NPR Music

Twenty years ago, life was hard for a rock fan. On the radio, corporate pop and slick R&B reigned. Justin, Britney and Christina were rising, straight from Mickey Mouse Club finishing school, trained to give red carpet quotes to Carson Daly on TRL. Grunge had been reduced to a lifestyle concept, used to sell Smashing Pumpkins t-shirts and cheap flannels at Hot Topics in malls across America. Spin magazine had Mark McGrath and Matchbox 20 on the cover. Pitchfork barely existed, still just some online thing a dude from Chicago ran out of his bedroom.

The iconic score to The Good, the Bad and the Ugly: This is the sound of the American West, at least filtered through the ears of an Italian — specifically, composer Ennio Morricone. He was a giant in the world of film scores who wrote the music for more than 500 movies.

Dirty Projectors: Tiny Desk (Home) Concert

Jul 6, 2020

The Tiny Desk is working from home for the foreseeable future. Introducing NPR Music's Tiny Desk (home) concerts, bringing you performances from across the country and the world. It's the same spirit — stripped-down sets, an intimate setting — just a different space.

The sister band HAIM is synonymous with the sound of Los Angeles — sunny, airy and wistful. After a two-month delay due to the coronavirus, sisters Este, Danielle and Alana finally get to share their third record, Women in Music Pt. III, with their fans. NPR's Scott Detrow spoke to the Haim sisters about creating a record that's a little less sun and a little bit more shade as they explore some of the darker challenges that each sister has faced lately. Listen in the audio player above.

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SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

Willie Nelson has some new songs on a new album. Do I really need to say anything more than that? It's called "First Rose Of Spring."

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "FIRST ROSE OF SPRING")

One of the best things about summer time is the live shows, right? Concerts! Music festivals! But this summer is going to feel a little different after most shows have been canceled due to the pandemic.

So today, World Cafe is bringing live music to you with an imaginary music festival of all live tracks. And since it's imaginary, it means we were able to "book" anyone we wanted — RUSH, Aretha Franklin, Wilco and Jackson Browne, all on the same huge lineup.

It's been five months since Pop Smoke's death and just over a year since "Welcome to the Party," the first single of his debut mixtape, Meet the Woo, began snaking through the firmament. Then it was joined by the even more irresistible "Dior." That music remains an artifact of the New York summer — the songs that once soundtracked the city's revelry have now been refashioned for protest, which only further cements his growing legend.

On July 4, 1970, the countdown started. Originally hosted by Casey Kasem, American Top 40 played "the best selling and most-played songs from the Atlantic to the Pacific, from Canada to Mexico," as he stated on the first program broadcast 50 years ago as of tomorrow.

On any given week, American Top 40 could feature a ballad, next to a country song, next to a funk song, next to a rock song. The show became a national obsession but 50 years ago, it was considered a risky idea.

The Tiny Desk is working from home for the foreseeable future. Introducing NPR Music's Tiny Desk (home) concerts, bringing you performances from across the country and the world. It's the same spirit — stripped-down sets, an intimate setting — just a different space.

Wynton Marsalis has always been deeply engaged in the subject of American race relations. The issue was a crucial part of his education as a young musician in New Orleans, and it has been a core preoccupation of his own work going as far back as Black Codes (From the Underground), a trailblazing album from 1985.

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