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Sarah Vowell 

Music,

Suspicious Minds

The 1996 Musical Top 10 and Then Some -- because lists are fun. Top 10: 1) Sleater-Kinney, Call the Doctor (Chainsaw) Was there a gale-force wind, a nuclear reaction, a burning building, or a 12-car pileup all year long that…
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Music,

Suspicious Minds

Some of the best books invoking pop this year didn't write about music so much as write around it. In these authors' hands, music becomes a catalyst, an illustration, a character, even a friend. Geoff Waite, Nietzsche's Corps/e (Duke) A…
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Music,

Suspicious Minds

Remember when organized religion meant stately elders, imposing architecture, and a penchant for heavy-handed dignity? You can sum up Christianity's final plunge into embarrassment in two words: guitar mass. The last quarter-century's attempt to integrate scriptural dictates with pop life…
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Music,

Suspicious Minds

Eddie Vedder is bad. I know that because I read it in Rolling Stone. Rolling Stone, which is good, says Eddie Vedder is bad so he must be bad. Eddie Vedder is a rock star. Rock stars are good because…
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Music,

Suspicious Minds

It was never only a test. Not to me, anyway. Is there a more quintessential postwar American sound than that jarring, interminable beep? Or that text: "This is a test of the Emergency Broadcast System. This is only a test."…
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Music,

Beer-Soaked Lambs

The week before the election, I spoke to a friend who had just returned from Kansas -- Lawrence, not Russell -- where he and his wife were invited to the house of America's crank laureate. He says that William Burroughs…
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Music,

Suspicious Minds

There are two adjoining rooms I've grown to love in a house in another city where friendship and music cannot be separated from each other. A table greedily takes up most of the space in one, and I've spent many…
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Music,

Suspicious Minds

Emily Shore, a young daughter of the last century, had been "coughing up blood since the dogwoods bloomed." Right before she died, she hacked off her hair with a pocketknife and braided her father a watch chain out of the…
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Music,

Suspicious Minds

Her name alone would suffice for the purposes of imposed romance. Garrison Starr. Garrison: such a patriarchal fortress of a title to signify a 20-year-old female. And Starr: connoting not only the apogee of fame, but weirder relations such as…
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Music,

Suspicious Minds

Listening to history can be as cheap and easy as handing over 50 cents on a Saturday afternoon. One of the scratchy old records I bought on the street is called "I Can Hear It Now ..." -- "The history…
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Music,

Suspicious Minds

Sometimes I think that my ongoing obsession with pop songs has less to do with a feel for sound and more to do with the way that I cannot sustain happiness for longer than three minutes at a time. Which…
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Music,

Recordings

Galaxie 500 (Rykodisc) Between 1988 and 1990, Galaxie 500 made three beautiful albums awash in spacey, psychedelic pop. Then, for five years, after singer/guitarist Dean Wareham ditched the rhythm section (for Luna) and Galaxie's label, Rough Trade, went bankrupt in…
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Music,

Suspicious Minds

There comes a time in the middle of any half-way decent liberal arts major's college career when she no longer has any idea what she believes. She flies violently through air polluted by conflicting notions and theories, never stopping at…
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Music,

Suspicious Minds

Art can be measured. Take pop songs, for instance: Just about any old tune can sound at least OK on a car radio, but how many pass the Dishwashing Challenge? Real music can communicate its intensity over the whir of…
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Music,

Suspicious Minds

It was a perfect capitalism moment. I was riding the 21 Hayes bus home up Market, reading Lee Friedlander's introduction to his new book of photographs The Desert Seen (D.A.P.). He writes, "I stumbled into adolescence having been bitten by…
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Music,

Hear This

Junior Brown The surface appeal of Austin's Junior Brown is manifold -- the jokey album titles (Guit With It, Junior High), the chuckling lyrics ("You're wanted by the po-lice and my wife thinks you're dead"), the classic country voice that…
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Music,

Recordings

Various Artists Supernatural Fairy Tales: The Progressive Rock Era, Volume 1 (Rhino) Despite having sunk deeper than the Atlantean groves often depicted in its album art, progressive rock still has its apologists. Liner notes for Supernatural Fairy Tales, an impressively…
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Music,

Suspicious Minds

Long-distance love affair by cassette tape: It happened to me. While digital romances grow increasingly common, our strange fling was quaintly analog. Oh, we talked on the phone for hours and enjoyed the occasional mushy rendezvous in the flesh at…
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Music,

Recordings

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers Songs and Music From the Motion Picture "She's the One" (Warner Bros.) One thing can be said in praise of this soundtrack: It is indeed a soundtrack. Scads of recent movie scores are force-fed hot…
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Music,

Suspicious Minds

A small man on a big stage looks and sounds far, far away. It's not just physical distance that separates him from the rest of us. Years and years stand between, blocking his little flailing limbs so that they could…
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