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Chris Morris

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Six Pack of Lonely

Pulling on his third or fourth Coors Silver Bullet of the afternoon, Mike Stinson muses about his move to L.A. 11 years ago, after a long stint “playin‘ hippie music” up and down the Eastern seaboard. Stinson remembers, “I just thought, ’All the songs I‘m playin’ are 20-some years old,......
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Darkness Falls

One of the most bone-chilling lines in Johnny Dowd’s songbook can be found in a tune the Ithaca, New York--based musician has recorded twice -- sung by his angel-voiced partner Kim Sherwood-Caso as ”Death Comes Knocking“ on last year‘s Temporary Shelter, and recut by Dowd as a crashing Weill-meets-Waits waltz......
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Mojo Man

On September 2, 1941, an illiterate sharecropper and aspiring professional musician on the Stovall plantation near Clarksdale, Mississippi, dictated a letter to a fellow worker for delivery to a Library of Congress field researcher who had recorded him days before. The ’cropper had at first mistaken Alan Lomax, whose recordings......
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Music, Race and Junk

“Did 5 years for an apple, ate the motherfucker and didn’t look back.” In his knowing and bitterly funny memoir, the supremely gifted jazz pianist Hampton Hawes bluntly describes the federal prison jolt for heroin possession that derailed his career. Hawes, at 48, who suffered a fatal stroke in 1977,......
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High Water Blues

The ancient, eternal blues of Charley Patton rise out of history and pierce the shadows with an astringent light. “I’m goin‘ away, to a world unknown,” Patton sings in his gravel-pit voice, and I understand. “Can’t go down the dark road by myselfI don‘t carry my rider, gonna carry me......
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Into the Next Sun

At my office recently, a colleague in the adjoining cubicle who harbors a fondness for the Brothers Gallagher overheard me spinning a new album and asked, ”Is that Oasis?“ It was, in fact, Behind the Music, the third and latest collection by the Swedish band The Soundtrack of Our Lives......
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Cagey Cretins

Sandy Speiser, © Sony Music Archives The Hit, the Umlaut: For many, they constitute the legacy of Blue Öyster Cult. The hit in question was “(Don’t Fear) The Reaper,” a chunk of death-enamored ear candy that dominated the AM and FM dials in the autumn of 1976. The Umlaut was......
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Melting in the Rain

Photo by Barnaby & Scott More than half a lifetime ago, I lived in Chicago, on a particularly wicked stretch of Lincoln Avenue. There were six bars on my block alone, and several more on adjacent blocks. This strip was Party Central for Windy City sybarites, and I was in......
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Into Africa

�s I see it,� Ryszard Kapus�cin�ski writes in Another Day of Life, �it�s wrong to write about people without living through at least a little of what they are living through.� This simple but hazardous notion, which could stand as the Polish journalist�s credo, has resulted in some spectacular writing,......
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Top Jimmy, 1954–2001

“Roadhouse Blues,” from the Doors’ 1970 album Morrison Hotel, was a tune covered with unique conviction by Top Jimmy, who died in Las Vegas on May 17, age 46, or maybe 106. Jimmy sang that fatalistic song hundreds of times with his band the Rhythm Pigs; once, at the Whisky......
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