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Around Town with Khalila, the WXNA Intern: Bookstores

This is the second of a 2-part blog series: Around Town with Khalila, the WXNA Intern. You can read part one here.

In this week’s post, Khalila explores two of Nashville’s local bookshops and the way that they, like WXNA, create “people powered” community.


Who doesn’t love a good bookstore? My favorite bookstores are run by local Nashvillians who have a love for this city and a passion for building community through reading.

Black Dog Book Co.

Black Dog Book Co. is the realization of Amy Jo Bradford’s childhood dream. Amy Jo worked at Rhino Books on Granny White for many years learning the used bookstore business. When she learned that the store was going to close, she knew this was the time to make her dream come true. Amy Jo is from Nashville and has lived here her whole life. She values the role that little local stores, especially bookstores, have played in her life here in Nashville, and wanted to share her love of books with the community. The fact that Rhino Books was replaced with a store run by someone who used to work there and has a true love for books makes this place very special to me.

Amy Jo redesigned the space to be friendly and relaxing with comfy chairs and an open floor plan that maximizes the natural light. Her book collection is extraordinary, ranging from local and southern books that she has collected over the years, to the classics. Amy has a lifetime of knowledge about books and genres. She’s full of great suggestions about what to read next. If you want to hear tales of Nashville, Amy will fill you in on both the dreams and realities of our growing city.

Black Dog’s is located on Granny White Pike across from Lipscomb University and next to Copper Kettle.

Parnassus Books

Located in the heart of Green Hills, Parnassus Books has a whole world inside of it. Parnassus opened in 2011, the brainchild of Ann Patchett, well-known novelist, and her business partner Karen Hayes. The name Parnassus comes from Greece’s Mount Parnassus, mythological home of literature, learning, and music. Ann and Karen strive to make this bookstore Nashville’s own Parnassus. Parnassus offers a wide range of books, including fiction, non-fiction, children’s books, mysteries, and local interests. And if you can’t find what you’re looking for, they’ll order it. The staff family there welcomes trying new things, and exploring the world of books through different lenses and they’re always ready with a recommendation. And if you can’t come to Parnassus, they may just come to you in the form of Parnassus On Wheels, their mobile bookstore. The walls inside the big blue bus are lined with new titles and classic favorites. To me, Parnassus in any form is an oasis of uniqueness and comfort.

Parnassus Books is located at 3900 Hillsboro Pike in Green Hills behind the Donut Den.

The Bookshop

The Bookshop, located in East Nashville, is a store for people who love beautiful books. The Bookshop is owned by author Joelle Herr. The white interior puts all the focus where it should be: on the books. They offer a full range of new books including classic and contemporary literary fiction and books about authors and writing. If they don’t have what you’re looking for, they will happily order it for you. They offer Saturday Story Time every Saturday at 10 a.m. for kids of any age, a wonderful way to meet other readers in our community.

The Bookshop is located just off of Gallatin Rd at at 1043 W Eastland Ave.

Khalila Early-Zald
WXNA Intern

Photos by Khalila
Header image by caligula1995 on Flickr

Around Town with Khalila, the WXNA Intern: Coffee Shops

This is the first of a 2-part blog series: Around Town with Khalila, the WXNA Intern

In this week’s post, Khalila explores her favorite local coffee shops and the way that they, like WXNA, create people-powered community.


I think local coffee shops are great places to find bits of Nashville that have remained authentic and unique. The shops listed below are a few of my favorites, but this is by no means an exhaustive list. I encourage you to get out and explore all the great coffee shops Nashville has to offer and find your own favorite spot.

 

Frothy Monkey

Local cigarette smoking basket weaver outside of Frothy Monkey

Frothy Monkey first opened its doors in 2004. The 12 South location is the original and has been my favorite coffee shop since I was young. This little coffee shop is a great place to meet friends, old and new, with a welcoming atmosphere and a robust lunch and dinner menu that can accommodate almost any diet. Frothy Monkey offers a coffee shop buzz, vibe, and environment that has provided me with joy over the years being here. Their other locations offer different vibes, but share killer playlists, beautiful art, and the smell of coffee, tea, and extraordinary food filling the air.

