Then Chicago-radio-listener and writer Alex Blumberg (he's now one of our producers) tells the story of encountering a corporation on its first day. It made all the human errors anyone does on a first day: exhibiting false confidence, pretending it wasn't the first day, trying too hard.
Writer Greil Marcus explains what rock fans use dead rock stars for.
Durrell was a professional musician. He toured Asia, Brazil, Canada, gigs in Paris.
A case study of how children are asked to live the unlived lives of their parents. Author David Sedaris had a father who loved jazz but played no instrument himself.
As a teenager, Sarah Vowell was not casual about music lessons — music became her life. She was in marching band, jazz band, Band One, symphony band, pep band and the Bozeman Recorder Ensemble.
Writer Anne Lamott presents an example of what we can learn from music outside of formal classes. She tells the story of an airplane trip, a song, and a small miracle.
Sarah Vowell with Jim Nayder, host of Magnificent Obsession and The Annoying Music Show, who personifies our culture's split between seriousness and wackiness as well as anyone.
Sure you can try to get your pop songs onto records, or on the radio, or onto MTV. But what happens if your medium of choice is ... the telephone? Before they had record contracts, the band They Might Be Giants distributed their songs through the medium of Answering Machine.
Tamar Brott, on growing up with two music prodigies, and Sandra Tsing Loh's sister Kaitlin, a ballet prodigy.
Alex Melamid and Vitaly Komar hired a polling firm to investigate what people want to see in paintings. Then, using the data, they painted what people want.
Jack Hitt reports on one woman's opera about Chicken Little.
Host Ira Glass talks with "Jim Steel," who tells a story about the social rules at his high school in Wisconsin.
A communist, the filmmaker Marcel Ophuls, the band Camper Van Beethoven, and other people who may be stuck in the wrong decade.
A former addict and a former prisoner discuss the developmental retardation their experiences caused.
An odd occurrence at 124 East Fourth Street in Manhattan's East Village. For the last five weeks, a singer named Nick Drakides has stood on the stoop singing Sinatra songs late at night to the delight of his neighbors.
John Perry Barlow, a founder of the Electronic Frontier Foundation and former rancher and Grateful Dead lyricist, on an experience that began at the boundary of two conventions.
Ellery Eskelin never met his father but always heard he was a musical genius. Years after his father's death, Ellery started finding recordings of his musical output: he was the king of "song-poems." These are the songs that result when people answer those ads in the backs of magazines that say, "Send us your lyrics, and we'll write and record your song." Ellery's father's musical output was prodigious — and very odd.
After all this doom and gloom about the difficult lives of artists, we end the show with a more hopeful story from Joel Kostman, a New York City locksmith, who tells us about an incident that happened to him on the job. Joel is author of Keys to the City: Tales of a New York City Locksmith.
Josh Seftel and Rich Robinson's trek across South Africa continues. They head to the "South African Woodstock" and to a group that's half Nancy Reagan's "Just Say No" campaign and half terrorist campaign.
Writer Sarah Vowell goes to Rock-n-Roll Fantasy Camp in Miami Beach.
Journalist Margy Rochlin on her first big assignment to do a celebrity interview. It was 1982.
Rennie Sparks from the band The Handsome Family.
How a guy named Tom became Camden Joy — and what he gained and what he lost. With Sarah Vowell.
Host Ira Glass, with a recording of a 1962 Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, and Sammy Davis Jr., appearance at the Villa Venice, a club outside Chicago. What's fascinating about Sinatra is how he is so many different people at once, and they're all on display in this recording: sentimental crooner, cruel woman-baiter, bully, goofball.