Bob Dylan's Speech, Sturgill Simpson's Surprise, and New Music on the Way
A grammatically challenged hacker gave us a jolt earlier this week with an attack on our site, but we were able to recover with a little help from our friends, and of course some good music and terrible banjo jokes happening in the background. The news stops for no one, though, so here’s a look at what (else) got our attention in the past week.
Bob Dylan (literature? not literature?) received his Nobel Prize over the weekend in Stockholm. He was not on hand to receive it, but he did pen a speech (read by the US Ambassador to Sweden) that expressed his surprise at the award and addressed that question of what literature is, is not, and could be. Patti Smith forgot some lyrics ("I'm so nervous," she told the audience, and who could blame her?) but still brought the tuxedoed audience to tears with her rendition of “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall.”
People have lots of unkind words for 2016, and we’re not here to defend it. But 2017 is looking pretty bright, at least in terms of new music releases coming our way. This week we got news of new albums coming from the Old 97’s (check out this first track featuring Brandi Carlile as the voice of God, you guys), Rhiannon Giddens, Son Volt, and Ryan Adams.
“Who the [bleep] is calling you at 7:30 a.m.?” Sturgill Simpson’s wife asked him when his publicist called to share the news that A Sailor’s Guide to the Earth was nominated for Grammy’s Album of the Year alongside Adele, Drake, Beyonce, and Justin Bieber. So yeah, it was kind of a surprise, to Simpson just as much as to the rest of the world. Hilariously, Simpson is going along with the global head-scratching by selling a T-shirt that says, quoting himself quoting the world: "Who the fuck is Sturgill Simpson?" [The New York Times]
Speaking of Adele and Drake, neither of those big names sold the most CDs in 2016. That top spot goes to … Mozart. But it’s not (quite) what it looks like. [NPR]
The lineup of musical artists on A Prairie Home Companion for January was announced, and it’s a little … different. The public radio show will broadcast from Seattle on Jan. 7 with The Shins and Regina Spektor, from Chicago on Jan. 14 with Justin Vernon (Bon Iver), and from Pasadena, California, on Jan. 21 with Ryan Adams. [Paste]
Dolly Parton hosted a three-hour telethon Tuesday night called “Smoky Mountains Rise: A Benefit for the My People Fund” to raise money for her promise to give every family that lost their home in the recent wildfires $1000 a month for up to six months. Among the performers, in addition to Dolly, were Reba McEntire, Chris Stapleton, Alison Krauss, and Cyndi Lauper with Don McLean. [Rolling Stone Country]