The talented, multi-disciplinary American artist Matana Roberts discusses her Coin Coin album series and its latest chapter, Coin Coin Chapter Four: Memphis, her personal and professional trajectory, upcoming projects, and more! Supported by Pizza Trokadero, the Bookshelf, Planet Bean Coffee, and Grandad’s Donuts. Please take this listener survey.
Bob Mehr is an award-winning music critic who currently resides in Memphis, Tennessee. He’s the chief music critic for The Commercial Appeal and has written for MOJO and the Chicago Reader among others and he has composed essays and liner notes for several album reissues, including the Grammy Award-winning Big Star box set, Keep An Eye on the Sky. His new book presents an illuminating and often harrowing look at one of the greatest American rock ‘n’ roll bands of all time. It’s called Trouble Boys – The True Story of The Replacements, it’s out now via Da Capo Press and here, Bob and I discuss the historical and contemporary music scene in Memphis, Sam Phillips and Sun Studios and Sam Phillips Recording Service, labels like Stax, Goldwax, and XL, Fat Possum and Style Wooten, Peter Guralnick and his recent book Sam Phillips – The Man Who Invented Rock ‘n’ Roll, the close-knit Memphis music community, reflecting on Trouble Boys now that it’s out, the first time he heard about the Replacements, their infamous Saturday Night Live appearance in January 1986, discovering Pleased to Meet Me and becoming a hardcore ‘Mats fan, getting to interview Paul Westerberg and Tommy Stinson and the band’s associates over the years, the real story behind the band’s SNL experience, how their indifference to success gave them power among unsettled music industry people, demystifying the legends and myths surrounding the Replacements, wondering why they behaved the way they did, the horror of Bob Stinson’s life, how Bob saved Tommy Stinson, Chris Mars and Paul Westerberg’s own respective family struggles, framing this book around Bob Stinson’s funeral and the role Bob played as the soul of the band, the first Replacements’ reunion, their strengths and weaknesses after Bob left the band, a clearer sense of Bob’s and the band’s mental health and substance abuse issues, heavy history, damaged American families, brotherhoods and lovable losers, myth and romance, good times and dark humour, dickishness and insularity and the Replacements against the world, the lyrical communication of pain, R.E.M., Peter Jesperson, literally burning up money with fire, Slim Dunlap snarls, the true and strange story of the making of the Don’t Tell a Soul LP, lost in the woods, ‘dodgeknife’ and scaring Metallica, Chris Mars moves on, bringing Bob to life, not necessarily an authorized biography, how Paul and Tommy might relate to their band’s reputation and legacy, what Trouble Boys contributes to the story of the band, the obstacles the Replacements overcame, how they won, the band’s first reconstitution show at Riot Fest in Toronto in 2013, the crowd’s unusual collective joy at those shows, whether or not the Replacements actually broke up for good on-stage in Portugal in 2015, his book tour plans, feedback and reception from readers and people involved in this story, approval from the Stinsons, a 3 AM call from Paul about the book, being a kind of intermediary between people who don’t always communicate with each other very well, learning a lot as he went along, what’s next, the song “Bastards of Young” from the album Tim, my four year old son’s deep passion for the Replacements, and then it was time for decisions to be made.
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Related links: replacementsbook.com thereplacementsofficial.com vishkhanna.com
Peter Guralnick is a music writer of the highest order who splits his time living between Tennessee and Massachusetts. Over the past 40 years, he has written definitive books about American music, including Dream Boogie, a biography of Sam Cooke, and Last Train to Memphis and Careless Love, his monumental twin biographies about the rise and unmaking of Elvis Presley. His latest book is a riveting and exhaustively researched portrait of the founder of Sun Records in Memphis, Tennessee—the man who discovered Presley and other icons like Howlin’ Wolf, B.B. King, Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins, and Jerry Lee Lewis among many others. The book is called Sam Phillips: The Man Who Invented Rock ‘n’ Roll, it’s out now via Little, Brown and Company, and here, Peter and I discuss me geeking out in a major way, his time spent in Boston, Nashville, and Memphis, writing what he wants, Sam Phillips’ influence and independent spirit, finding Elvis, the R-E-A-L and our individuality, a man on an extraordinary mission, “Tell the damn truth,” the myth of objectivity, fact checking and getting to the core of someone you might not know, becoming friends with Sam Phillips, treating subjects with dignity, Charlie Rich, the truth is the truth, getting lost in spontaneity, personal observation, narrative slapback, Sam’s love for radio, that time Phillips called up Fidel Castro and became friends with Hank Williams’ widow, Audrey, Sam’s heroic last days, the astonishing breadth of his knowledge and dedication to research in any field, Phillips’ desire to foster racial equality and give impoverished artists of any background a chance to express themselves, standing up for the downtrodden, the new Yep Roc Sun Records compilation and a mouse in my house, Phillips’ guiding role for independent American record labels, distributors, and artists, his business acumen, the financial pain of having a hit single, looking for someone exactly like Elvis, why Sam had to sell the Elvis Presley contract to RCA for $35,000, working with Sam on his life story and winning his trust, how Sam didn’t really want to write a memoir, an interesting e-book version of this story, going back to working on a collection of short stories, Alice Munro, Dawn Powell, Fanny and Alexander, the song “Mr. Highway Man” by Howlin’ Wolf and the Wolf’s sway over Sam Phillips, and then we gotta let you go.
Related links: peterguralnick.com sunrecords.com vishkhanna.com
Listen, subscribe, rate/review on iTunes.