Guy Lombardo with a conductor's baton and a New Year's party hat.

Do Americans Sing ‘Auld Lang Syne’ Because of a Frat Party?

Or maybe it was the cigars that gave us this New Year's Eve staple.
Johnny Cash.

Far From Folsom Prison: More to Music Inside

Johnny Cash wasn't the only superstar to play in prisons. Music, initially allowed as worship, came to be seen as a rockin' tool of rehabilitation.
Still of three characters from Young Frankenstein, parodying horror tropes.

Dun, Dun Duuun! Where Did Pop Culture’s Most Dramatic Sound Come From?

Did the iconic three-note sequence come from Stravinsky, the Muppets or somewhere else? Our writer set out to – dun, dun duuuun! – reveal the mystery.
Frank Sinatra singing into a microphone.

The Christmas Carol Canon That Could Have Been

Pheasants? 'Dickory dock'? Toyland? Here's how a narrow slice of American history changed the holidays forever.
Paul Robeson in 1960, London, performing on stage in front of a crowd.

Black King of Songs

His communism brought the great American singer Paul Robeson trouble in the US, but helped make him a hero in China.
Spotify-based illustration

What Will Happen to My Music Library When Spotify Dies?

If your entire collection is on a streaming service, good luck accessing it in 10 or 20 years.

John Wesley Harding at Fifty: WWDD?

Bob Dylan's confessional album resisted the political radicalism and activism of 1967.

The Oral History of Lilith Fair, As Told By the Women Who Lived It

It was a time when promoters were telling women in music: “You can’t put two women on the same bill. People won’t come.”

The Invasion of Musical Robots, 1929

The rise of recorded music left many musicians fearful of a takeover by "canned music."

When Nina Simone Sang What Everyone Was Thinking

“Mississippi Goddam” was an angry response to tragedy, in show tune form.

The Story of Pearl Jam, from a Seattle Basement to The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame

A look at the first year of the band originally known as Mookie Blaylock.
Painting of Arnold Schoenberg in Los Angeles.

How Arnold Schoenberg Changed Hollywood

He moved to California during the Nazi era, and his music—which ranged from the lushly melodic to the rigorously atonal—caught the ears of everyone.
Two elderly Black women.

How the Memory of a Song Reunited Two Women Separated by the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade

In 1990, scholars found a Sierra Leonean woman who remembered a nearly identical version of a tune passed down by a Georgia woman’s enslaved ancestors
A bedroom decorated with Bob Marley merchandise and the Jamaican flag.

Bob Marley’s ‘Legend’ Is One of the Bestselling Albums Ever. But Does It Tell His Full Story?

After 40 years and more than 25 million copies sold, what story does ‘Legend’ tell us about Bob Marley and the people listening to it?
Black and white photo of the outside of a bar, with "CB GB: OMFUG" written on an overhang, and graffiti and posters on the walls and windows

Real Estate Developers Killed NYC’s Vibrant ’70s Music Scene

In the 1970s and early ’80s, NYC’s racially and ethnically diverse working-class neighborhoods nurtured groundbreaking rap, salsa, and punk music.
A turntable and records.

What’s Old is New Again (and Again): On the Cyclical Nature of Nostalgia

Retro was not the antithesis to the sub- and countercultural experiments of the 1960s, it grew directly out of them.
Shirley Horn in a publicity shot, 1960.

How to Take It Slow

Following the rhythm of Shirley Horn.
Katherine Rye Jewell standing in front of a tree and brick building on Vanderbilt University's campus.

‘Live From the Underground’ Details the Influential World of College Radio

What made those left-of-the-dial broadcasts so special during the 1980s, ‘90s and 2000s?
Sly Stone with daughter Nove, ca. 1980.

On the Sly

A memoir of the Family Stone.
Collage of Louis Armstrong playing the trumpet, waving, and smoking, and a picture of his home in Queens.

Louis Armstrong Gets the Last Word on Louis Armstrong

For decades, Americans have argued over the icon’s legacy. But his archives show that he had his own plans.