Results for Johnny Cash

interviews

Peter Guralnick on Sam Phillips & Sun Studios

Samphillipsbook Peter Guralnick has written extensively about American music for decades including a two-part biography on Elvis Presley, the biography Searching for Robert Johnson and an acclaimed trilogy on American roots music. Now he's back with a comprehensive look at Sam Phillips called The Man Who Invented Rock ‘n’ Roll: How One Man Discoverd Howlin' Wolf, Ike Turner, Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Cash and Elvis Presley and How His Tiny Label Sun Records of Memphis, Revolutionized the World. If Sam Phillips, Sun Studios or Sun Records are new names to you, Peter wants to take you back to 1950s and 60s for what many historians call the birth of rock ‘n’ roll. Sun was home to black and white artists of the era who were merging genres like country, gospel, and R&B in ways unthinkable at the time. And that kind of freedom of spirit and enthusiasm, in addition to the idea that everybody has a song to sing, were the tenants of the Sun sound, even more than sonic hallmarks like "slapback echo."

Go to episode 523

Mike Heidorn of Uncle Tupelo

You can trace alternative country's roots to the 1960's when rock musicians such as Gram Parsons, The Byrds and the Flatlanders began dabbling with and reinvigorating country music. It was part of a wider investigation of American roots music in rock, a move toward more“authentic”styles. These rockers looked to country greats like Hank Williams, The Carter Family, Johnny Cash and Merle Haggard for inspiration — Bob Dylan famously collaborated with Cash on "Girl From the North Country." In the '70s and early '80s, a new generation of punk rockers started digging into traditional country for inspiration, including X, The Mekons, Rank & File, Jason and the Scorchers and the Long Ryders. Then third wave of alt country hit in the late '80s and early '90s, led by The Jayhawks out of Minneapolis and Uncle Tupelo, the trio of Jay Farrar, Jeff Tweedy and Mike Heidorn, out of Belleville, Illinois, just outside St. Louis. Uncle Tupelo's debut album,“No Depression,”took its name from a Carter Family song, "No Depression in Heaven," and it's one of many the key albums in defining the alt-country movement of this era. We have this band to thank for groups like Farrar's Son Volt, Tweedy's Wilco, Ryan Adams' Whiskeytown, the Drive-By-Truckers and the Old 97's …and not to mention No Depression Magazine. Legacy Recordings recently reissued No Depression, complete with some never before released demo tracks from 1987 to 1989. And to talk about it, Jim and Greg are joined by Uncle Tupelo's founding drummer Mike Heidorn.

Go to episode 442

Rosanne Cash

Considering that Rosanne Cash was born into music royalty, she's a veteran of the business. But that hasn't stopped her from blazing her own trail. The eldest daughter of Johnny Cash, Rosanne, too, is something of a maverick, never fitting into any proper "Country" or "Rock" cagetories. She eschewed the binding confines of Nashville for New York City, where she lives with husband and musical partner John Leventhal. Rosanne recently released her 13th studio album, The River and the Thread, and she joined us for a special live performance at the WXPN studios in Philadelphia. She talked with Jim and Greg about her father's legacy, working with her husband, breaking away from the Nashville industrial complex, and how she can write a beautiful song based on a tweet.

Go to episode 452

Benmont Tench

Benmont Tench is one of the most prolific keyboardists in rock and roll, and his iconic organ solos on songs like "Refugee" make him the understated driving force of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers since its inception in 1976. Aside from his success with the Heartbreakers, he's found a fruitful career as a sideman and session musician for artists like Bob Dylan, Stevie Nicks, Johnny Cash and others. Also, he released his first and only solo album in 2014, You Should Be So Lucky. Tench joins Jim and Greg for a candid and funny conversation about his experiences in the music business, the genesis of the Heartbreakers and much more. He also gives an exclusive live performance of a track off his solo record.

