The first Led Zeppelin song I ever loved was "D'yer Mak'er," one of the cheesiest tunes the band ever recorded. To make things worse, I used to pronounce the title "Die-er Make-er" instead of "Jamaica." Obviously, I wasn't a Led Zeppelin fanatic. I grew up a metalhead in Queens, New York, in the
It all began with Billi Bi. The creamy, mussel-studded concoction "may well be the most elegant and delicious soup ever created," according to 1950s food guru Craig Claiborne, and one taste of it in a friend's kitchen is what sent me to a bookstore some fifteen years ago in search of a copy of The
Rap music now has something no one might have predicted when it emerged in the South Bronx in the mid-1970s, often relying on lampposts for power: a history. As had been the case with the blues and jazz that helped birth it, hip-hop is a music of the ever present. Thinking of its mix tapes as material
As the theater critic John Lahr once wrote, "Only when [Noel] Coward is frivolous does he become in any sense profound." There's proof of this throughout Barry Day's new book, The Noel Coward Reader, a selection of Coward's plays, lyrics, poetry, short stories, radio broadcasts, and excerpts from
Gustav Mahler's move to center stage over the past half century or so has been a remarkable case of artistic—well, revival is too weak a word. How did this happen? Or, as the title of Norman Lebrecht's new book would have it, Why Mahler?
When looking back at the modernist design revolution of the mid-twentieth century, Alvin Lustig doesn't immediately jump to mind, despite the fact that his influence is all around us. Lustig's career was cut short by diabetes developed as a teenager while he was growing up in Los Angeles. A year
There is no more powerful force in George Eliot's fiction than marriage. It wrecks her characters' health, forces them to give up their professional ambitions, and reveals them for who they really are. A "liberal allowance of conclusions," Eliot writes at the beginning of Middlemarch, "has facilitated