Tuesday, May 09, 2006

The Monthly Paste Plug

I know I do this all the time. But I only do it because I'm convinced that every person who cares about the arts in general, and music, films, and books specfically, should subscribe to Paste Magazine. In addition to putting out a high-quality, glossy, superbly designed, and exquisitely written 150-page magazine, these folks also include a CD with 21 or 22 songs in every issue, and they frequently toss in an extra DVD with about four hours of short films, music videos, etc. For about $6. It's ridiculously great. Yes, I believe that. Apparently several hundred thousand other folks do too. And I'm glad.

The next issue of Paste is due out in a few weeks. It's the Top 100 Living Songwriters issue. Yes, Paste actually dares to rank the best 100 living songwriters, counting them down from 100 to 1. They recruited 100 different writers to write about their favorites. I've written about a guy named Jackson Browne. In addition to engendering never-ending, heated debates (What do you mean Sally Songwriter is #43? She should at least be #38!) , these lists also raise the thorny issue of why people feel the need to quantify and rank music (or any other form of art) at all. It's possibly a reflection of spiritual depravity. But here's my take on it: it's fun. For some of us, at least. It's my #4 favorite activity.

In the next issue I also have a feature article on jazz pianist Bill Evans, and album reviews of new releases from Paul Simon, Mason Jennings, T-Bone Burnett, Nickel Creek guitarist Sean Watkins, and folkie protest singer Mark Erelli. In upcoming issues I have articles on Celtic Punk pioneers The Pogues and Columbus' own Glam Rock kings Ronald Koal and the Trillionaires.

Let me encourage you to buy the magazine. You'll be glad you did. But there are other ways to enjoy Paste. There is, for instance:

The website

The store, where you can buy many of the fine albums you read about

The radio station, which allows you to sample the kinds of music covered in the magazine, and, last but not least

The podcast, which brings a weekly dose of music and interviews and general Paste goodness to an iPod near you.

I hope you enjoy.


Andy Whitman said...

You're crazy. It's at least #2.

Anonymous said...

So, what was your take on the Mark Erelli? I have thought about buying it on a couple of occasions but found other cd's that needed a home more. I really liked his last record and wondered how it compared.


paste subscriber....gar

Andy Whitman said...

Gar, I like Mark Erelli's new album (Hope and Other Casualties) quite a bit. The album cover is a deliberate evocation of Bob Dylan's classic 1963 album The Times They Are A'Changin'. I thought that the guy had to be either stupid or audacious. It turns out he knows what he's doing, and while he's no Dylan, he certainly doesn't embarrass himself either.

These are good protest songs. I tire of most protest music I hear these Bush-bashing days. It has all the subtlety and nuance of a sledgehammer to the side of the head, and musical anti-Bush screeds can really constitute their own musical sub-genre. You wouldn't believe how many of them I've heard in the past few years. But Erelli's songs were well written, and although it's certainly safe to conclude that he's no fan of Bush (neither am I), he at least offered some intelligent commentary in place of the usual rants.

He's a nice singer, too. He reminds me of the young Jackson Browne. I'd definitely recommend the album.

Anonymous said...


As far as the protest music thing goes, I always feel vary wary of it. I thought Mark Olson did it rather poorly on his, as has Steve Earle on the last record.

Not sure if you have heard the new Neil Young yet but his record feels right in it's message. I was worried that since it was thrown together so quickly that it would just be a bunch a slogans to scream but it really holds together...I guess it feels like he is trying to offer hope along with the frusturation.....

Thanks again for the recommendation. Now off to spend some more money......