Go to episode 602

Moby

Singer, songwriter, producer, and now troubadour Moby joined Jim and Greg a few weeks ago for a live interview and performance at the Public Radio Programmer's Conference in Philadelphia, PA, known to us in the biz as the PRPD. Moby has been on the show a number of times, but never before a live audience. The first song he performs is actually one he worked on for John Kerry's presidential campaign in 2004 — and we'd like to think this event was no less auspicious for Moby. Also enjoy his rendition of a Johnny Cash song (one written by June Carter Cash), and feel free to sing along!

In between musical interludes that include the tracks "Go" and "Porcelain," Jim and Greg walk Moby through his musical evolution. His career, which now spans over 20 years, is celebrated in a new double-disc set entitled Go: The Very Best of Moby. Though, as Jim points out, the album doesn‘t do justice’s to Moby's hardcore punk, or even hardcore electronica roots. Fans know that Moby is no stranger to extremes, though. In addition to being a“rock star,”Moby is a Christian, a vegan, and… a tea lover!

Go to episode 49

Chris Jones

Chris Jones In anticipation of this weekend's Tony Awards, Jim and Greg invite Chicago Tribune theater critic Chris Jones to join them on the show. Jones has been watching the trend of intersecting rock and theater for years, and this year it seems to have come to an apex. All four of the nominees for Best Musical have rock roots: American Idiot, which features music by Green Day, Million Dollar Quartet, which is inspired by the famed recording session featuring Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins, Fela!, which is based on the music of African musician Fela Kuti, and Memphis, which tells the story of a rock DJ in Memphis in the 1950s. As Chris Jones explains, much of this trend is the result of economic interests–a new generation of theatergoers raised on rock and roll are now willing to pay big bucks for Broadway shows. He also credits shows like Spring Awakening for helping to bend the old musical rules. To Jim and Greg's surprise, Chris enthusiastically recommends American Idiot and doesn‘t think the band’s fans will be put off.

Go to episode 237
specials

Best Second Acts

Go ahead…"call it a comeback." This week Jim and Greg highlight some of rock and roll's best Second Acts. These artists either fell into obscurity or went down a bad path before reemerging successfully, perhaps better than before. Famous examples include Johnny Cash, Leonard Cohen and Elvis Presley, who told the world he wasn‘t yet down for the count at his ’68 Comeback Special. There's also Santana, whose record Supernatural went 15 times platinum in 1999, decades after his heyday in the late ‘60s. And don’t forget about Cher, who at age 53 had the number one song "Believe." Here are Jim and Greg's favorite "Comeback Kids."

Go to episode 334

Country Music

Frequently on the show Jim and Greg like to take on a single music genre-often one that needs a little more TLC. And perhaps no genre is more maligned, especially in the rock world, than Country Music. We‘ve all joked about the lyrical clich’es-women, booze, death and dogs. And we all know that there's a lot of bad, over-produced arena country dominating today's scene. But, this week's guest thinks country has gotten a bad rap. Chrissie Dickinson began her career as a punk rocker, but in the 1990's she had a country epiphany. Eventually she went on to edit The Journal of Country Music. She admits that “hat acts” like Garth Brooks have not been great for the Nashville sound, but doesn‘t think that artists should get dismissed merely because they’ve gone pop. Even Patsy Cline was pop-country, or “countrypolitan.” Chrissie hopes that rock fans will be willing to add mainstream Nashville artists like Alan Jackson and Vince Gill to their “country cred” collection of Johnny Cash and Loretta Lynn.

