NPR Music

Stephen Colbert loves music and loves to sing. That's why Fresh Air's Terry Gross asked him to bring a few songs that mean a lot to him and tell her why. For example, as a kid, Colbert discovered his first lesson about character acting through "King Herod's Song" from Jesus Christ Superstar, even though he thought the words were scandalous at first: "Oh, so you are the Christ? You're the great Jesus Christ. Prove to me that you're no fool. Walk across my swimming pool."

Nina Simone haunts. Meshell Ndegeocello hypnotizes. This difference is as subtle as it is crucial and is on full display in Ndegeocello's latest album, Pour Une Âme Souveraine: A Dedication to Nina Simone, which came out earlier this month. In the past few weeks, she's been performing songs from Simone's vast repertoire during a small and intimate tour.

As the presidential campaign heads into the homestretch, with binders, bayonets and a profusion of political ads, perhaps it's time to step back from the election hubbub.

Low On Mountain Stage

Oct 24, 2012

Low makes its first appearance on Mountain Stage, recorded live in Grand Marais, Minn., in partnership with the North House Folk School. Led by the husband-and-wife team of Alan Sparhawk and Mimi Parker, Low's ethereal, understated rock sound grew out of a reaction to the grunge music that was in vogue when the band formed; in the early days, Low would turn its amplifiers down to goad audiences into listening.

According to legend, once in each millennium, the Music Gods come together and, after much debate, agree to bestow a single magical gift upon the world — a song or album or project so breathtaking, it leaves throngs of people weeping in the streets at its splendor and forever changes the way we hear music. That time is now, as Jason Lytle and Sea of Bees have opted to cover each other's songs.

Okay, fine: Maybe it's not that special. But it's still cool when a couple of your favorite artists dig each other's music and want to work together.

KCRW Presents: The Tallest Man On Earth

Oct 24, 2012

Watch "1904" here, then check out the entire set at KCRW.com.

Copyright 2014 KCRW-FM. To see more, visit http://www.kcrw.com.

We interrupt this blog to bring you an announcement from the one and only Charles Mingus, the great bassist and composer:

The Best Of CMJ 2012

Oct 23, 2012

Each fall, hundreds of little-known bands descend on New York City for the annual CMJ Music Marathon. As festivals go, it's one of the best for surprises, since so many of the acts are new and emerging. For the artists, it's a chance to be seen and heard and, hopefully, loved. For the rabid music fan or journalist, it's an overwhelming flood of musical discoveries.

Calexico: A Beautiful Breakup Song

Oct 23, 2012

The Tuscon, Ariz., band Calexico has made a career out of warping genres and musical traditions together into an eclectic, clever, original mix. Drawing upon jazz, alt-country, post-rock and a wide-ranging variety of Latin styles from mariachi to cumbia to Tex-Mex, Joey Burns and John Convertino (along with an ever-rotating cast of supporting players) have crafted a uniquely inclusive vision of indie-rock Americana.

Minnesota, a band featuring singer-songwriter Peter Himmelman, makes its first appearance on Mountain Stage, recorded live in Grand Marais, Minn., in partnership with the North House Folk School. Himmelman appeared on Mountain Stage many years ago — way back in 1992 and '93 — but this is his first outing with Minnesota.

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