 

Three Brothers Coffee

Mural in Alley beside Three Brothers Coffee done by DCXV
“I want to believe” in coffee sign, based on X-Files in Three Brothers Coffee

The owners of Cumberland Transit, a local outdoor activity supply store, created Three Brothers Coffee to “bring venture-ready customers, locals, and travelers a truly unique coffee experience.” The bicycle parts, hanging bicycles and images of travel adorning the shop may put visitors in a travelling state of mind, but Three Brothers is all about living local. Their menu features goodies from local bakeries Dozen and Star Bagel. The walls feature both rotating and permanent displays by local artists including a mural by Adrien Saporiti, founder of DCXV Industries and creator of the “I Believe In Nashville” murals. Even the magazines and newspapers on offer are local. The coffee selections rotate throughout the seasons and there are plenty of seats, couches, and outlets for you to work, study or catch up with a friend.

 

Bongo Java East

As the owner of Fido, Bongo Java, and Jefferson Street Cafe, Bob Bernstein has created a local coffee shop empire. My favorite outpost of this empire is Bongo Java East in East Nashville in the heart of Five Points. They have a full menu of coffee beverages, breakfast, lunch, snacks and, yes, board games. Thanks to their partnership with Game Point Cafe, you’ll find almost any board game you can think of on the shelves that line the walls. Whether you want to play a simple game or cards or Cards Against Humanity, Bongo Java East provides not only the game, but a game coach who will explain rules, settle disputes, and share the passion of gaming with you. Besides games, the cafe has a rotating display of local artwork in addition to a must-see mural of the types of people often found in a coffee shop. Grab a coffee, explore their rotating menu of seasonal drinks, and play some board games. What more could you ask for?

 

Portland Brew

Brandon and Tracy Stakelbeck came up with the idea of Portland Brew after they visited Portland, Oregon, and fell in love with the coffee shops there. They were attracted to the creative and artistic aspects of Nashville, and wanted to bring the Portland hippie coffee shop vibe to Music City. Portland Brew offers a welcoming space for people to do homework, have meetings, and relax. They have a small menu comprising of muffins and baked goods, sandwiches, and breakfast sandwiches and you’ll know you’re a regular when the friendly staff calls you by name. Portland Brew has locations in 12 South and East Nashville.

 

Bike Parts from Cumberland Transit and artwork by local Nashville artist in Three Brothers

Khalila Early-Zald
WXNA Intern

Photos by Khalila
Header image by Jen on Flickr

Listen And It All Begins To Fit: On Dory Previn

Let’s be clear: I’m not here to discuss Father John Misty. However, I owe it to him to begin this piece by mentioning a playlist he began curating via Spotify a couple years back (in true Father John Misty form, it’s titled Father John Misty’s Father John Misty Playlist). I remember cueing it up with my boyfriend on a road trip one weekend in college, skipping the tracks we already knew and loved from folks like Harry Nilsson or John Fahey, hungry for new sounds to sink into. At some point in the shuffling, Dory Previn’s “Atlantis” began to play:

I lie in bed
beside him
and I know him
outside in
I’ve learned his body’s
line and length
and memorized his grin
I’ve counted
every crease
at the edges
of his eyes
I know his soul’s
complete circumference
I know
his lies

She unfurls these lyrics by way of a sensuous melody, yet her voice remains a bit withheld and guarded; there is no glimmer of a “come hither” sexiness. There’s a show tune-ish-ness to the melody, but no “All That Jazz” cuteness. She sounds kind of in awe, a little bit afraid, maybe wounded. She sounds wild, too.