Go to episode 241
classic album dissections
At Folsom Prison (Live)At Folsom Prison available on iTunes

Johnny Cash At Folsom Prison

Johnny Cash's At Folsom Prison turns 45 this month, and Jim and Greg celebrate its birthday by revisiting their Classic Album Dissection. Considered one of the greatest live recordings in rock ‘n’ roll history, At Folsom Prison marks a turning point in Johnny Cash's long career. As Greg explains, by the late sixties Cash was considered a has-been. He'd been through a divorce, developed a drug problem, and was releasing albums of questionable taste. But in 1968, Columbia producer Bob Johnston took the "Man in Black" up on his long-time idea of recording at a prison. It's a fitting location, Jim notes, for an artist who'd spent time in the slammer himself. At Folsom Prison captures Cash's moment of redemption. Backed by Carl Perkins and the Tennessee Three and joined onstage by June Carter, Cash sang about the prison experience in songs like "Folsom Prison Blues," "Dark as a Dungeon," and "Greystone Chapel." At Folsom Prison swept the Country Music Awards that year, cementing Cash's comeback.

Go to episode 392
At Folsom Prison (Live)Live at Folsom Prison available on iTunes

Johnny Cash Live at Folsom Prison

Live at Folsom Prison has been regarded as one of the greatest live recordings in rock and roll history and marks a point of redemption in Johnny Cash's long career. As Greg explains, he was considered by many to be a has-been. But, in 1968 Columbia producer Bob Johnston took Cash up on his long-time idea of recording at a prison. The singer had previously played shows in prisons, but had not recorded. It's a fitting location for the“man in black,”since he had flirted with trouble and had spent some time in jail. He also went through a divorce, developed a drug problem, and seemed to be all but finished in the music industry. But one of Folsom's guest vocalists, June Carter-Cash, played a huge role in helping Johnny Cash get his life back on track. Cash won the Album of the Year at the 2nd annual Country Music Awards for Folsom Prison, and it helped make him a huge star again.

The location of the recording was a key factor to the album's success. Folsom Prison was not a friendly place. As Jim describes, it was an ugly, smelly, scary“dungeon”where law-abiding citizens would not feel very comfortable. But Cash wanted to record an album there because he showed empathy toward the prisoners, and the performer's cool demeanor brought out an energy and excitement in the audience that hadn‘t been heard in live recordings before. In addition to June Carter, Cash’s band at Folsom consisted of the Tennessee Three, Carl Perkins and the Statler Brothers.

Jim and Greg pick out the key songs on At Folsom Prison to wrap up the dissection. Greg goes with "25 Minutes to Go". It was written by Shel Silverstein from the perspective of a convict on Death Row who is counting down the minutes of his life. You can hear the crowd's enthusiastic response throughout the song.

Jim discusses "Greystone Chapel", the last song on the album. It was written by Glen Sherley, a former inmate at Folsom. The Reverend Gresset introduced Cash to the song the night prior to the performance, and it moved Cash so much so that he decided to make it his closing song.

Throughout Johnny Cash's entire career, he walked a line between sinfulness and redeeming grace. At Folsom Prison highlights Cash's artistic intentions, not to preach at the prisoners of Folsom, but to relate to their situations. He was singing as one of them, a sinner, who would rather hang out with prisoners than "some of the 'saints‘ he’d met."

Forty years later the album is still inspiring artists such as Reverend Horton Heat, Pine Valley Cosmonauts, and Uncle Tupelo.

Go to episode 141
reviews
Cash: The Legend

Johnny Cash Cash: The Legend

One of numerous Johnny Cash box sets, Cash: The Legend was released in time for the hoopla surrounding the Cash biopic, Walk the Line. Jim first points out that he doesn't like the way the set is organized. He loves the first disc, but is not sure about the rest of the choices. Greg, the show's resident Cash expert, thinks this box set is better than most, but is still flawed. It lacks many of Cash's Sun recordings, as well as his most recent work with super-producer Rick Rubin. This is a Burn It for both critics. Jim's Buy It picks for Cash fans are Love, God, Murder and Unearthed. Greg gets to pick the song this time around, and, much to Jim's dismay, chooses "The Wanderer," a track written by U2.

