Lyricist and composer Johnny Mercer -- born Nov. 18, 1909 -- wrote or co-wrote more than 1,000 songs, including American Songbook standards like "Skylark," "That Old Black Magic" and "Come Rain or Come Shine." HIs Academy Awards tally includes a statue for what's possibly his most famous tune, "Moon River." Fresh Air marks the anniversary of his birth with an in-studio concert starring Rebecca Kilgore and Dave Frishberg.
Best known as founder and frontman for the Los Angeles punk band X, musician John Doe has always had a weakness for country music — and X's sound, in fact, sometimes had a twang to it. After that band's dissolution, Doe explored his countrified yearnings further, and in recent years he's turned in some eminently satisfying roots rock. With Country Club, Doe dives headlong into the genre, collaborating with the Canadian band the Sadies on a collection of classic covers originally recorded by titans like Merle Haggard, Tammy Wynette and Willie Nelson.
Long a standout purveyor of rootsy, direct "heartland" rock, Mellencamp is in the midst of a folksy, pessimistic streak on his new album. He speaks to host Terry Gross about the spare sound and dark themes of Life, Death, Love and Freedom.
With his band the Belmonts, singer-songwriter Dion rose to fame as a '60s teen idol, topping charts with hits like "The Wanderer" and "I Wonder Why." The latest album in his long career is Heroes: Giants Of Early Guitar Rock.
The best little bar-band in Texas is back with more ballads of heartache and anthems for getting over it. The Old 97's have just released Blame It On Gravity. Front-man Rhett Miller joins Fresh Air to talk about the recording and to perform some new songs.
Pop-rock singer-songwriter Sheryl Crow joins Terry Gross in the Fresh Air studios for an interview and live performance. Detours, her new album, is the most politically and personally outspoken record of her career.
British blue-eyed soul singer Nick Lowe played London's pub scene in the '70s in the band Brinsley Schwarz, produced five albums for Elvis Costello, and played with Ry Cooder and Jon Hiatt in Little Village. Now he's back with a solo album, his ninth, called At My Age, and he joins Terry Gross for an interview and an in-studio performance.
Jemaine Clement and Bret McKenzie, aka the folk-parody band Flight of the Conchords, hail from New Zealand and were named best alternative-comedy act at the 2005 U.S. Comedy Arts Festival. Now they're starring in an HBO series called, yes, Flight of the Conchords — which is, yes, about two transplanted New Zealanders living in New York City's Lower East side. It launches Sunday.
Jazz musician Kenny Davern died this week at the age of 71. Davern loved traditional jazz, and played clarinet and soprano saxophone. He was a member of Soprano Summit, along with Dick Wellstood and Bob Wilber. We rebroadcast a live concert with Davern, performing with guitarist Howard Alden and bassist Phil Flannagan. This originally aired on Feb. 18, 1988.
Darrell Scott grew up on a tobacco farm in Kentucky, just like his father, Wayne. Now Darrell is a Nashville singer and songwriter with albums and awards to his credit. And his father, at 71, is releasing a debut album.
Singer, musician and folklorist Mick Moloney's new album, McNally's Row of Flats, centers on theater songs by an Irish songwriting team from the late 1800s. In those days, Vaudeville and minstrelsy were giving way to American Musical Theater in New York City.
Jimmie Dale Gilmore's new album — his seventh — is called Come on Back and it's a memorial to his late father. He died of ALS in 2000. The album includes version of his dad's favorite songs like Pick Me Up on Your Way Down and Walkin' The Floor Over You. Gilmore was born, raised and lives in Texas. He has been recording solo albums since 1988, when he released Fair and Square.
Singer and pianist Shirley Horn died last week on October 21st at the age of 71. In 1992, Horn took part in a concert and interview with Fresh Air. Playing with her was her long time drummer Steve Williams and bassist Charles Ables (who died in 2002).
In 1965, Robert Moog invented the Moog synthesizer, an electronic keyboard that creates otherworldly sounding electronic music. His instrument went on to usher in a new era of rock and electronic music. The Beatles used a Moog synthesizer on their 1969 Abbey Road album.