It Was 25 Years Ago Today

What album should mark the 25th anniversary of John Lennon's death? Plastic Ono Band, a critical favorite from Lennon's uneven solo career? Nah, I vote for A Hard Day's Night, which includes some of Lennon's best Beatles-era songs. As for individual songs, I suppose most fans would pick "Imagine", but my vote goes to his definitive cover of "Twist and Shout" which is one of the best, infectious rock vocal performances of all time. And this time of year there's always "Happy Xmas (War Is Over)". (I wonder what Lennon would have said about McCartney's "Wonderful Christmas Time").

Not Here to Hear and Here's Why

There are authors who will not allow their works to be “dramatized”, “performed by” or read as audiobooks. The most notable is the notably reclusive J.D. Salinger. After a disastrous film adaptation of Uncle Wiggily in Connecticut (My Foolish Heart, 1949), Salinger refused to allow any of his works to be adapted to film and apparently he feels equally adverse to audio. Franny and Zooey, Nine Stories and Catcher in the Rye are classics not to be missed. So put down the earphones, pick up the print and you’ll still hear them for years to come.

#1-Hypnotize by System of a Down

Hypnotize by System of a Down debuts this week at the number one spot on the Billboard 200 chart. Place a hold on Hypnotize and other favorites by
System of a Down- Mezmerize and Toxicity.

This is the second time this year that System of a Down has reached the number one position on the Billboard 200 chart.

Long Drive? Listen Here

Listening to a good recorded book can really make the time fly on a long drive. On a recent drive to Chicago I listened to "The Secret Life of Bees," by Sue Monk Kidd. Before I knew it, Michigan and Indiana had flown by like a swarm of bees, and on the way home I listened to the rest of the story. Now I want to read the book.

’Tis the Season

To let David Sedaris put the Holidays in perspective. If you haven’t had the joy of listening to Holidays on Ice yet, you’re in for a treat – a wry, hilarious, subversive treat. His review of the elementary school Christmas pageant cannot be topped. Add this to your seasonal classics list along with Christmas Story and Christmas Vacation.

Religious CD Honors JFK

After President John Kennedy was assassinated Nov. 22, 1963, his widow Jaqueline Kennedy commissioned Mass: A Theatre Piece for Singers, Players and Dancers in his honor. The composer and conductor was Leonard Bernstein. Based on a Catholic mass, the piece was both controversial and memorable. Some selections may sound familiar, particularly “Almighty Father“ and “A Simple Song.”

Can She or Can’t She?

Ashlee Simpson has just recently released her second album I Am Me. The burning question is – Can she even sing? Critics and fans have been arguing this question ever since she emerged from her sister’s shadow (famed reality star Jessica Simpson). Of course, her lip-synching fiasco on Saturday Night Live didn’t help prove her talents. Either way, her CD has been booming since its release. The first single ‘Boyfriend’ peaked at #19, and is currently positioned at #47, on Billboard’s Charts (a song that she claims is NOT about Lindsay Lohan and Wilmer Valderrama).

To Baghdad and Back

If you missed Anne Garrels at University of Michigan this month, listen to the NPR foreign correspondent’s frank memoir of her sudden immersion into Iraqi culture and the culture of war, Naked in Baghdad. Garrels is the antithesis of the flak-jacketed, steel-jawed journalist-celebrity, acknowledging her real fears for her life, her journalistic misunderstandings and missteps, and the overwhelming complexity of the situation in Iraq.

Pulitizer-prize winning author and journalist Rick Atkinson’s In The Company of Soldiers: A Chronicle of Combat provides an equally honest and unadorned look at the war in Iraq. Atkinson followed the 101st Airborne from Kentucky to battles in Najaf, Hilla, and Karbala, narrating the gritty, brutal and ultimately deadly experiences of the soldiers he grew to respect and mourn.

The Play Ground

Hallelujah, Hallelujah redux. If classic Messiah isn't your cup of eggnog, the Motor City is presenting "Too Hot to Handel" at the Detroit Opera House on December 17 & 18th. This jazz gospel Messiah features The Rackham Symphony Choir with red hot performances by pianist Alvin Waddles, bassist Marion Hayden and beebop saxophonist George Benson.This is being billed as a "hand-clapping, soul-stirring holiday rapture." A good way to keep warm.

Short Story Classics on Audio

What is Ernest Hemingway’s greatest short story? The Killers? The Three Day Blow? Big Two-Hearted River? Listen to the three-volume set narrated by Stacy Keach and discover anew the works that made Hemingway the author of the 20th century.

One of the best current short story writers is Alistair MacLeod. Like Hemingway, place and time are main characters in MacLeod’s stories. Two stories from Island: The Collected Stories, The Road to Rankin’s Point and The Closing Down of Summer are especially poignant reminders of the command of nature over our daily lives.

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