JimGreg
Go to episode 3
American V: A Hundred HighwaysAmerican V: A Hundred Highways available on iTunes

Johnny Cash American V: A Hundred Highways

This Independence Day also marked the release of a new posthumous album from country legend Johnny Cash. American V: A Hundred Highways is the latest in a series of collaborations between Cash and producer Rick Rubin. As Jim and Greg explain, this was an unlikely partnership resulting in extraordinary music. Rubin, who has mostly worked in the rock and rap arenas with such acts as Run DMC and the Red Hot Chili Peppers, brought a new perspective to Cash's music. He highlighted the strength of Cash's vocals and introduced him to songs by Roberta Flack and Nine Inch Nails. But, both Jim and Greg agree that the collaboration was less than amazing this time around. Cash began recording these songs in 2003, after the death of his wife June Carter and shortly before his own, and you can hear his failing health in his voice. Greg likens the experience to that of listening to Billie Holiday's final recording, Lady in Satin. Both albums leave the listener feeling like a voyeur intruding on the singer's pain and sadness. Jim misses the sense of joy and triumph that Rubin helped bring to Cash's work in the last few years. He wishes that the music had a little more“middle finger”in it, referring to the team's famous Billboard ad in which Cash gives the country music establishment the bird. Therefore, both critics can only give American V a Burn It rating, and instead direct fans to two other releases: Personal File and the American Records box set, Unearthed.

JimGreg
Go to episode 32
Don't Lose ThisDon't Lose This available on iTunes

Pops Staples Don't Lose This

Reviewing a posthumous release is a tricky thing. You want to honor a great artist with a glowing review, but inevitably there's always something lacking. Jim and Greg agree on this when it comes to Pops Staples' final album, Don't Lose This, released 15 years after it the music was recorded and after the artist died. Having Pops on record so late in his life is like a gift to music fans, but Jim hears his voice deteriorating and compares it to Johnny Cash's recordings with Rick Rubin. Greg agrees that this isn‘t Pops’ best work or the place to start with The Staples Singers. But, both critics hear standout songwriting moments that still resonate today. Indeed: “Don't Lose This.” The album, produced by Jeff Tweedy, gets a double Try It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 482
American VI: Ain't No GraveAmerican VI: Ain't No Grave available on iTunes

Johnny Cash American VI: Ain't No Grave

Despite having passed away in 2003, Johnny Cash is still releasing new albums. Case in point: American VI: Ain't No Grave, the latest in Rick Rubin's American Recordings series. Rubin and Cash seemed like an unlikely pairing, but the partnership has resulted in some of Cash's most memorable performances. Greg finds the 6th album somewhat disturbing to hear; you can tell he was deteriorating. The songs have a psychedelic quality, nodding at the world Cash would soon be moving on to. Greg gives Ain't No Grave a Buy It rating. Jim heard three excellent tracks, but found the remaining either embarrassing or painful. He feels this material should've stayed private or been released as outtakes and gives the record a Try It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 222
Blood Sugar Sex MagikStadium Arcadium available on iTunes

The Red Hot Chili Peppers Stadium Arcadium

The Red Hot Chili Peppers also released a highly anticipated album this week. Their 28-song double album was produced by superstar producer Rick Rubin. Rubin previously worked with the Southern California natives on their big mainstream breakout album Blood Sugar Sex Magik, as well as later hit Californication. As the co-founder of Def Jam Records with Russell Simmons, Rubin produced albums for The Beastie Boys and Run D.M.C. He's also acted as producer for Nine Inch Nails, System of a Down, and the late Johnny Cash. It's surprising then, say Jim and Greg, that Rubin would be such a poor editor on this latest effort. Both critics agree that this album doesn‘t deserve to be nearly as long as it is, especially since more than half of the songs can be considered ballads — a far cry from the Chili Peppers’ punk-funk roots. Those ballads are evidence of lead singer Anthony Kiedis' self-proclaimed spiritual transformation, but Jim and Greg are not quite moved. They can still hear a few moments when Kiedis' former, party-loving self comes through. The album, which was recorded in Harry Houdini's former home, is worth hearing for John Frusciante's guitar playing, but not worth a purchase. Stadium Arcadium gets a Trash It from both hosts.

