Image for post
Image for post

(*Author’s note: Equal parts infuriating and appalling (and, for our country, embarrassing) that this piece, written ELEVEN years ago, holds up. Indeed, that things have only become more obscene via Trump is pitiful. Good riddance to our least favorite cultural cancer; a hollow husk of a man who elevated projection and self-loathing to an exceedingly remunerative art-form. As I do when I consider his comrade in arms DJT, it gives me comfort to know that he very likely never knew a moment of peace, anything like joy, something that approximated generosity or compassion. …


Image for post
Image for post
It was 40 years ago today…

Every band, if they’re lucky, is able to create a definitive work — a document that embodies their unique qualities. Most great bands, at some point in their career, successfully produce an enduring statement. Some artists, like The Beatles or Pink Floyd, are able to capture — or create — the Zeitgeist on more than one occasion On the other hand; there are plenty of worthwhile and beloved bands who have never quite been capable of distilling the necessary ingredients of a classic recording. Finally, there are those almost unfathomable works that only a handful of bands can claim credit…


Image for post
Image for post

Beethoven at 250.

Aside from the two other points in the eternal triangle, Bach and Mozart, has any artist contained such multitudes, expressed so much in ways that are ceaselessly challenging and rewarding? Maybe Shakespeare? Perhaps Hendrix or Coltrane had they been given more time? Suffice it to say, the list is exceedingly short, and while it’s a fool’s errand to single out one human being, I have no problem putting Beethoven at the top of the list. …


Image for post
Image for post

Considering that the only constant during the early years (and later, for that matter) of King Crimson was change, the quality and variety of their third and fourth albums are astonishing. The line-up rotations turned out to be a fortuitous blessing, as both Lizard and Islands sound original and unconnected. This is actually a rather exceptional phenomenon within the prog rock movement. Where bands like Genesis and Yes steadily built up confidence and momentum, eventually hitting on all aesthetic cylinders (on albums like Close to the Edge and Selling England by the Pound), King Crimson, almost by default, churned out…


Image for post
Image for post

It was forty years ago today…

Where were you?

I was in my mother’s bedroom, kissing her goodbye before I caught the school bus, and I heard the horrible news on the clock radio (incidentally, I was in this same room when news of Len Bias — the other devastating death of the decade– flashed across the bottom of the TV screen). As a burgeoning Beatles fan (fanatic), this hurt. And I was old enough to know that this was a major blow: on an artistic, social, human scale.

John Lennon’s death, not too many people would debate, was our…


Image for post
Image for post
photo courtesy of Salvatore Ferro

When it comes to Eddie Van Halen, we are talking about an artist everyone would agree was — through the typical combination of hard work, good fortune and inexplicable gifts — a once-in-a-generation type of talent.

And no one is going to deny that Van Halen set a new standard in terms of its influence (and not only on every other band going forward, but Van Halen itself).

Whether he squandered subsequent decades and a great amount of his gifts is debatable (hint: he did), but what he did for that first string of albums, from ’78 to ’84, is…


Image for post
Image for post

First, a confession.

I did not love Goodfellas the first time I saw it (in the theater, shortly after it opened, in October, 1990). Then again, this seems to happen with certain albums and movies: the ones you end up loving most often are not love at first sight. …


Image for post
Image for post

It was 50 years ago, today.

Attention, of course, must (and will) be paid, but the real question remains: what more can possibly be said, at this point, about Jimi Hendrix? Actually, it is entirely fair to propose that we have not yet said enough about him. As it has long since been established that he is the Alpha and the Omega of electric guitar, conversation tends to stop there: what more needs to be said, we say, when we don’t say anything more. As a result, the actual scope of his virtuosity tends to, however unintentionally, get reduced to…


Image for post
Image for post

Was Toots and his 1968 hit “Do the Reggay,” responsible for popularizing both the name and form of reggae that, a few years later — and in no small part thanks to Robert Nesta Marley — became world music in every sense of the word?

Maybe. What matters more is the song itself, and the man singing it. This voice made the message impossible to ignore.

Toots and the Maytals are correctly credited for helping make reggae music resonate. Listening to anything from the late ’60s to the mid ’70s (and beyond, of course) causes one to realize that…


Image for post
Image for post

Thirty years ago today.

First day of classes, junior year. Standing in the bathroom with too much shaving cream and not enough whiskers, getting geared up for another semester of partying too much and studying too little. No e-mails to check, no cell phone messages to return, just listening to the clock radio on the counter, because that’s how we rolled. Not that we had much choice in the matter.

Roommate walks into the bathroom with a look on his face like someone told him that Milwaukee’s Best raised the price of six packs.

“Dude, Eric Clapton is dead.” God…

Sean Murphy

Executive Director, 1455, @1455LitArts. Avoiding quiet desperation by any means necessary http://seanmurphy.net

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store