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 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.