JimGreg
Go to episode 23
Duets - The Final ChapterDuets: The Final Chapter available on iTunes

Notorious B.I.G. Duets: The Final Chapter

Next up Jim and Greg review the latest album by the Notorious B.I.G. They hesitate to say it is“by him,”however, being that the rapper died in 1997. Despite this fact, his music is still being released, and on this go-around, Duets: The Final Chapter, he was even paired with another deceased music icon. Biggie Smalls is the latest in a long line of musicians to continue to do big business after death. Other artists with posthumous releases and commercially successful legacies include Elvis Presley, John Lennon, Johnny Cash and Jimi Hendrix. Biggie's posthumous release is approaching platinum status, but our critics wonder if it really needed to be made. Duets is so chock full of all-star cameo that listeners may wonder who this record is about. For the sheer novelty of it, Duets gets a "Burn It" rating from Jim. For Greg, though, the songs are mediocre and the sentiment insincere. He gives it and the entire posthumous phenomenon a "Trash It."

JimGreg
Go to episode 10
Mirror MirrorMirror Mirror available on iTunes

Sons and Daughters Mirror Mirror

Next up is a review of the latest by the Scottish quartet Sons and Daughters. The band has always had a rougher, more“American”sound than its peers. They reference everyone from Johnny Cash to X, but Jim wondered if they were just a one-trick pony. On this album, Mirror Mirror, there's a considerable mood shift. Jim hears a witchy, Celtic vibe courtesy of the addition of synths. Greg agrees that this terrific band might have overstayed what people thought would be a short career, but they‘ve continued to grow. He calls Sons and Daughters one of the strongest bands of the last decade, and says it’s about time people started paying attention in the US. Mirror Mirror gets a double Buy It rating.

JimGreg
Go to episode 297
Praise & BlamePraise and Blame available on iTunes

Tom Jones Praise and Blame

Tom Jones has been loosening knickers for half a century. Now he's back with a more“serious”album called Praise and Blame, but Jim and Greg wish he was still pushing the feel good hits. Following in the path of late career comebacks like Johnny Cash and Neil Diamond, Jones lends his baritone to classic blues and folk covers. The voice is still there, Jim admits, but with it none of the camp or smarm. Greg doesn't find these renditions authentic, and wishes Jones would just embrace his persona. Praise and Blame gets a double Trash It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 246
MojoMojo available on iTunes

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers Mojo

In his four decades in music, Tom Petty has appeared to do it all. He's been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, he's performed at the Superbowl, and he's collaborated with everyone from George Harrison to Johnny Cash. So, Jim and Greg wonder, what's left to accomplish? On his new album Mojo, it sounds like the only goal was to have an easygoing jam. That's not a bad thing, necessarily, but Jim feels like the fight has gone out of Petty. Greg agrees, explaining that Mojo is more about the band's performances and the songs themselves. Both critics give Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers a Try It rating.

JimGreg
Go to episode 238
dijs

Greg

“Ring of Fire”Johnny Cash

For his Desert Island Jukebox selection, Greg celebrates the musical legacy of Cowboy Jack Clement, the country music producer, songwriter, and artist who died recenly at age 82. Jack made his name at Memphis's Sun Studios during the 1950's, recording greats like Jerry Lee Lewis. But it was at Columbia that he helped craft Johnny Cash's inimitable "Ring of Fire." The night before the“Ring of Fire”recording session, Cash had a dream about Mariachi trumpets. And he knew just who to turn to make that dream a reality. Greg credits Clement's horn riff on“Ring of Fire”with the track's enduring energy and distinctiveness.

