Summer’s comings and goings have us revisiting songs of love found and lost. Whether it’s from swooning crooners or heartbroken honky-tonkers, love has wedged itself prominently in the American songbook. We talk to two songwriters who specialize in matters of the heart: ’60s folk chanteuse Judy Collins and Americana songmaker Jim Lauderdale, a.k.a. “The King of Broken Hearts.” Plus we hear soulful sweet songs from the Pointer Sisters and the Four Tops, ballads of love on the rocks from George Jones and Tracy Chapman, and love confessions for “My Girl, Josephine” by Fats Domino and “Ophelia” by The Band. Join us for songs of love sad and happy, sexy and silly, careless and calculated on American Routes.
New Orleans’ soulful hoodoo rock and roller and carnivalesque hero Mac Rebennack, better known as Dr. John, passed away on June 6, 2019. Within a day, the city’s streets filled with mourners honoring his legacy of high funknology in the verbal, musical and spiritual arts. In our archival interview, Dr. John recalls his early days as a studio guitarist and later the West Coast birth of his mysterious public persona. We also revisit a live performance in 2013 where Mac reminisces about learning to play piano at home from an auntie and hearing his heroes out on the music scene. American Routes is ‘the right place” to share these conversations and celebrate the beloved music of our friend, the late legendary Dr. John.
From “Ol’ Man River” to “Papa Was a Rolling Stone,” we turn to the American songbook for portraits of fatherhood, both kindly and cautionary, from down-home country to down-with-the-man rock’n‘roll and soul. We talk to New Orleans jazz patriarch Ellis Marsalis about family life and raising four career musicians—Wynton, Branford, Jason and Delfeayo. Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys tells of working in the studio with his dad, Chuck Auerbach, who is making his recording debut at age 68 with Remember Me. Daughter Rosanne remembers Johnny Cash’s voice and her favorite of his tunes. And Steve, Sasha and Martin Masakowski discuss playing music as a father-daughter-son trio and their different roles as family/band members. Plus, fatherly odes from the Everly Brothers, Gladys Knight & the Pips and the Drive-By Truckers.
What comes to mind when you hear the word “Diva”? We’ve found that it’s a word that can go both ways—as praise for an accomplished and magnetic performer, or as a put-down to someone seen as pompous or high-strung. We’re singing divas’ praises while also exploring the term’s various connotations through music and interviews from high-minded women with conflicting views on the word: Bonnie Raitt, the late Abbey Lincoln, Norah Jones, and New Orleans Gospel Diva, Cynthia Girtley. Plus songs from divas and non-divas like Aretha Franklin, Patsy Cline, Lydia Mendoza, and Jessie Mae Hemphill.