Hearing “Atlantis” was all I needed. I immediately researched all that I could on Dory Previn née Dorothy Lanagan and learned that she’d passed away on Valentine’s Day in 2012. I found that her life was as complex and winding as her songwriting. She’d been both a writing partner and a life partner to the famous Hollywood composer André Previn before he had an affair and child with actress Mia Farrow in 1969. Dory’s already fragile mental state reached a breaking point when the couple divorced. And when André Previn married Farrow, Dory was hospitalized for her psychosis. Eventually, she began writing her own singer-songwriter tunes as a part of her healing process. One of the first was a song outlining her ex-husband’s affair called “Beware of Young Girls”:

Beware of young girls
Who come to the door
Wistful and pale of twenty and four
Delivering daisies with delicate hands

This track, among others exploring other vulnerable themes such as her childhood trauma (“With My Daddy in the Attic”), fear (“Scared To Be Alone”), and psychosis (“Mister Whisper”) appeared on her debut solo album On My Way To Where (1970). She went on to record five more solo albums in the ‘70s, and one live album at Carnegie Hall.

On her 1974 self-titled album on the Warner Bros label, her voice seems to have reached a new peak of gumption and ease. Tracks such as “Coldwater Canyon” and “Brando” present as a direct commentary on Previn’s zeitgeist in ’70s L.A., both lyrically and musically. Her observations and descriptions are as sharp (and often funny) as ever, but shadowed with a sinuous, poignant longing and self-awareness. Folky instrumentation like steel guitar and Latin-style drums are punctuated with a show-tune-ish urgency that Previn reappropriated from her past to support sophisticated and catchy melodies that effortlessly wield an emotional narrative.

These songs are at once self-deprecating, profound, feminist, dark, funny, sweeping, strange, unique to their time, and ahead of their time. One of my personal favorites is the last track on Dory Previn, “Did Jesus Have a Baby Sister?”:

Did she long to be the saviour
Saving everyone
She met?
And in private to her mirror
Did she whisper:
Saviourette?
Saviourwoman?
Saviourperson?
Save your breath!

The background vocals are searing on this track and the chord changes sound intuitive but are quite complex. There is a less groovy but equally probing song called “Woman Soul” off of 1976’s We Are Children Of Coincidence that brings wonderful nuances to the love song form. I think it speaks to what we might today call “toxic masculinity” with great empathy:

I love him ‘cause he questions all the roles he’s forced to play
‘Grown men don’t cry’: he sees the lie, and cannot change his way
Oh, but he does the best he can; that’s why I love that man
But I also love the woman in his soul

In addition to her records, Dory Previn also published a trio of autobiographies in her lifetime: “On My Way to Where”, “Midnight Baby”, and “Bogtrotter”. They feel like extended liner notes, her lyrics interwoven with stream-of-consciousness narratives and an occasional poem. Her books overlap non-linearly and further explore her troubled childhood and her rise to songwriting in L.A. after several odd jobs including salesgirl, secretary, and chorus girl. She details her inner world and psychosis with a disarming vulnerability. One of my favorite poems included in any of her books is titled “Listen”. I was thrilled when I came across a clip of her on Irish television reading this poem in her inimitably playful yet serene tone:

The feeling in my blood-flow
Is a simple thing you see
I am it
I am it
We are everything and nothing
But that’s how to play the game
In these weatherbeaten bodies
With these godforsaken brains
We can listen
Listen
Listen to the universe resounding
In the pulsing and the pounding
Of our infant ancient veins
Listen
Listen
Listen and it all begins to fit
You are it

Dory’s records have become an anchor for me when I yearn for music to be a space for making meaning beyond sounds and words alone. I find myself enchanted by her snarky honesty, her wistfulness, her admissions of uncertainty and her occasional turns toward nurturing. I am simultaneously shocked and comforted by her voice. And when I’m feeling weatherbeaten I will watch that funny little video, sometimes on repeat. Listen, and it all begins to fit. You are it.

Lauren Turner
Shout, Sister, Shout!
Sundays 1-2 pm

It’s A Nice Day to Start

July 24, 1983

Dear Diary,

I’m in love! Oh, Diary, I’m in love. I haven’t told anyone, only you. And you will keep my secret, won’t you? Oh, Diary, I’ve never felt like this before. The world just seems so much brighter and louder and so alive and it’s all because of him. Oh, I love him, Diary. I love him so much and it makes me so happy!