Go to episode 403

Greg

“Angel From Montgomery”John Prine

Dylan is not America's only great literary songwriter. John Prine, now 70, has been championed by legendary figures from Johnny Cash, Kris Kristofferson, Bonnie Raitt, and Dylan himself. Born in Maywood, Illinois, Prine moved to Chicago as a young man, performing three times a week at an open mic night at a club called The Fifth Peg where he was discovered. Even at that young age, Greg feels his songs featured an astounding amount of empathy. That's best seen in "Angel From Montgomery," written from the perspective of a 47-year-old woman trapped in a marriage. Greg nominates Prine's 1970 live performance at the Fifth Peg, when he was still an unknown, to the Desert Island Jukebox.

Go to episode 571
lists

Valentine's Day Live

With Valentine's Day just around the corner, Sound Opinions decided to have an intimate celebration — just Jim, Greg…and a couple hundred of their closest friends. They invited listeners to join them in a live taping at the Chicago Cultural Center. They were also joined by alt-country troubadour Robbie Fulks and his wife Donna. Robbie and Donna agreed to act as the Paul Shaffer of the show and perform the hosts‘ favorite love, lust and anti-love songs. They also treated the audience to some of Robbie’s own songs.

There are so many different types of love songs in rock and roll, that Jim and Greg had to divide their picks into 3 different categories:“Love Stinks,”"Endless Love," and“Carnal Love.”These hit all the notes of heartbreak, romance and lust that run through rock music. Jim and Greg picked out some of their favorite love songs and asked Robbie and Donna to perform them. Here are the selections featured on the show:

Love Stinks

  • Jim: Rolling Stones, "Dead Flowers"
  • Greg: Richard and Linda Thompson, "Walking a on Wire"

Endless Love

  • Jim: Mudhoney, "If I Think"
  • Greg: Smokey Robinson, "You Really Got a Hold On Me"

Carnal Love

  • Jim: The Troggs, "I Want You"
  • Greg: Amazing Rhythm Aces, "Third Rate Romance"

The audience also got a chance to get in on the action. Here are some of their favorite love songs:

  • Sebadoh, "Not a Friend"
  • Extreme, "More Than Words"
  • Neutral Milk Hotel, "In The Aero Plane Over The Sea"

Sound Opinions H.Q. also dug up some trivia on two famous rock couples. Biographer Michael Streissguth, who wrote Johnny Cash at Folsom Prison: The Making of a Masterpiece, believes that Johnny Cash and June Carter-Cash's“song”would have to be "Meet Me in Heaven." While "Ring of Fire" encapsulated their relationship early on,“Meet Me in Heaven,”is a song the couple loved to perform together later in their life. The lyrics really expressed how Johnny felt about growing old with June.

Also, Charles Cross, who wrote Heavier Than Heaven: A Biography of Kurt Cobain, told us that Kurt and Courtney Love's song was an odd one. "Seasons in the Sun," by Terry Jacks was a favorite of the punk-loving couple. This was the first song Kurt Cobain ever purchased on a 45, and he appreciated its origins. The song was based on a French story by Jacques Brel called "The Dying Man." He wrote it for the Beach Boys, but that band thought it was a little too dark for them to record. Sounds perfect for Kurt and Courtney.

Go to episode 63

Sound Opinions Thanksgiving Turkey Shoot 2010

It's time for the annual Sound Opinions Thanksgiving Turkey Shoot! It's the perfect way to say thanks…thanks that we never have to listen to the year's biggest musical turkeys again. There are plenty of lousy records released each year, but calling some of those out would be like shooting fish in a barrel. Since we're shooting turkeys here, Jim and Greg only pick out albums that they expected to be much better. Here are this year's biggest disappointments:

Go to episode 261

Best Cover Songs

In the age of karaoke and“American Idol,”it's easy to forget how great a cover song can be. But, as Jim and Greg discuss, an artist's interpretation of someone else's song can often be better than the original. In those cases, the performer brings passion and a new spin to a song. During the course of the show, Jim and Greg run down their picks for best cover songs. (For an even longer list of noteworthy cover songs, go to the thread on the Sound Opinions Message Board.)

