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Music writing

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Jon Bon Jovi’s crisis of faith

A vocal booth has been set up for the interview, with an office chair facing a fake leather sofa. He’s sprawled on the couch: the patient. I’m the therapist. “There was a darkness that I couldn’t find my way out of. A year ago I had hit the bottom.” he says.

Tony Bennett’s memories, after a fashion

Bennett says the same few things to anyone that asks. He has been saying them for decades and will keep on saying them. They’re not just stories he tells any more: they’ve become a belief system that explains why he’s still around, and still relevant, when all of his contemporaries are gone.

Gotye gets back to Basics

Four months ago, the musician Wally De Backer, known the world over as Gotye, moved from Melbourne to New York, leaving his family and his friends, his studio on the Mornington Peninsula and his collection of rare and interestingly broken instruments. You could say he left his band, the Basics, but that happened long ago. You could say that he left them but he never will.

Leon Bridges: an old soul, born again.

This is classic soul: something so skilfully constructed, so faithfully reimagined, from the sensible shoes to the Drifters haircut, that a circle is completed and the artifice becomes love.

“While I’m gone, go through my stuff and try to figure me out.”

Montage of Heck is a documentary about Kurt Cobain. You already know how it ends. Maybe in another film Nirvana’s lead singer will disappoint his fans by finding God or narrating a Chrysler advert during the Super Bowl half-time show, but in this life he’s perfectly dead, a “spokesperson for a generation” whose songs resonate louder the longer he remains silent. Age shall not weary him, nor the years condemn.

Can he take it to the bridge? Chadwick Boseman gets on up.

Whatever he makes of the film, Brown will enjoy the reminder that he is immortal. He used to say that he was born dead – that the first breath had to be blown into him. As a child, after surviving four minutes connected to mains electricity he concluded that he could not be killed. Get On Up is merely his latest reincarnation.

Bjork looks back (but not in anger)

The walls are lined with sheet music, the notation in her own hand. It’s apparently not enough to have blown up the barrier between pop and fine art: we haven’t reached the front of the queue and the Museum of Modern Art is welcoming her into the academy.

Mothership collection – George Clinton cleans up

One of the first things George Clinton did after he stopped smoking crack, four years ago, was to untangle his hair. The multi-coloured extensions, a neon rainbow of polyester dreadlocks, had been his signature look for a decade. He figured that if he wanted to cut through the knots of his business affairs and straighten out his story, he should get his head right first.

Despatches from Cash country

Out Among The Stars documents a strange moment in Cash’s career, when it became clear that he had been supplanted by his daughter. Her records were selling seven figures, while his struggled to reach five. “I’m sure in some ways it was difficult for my dad,” she says, “but it was complicated because he was really proud of me and made no bones about showing it.”

Vampire Weekend: modern by design.

The nearest shelf offers the New York City Plumbing Code, Architects on Architects, Compact Shelving and Design of Wood Structures: a fitting selection for this most painstakingly constructed of bands.

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