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Remembering 'Christmas' Songwriter Hugh Martin

Songwriter Hugh Martin, who co-wrote the classic song "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" for Judy Garland's 1944 movie, Meet Me in St. Louis died on Friday. He was 96. Fresh Air remembers Martin with highlights from a 1989 interview.


Ella Mae Morse: The Voice Of Capitol's First Hits

In 1942, the founders of Capitol Records were in urgent need of a hit. It came from a most unlikely place: a young woman named Ella Mae Morse, whose place in pop-music history has never really been given its due. Rock historian Ed Ward shares her story.


Elvis Is Back (And Now Reissued)

Elvis Presley is constantly being discovered by new generations, and by older fans in new stages of life. Critic Milo Miles talks about the surprise rewards he found while listening to the new reissue Elvis Is Back! — and during his first visit to Graceland in Memphis.


'Next Stop Is Vietnam': The War In Music.

A recent 13-CD box set called Next Stop Is Vietnam: The War on Record 1961-2008 documents the music that dominated the airwaves during the Vietnam War. Rock historian Ed Ward says the compilation could have used some "conscientious curation."


Ken Tucker's Top 10 Albums Of 2010

Fresh Air's pop music critic, Ken Tucker, picks the best music of 2010, including albums by Tracey Thorn, Kanye West and Arcade Fire. He also pays tribute to Kate McGarrigle, the Canadian singer who died of cancer last January.


Kanye West: 'Beautiful' Soul Or Raging Egomaniac?

West's new album, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, both chastises and praises the hip-hop singer for being an arrogant perfectionist. Rock critic Ken Tucker says it may be an example of "egregious self-aggrandizement," but it's also "superb music-making."


Praise For Songwriters P.F. Sloan And Steve Barri

Sloan and Barri were the songwriters behind "Eve of Destruction" and wrote hits for Herman's Hermits, The Mamas and the Papas and The Turtles. Critic Ed Ward examines their career and their many successful songs.


Liking Bruno Mars Just The Way He Is.

Bruno Mars is a 25-year-old singer, songwriter and producer who's worked on hit singles for numerous hip-hop and soul artists. Rock critic Ken Tucker says Mars' new album, Doo-Wops and Hooligans, is "an impressive, varied and intense experience."


Dwight Twilley's 'Green Blimp': Blissful, Emotive Pop.

The Dwight Twilley Band scored its biggest hit, "I'm on Fire," in 1975, and then struggled for years to achieve stardom that never arrived. Now the band's lead singer, Twilley, is back. Rock critic Ken Tucker reviews his new album Green Blimp, which also features vocals by Susan Cowsill.


Sarah Blasko: An Intimate Voice, An Inventive Sound.

The Australian singer recently made her American debut with her third album, As Day Follows Night. It's a cycle of songs about a love triangle, and it's performed, as Blasko says, in the direct manner of early Carole King. Milo Miles explains how Blasko escapes irony and sentimentality to refresh a well-worn subject.


Robert Plant: A Stark New Album, A 'Band Of Joy'

Plant's new solo album is called Band of Joy. That's the name of a group he was in back in 1967, before Led Zeppelin, with drummer John Bonham. Rock critic Ken Tucker says that if the album title suggests nostalgia for older musical styles, there's nothing musty about the results.


Katy Perry: A 'Teenage Dream,' An Artistic Musician

Perry has released what is commonly considered the pop hit of the summer, a song called "California Gurls." Perry has a new album, Teenage Dream, which rock critic Ken Tucker says is just one part of what he calls "the Katy Perry art project."


Fresh Air Celebrates Frank Loesser's 100th Birthday.

Frank Loesser wrote the musicals Guys and Dolls and How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying -- in addition to over 700 other songs. On today's Fresh Air, musical anthropologist Michael Feinstein discusses Loesser's musical legacy and plays some of his favorite Loesser tunes -- including several rare archival recordings.


What The World Needs Now Is Jackie DeShannon.

DeShannon's musical career spans five decades. In the 1960s, she toured with The Beatles on the band's first U.S. tour. In the 1970s, she sang with Van Morrison, and in the '80s, she won a Grammy for writing "Bette Davis Eyes." Here, she recounts what it was like to open for The Beatles -- and how recording "What the World Needs Now" changed her career.


An Invigorating Tonic About 'Love And Its Opposite'

Tracey Thorn is best known as half of the British duo Everything but the Girl, in which she performed with her husband, Ben Watt. But since 1999, Thorn has spent much of her time raising her three children with Watt. Rock critic Ken Tucker reviews Love and Its Opposite, her third solo album.


'The T.A.M.I. Show': A Groundbreaking '60s Concert.

Package tours in the early years of rock and soul were varied grab bags. But none were like The T.A.M.I. Show. Filmed in October 1964 in Santa Monica, the lineup included performers who weren't stars yet — like The Rolling Stones — and those at the peak of their fame, like Lesley Gore and Jan and Dean. Critic Milo Miles reviews the concert, just released on DVD.


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