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Rock Star Deaths

Charlie Watts’ death on August 24th had a somewhat surprising impact on me. To be honest, I doubt that I’ve thought about Charlie Watts for more than a cumulative hour over the course of my life. Nonetheless, his death sank into my bones. It bothers me that I could feel so disturbed by the death…

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Is Record Collecting Abnormal?

People collect all manner of things: stamps, coins, Air Jordans, Pokémon cards, matchbooks, comic books, paintings, wine, Pyrex bowls, guitars, baseball cards, seashells, rocks, antique ukuleles, books, Funko toys, foreign currency, basketball jerseys, baseball caps, classic cars, Beanie Babies, dolls, World War II memorabilia, pocket watches, action figures, “Star Wars” memorabilia, Happy Meal toys, concert…

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A Handful of Covers

I’m taking a little break from the cultural/historical theme this week in order to follow up on a remnant thought from last week’s post about the Beatles’ popularity. They ushered pop music into the era of original compositions, and this led me to think about cover versions. Covers that remain true to their sources are…

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Is the Beatles’ Popularity Sustainable?

I was three years old when the Beatles disbanded. In fact, one of my first memories is of my older cousin crying and sitting outside on the curb after hearing about their breakup. The first Beatles song that I knew was “Let It Be” because it was on a toy jukebox, made by Kenner, that…

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Otherness on Vinyl: Midcentury Exotica Records

I started buying used records at garage sales and thrift stores in the 1980s. Since they were really cheap, like a quarter, I’d often buy records just because they had interesting covers. That’s how I became acquainted with the genre of music called “exotica.” I became fascinated by these records for reasons that will become…

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The Vinyl Revival and Status in the Age of Social Media

Note: The title of this post sounds dangerously like that of an academic paper. However, it is far from it. I have not researched the literature on this topic and am only using anecdotal evidence based on my own observations. The night after I wrote it, I learned about the book “Vinyl Age” by Max…

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The Folk in Folk-Rock’s “Wild Mountain Thyme”

I enjoy opportunities to merge my personal and professional interests, and the topic of folk music is one such opportunity since I regularly teach my students about folklore in the context of culture. One of the features of folklore – whether songs, tales, legends, jokes, or other forms – is that it cannot be traced…

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