Ani DiFranco & Opinions on Bob Dylan

Singer and songwriter Ani DiFranco visits the show to perform songs from her new album Red Letter Year and talk about her influences, politics, and indie spirit.

Ani DiFranco
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Greg recently returned from the Future of Music Policy Summit in Washington D.C. Two of the central themes of the summit were how people will get more access to the internet and how artists will get paid. Senator Al Franken and FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski both spoke about these issues and passionately expressed support for net neutrality. But Franken and Genachowski also stressed that any internet activity that violates artist copyright could not be tolerated. Because it’s difficult to tell if p2p activity is legal or illegal, the question remains: how do you reconcile these two ideals?

Call her vain, but Carly Simon needs a little more tender, loving care. She is suing Starbucks, saying that the coffee company’s now-defunct music label, Hear Music, didn’t adequately promote her 2008 album This Kind of Love. Jim and Greg see this is as the final piece in the Hear Music tale. At first it was seen as a great, alternative way for musicians like James Taylor and Joni Mitchell to market their music, and a way for the coffee company to morph into a tastemaking brand. Now, only a couple of years later, everyone agrees Starbucks should stick to lattes.

Ani DiFranco

Singer-songwriterAni DiFranco visits Jim and Greg this week. Ani is one of the original independent musicians, having formed her own label, Righteous Babe, at the age of 19. She has emerged as a hugely successful touring musician and one of the driving forces in folk music today. Now, Ani is back with her 18th studio album Red Letter Year, her first since becoming a mother. But though it’s been described as her happy record, Red Letter Year is full of her trademark, political rants including Alla This, which she performs live on the show. You can also check out her other live songs, Present Infant, and November 5, 2008.

Christmas in the Heart Bob Dylan

Christmas In the Heart

After thirty-four studio albums over a career spanning decades, Jim and Greg didn’t think that Bob Dylan could still surprise them. This week, he did. Dylan has released an album of Christmas classics called Christmas in the Heart. Both Jim and Greg preface their review with praise for the American folk icon. Greg calls him the most important artist of the past fifty years. For Jim, Dylan is a living American treasure. But, at the risk of sounding like Grinches, both critics agree Christmas in the Heart is abysmal. The arrangements are awful, the delivery bizarre, and nothing sounds like anything you’d want to play for the family. It’s a double Trash It.

Greg

Greg needs to clear his Christmas palette, so he chooses a worthy holiday song to put in the Desert Island Jukebox. This is one he could listen to all year long. In 1999 the Minnesota trio Low released their Christmas EP. Members of Low are practicing Mormons, and you can hear the influence of their faith on their music. In Long Way Around the Sea, Low strips the song of any mentions of bows and sleighs and gets to the essence of the holiday. To Greg, it’s deliberate, beautiful, and something he’d like to listen to if stranded on an island.

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