Back in 1986, Allen Toussaint told All Things Considered that he could write a song from the scraps of a joke, or from snippets of conversations. If the occasion called for it, he could even fashion writer's block into verse.

"Well, how do you write a song?" he offered, playfully. "Do you make it short? Do you make it long? Is there any right? Is there any wrong? Just how do you write a song?"

Over the course of a career that lasted some sixty years, pianist, producer and songwriter Allen Toussaint's music and sound became a hugely influential force for artists working in many different genres. Toussaint died on Monday night in Madrid, at the age of 77.

As the news has spread, artists and other luminaries have been pouring out their grief on social media. Here's a selection of their tributes.

All composers have obsessions. For John Adams, a composer who decidedly broke with the past, that obsession is Beethoven, as heard in the new album Absolute Jest.



Soup to Nuts Live! welcomes John Fonvielle, a seasoned Americana singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist known for compelling melodies and insightful lyrics about everything from road trips to relationships, pain and hope, beginnings and endings. A gigging musician in North Carolina, Fonvielle plays frequently as a solo folk artist and as a member of the Americana/bluegrass band End of the Line.

If you listen to music on the radio, chances are you'll hear a lot of lyrics that don't match the ones on the original album recordings. When songs get profanity, obscenity or references to drugs or sex removed for broadcast, it's a process known as clean editing. Joel Mullis is one of the masters of the art.

If you think it's too early for Christmas ads, you're not alone. But the new seasonal spot from British retailer John Lewis is something of a sensation, with nearly 12 million people having watched the tear-jerking video since Thursday.

Ever have a great run of great ideas — one after another?

The Brazilians call it saudade. It's an elusive, almost intoxicating mix of emotions suffused with longing, loss and memory, best evoked in music. Perhaps Ukrainians have their own word for it. But if not, it can surely be heard in Valentin Silvestrov's Nostalghia, a solo piano work from 2001 that may just leave you a little lightheaded and yearning for something inexplicable.

The Techno Feminists Next Door

Nov 6, 2015

"We're Discwoman."