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Columnist, The Morton Report
Covering Bentley's Bandstand
Friday May 17, 2013 55:00 PM ET
What is more inspiring than seeing someone on the back nine going for the gusto and bringing it all the way home?
Tuesday Apr 30, 2013 50:00 PM ET
Years ago, when they first met and he played in her band, Rodney Crowell wrote "Bluebird Wine," and now Emmylou Harris has finally recorded it with him. And if that isn't the circle being unbroken, then what is?
Wednesday Apr 17, 2013 35:00 PM ET
It's easy to hear when someone has found the ability to move listeners. So much of modern music sounds like it's made as an exercise in songwriting, something that people are doing to learn how to get better.
Tuesday Apr 9, 2013 10:00 PM ET
Standing alone in the CBGB crowd of the Ramones, Television, Patti Smith and all the others, Forbert was a man with a Martin guitar who might not have known how things work, which was probably in his favor, but remained fearless in getting the music heard.
Sunday Mar 31, 2013 50:00 PM ET
The horn can elicit emotions that remain buried in most of us, but the way the saxophone speaks it's like the purveyor of a very private language. In the hands of a master, the sky—or the valley—is the limit.
Friday Mar 22, 2013 05:00 PM ET
Clapton has used an intimate relationship with the instrument to help heal that heart through a serpentine life of happiness and tragedy, and the way he's done it leaves him basically unmatched.
Tuesday Mar 12, 2013 35:00 PM ET
There can be endless arguments on who is the best soul singer of all time, and like they say, different pokes for different folks. But at the top of anyone's list Otis Redding has to have a secure spot.
Monday Mar 4, 2013 10:00 PM ET
Boz Scaggs, Memphis. There is an elegance of soul at the center of Boz Scaggs' music that doesn't really exist anywhere else. Maybe it's because being raised in the South he lived first-hand where rhythm and blues started, and...
Saturday Feb 23, 2013 20:00 PM ET
Like Plato struggling for sense in his famous cave, the modern singer breaks out of the shadows in a heroic attempt to set himself free.
Sunday Feb 17, 2013 40:00 PM ET
Music that was once great is always great, and in the right hands should have every chance to shine again.
Monday Feb 11, 2013 45:00 AM ET
Sometimes it's all about the mystery. Rather than endlessly pursue information and past statistics, music is often meant to just wash over you, leaving details to another day.
Monday Feb 4, 2013 10:00 PM ET
In the history of rock music, there really isn't a story quite like the Box Tops. Their 16-year-old singer Alex Chilton had the vocal grit of someone twice that age—not to mention a different race—and continually stumped audiences when they saw his photo.
Sunday Jan 27, 2013 45:00 PM ET
If a knockout emotional punch is what you're looking for, start right here.
Sunday Jan 20, 2013 50:00 AM ET
There are untold musical heroes spread out across the country. They play constantly, building local followings and often wondering why national attention doesn't come their way.
Saturday Jan 12, 2013 55:00 AM ET
Jazz is such a prideful part of America's history, it would be a great thing if once a year every citizen would purchase an album from the musical style which is the envy of the world. Jazz was born here; why not pitch in and celebrate its exuberance too?
Saturday Jan 5, 2013 00:00 AM ET
Finally, the English band that did more to turn young Americans on to real-deal blues than any othert aggregation brings it all back home and plays with the Big Daddy. Sort of.
Friday Dec 28, 2012 40:00 PM ET
Rhythm and blues emperor Ernie K-Doe once said that he wasn't sure but was almost positive that all music came from New Orleans. Granted, K-Doe was a man not unfamiliar with overstatement, but his proclamations often carried more than a little truth.
Saturday Dec 22, 2012 40:00 PM ET
Any year-end list has to have a designated holiday release, and 2012 is the year for Spongebob. Whether the television show is on your playlist or not, Spongebob Squarepants supplies Christmas cheer way beyond the call of duty.
Sunday Dec 16, 2012 50:00 AM ET
This week, Bill Bentley brings us a roundup of reissues in a variety of genres that made the music scene a bit brighter in 2012.
Wednesday Dec 5, 2012 55:00 PM ET
What a year for music. Here is a list of the ten releases in the second half of 2012 that made the world a very fine place to be. Now if only the Mayans are proved wrong on December 21, there'll be happy holidays for all.
Thursday Nov 29, 2012 10:00 PM ET
As the world rushes on its way to the edge, wherever that edge may be, sometimes it has to be that everyone stops and listens to a different voice.
Friday Nov 23, 2012 25:00 AM ET
Even though Diana Krall has made other albums that capture the heart of romanticism, for this one she seems to be ready to use simplicity to amp up the emotions. Hearing such a voice provide an easeful atmosphere so each instrument gets to shine is to learn how singers really make their mark.
Friday Nov 16, 2012 10:00 PM ET
For someone who is best known as one of the foundations of ambient music, Brian Eno has cut a broad swath through the pop world. The strength of his creations is that he bows to no one, does exactly what he wants and, really, never looks back.
Thursday Nov 8, 2012 55:00 PM ET
One of the true joys of modern rock and roll is how Neil Young and Crazy Horse maintain their groove. It is essentially a spontaneous bunch, a band that doesn't really worry where they've been or where they're going.
Thursday Nov 1, 2012 10:00 PM ET
The Velvets, on the other hand, opened the way for reality in all its glory to invade the practice rooms of musicians everywhere, giving them the freedom of expression wherever it took them.
Friday Oct 26, 2012 40:00 PM ET
In the backstreets of the red-light district in New Orleans could arguably be the spot where improvised music first took hold in America at the start of the 1900s. From there, players began spreading across the country and taking their sound with them.
