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Bob Dylan, Neil Young And Willie Nelson Release New Music Late In Their Careers : NPR

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Neil Young’s newly released album, Homegrown, arrives at the same moment as two other veteran songwriters, Bob Dylan and Willie Nelson, put out projects of their own.

Henry Diltz/Courtesy of the artist


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Henry Diltz/Courtesy of the artist

Neil Young’s newly released album, Homegrown, arrives at the same moment as two other veteran songwriters, Bob Dylan and Willie Nelson, put out projects of their own.

Henry Diltz/Courtesy of the artist

This week, Bob Dylan‘s first album of new music in eight years, Rough and Rowdy Ways, rose to No. 2 on the Billboard albums chart, making him the first ever artist to have a Top 40 album in every decade since the 1960s. But Bob Dylan is not alone in making vital new music well into what some might call his “retirement” years. This past month has also seen releases by Neil Young (Homegrown), Willie Nelson (First Rose of Spring) and the late John Prine (“I Remember Everything”).

“Their artistic trajectory mirrors the Baby Boomer generation they inspired,” says NPR Music critic and correspondent Ann Powers. “They thought they’d peak at 30, but as culture changed and what we think of as ‘old age’ became a much more active and engaged phase of life, they’re doing the same thing as many of their listeners.”

Mary Louise Kelly spoke to Ann Powers about the way that none of these artists rest on their laurels, instead creating poignant and powerful work late into their careers. Listen in the audio player above, and read on for highlights of their conversation.

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Interview Highlights

On Bob Dylan creating an album that carves space out of the modern landscape of hip-hop and pop music

Dylan has managed to make an album that seems to reference his whole career while feeling like something new. What I’ve noticed about Rough and Rowdy Ways is that it gives us so many of the Bob Dylans that we’ve known and loved over the years: the Dylan who free associates long strings of poetic phrasings; the Dylan who can write a really pure and direct love song; or the Dylan who likes to play the mythical adventurer; or even the crooner who’s covered Sinatra. It’s like he’s curating his own life, and showing why these themes and approaches can still be relevant.

Bob Dylan is also a lot like a rapper — he interpolates, he samples, yet there he is at the heart of it and he’s still projecting his own personality.

On Neil Young presenting archival material to prove the vibrancy of his legacy

Neil Young is also always making new music but this “new” release, Homegrown, is actually an album from 1975 that he’s finally releasing in its original form. It’s a really great move, not only in terms of helping his fans understand the whole arc of his career, but in reminding listeners why Neil Young’s sound is still so relevant. You can hear so much of what current rock bands or even country or Americana bands are doing now — it all stems from this sound that Neil Young and Crazy Horse made back in the ’70s.

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On how Willie Nelson and John Prine remain relevant through the seeds they planted in a new generation

Willie Nelson is like a music industry unto himself. He works with his sons Lukas and Micah, and producer Buddy Cannon. They made this album in quarantine — very contemporary — swapping files back and forth over the Internet. The album is mostly covers, but the songs he wrote with Buddy Cannon are beautiful meditations on life in the twilight years.

[He’s] crafting this ongoing conversation about being an elder, about facing mortality, and also kind of about the history of popular music. Both Bob Dylan and Willie Nelson, they are not afraid of showing the age in their voices, but the power is also still there. And that, for me, is what makes this music the most relevant.

John Prine remained relevant until his last day of his life because he, too, always kept growing, mentoring younger artists, writing songs. It’s just a perfect final statement from John, it’s got that humor and humility and joy in life that he carried to his last days.

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Is Music Streaming Bad For The Environment?

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The global music landscape has enabled consumers to discover a wide range of genres, sound and artists via music streaming apps such as Spotify, Apple Music and SoundCloud – thanks to digital technology. Spotify is now the global leader in music streaming with a worldwide community of over 200 million active users and an estimated 130 million paying subscribers.

Based on data from the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI), the global revenue from music streaming in 2017 grew to 41.1 percent of the music industry’s total income of US$17.3 billion.

A 2019 Statista report revealed that music streaming revenue in Southeast Asia amounted to US$254 million last year and is projected to grow to US$293 million by 2023. 

Streaming music appeals to users as it allows them to store thousands of songs offline on multiple devices, making purchasing music downloads unnecessary. 

Numbers of music streaming users
Source: Statista 

Analogue

Despite the allure of digital media, vinyl records stand to be one of the fastest-selling and growing mediums for music. And surprisingly, the re-emergence of analogue formats such as cassettes and vinyl are happening in parallel to digital streaming. According to media reports, global vinyl record sales in 2015 was valued at US$416 million and is expected to reach US$800 million to US$900 million in sales this year. Nevertheless, with the current coronavirus crisis, the projection of sales for 2020 reported last January might be affected.  

In Southeast Asia, the cassette revival is an underground fixture. There are no vinyl-pressing plants here, but cassette plants still dot the region. In Malaysia, the cassette has become an inexpensive format for fledgling artists to get their music heard. The manufacturing cost for cassettes can be as low as RM4 (US$1) per tape, compared to RM60-80 (US$14-19) for a single vinyl record. The high cost of vinyl is also a barrier for many young bands and DIY labels in Indonesia, Thailand and the Philippines.  

