Before the worst president in American history incited a deadly insurrection at the White House, singer-songwriter Nathan Bell asked me to write the liner notes for his latest album, Red, White and American Blues (it couldn’t happen here).
In the summer of 2018, I had coffee with a guy named Greg Cox — an R&B singer in Charlotte, North Carolina, whose self-released debut LP Etc. had just dropped on my desk and blown my mind.
In July 1990, I landed my first magazine cover: a story on Velvet Underground co-founders Lou Reed and John Cale, who’d reunited to perform and record Songs for Drella, a tribute to their mentor, the late pop artist Andy Warhol.
In 1996, seven years after I wrote my first profile of the late Vic Chesnutt for Option magazine, I flew down to his Athens, Georgia, home to do this full feature for Rolling Stone.
what Ed Sheeran’s massive success shows is the endurance of the acoustic guitar in popular music—not just in the singer-songwriter or country-bluegrass realms, but also in the pure, unadulterated, teen-loving pop world. For this 2014 package first published in Acoustic Guitar magazine, I talked to Sheeran and others about his music and guitars, and he delivered a stirring, stripped-down performance of “Thinking Out Loud.”
Early on in the era of cancel culture, Ani DiFranco angered fans by planning an artist retreat at a former plantation. The irony was stunning: Here’s a woman who’d spent her entire career as a stanch political ally, not just of Black Americans, but of all people of color, all gender identifications, the poor — basically, all people marginalized by the dominant culture. DiFranco survived the controversy with her fanbase intact.
The images in La Rúa’s video are quintessentially Southern: hot rural roads, rich green grass and trees, deep red dirt, dusty construction sites and a gritty pool-hall parking lot filled with people in jeans and T-shirts, dancing and singing.
By the late ’90s, Whitney’s “children” regularly passed through the green room at MTV, where I was then working as vice president of music editorial on the daily show TRL. Like Whitney, I was at the top of my game — or, so it seemed.
My first Rolling Stone cover story, in 1997, was sort of a Part 2 of an earlier cover story I did on Beck for Option in 1994.
The prospect of sitting down with Billy Joe Shaver and talking about his music had been exciting for me. After all, so many of his songs had been an important part of my teen years.