Wednesday Oct 17, 2012 00:00 PM ET
Even though the language is foreign and much of the sound comes from a faraway cotinent, there is also an immediate rush of recognition that among us are those who cannot be stopped, inspired by everything good and real that surrounds us.
Friday Oct 12, 2012 20:00 PM ET
David Byrne's legacy casts a long shadow, but the way he handles that should be a lesson for us all, because he basically ignores what's come before and finds a way forward with an inquisitive view to cover new ground.
Thursday Oct 4, 2012 15:00 PM ET
There have been only a few artists who stood at the start of a brave new world like this, someone who seized the day and never looked the other way. Arizona Dranes put God and secular piano together in a righteous union that sparked an inner revolution.
Sunday Sep 30, 2012 15:00 PM ET
For someone who owes as much to John Lennon and Frederich Nietzsche as Bill Monroe and Buck Owens, Dwight Yoakam has always laughed in the face of convention and at the same time probably knows as much about country music as any person ever born.
Thursday Sep 20, 2012 50:00 PM ET
Oh, how to begin. For instrumental rhythm and blues combos, Booker T. & the MGs really are in a class by themselves. They were the house band at Stax Records studio in Memphis during the '60s, and backed everyone from Rufus Thomas to Otis Redding.
Wednesday Sep 12, 2012 00:00 PM ET
In the era of the Internet, there are endless ways of compiling albums that are becoming available, including personally picked collections at the click of a mouse. Forget waiting for the Greatest Hits releases as selected by the record label. Everyone is on their own now, which can be a good thing and a bad thing.
Thursday Sep 6, 2012 15:00 PM ET
The English can be obsessed with music like no one else. It gets inside their bones, maybe because they need it to keep warm against the chill and provide some sunshine to all those gray days.
Wednesday Aug 29, 2012 10:00 PM ET
There are certain musical figures, not always in the spotlight, who carry their own weight and then some. They often end up in unique predicaments and with the right talent and tenacity get to stay there against all odds.
Thursday Aug 23, 2012 30:00 PM ET
This is a musician who has spent a life exploring whatever paths caught his fancy, and it's been a wild ride. Cooder has been able to resist the mainstream like it's just so much bubonic plague, but at the same time he's found a center which allows him to always find an audience.
Wednesday Aug 15, 2012 50:00 PM ET
Little Feat wrote the book at the start of the '70s for American groups who could dip into the roots of rock and roll, pull out an astounding mass of influences, and then carve their very own creation.
Thursday Aug 9, 2012 35:00 PM ET
That sweet spot where soul music bumps up against country shows in a heartbeat just how close the line is between blacks and whites where the working class is concerned. Both are trying to stay afloat and keep their eyes on the prize, no matter what their music might get called.
Thursday Aug 2, 2012 50:00 PM ET
In soul music there's a lot to be said for holding back and letting the tension of what's not sung do a lot of the dirty work.
Thursday Jul 26, 2012 45:00 PM ET
For some, maybe the eighth time is the charm. Singer Eleni Mandell has been recording albums for a decade, twisting and turning her way through modern music like a stealth chanteuse.
Thursday Jul 19, 2012 30:00 PM ET
With the record business struggling to even keep the lights on and expense accounts paid, it's no wonder so many hits eventually become misses and everyone is right back where they started.
Thursday Jul 12, 2012 15:00 PM ET
Great albums are often like extended trips. They may start in one place, move to another, and end up in a completely different world.
Thursday Jul 5, 2012 40:00 PM ET
Boogie woogie music, based mainly on pumping pianos often played at warp speed, is a lot like blues: you either love it or you don't like it at all.
Wednesday Jun 27, 2012 20:00 PM ET
This week marks the first anniversary for this column in The Morton Report, and looking back at all the albums written about in Bentley's Bandstand, a small wave of joy is unleashed.
Thursday Jun 21, 2012 15:00 AM ET
There are fine, fine singers working in cites all across America, and sooner or later the ones destined for stardom have an uncanny ability of finding their way to that level.
Thursday Jun 14, 2012 25:00 PM ET
When King was on and bearing down on his blues, it was like he was taking a sledgehammer to the heart. And when he got the job done with a trembling lead run, King would often throw his head back and start shouting. That's when his audience knew he'd put it all the way in the alley.
Wednesday Jun 6, 2012 15:00 PM ET
The days when a singer could find some brokedown honky tonk and rustle up a few gigs here and there to learn their way around country music have pretty much disappeared. Now it's management deals, sponsorship opportunities, and licensing rights taking the lead, and the chance of getting a bloody nose from a jealous boyfriend in the crowd after the show are likely long gone.
Thursday May 31, 2012 40:00 AM ET
In a time when so much of the world looks like it's spinning out of control, just maybe this music can make a true difference. It's like the man said in the film Greaser's Palace: "If you feel, you're healed." The line starts right here.
Wednesday May 23, 2012 30:00 PM ET
What would it be like if three good friends, each with widely varying backgrounds, got together in someone's backyard and worked out a whole night's worth of songs, the kind of music that gets played when the fun factor is turned all the way up?
Wednesday May 16, 2012 00:00 AM ET
There are certain singers who just won't behave. They skip around genres like free spirits, and even when the world begins to know them for one endeavor chances are change is on the way and they can be found somewhere else.
Thursday May 10, 2012 05:00 PM ET
When the stars align and an artist finds a bagful of songs, a band burning to play them, and, most importantly, something deep down within just begging to come out, well, that's when great albums get made.
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