“Cassette culture isn’t going away anytime soon. The tape revival, which started kicking-in in Malaysia two years ago, has been a good thing. New bands have something to put out. Tapes are also not as expensive as records. You can now release something that is affordable and also very artsy,” Radzi, owner of Teenage Head Records – a Malaysia-based indie record store told local media. 

Harmful To The Environment

Vinyl is short for polyvinyl chloride (PVC), and its production process is not particularly eco-friendly as it involves toxic acids and consumes a lot of energy. Andie Stephens, associate director of Carbon Trust, a corporate carbon footprint measuring company, said that the environmental impact of vinyl include energy used in the extraction of crude oil from the ground and the subsequent processing and manufacturing. 

Recycling of PVC is also an issue, as it takes at least 100 years for it to decompose. A 2019 article, ‘The environmental impact of music’, by Sharon George and Dierdre McKay from Keele University, revealed that the sales of 4.1 million records would produce 1.9 thousand tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2). 

The idea that streaming is a zero-carbon medium for listening to music is a misconception. All streaming services depend on a network of energy-intensive server farms consisting of computers. Music is not stored on personal computers or smartphones and is instead, stored on servers within huge data centres. 

“An expected by-product of digital growth has always been a decrease in the perceived heavy environmental cost associated with physical products,” wrote Dagfinn Bach, author of ‘The dark side of the tune: the hidden energy cost of digital music consumption,’ which was published in 2012.

Data centres generate an immense carbon footprint. These warehouses run 24 hours a day every day, producing heat that needs to be continuously cooled. This entails a massive amount of electricity, which in most cases relies on fossil fuels for its generation. 

Even though vinyl has a higher upfront cost of production, it may have a lower footprint over time. According to Sean Fleming’s article, ‘Streaming music isn’t as green as you might think,’ featured by the World Economic Forum (WEF), the carbon footprint of a vinyl record remains the same no matter how many times it is played, requiring only enough electrical energy to spin the record and provide its amplification.

“A very different picture emerges when we think about the energy used to power online music listening. Storing and processing music online uses a tremendous amount of resources and energy – with a high impact on the environment,” said Kyle Devine from the University of Oslo, who led a research on the environmental cost of recording formats. 

Streaming may reduce the upfront production of carbon but it makes increased energy demands and emissions every time a song is played. Bach wrote that streaming an album over the internet 27 times can use more energy than the manufacturing and production of its vinyl equivalent. This is something to think about the next time you stream your favourite song. 

Related Articles:

Music’s Future Is Streaming

Will Malaysians Stick To Netflix And Spotify?

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Music

Illinois State Program Plans Virtual Camp for Music Students – NBC Chicago

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Aspiring string musicians in Illinois can sign up for a virtual camp offered by the Illinois State University String Project this month.

The virtual camp is open to students of the violin, viola, cello and bass who are entering grades four through eight. Students must have at least one year of experience.

The String Project typically holds weekly group classes for children, supervised by Illinois State University faculty and students majoring in music. Leaders have turned to virtual options during the coronavirus pandemic.

Camp classes will be held using the video call service Zoom. Students also can upload assignments for one-on-one feedback.

The five-day camp runs July 27 through July 31 and costs $50. Students need their own instrument, a music stand, a reliable internet connection and a computer or tablet.

Students should register by Wednesday.

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Coronavirus: London Ont., Home County music festival going virtual – London

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The Home County Music and Art Festival is going virtual this summer due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.

What would’ve been its 47th year has now been changed to “Stay Home County 46.5 Festival” with two days of music to be streamed online.

Tim Fraser, the artistic director of the festival, spoke with Jess Brady on 980 CFPL’s Afternoon Show on Friday.

“We’ve got 12 artists — some local, regional and some are international.”

Read more:
3 major London summer festivals postponed until July 2021 due to coronavirus pandemic

“This was supposed to be the 47th version of the festival, but we’re going with 46 and a half,” Fraser chuckled.

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In previous years, the festival has taken place at Victoria Park with music as well as vendors.

“A lot of people actually start their holiday shopping at the festival and they’ll buy stuff from the local crafters and artists, so we’re going to be working on some stuff throughout the rest of the summer to make sure people still have the opportunity to shop from local people.”






Canadian music legends take to social media amid coronavirus outbreak


Canadian music legends take to social media amid coronavirus outbreak

Fraser says he hopes the festival can return to Victoria Park in 2021 for its official 47th year.

The 2020 festival is running Thursday, July 16 and Friday, July 17.

Line-up for July 16:

  • Saidat
  • Julian Taylor
  • Megan Bonnell
  • Alash Ensemble
  • AHI
  • The Small Glories

Line-up for July 17:

  • The Marrieds
  • Ken Yates
  • Leela Gilday
  • Wolf Saga
  • Terra Lightfoot
  • DJ NDN

Read more:
Summer festivals for 2020 in London, Ont., in limbo due to coronavirus pandemic

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Meanwhile, TD Sunfest 2020 will be held online Friday, July 10 and Saturday, July 11 from 7 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. both days.

Sunfest ’20 Connected will involve 15 international and national music ensembles representing countries like Brazil, Colombia, South Korea, Sweden, Mozambique and Ukraine.

-With files from 980 CFPL’s Jacquelyn Lebel




© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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