Tag Archives: Rock

Making Time and Keeping Warm


A few weeks ago I revisited the soundtrack to the wonderful film Rushmore. The 1998 Wes Anderson movie remains one of my favorite movies. The soundtrack to the film is splendid, and the liner notes explaining why the film maker chose which music he did, is also really interesting. For those of you too young to know what liner notes are … here ya go! The other thing is, man….it is GOOD. The tracks are fantastic.

I would be remiss to not mention The Kinks here. Anderson’s original idea for the Rushmore soundtrack was to be all songs by The Kinks, but that changed during production. I do love The Kinks and I love The Village Green Preservation Society. These tracks will already make you feel like Spring is here. It’s worth checking out for that alone! Aside from that, however, this is truly one of the best rock albums EVER recorded. Big words, I know. Check it out and see for yourself.

rushmore(image snagged from google search)

In looking around for more by some of the artists on that soundtrack (specifically the fantastic band the Creation) I was led to the Nuggets collection. (I like the brilliant and dated tagline for the collection…“If you dig it, it’s a nugget”). The stuff on the single disc is mostly US-based and includes great liner notes. For instance, I learned, somewhat to my chagrin, that the Standells (you’ll remember them from their hit song “Dirty Water”… “Love that dirty water, Boston you’re my home”) were NOT from Boston at all, but from LA. The song still sounds great and the rest of the liner notes are worth looking at.


I also stumbled onto Nuggets 2, which features more bands from the UK “and beyond” as it says on the cover. I was glad to see more tracks by Creation on there. Again, it’s an interesting, fun collection that is worth your time.

In the days of Polar Vortex deep freezes and extravagantly named winter storms, venture out to the Library, pick up a movie and some tunes, and hunker down.


(who is working out the proper blanket-to-cat-to-tea ratio for maximum winter warmth and comfort)


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We’re Playing Your Song

Humans have made music for thousands of years, and yet we still manage to keep coming up with new and pleasing combinations of sounds. That’s a good reason to celebrate, don’t you think?


Click through for tickets and more information!

The Library agrees. On March 7, 2014 our After Hours series continues with a magical mystery tour through centuries of sound, in partnership with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. Mark your calendars, buy your tickets, and swing by Main Library at 7 p.m. sharp for trivia, tasty nibbles, and tunes.

If you’ve been to our previous After Hours programs, you know we have a knack for creative good times, and our latest event is no exception. Your tickets include:

Whether you’re a coloratura soprano or strictly a “sing to the cats when nobody else is around” sort of person, you’ll find something to love at After Hours. Click here to buy your tickets, and click here for more information about the event, our sponsors and partners, and the tax-deductible value of your ticket purchase.

Sing out if you’re coming! And don’t forget to spread the word.

–Leigh Anne


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Aural Histories


Our outreach collection on 8/10/2013 in Arsenal Park. All items were available for check out!

This past week I was lucky enough to attend Lawrenceville’s Rock All Night Festival (R.A.N.T.) on behalf of the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh’s Music, Film & Audio Department. In addition to providing the opportunity for patrons to make their own harmonicas, we also had a well-curated selection of music documentaries, CDs, and books available for check out. While pulling books for our outreach table, I discovered just how many interesting oral history books we have about music–there’s one for just about every genre or interest. The following are a few gems I’d like to share with you today, arranged by genre:





















Andy Warhol & The Velvet Underground


And Punk, again


Happy reading & listening all,



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My Summer of 2012 Music Obsession

Jazz often sounds good on rainy spring evenings.  Sometimes autumn drives in the country are well suited for classic American folk music.  I dig despair-filled metal and noise during the beautifully stark, white, wasteland of winter.  But summertime often finds me listening to more melodic music.  Poppy, yes, but still uptempo, guitar-based, and suitable for turning up the volume in the car (volume within reason, though; call me cranky, but I think cars with blaring and booming stereos are a public nuisance).

This summer, I have been listening to The Stars Are Indifferent to Astronomy by Nada Surf over and over and over and over.  It’s somewhat surprising since I didn’t pay much attention to them when they had their big hit “Popular” in the mid-90s.  But in the last ten years, Nada Surf have reinvented themselves into a less ironic, less grungy, more melodic, more earnest and endearing band.  Or maybe it’s just that singer Matthew Caws started singing prettier tunes higher in his vocal range.  Their latest album is a masterpiece of power pop with the right amount of driving songs, catchy melodies and frills like cello, organ, trumpet and xylophone to spice up the guitar rock.  (If you don’t trust my opinion, check out the gushing enthusiasm for Nada Surf by the good folks at Aquarius Records.)

As might be expected from still-inspired musical veterans,  lyrics from many songs address the passing of time:

“elusive energy / hard to hold / I’m looking for it now / and will be when I’m old”

“when I was young / I didn’t know if I was better off / asleep or up / now I’ve grown up / I wonder what was that world / I was dreaming of?”

“sometimes I ask the wrong questions / but I get the right answers / moved to a tear by / a subway breakdancer / it’s never too late for teenage dreams”

“and I cannot believe / the future’s happening to me”

Time has been good to Nada Surf.  I am so pleased when a band can release possibly their best album twenty years into their career.

— Tim

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Nick Cave: Poet, Novelist, Musician, Birthday Boy

Nick_CaveToday is the birthday of one of Australia’s premier exports, Nick Cave. Cave has made his mark in many arenas: music, novels, poetry, and film, and probably a few more. His work with his band, The Bad Seeds, changed the landscape of literate rock. Their appearance in one of my favorite films of all times, Wim Wenders’ Wings of Desire, is the stuff of legend. The use of his song, Red Right Hand, in mainstream television’s The X-Files creeped out an entire generation (and made John Milton roll over in his grave).

