4 min read

December, '23: Present

"A History of Rock Music in 500 Songs" by Andrew Hickey, "Song Exploder" on Netflix, "Objects of Desire" by Thatcher Freund
December, '23: Present
Photo by Roberto Nickson

"Of all the months of the year there is not a month one-half so welcome to the young, or so full of happy associations, as the last month of the year." – Charles Dickens

Happy Holidays! I send out love and light. I hope there is much laughter in your home through winter and beyond. It's going to get better. I believe that.

The Reviews will be short this month. I spent three weeks preparing this old schooner of a house to survive the Maine winter and I am recuperating. I still need more firewood. This way of life keeps you running.

As I look forward to a cross-country ski trip in the White Mountains, I keep in mind that for many in Ukraine, snow makes life beyond perilous. I believe Ukraine is fighting for all democratic nations. Please give what you can to the American Red Cross and please designate your tax-deductible gift for Ukraine Relief.

Ukraine Crisis

Battling Misinformation / The Russian media manipulation continues:

"False narratives about the International Committee of the Red Cross’s (ICRC) neutrality and role on the ground have the potential to cause real harm to all Red Cross teams, partners and the many people who need urgent help. As needs increase by the hour, the ability for Red Cross teams to deliver much-needed humanitarian assistance is being jeopardized by the surge of misinformation about the role the organization plays to alleviate suffering in armed conflict." - from the ICRC website.

MUSIC: "A History of Rock Music in 500 Songs" by Andrew Hickey

A History of Rock Music in 500 Songs

Available wherever you get your podcasts. Patron members receive additional podcasts--a fact that only further amazes me.

There is no way to describe the phenomenal attention to detail that Andrew Hickey delivers in his podcasts. As of today, there are 171 episodes and some of them are over two hours long. I recommend that you simply pick your favorite band or song, and start there. Then you may find yourself compelled to do what I did–start again at the beginning.

There is more going on here than just history. Hickey is masterminding a massive cultural correction. You have to experience this to understand it. He never disappoints.

There is an excellent interview available on YouTube where Andrew Hickey is interviewed by Rick Rubin. You can hear Hickey's genius in this interview.

I am so into this series that I am afraid he will die before he completes it. This must have been what it was like to watch Dr. Johnson write A Dictionary of the English Language. You can't believe one man can obtain, process, memorize, and then articulate such an abundant trove of knowledge.

SCREEN: "Song Exploder" on Netflix

This series is based on the podcast by Hrishikesh Hirway that he has been producing for over a decade. He does not deal with the history of popular music as Hickey does, but digs into the minutiae of what goes into writing a particular song with the original songwriter.

Hirway has the advantage over Hickey, because he is interviewing a living songwriter. The following is just a snippet of a longer interview with Trent Reznor about the song "Hurt."

Here is an excellent TED talk where Hrishikesh Hirway explains his method and intent. Worth watching.

NON-FICTION: "Objects of Desire: The Lives of Antiques and Those Who Pursue Them" by Thatcher Freund

Published in 1994 this book describes a world of antique buying and selling in a time when history was a primary part of the process.

I read for pleasure and for research, and those are often two very different experiences. I started this book for research, but soon I found it difficult to put down. Thatcher Freund follows two American antiques from their original construction to their special moments in the marketplace. He illuminates a time in American culture when antiques mattered to collectors and museums alike. There seemed to be something important at stake. Maybe there was. Maybe there still is.

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