Originally published on Tue November 25, 2014 1:42 pm
In the record industry, it's not too early to be releasing Christmas albums, and Fresh Air rock critic Ken Tucker has been listening to a lot of them. He's narrowed down his list of goodies to these four: A Merry Friggin' Christmas soundtrack, Christmas at Downton Abby, Earth Wind and Fire's Holiday and the Living Sisters' Harmony is Real.
Many years ago, Laurie Colwin began an essay she wrote about the magic of roast chicken like this: "There is nothing like roast chicken. It is helpful and agreeable, the perfect dish no matter what the circumstances. Elegant or homey, a dish for a dinner party or a family supper, it will not let you down." Substitute the phrase "Laurie Colwin's writing" for the words "roast chicken," take some poetic allowances with the word "dish," and you'll have an approximate description of Colwin's own elusive magic.
Originally published on Mon November 24, 2014 5:55 pm
For his first book, Comedy at the Edge, about standup comedy in the 1970s, Richard Zoglin interviewed comedians like Steve Martin and Jerry Seinfeld about who influenced their careers. He says he was surprised that none of them mentioned Bob Hope.
"It was very strange," Zoglin tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross. "It made me realize how off the radar he was."
The comedians instead mentioned people like Lenny Bruce, Groucho Marx and Jack Benny. Zoglin says he thought that it was "unjust" and that Hope wasn't getting the credit he deserved.
Fresh Air Weekend highlights some of the best interviews and reviews from past weeks, and new program elements specially paced for weekends. Our weekend show emphasizes interviews with writers, filmmakers, actors, and musicians, and often includes excerpts from live in-studio concerts. This week:
Originally published on Thu November 20, 2014 3:35 pm
When Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) first entered politics in the 1960s, he started out as moderate — pro-abortion rights, pro-union, in support of the civil rights movement. With time, McConnell shifted to the right as the Republican Party shifted.
"I was just really startled by this when I started looking into it," Alec MacGillis tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross. "I knew that he had started out as somewhat more moderate — but I didn't realize just how moderate he really was."
In his short story collection, former Marine Phil Klay takes his experience in Iraq and clarifies it, lucidly tracing the moral, political and psychological curlicues of Operation Iraqi Freedom. On Wednesday, he won the National Book Award for fiction for the collection.
A batch of lyrics that Bob Dylan wrote in the late 1960s were given by Dylan to producer T-Bone Burnett, who came up with the idea to have some contemporary musicians set the words to music. Burnett gathered Elvis Costello, Marcus Mumford, My Morning Jacket's Jim James, Taylor Goldsmith from Dawes, and Rhiannon Giddens from the Carolina Chocolate Drops, and they recorded an album over the course of two weeks in L.A. It's called Lost on the River: The New Basement Tapes, and Showtime will air a documentary about the making of the album on November 21.