It’s every girl’s dream to be a beautiful bride. It’s as close as you ever get to being an actual princess. The billowing white dress, the mysterious veil that hides as it reveals . . . a glorious culmination of your existence up to this point. That’s what a wedding is. The height of being, of life. What could be better?

Well, I’ll tell you: A dangerous man, that’s what. A blonde, spiky-haired rebel on a motorcycle. A black-leather-clad man who will take you by the hand and pull you staggering toward him in your beautiful dress, then push a ring onto your finger until the blood wells up. Isn’t that what every girl dreams of? A white wedding?

I watch MTV for hours at a time, waiting for him. I wait for as long as it takes. One music video fades out, another begins . . . and my heart leaps when that guitar intro skitters across my nerves. I lean forward toward the TV, knees pressed hard into the rough carpet, eyes unblinking, brain on fire. I scrutinize every scene, his every move. What does it mean, the ring and the blood? I see the picture in my head on the way home from school. I think about it before I fall asleep at night. For me, there’s no intermediary between the man and the message. I don’t know what a director does. I don’t know who David Mallet is. Every image, every action is a secret delivered straight from the magical man with the sneer to me. I MUST decipher it to discover my destiny.

I used to sit like this on the carpet when I was 5, enthralled by Bert and Ernie and Sesame Street. Now I’m 15, and the world still comes to me in just the same way, via 21-inch screen. It has not occurred to me to question its authenticity. Cable TV is new and exciting. MTV is changing the world. Watching reality unfold inside a glass square is as natural as eating and sleeping. Those images tell the truth. Bert is a grump, Ernie’s a goof, and Billy Idol is the man for me.

“Sexual stereotyping comes to a glorious head in Billy Idol’s ‘White Wedding’ video, which opens with a chorus line of women in black leather waving their fannys at the camera.” (Kristine McKenna)

“Women are depicted in many videos as bitches, teases, castrators, and all-around sex things.” (Elayne Rapping)

“I shudder at the thought of analyzing Billy Idol’s ‘White Wedding,’ with the wedding ring of thorns that makes the bride’s finger bleed, the coffins, the exploding kitchen appliances. This one would have made the Marquis de Sade’s top 40 chart.” (Marvin Kitman)

“They expect it, but they don’t like it . . . they want excitement, as long as it’s not at their own expense. They don’t mind if someone’s outrageous with somebody else.” (Billy Idol)

Inside MTV by R. Serge Denisoff, p. 314

Oh, Diary, I hope that someday that can be me.

Until then,

TTYL,

LYLAS,

XOXO,

Ashley Idol

 

Ashley Crownover

Set Records to Stun

Fridays, 6-8 a.m.

Shut Up and Play the Hiss: An Oral History of “The Magnetic Media Hour”

In the storied (fake) history of free-form radio across these United States, one show left arguably the biggest impression of them all.  “The Magnetic Media Hour” was one of the first shows to push the medium in new and interesting directions. Hosted by J. D. Warkel, “The Magnetic Media Hour” was an avant-garde hour of the most unique recordings on the planet. Interestingly, those recordings also happened to be some of the most common. This is the story of how that show came to be, thrived and ultimately faded away, told by the people who where there.

J. D. Warkel, host: I remember the first first thing I played. It was a TDK-60. Found it in a box of old coins at an estate sale in Tupolo. To this day, I don’t think I’ve ever heard anything quite like it.

Allison Silverslaw, station manager, KOQK: J.D. was a pioneer. When he came to us and said he only wanted to play blank audio cassettes over the air, I initially called security and had him thrown out of the building. But he was persistent. After his third attempt, he threw a brick through my office window with a Maxell-120 tied to it and a note that read, “Just listen!” I’m glad that I did — he was right. The sound was incredible. Three months later, after he was released from county lock-up, I gave him a show.

Tim Gurt, warehouse manager, Electronics Bazaar: He was absolutely a regular. Always asking what kind of shipments were were getting in each week. And then every Friday he’d be at the front doors before the store opened. I’d meet him in the atrium and take him to the back room and we’d break down pallets together. In exchange for getting first dibs on all of the new cassettes, he would also help me stock the ink cartridges.

