classic album dissections 2020

BlueBlue available on iTunes

Joni Mitchell Blue

In our pursuit of doing a classic album dissection of Blue, we decided to begin with a conversation with music writer David Yaffe. Yaffe wrote the 2017 biography Reckless Daughter: A Portrait of Joni Mitchell. We talked with him about the singer-songwriter's backstory, which includes overcoming polio, finding her voice and creating inventive guitar tunings. We also discuss what Joni Mitchell's life was like leading up to making her 1971 masterpiece.

Go to episode 747
pet sounds

The Beach Boys Pet Sounds

On May 16, 1966, The Beach Boys released their 11th studio album, Pet Sounds. It was a relative commercial failure for what was the biggest American band of the '60s. However in the ensuing years, the album's stature grew. Today, its influence pervades to the point that it is almost universally acknowledged as one of the greatest albums ever released in the rock era.

Due to a great deal of pressure, emotional turmoil, and mental health issues, Brian Wilson quit the Beach Boys as a touring entity at the end of 1964. While the rest of the band was on the road, Wilson spent ten months in the studio crafting one of the most intricate and expensive pop records ever made. Working with the famed session musicians of the Wrecking Crew, Wilson took a classical composer's approach, layering instrument upon instrument to create lush, unique timbres. He collaborated with Madison Avenue writer Tony Asher on heartbreakingly earnest lyrics about his struggles to find his place in the world. The audience, the label, and his own bandmates didn't quite know what to make of Pet Sounds when it came out. But artists from The Beatles to R.E.M. to Radiohead picked up on its brilliance and modeled their own music on Wilson's ingenious arrangements. God only knows what rock would be today without Pet Sounds.

Go to episode 738