Go to episode 79

Tax Day Special

No matter what bracket you are in, no one likes paying taxes. Nothing makes things more tolerable, though, than great music. So Jim and Greg have compiled the perfect playlist for Tax Day:

Go to episode 541

Halloween Picks 2006

During the final segment of the show, our Halloween-loving hosts play their picks for scariest rock songs.

Greg

Greg's first choice is "Dead Souls" by Joy Division. This band didn't necessarily look scary, but they definitely have a dark history. Lead singer Ian Curtis suffered from epilepsy and would often have seizures onstage. He committed suicide in 1980, cementing the band's tortured image.

Greg's second song is Johnny Cash's cover of "The Mercy Seat" by Nick Cave. Cave is often associated with the Goth movement, but Cash is not someone you usually think of on a spooky Halloween night. This song fits perfectly into Cash's repertoire. It tells the story of a death row inmate on the last night of his life. Benmont Tensch's backing music in particular lends a haunting feel.

Jim

Jim wanted to illustrate Goth's influence on other genres with his first pick. The group Bloodrock is composed of your average hard-rock“buffoons,”according to Jim, but Jim can't think of anything more gothic than the subject of their song "D.O.A." It tells the tale of a car crash victim on his way to the other side (and it sounds like the bad side).

Jim's final track is by Susan Janet Dallion, otherwise known as Siouxsie Sioux. Siouxsie emerged out of the Bromley punk scene to join the Banshees and form her own distinctive sound. Her look and her sound solidified the singer as female Goth icon. The Beatles' song "Dear Prudence" isn‘t particularly scary, but Siouxie’s menacing vocals give it an ominous tone. In this rendition, Jim imagines that Prudence's fate is not unlike that of most horror film heroines.

Go to episode 47

Tax Day Special

No matter what bracket you are in, no one likes paying taxes. Nothing makes things more tolerable, though, than great music. So Jim and Greg have compiled the perfect playlist for Tax Day:

Go to episode 280
news

Music News

The biopic film Straight Outta Compton debuted this past weekend to a monster box office earning over $56 million. The movie tells the story of the group N.W.A. and how they created the blue print for west coastand gangster rap in the '80s and early '90s. Jim recently saw the film and thought more about the biopic genre in general. He thought that this was a VH1-type film that largely glossed over many of the important truths of the band's history, including Dr. Dre's misogyny in both his lyrics and his actions. Greg agrees that the story of Dee Barnes, a female journalist covering N.W.A who was physically assaulted by Dre, was excluded from the film. Jim ultimately thinks the biopic doesn't work as journalism or biography, but instead acts as a missed opportunity to tell the whole truth of the story.

Two celebrated '70s producers passed away this week: Bob Johnston, longtime Bob Dylan producer, and Billy Sherrill, creator of the countrypolitan genre and producer of George Jones and Tammy Wynette. As an in-house producer for Columbia Records, Johnston produced some of Dylan's most notable albums, including Blonde on Blonde and Nashville Skyline. Johnston also served as the producer for Johnny Cash's At Folsom Prison, which only came about after Johnston's persistent efforts. With a similar determination, Sherrill ignited the careers of country artists like Jones and Wynette with hit songs "He Stopped Loving Her Today" and "Stand By Your Man." However, Greg chooses to honor Sherrill by playing The Staple Singers' "Why Am I Treated So Bad," a track that he produced before entering the country music scene. Sherrill produced songs for early R&B artists when no other producer would, earning him tremendous respect.

