Jesse Thorn's blog

Dan Deacon - The Crystal Cat & The Song That Changed My Life

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Our power was out for about 54 hours here at MaxFun World HQ, thanks to WIND SURGE LA 2011. I had to go over to my friend Adam Lisagor's house to record an edition of The Song That Changed My Life with the great Dan Deacon. Dan was a guest on The Sound of Young America a couple years ago, and his music continues to amaze and inspire me. We ended up palling around for half an hour besides the STCML interview. Class act, that Deacon.

Below is the song Dan chose, Conlon Nancarrow's "Canon X (Study No. 21)." Our piece will most likely be out next month.

The End of an Era

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I just ran across the letter I wrote to stations when I signed up with PRI almost five years ago. In honor of the close of the Sound of Young America era (and the dawn of Bullseye), I thought I’d share it here.

Dear Colleagues,

The great improv teacher Del Close had a maxim: “play from the top of your intelligence.” That’s what public radio means to me. Never talking down, never patronizing, always probing and discovering.

I’m 26, and I think that makes me, more or less, a member of the first generation to grow up with public radio. I don’t remember a time when I didn’t listen to “This American Life,” or “Quirks & Quarks,” or “Car Talk,” or “Fresh Air.” As the news and information public radio format reached maturity, so did I. I’m better for having had public radio as a part of my life. The values of public radio are ones that I share. I want to go in-depth. I want to be engaged in the world around me. I want to learn.

I work hard every week to make sure that “The Sound of Young America” plays from the top of our intelligence. The guests are sometimes unusual for public radio — relatively few folkies like artists on their way to house concerts or authors talking about the Middle East, and relatively more rappers and comedians — but at the heart of my show is a pretty simple idea. There’s no reason not to show a rapper the same respect we’d show a singer-songwriter as a matter of course, and there’s no reason not to have fun while we’re doing so. In other words, we mustn’t forget the “intelligence,” and we have to remember the “play.”

So that’s what “The Sound of Young America” is. Every week, an in-depth interview or two with someone I think is awesome. Maybe some comedy to lighten things up. I care more about the show than anything, and I think listeners can tell. It’s hand-crafted radio, and I hope it lives up to the ideals set by Del Close.

On the other hand, Close was also known to eat marijuana as a snack, so maybe I should find a quote from someone a little less nuts. Maybe Barbara Budd from “As It Happens”? I dunno …

Jesse Thorn
Producer and Host

M.O.P. - Cold As Ice

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N****s thinking M.O.P. stands for "mop" and shit.

Kasper Hauser's Rob Badedeker on CNN

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Rob Baedeker of Kasper Hauser spent two weeks renting out all of his possessions - includin his daughter's bike and his dog. The result was this great Newsweek article, which you should read right now. CNN had him on today to chat about it, and you can watch the segment above.

John Hodgman: On Tour

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Here's a little taste of the Hodg on tour, courtesy of our friend Adam Pranica.

Joell Ortiz - Battle Cry

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