Just this month he has released his 2nd novel, The Death of Bunny Munro, garnering some formidable reviews. Find someone, anyone, who read his first novel, And the Ass Saw the Angel (check out Cave reading an excerpt), ask them what they thought, and watch them turn into a sunken eyed, twitchy haint right before your eyes. His two poetry/lyric volumes, King Ink and King Ink II, may take you places you never really wanted to go. His 14 minute epic song, “Babe, I’m On Fire,” with its possessed accompanying video, is so mesmerizingly over-the-top it brings you right back to where you started, well beyond spent.

Have the feeling I could go on for days? Right, mate. So rather than experience all this literate goodness vicariously, sit back and enjoy the tender ballad “The Ship Song” and be charmed right out of your chaps/knickers.

Happy B’Day, Mr. C.


PS. Wonder if he’ll be having a Birthday Party?


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Serendipity for a Friday Afternoon


 One of the things a librarian might tell you, if you managed to ply her with a preferred libation or two while off duty, is that serendipity is one of her favorite forms of searching.  Similarly, for customers, one of the favorite ways of searching is browsing our extensive shelves.  Hardly a day goes by when a person or three doesn’t say to me, “Just get me to the section, I’ll take it from there.”  When you browse in the stacks, you sometimes find the most unlikely things.  Ask any librarian, most of whom have piles of books at home unearthed while looking for something for someone else, and, yes, some of those books are overdue because, well, librarians are regular folk, too.

Regular folk who have to pay fines like everyone else, I hasten to add.

While doing some background research recently, I noticed that today, June 19th, is the anniversary of what is reputed to be the first ever game of modern baseball, played in 1846 in Hoboken, NJ, on the lyrically named Elysian Fields (pictured above).  Hoboken is a popular northern New Jersey city just across the Hudson River from Manhattan, a small but delightful place where I spent a fair amount of time in my younger years.  I was born nearby in Bayonne, which is another small city that took a lot of good-natured ribbing from Jackie Gleason on the TV show The Honeymooners, a 1950’s sitcom that, remarkably, is still airing over 50 years later on WGN, Chicago. 

Hoboken itself has a storied history.  Quite a few punk rock, neo-punk, emo, and independent bands have emerged from the Hoboken scene over the years, a scene that is still thriving today.  Many of those bands got their start in Maxwell’s on Washington Street, Hoboken’s main drag, and still a very active music venue. 

When it comes to music, serendipitously enough, the Dutch musicologist, Anthony van Hoboken, a descendent of one of the families the city may have been named after (there are at least two other possible origins of the name: the Flemish town of Hoboken and a phrase from the Lenni Lanape Unami language), is most famous for his catalogue of the works of Joseph Haydn.

When you shake the Inter-nets, lots of info on Hoboken falls out, including some interesting tidbits from Wikipedia.  Though I’m not sure about the veracity of this little niblet, it’s said that the Hoboken Public Library CD collection of works by favorite son, Frank Sinatra, is so large, they’ve given him his own classification (Classical, Jazz, Rock, Sinatra etc.) and if it isn’t true it should be.  Famous folks hailing from Hoboken are about as varied a bunch as you can get: Bill Frisell, the band Yo La Tengo, Alfred Kinsey, G. Gordon Liddy, Eli Manning, Anna Quindlen, Dorethea Lange, Alfred Stieglitz, John Sayles, Willem de Kooning, Daniel Pinkwater, and Arti Lange, to mention the more famous.

Hoboken was supposedly the site of the first brewery in the United States, but I’ve found some conflicting information on that (and even more conflicting information on that).  The zipper, thank you, Lord, was invented there.  One of Edgar Allan Poe’s short stories, “The Mystery of Marie Roget,” the first mystery story to be based on a real crime and something of a sequel to “The Murders in the Rue Morgue,” was set there.  Like Manhattan, Hoboken was first seen by Europeans when Henry Hudson sailed up the river that took his name and, again like Manhattan, it was purchased from the local Native American tribe for a pittance by Peter Stuyvesant.

A serendipitous search of the library catalog for Hoboken produces some interesting results.  There is last year’s cookbook cum memoir bestseller, the delightfully titled “The Lost Ravioli Recipes of Hoboken.”  Novelist Christian Bauman’s “In Hoboken” is about musicians, rock and roll, and the simultaneous charm and despair that is Hoboken.  In fact, there are 7 novels set in Hoboken in the catalog.  Hoboken’s Union Station is featured in “Still Standing: A Century of Urban Train Station Design.”  There are dozens of music CDs either recorded in or referring to Hoboken in our collections.  “Gritty Cities: A Second Look at Allentown, Bethlehem, Bridgeport, Hoboken, Lancaster, Norwich, Paterson, Reading, Trenton, Waterbury, Wilmington” captures the ambiance of an earlier, less auspicious time (pre-1978), something we Pittsburghers can readily relate to.

As the mills were to Western Pennsylvania, the waterfront was to Hoboken and so it would be accurate to say that not only was one of the greatest movies of all time, “On The Waterfront,” filmed there, it was lived there.

Finally, here’s one for the final Jeopardy category of “Musicals” and you don’t even have to be from Hoboken to answer it:

“The Little Sisters of Hoboken.”

And the question is ….

– Don


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