Go to episode 508

Music News

Susan Boye Last week Jim and Greg reviewed the new album by The Black Eyed Peas, and this week they were sure it would be a #1 hit. But if there's anyone that can give the Peas a run for their money, it's…Susan Boyle? The Britain's Got Talent winner is the top seller of the week with her new album The Gift, beating out not only The Black Eyed Peas, but Kanye West and Taylor Swift. This news is further evidence that the physical album chart is dominated by people who still buy physical albums, a.k.a.“older folks.”Which leads to the next story…

Billboard has recognized that its standard album chart might not be a fully accurate representation of what's“popular”in music. In today's world, an artist's tweets, followers, fans, friends and hits are just as important indicators as record sales. So with that in mind they've launched the new Social 50. At the top of Social 50 are artists like Rihanna, Justin Bieber, Eminem and Nicki Minaj – all performers who sell records. But the chart also has the potential to recognize non-traditional acts like Widespread Panic, Girl Talk and Robyn, who consistently sell out shows, but don't have a big retail presence. Jim and Greg welcome Billboard to the 21st century.

Still shopping for holiday gifts and got a few thousand to spare? Well, you could get your loved one the original lyrics to Bob Dylan's song "The Times They Are a-Changin." And by a few thousand we mean $300,000. That's how much the sheet of unruled notebook paper is expected to go for at an upcoming auction. December certainly seems to be the month of rock memorabilia sales. Johnny Cash's jumpsuit, which he wore during his concert at San Quentin and made famous in this image, went for $50,000. Michael Jackson's glove sold for $300,000, and a decades old legal letter featuring John Lennon's original lyrics to "I'm Only Sleeping" is expected to go for over $500,000.

Go to episode 263

Music News

First up in the news is Billboard's annual list of the year's biggest money makers in the music industry. The chart magazine compiled the list using CD and digital sales, publishing royalties and touring. And while most of the artists at the top still sell records, the majority made the cut because of their hugely successful blockbuster tours. At #1 is U2, who raked in more than $108 million in 2009, mostly through their gigantic 360-degree tour. The band is followed by Bruce Springsteen and Madonna, though a number of younger acts also made the cut including The Jonas Brothers and Taylor Swift. Two glaring omissions: Beyonce and The Black Eyed Peas, neither of whom toured in 2009.

In more Billboard news, Sade is at the top of the charts for the third week in a row with her new release Soldier of Love. She's sold more than 800,000 records. Jim and Greg were interested to see so many adult-skewing artists on the charts, including Johnny Cash and Susan Boyle. It's the older consumers who are continuing to purchase physical product. However, they note that these sales numbers wouldn't have gotten an artist into the Top 50 ten years ago.

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Go to episode 223

Music News

If you‘ve ever felt like a musical pariah because you just couldn’t get into the latest“it”band, you may want to consider a trip to the Netherlands. In the latest issue of Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience, Dutch researchers say that while treating a patient for obsessive-compulsive disorder using an electrical implant in his brain, they inadvertently activated the area that may affect musical preference. Before treatment began, the patient wasn't much of a music fan. But, while receiving electrical stimulation via the implant, he suddenly became one of Johnny Cash's biggest fans, going on to purchase all of The Man in Black's CDs and DVDs. When the implant's battery ran out, though, the patient regressed to his pre-music indifference state. It's fascinating stuff and Jim wonders if the implant could get even him to love Bruce Springsteen?

This year's "American Idol" has been crowned. But beyond winning the TV contest, North Carolina native Caleb Johnson has been winning comparisons to Meat Loaf. In fact, Marvin Lee Aday's Facebook page was flooded with notes of congratulations. Meatloaf was happy to hear that Johnson brought "some real rock ‘n’ roll back on prime time TV." And the new Idol may even star in a possible remake of The Rocky Horror Picture Show. He's sure to nail a rendition of "Hot Patootie – Bless My Soul."

In other contest news, Russian authorities were are not pleased with the recent crowning of drag singer Cochinita Wurst as the winner of this year's Eurovision Song Contest. So put off are they, in fact, that they plan to launch not one, but two alternate Eurovision copycat competitions that will be free of anything "moral[ly] degrading." The Russian people are having a more mixed reaction, with one fan even planning to open upscale beauty parlor named in Wurst's honor.

Go to episode 444