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There’s No Song Like an Old Song

I’m always reminding myself how fortunate I am to live in an area that offers not only great classical music, theater and dance performances, but many popular music performers make a stop, especially during the summer.

Being a child of the sixties, rock and roll concerts usually meant performances in smoky nightclubs (missed out on those) like the Whiskey a Go Go or a larger venue, such as a multi-purpose use hall.  You can go to a rodeo, livestock fair, church convention and you can go see Elvis, The Carpenters or Paul Revere and the Raiders, as I did at the Taylor County Coliseum. Elvis was the King, let’s not forget that fact, thank you, thank you very much.

But these venues started a trend which still happens today, and although I was older when these particular artists arrived on the scene, MTV (Music Television) was a new media format bringing songs with video to the fans, rather than am radio. Last summer and recently I was excited to see Billy Joel, Bonnie Raitt and James Taylor in performance at the Washington Nationals Stadium.  Modern sound systems for these shows have been refined and offer a great evening of quality listening to these performers at a distance.  And they have incorporated some visual elements in their shows, reminiscent of MTV, even though the music was the primary connection. As I listened, I was impressed with what a large catalog of songs these artists/songwriters have given us. Have you ever tried to write a song?  It’s not easy, matching the lyrics to the melody, communicating a message, AND not writing the same old song and melody every time.

We have an impressive collection of popular music in our braille and audio collections, and I want to highlight some from these performers. James Taylor, always laid-back, mellow and fun gives us You Can Close Your Eyes, DBM 02156, You’ve Got a Friend, DBM 02158, Fire and Rain, DBM 02138, and Carolina in my Mind, DBM 02136. From the braille collection and on BARD, we have James Taylor: Greatest Hits, BRM 29275. And as a woman blues/rocker guitarist, they don’t come any better than Bonnie Raitt.  We have one of her big hits Something to Talk About at DBM 03159, available on cartridge. We have Just the Way You Are in braille by Billy Joel at BRM 33031, and Shameless included in Popular Music Lead Sheet no. 73. From the audio catalog and on BARD, you can download Piano Man, DBM 01755, New York State of Mind, DBM 03733, Always a Woman to Me, DBM 01743 and for the swinging sax players, Just the Way You Are instruction on alto sax at DBM 02721.

Nothing will ever replace the live performance connection between artist and audience. Check out our titles, learn a new song and start connecting with your fans.

It’s Summertime!

Now that the hockey season is officially over, there is only one major sport that is capturing the nation’s attention: baseball! I find that baseball is synonymous with summer, as it’s been played in the summer months for generations. I’m sure I’m not alone recalling warm summer evenings spent gathered around the radio listening to […]

New Titles from Bill Brown

For this week’s blog, the staff of the Music Section decided it would be a good idea to update our readers on some of our newly added titles from Bill Brown. These books are not on BARD. However, they are all available on digital cartridge. If you see something that interests you, please get in touch […]

Congratulations Smokey Robinson!

This past week, the Library of Congress recognized Smokey Robinson as the winner of this year’s Gershwin Prize for Popular Song. Smokey Robinson is probably most remembered as being the leader of Smokey Robinson and the Miracles. Hits for The Miracles included “Shop Around,” “Going to a Go-Go,” and “Tracks of My Tears.” Robinson also […]

Drink Small

No, this post is not an injunction to moderation, or even a nudge towards abstemiousness of any kind. It is, rather, a toast to the achievements of Mr. Drink Small. The blues fans among you no doubt are familiar with the “Blues Doctor,” who has what some have called the “biggest, deepest bass voice in […]

So You’d Like to Be a Pop Superstar?

Guitar, bass, vocals, drums, piano…the makings of any good pop record, right? For our patrons out there who are looking to rock out to some pop music, we’ve got you covered. In a post from last September, my colleague Mary Dell Jenkins discussed our series of “Popular Music Lead Sheets,” which offers popular music selections […]

Goin’ to Motown!

With the help of one of our dedicated transcribers and patron Audrey Joy , we have received a steady supply of Motown hits every week ready to go in the embossing queue. When I read through these titles, the melodies come to my ears immediately, and I don’t think I EVER heard anyone say they […]

News about popular contemporary music? Yeah, we got that!

My colleague, Amanda Smith recently blogged about one of our magazines Musical Mainstream. While I have written of my classical music background and attend concerts in the area, I still like to be connected with what is trending in popular music. Contemporary Soundtrack is a compilation of magazine articles and reviews of popular music, featuring […]

Soul Music? Let’s talk about Ray Charles!

Summer and jazz seem to go hand-in-hand. I am noticing weekend jazz festivals and evenings of “jazz in the park” all over the D.C. area. I am sure some of you have enjoyed some of these events where you live. Now I am thinking about jazz! This thought lends itself to a discussion of related genres like […]