At last weekend's Newport Folk Festival, Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit's Friday set featured a marquee special guest: David Crosby, who performed Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young's "Ohio" with the band. Isbell has covered the song before in concert multiple times, but this version unsurprisingly had extra grit and exuded a grimmer tone that was mesmerizing. Isbell and Crosby's harmonies were weary but wise, and the performance's multiple-electric guitar approach added tenacity. It didn't feel like a song nearing 50 years old; it was vital contemporary commentary.
It was inevitable that Paul McCartney's appearance on James Corden's "Carpool Karaoke" would make a splash. The musician's not just famous: He's a Beatle, at a level of famous that's almost hard to comprehend, it's in such rarefied air. But the extended episode quickly became a viral hit: The video is at 91 million views (and counting) on Facebook, with another 21 million YouTube views piled on for good measure.
Even though much of the country was in a deep freeze during the first week of January, there was at least one ray of sunshine: the 2018 Coachella lineup announcement.
Leonard Cohen Is Gone: The Broken-Hearted Scoundrel and Master of Lament Dies at Home, 'Writing up Until His Last Moments'
In a year marred by unexpected musician deaths, it was still shocking to read the status on Leonard Cohen’s Facebook page early Thursday evening: “It is with profound sorrow we report that legendary poet, songwriter and artist Leonard Cohen has passed away. We have lost one of music’s most revered and prolific visionaries.”
A Facebook friend recently prefaced his casual announcement that he was going to see U2 with a tongue-in-cheek addition: “Here’s a polarizing subject.” Indeed, very quickly, the thread devolved into fans of the band and passionate detractors mildly arguing with each other about the seemingly innocuous statement. This response was entirely predictable: U2 have always been a lightning rod for controversy and an easy target for ridicule and disdain, often and especially because of their own actions (e.g., Bono spray-painting “Rock and Roll Stops the Traffic” on a San Francisco public fountain, overindulging on red wine and disappearing for a quick nap during an interview, insulting Coldplay’s Chris Martin on the radio). Even though the band members themselves are often the first to admit to any foolishness or idiocy–Bono especially–it doesn’t seem to make much of a dent in the thicket of negativity surrounding them.
Several weeks ago, BuzzFeed ran a roundtable discussion of ’90s rock songs titled “38 Great Alt-Rock Songs You Haven’t Thought About In 20 Years.” The list was impressively thorough, covering the decade’s myriad fierce women and women-fronted acts (Juliana Hatfield, Poe, Letters to Cleo), musical obscurities (St. Johnny, Dig, Ammonia), oddities (Whale’s “Hobo Humpin’ Slobo Babe”) and great bands that should have been huger (Girls Against Boys).