly Parton that led to their popularity by a pop music audience.

Rolling Stone’s music journalists’ names were well-known to its readers. We knew their different styles and what mattered to them. Mostly, what fascinated them fascinated us. And Flippo, as he was called, was one of the great music writers whose name we knew.

TrendingTrbute.Flippo.6.24.13From writing about Janis Joplin’s 10th year high school reunion in 1970, to John Lennon, the Rolling Stones, and Bob Dylan, his rock journo cred was established. But it was his interest in “country and western” music that led to his championing of the genre. And it was his passionate advocacy that ultimately helped it to become simply “country” music. Flippo played a crucial role in promoting it to a rock ‘n’ roll audience in the ’70s and ’80s. Starting with Willie Nelson, who he considered overlooked and underrated, he went on to write about Waylon Jennings, who was opening for the Grateful Dead, and Dolly Parton, “country music’s best-kept secret.” One of his early articles was Country Music: The Rock and Roll Influence.

ChetFlippo.RollingStones.bookAfter he left Rolling Stone, he wrote his first book, Your Cheatin’ Heart: A Biography of Hank Williams. His subsequent books were about Paul McCartney, the Rolling Stones, and David Bowie. He was Billboard’s Nashville Bureau Chief and, since 2001, he was editorial director of the country music cable channel CMT.

Bringing country music to the rock ‘n’ roll mainstream exposed incredible musicians to a new audience. That’s a pretty good legacy.

The New York Times: June 24, 2013
Rolling Stone: June 19, 2013

%d bloggers like this: