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An anthology devoted to early Nat King Cole recordings was recently released, and it offers a new window into his artistic development. The collection is called Hittin' the Ramp: The Early Years (1936-1943), and this massive 7-CD, 10-LP package is clearly aimed at obsessives. It's a deep dive that traces Nat King Cole's evolution — from smooth, unflappable piano player into a singing star with an endearingly smooth style all his own.

It's easy to imagine that Ringo Starr's closet is full of shoe boxes containing old mementos, like the photographs that populate Another Day In The Life, his newest book. The reality is a bit different though.

"If I'm in them, I just lift them off the internet," he says. "Others are what I do on tour when I'm hanging out."

It almost sounds like a twisted science experiment: Invite a dozen rock and roll warriors to spend a week at a ranch in the California desert, encourage them to write songs and play together, then capture the results.

"It is an iconic part of so much pop and rock music, but it's also an instrument that's yet to be fully explored," says jazz keyboardist John Medeski.

Motherless Brooklyn is a new film about a private detective trying to solve a murder in 1950s New York.

When it comes to bands performing at the Tiny Desk, there's dressing up, and then there's dressing up. Just in time for Halloween, we've pulled together a handy playlist starring artists whose stage wear crosses over from "outfits" to "costumes."

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We live! We die! We live again! There's something remarkably pointed about the War Boys' rallying cry from Mad Max: Fury Road.

"It was really important to me to write about what happened," Mikaela Straus, the musician known as King Princess, says, referencing being thrust into a career that she wasn't as prepared for as she'd imagined.

Dan Piepenbring was a 29-year-old editor of the literary magazine The Paris Review in 2016 when he met Prince for the first time — and agreed to help the musical icon pen a memoir. It was the assignment of a lifetime for a writer who had not yet published a book, but Prince wanted someone he could open up to — and Piepenbring fit the bill.

The "profession" of rock criticism was still in its tender adolescence in 1969. Daily newspapers were beginning to hire writers to cover pop, rock and what was sometimes described as "youth culture." Alternative weeklies like the Village Voice became trusted early warning systems for new bands. And Rolling Stone magazine, which began in San Francisco in 1967, had by 1969 become the rock and roll "paper of record."

"I'm naturally soft spoken," Laetitia Tamko says. "But when I sing, I'm not soft spoken."

Much of Infinite Worlds, the first album Tamko recorded as Vagabon, was her with a guitar, singing achingly introspective songs about the search for home and safety. Tamko says when she recorded it, she was uncomfortable with how deep her voice was. But now, hundreds of live performances later, she's embraced it.

The recent biopic Rocketman painted a Hollywood version of Elton John's life, but a new memoir, Me, comes straight from the artist himself. In it, he describes how, as a young man, he was determined to enter the music business, in spite of some misgivings about rock 'n' roll in his household. As he tells Fresh Air, "My dad, of course, hated it."

It's a Friday night in London, but the cityscape is far from sight. On a small stage, the silhouettes of two dancers undulate in double time, then half-time, their limbs slicing through the red-lit fog that blurs their outline. A digitally frayed, hummed refrain keeps the pace in and out of which they keep moving, as the rise and fall of composer and sound artist Klein's amplified breath signals her impending arrival through the crowd.

There's something striking about Tamino when you meet him. The Egyptian-born, Belgium-raised musician has a calm energy, a measured performance style and, quite frankly, a heavenly voice.

"The fire you like so much in me / Is the mark of someone adamantly free," Liz Phair declared in her 1993 song "Strange Loop."

The song, which appeared on her debut studio album, Exile in Guyville, was a fitting introduction to the Chicago-raised singer-songwriter ⁠— Phair was serving notice that she was unwilling to be anyone other than herself, and if people didn't approve of her sexually frank and defiantly profane lyrics, or her lo-fi sensibility, they were more than welcome to listen to something else.

