Music

The following is an excerpt from a forthcoming book on the 1972 soul album Donny Hathaway Live. Best known for songs like "This Christmas" and classic duets with Roberta Flack, Hathaway was a strikingly virtuosic artist committed to exploring "music in its totality." In the decade between his 1970 breakout hit "The Ghetto" and his death at age 33 — an alleged suicide linked to paranoid schizophrenia — he recorded some of the most beautiful, heartfelt and funky music of the late twentieth century.

In a season of relentless shouting, the best antidote might be singing. Mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato's new album with conductor Maxim Emelyanychev and the ensemble Il Pomo d'Oro, In War & Peace: Harmony Through Music, uses Baroque arias to explore the pain and possibilities of these troubled times. A companion website invites anyone and everyone to answer the simple but loaded question, "In the midst of chaos, how do you find peace?"

This spring, The New York Times prefaced the onslaught of festival season by publishing an unusually transparent editorial memo. As music festivals are so plentiful and so often indistinguishable, they would no longer be covering the likes of Coachella and Lollapalooza by default. Instead, their attentions would turn to the smaller, stranger events, the ones that told a unique story.

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It's tough to think of a major honor that hasn't been bestowed on Bob Dylan in his long career, but Thursday brought a new addition to his crowded awards shelf: the Nobel Prize for Literature. Not only is Dylan the first American to win the literary prize in a generation — the last being Toni Morrison in 1993 — he is the first modern songwriter to be so honored.

The Nobel committee made a bit of a surprising announcement Thursday morning: Bob Dylan was awarded the Nobel Prize in literature for, according to the Swedish Academy, "having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition."

It's easy to read too much into a hit song. Popular music is made that way: Its surface meanings are broad and inclusive, while its idiosyncrasies are vehement, upheld within a startling rhythm or a novel sample or a highly relatable voice. It's this mix of the familiar and the seemingly unique that allow for pop hits to reach millions of often very different people in ways that feel direct and personal.

It's not easy to make sense of the latest song from Foxygen. One minute, "America" is lurching orchestral pop, complete with dramatic strings and woodwinds. The next, it's a melancholy piano piece, followed by a sudden shift to oddball jazz punctuated by bursts of noise and orchestrated chaos. It's an epic, head-spinning collision of sounds worthy of multiple listens. "If you're already there, then you're already dead," the Los Angeles duo sings. "If you're living in America."

Days after playing the Desert Trip festival in Indio, Calif., Roger Waters is announcing a new, multi-state tour. It's his first since the 2010-2013 tour of The Wall and starts in May of next year, with stops in more than 30 cities in the U.S. and Canada.

Waters has named it the "Us And Them" tour after the song he wrote for Pink Floyd's 1973 album The Dark Side Of The Moon. He told NPR Music its themes about the haves and have-nots are more relevant and topical than ever.

Today, Amazon announced the debut of an on-demand music-streaming service called Amazon Music Unlimited. With a subscription model like Spotify and Apple Music, Amazon will charge standard subscribers $10 per month; for Amazon Prime subscribers, just $8 a month; and for users of its Echo devices, only $4 a month.

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