This week, Big Thief will release its second album of the year. The double play alone doesn't capture just how prolific this band is, though. Two Hands is the third Big Thief release in the past year and six days, if you count lead songwriter Adrianne Lenker's solo record, abysskiss. Broaden the count from there, and it is the fifth Big Thief-related LP of the past year and a half, including solo outings from guitarist Buck Meek and drummer James Krivchenia. Big Thief is like a hydrant with its top knocked off. Music is pouring from Big Thief.

At the World Series game between the Detroit Tigers and the St. Louis Cardinals in October 1968, Puerto Rican singer José Feliciano sang "The Star-Spangled Banner" — to no little controversy. Feliciano put a personal spin on the song, giving it a slower tempo, almost like a folk anthem. The rearranged version got a cold reception from many listeners, doing lasting damage to the singer's career.

When Sharon Van Etten made her Tiny Desk debut back in the fall of 2010, her voice exuded fragile, gentle grace. Performing songs from that year's Epic, she huddled around a single acoustic guitar with backup singer Cat Martino to perform a set of tender and evocative folk-pop songs.

On November 8, singer Anthony Roth Costanzo will take center stage at the Metropolitan Opera, debuting as the star of a new production of Philip Glass' opera Akhnaten. It's a remarkable turn for a celebrated singer who nearly lost his voice to thyroid cancer.

Released in late 2008, Lost Wisdom occupies a cherished space in Mount Eerie's catalog, where Phil Elverum collaborated with his favorite singer, Julie Doiron, and Fred Squire. Between that album and Dawn, released just a month later, it stamped a deceptively softer moment in time for Mount Eerie, where sparse, yet decorative arrangements were vessels for quiet echoes that grew with repeat listens.

Copyright 2019 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

Let's get the obvious out of the way: If Grateful Dead wordsmith Robert Hunter had never written another lyric after "Truckin'," the rock radio staple off 1970's American Beauty immortalized by the refrain, "what a long strange trip it's been," chances are good that the headline writers of America would still have voted him into their hall of fame. A powerful, all-purpose line that hit the sweet spot of subversive clichés, it made speakers appear smarter than they are.

This essay has been excerpted from the forthcoming book Liner Notes For The Revolution: Black Feminist Sound Cultures by Daphne A. Brooks, which will be published by Harvard UP in 2020.

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Strings buzz like cicadas muffled through insulated walls before an electric guitar strums and Angel Olsen, with resigne

The singer and songwriter Eddie Money, whose singles like "Take Me Home Tonight," "Baby Hold On" and "Two Tickets to Paradise" were an archetype for 1970s and 1980s rock radio, died Friday morning in Los Angeles at age 70.

Less than a month ago, Money announced that he had stage IV esophageal cancer, which had metastasized to his liver, lymph nodes and stomach.

The Lumineers have taken their latest album, III, as an opportunity to shine a light on a topic that's close to many of the members' lives — addiction. III tells a story of addiction in three acts. As the album runs from one song to the next, it's a tale of one family facing the same problem. "It's the family secret and it's a taboo," Wes Schultz, the band's lead vocalist, says.

Drummer Jeremiah Fraites says addiction happens in cycles and should be considered that way.

There's a new, unreleased song from R.E.M. out today, with all proceeds going to Mercy Corps, an organization helping those in the Bahamas impacted by Hurricane Dorian.

The outsider singer, songwriter and visual artist Daniel Johnston has died. His death was confirmed to NPR by his brother, Dick Johnston, who said that Daniel had just been released on Tuesday from a hospital, where he had been treated for kidney issues. Dick Johnston said that Tuesday night, Daniel had seemed well, but he was found dead at his home in Waller, Texas, near Houston, Wednesday morning. He was 58 years old.

Sleater-Kinney got a new beginning a few years ago. In 2006, the trio — guitarists Corin Tucker and Carrie Brownstein and drummer Janet Weiss — announced a hiatus, after half a dozen albums that had made it one of the most respected and beloved rock bands around.

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