J.D. Warkel: When most people see a blank tape — at lease back in those days — they would see it as a way for them to record “other” music — songs off of the radio, their own LPs so they could listen to them in the car, mixes for that special someone in their life. But those people were all rubes and criminals. They didn’t realize what was being lost. The purity of the hiss, that’s what I was evangelizing.

Tammy T. Plop, listener KOQK: I was driving around one Saturday night testing out parking spaces — y’know, too wide, too narrow, is it angled? — anyway, I had the radio tuned to KOQK — I had my knob snap off a few weekends before, lost it in a parking lot (great lot, by the way, the striping was impeccable), so my radio was pretty much always locked in on KOQK. It’s a good station for parking, y’know? The variety of what they play really helps with the variety of parking spaces you find in most lots or public garages. Wait a minute, what was the question again?

Allison Silverslaw: I think it was after his third show when we started to get a lot of feedback from the community. A common refrain was, “I thought your signal went out, but I guess not” or “I don’t understand what is happening? I don’t hear anything but hiss.” People were really into it. “I wish this were music!” they’d say. 

J.D. Warkel: I didn’t like the JVC tapes. I know some do, but they never did it for me. Look, I’m not going to criticize another person’s taste when it comes to hiss, but in my experience the only people that listen to JVCs are clowns — literal clowns.

Allison Silverslaw: At the time, our second most popular show was “Big Shoe Dance Party,” which was a two-hour show featuring clown and circus music. It was hosted by Mr. Sundrop, a prominent member of the local clowning community. One Thursday Mr. Sundrop started playing blank JVC tapes — I think he featured the A side of a 60-minute tape a friend had passed along. People really loved it. Of course, this didn’t sit well with J.D. 

J.D. Warkel: Mr. Sundrop? I don’t want to talk about Mr. Sundrop.

Alan Vick (aka Mr. Sundrop), professional clown: Look, I just want to make people happy — which is harder and harder to do these days as a clown. I don’t know if you’ve read the papers, but clowns are really struggling. Everyone is afraid of us! I’m not saying we can blame J.D. entirely for that, but he wasn’t not not responsible, y’know? Wait, how many negatives is that? It was supposed to be two — but now I’m thinking it was three. Can we start over?

J.D. Warkel: All I’m saying is he ripped me off. I don’t want to talk about it. But he’s a thief and he ripped me off! Let’s change the subject. If I see Mr. Sundrop again, and I don’t care if he’s making a balloon poodle for some eight year-old, but I’m gonna take off that dumb red nose of his, and I’m gonna make him eat it. With his mouth. All of it. 

Allison Silverslaw: I think we knew things were changing when J.D. started playing vinyl. 

J.D. Warkel: A buddy of mine hooked me up with an unpressed 180-gram LP from a local record plant (actually, without all of the groves, it might even be 181 grams). Anyway, I wanted to broaden my horizons – thought the listeners would really appreciate it. Way more than that clown music. That’s for sure.

Allison Silverslaw: I’d never heard so many complaints. One woman came up from the parking lot screaming about her ears.

Tammy T. Plop: The sound was just horrible. There was nothing subtle about it. I was parallel parking at time — right outside the station. I couldn’t take it anymore. I just left the car running and went in to look for the station manager. My car was a solid 8 inches from the curb. I was so ashamed.

Allison Silverslaw: He locked the door to the studio so we couldn’t stop him. He played the entirety of the B-Side. When he replaced the turntable stylus for the second time, we decided to take drastic actions and pulled the station off the air. At the time KOQK had been broadcasting non-stop since 1949. It was a dark day.

J.D. Warkel: Do I wish I could do it over again? Yeah, I do. I regret playing the vinyl. I’m a magnetic tape guy. It’s in my blood. And I hated going back to county lockup. In hindsight, not all communication has to happen with a message taped to a brick. 

Tim Gurt: When magnetic tape started to fade away, he stopped coming into the store. CD-Rs, that’s what we were stocking. I think he bought out the last of our Maxell stock, and then just sort of vanished. But I do remember seeing him one Saturday afternoon in the late 90s, standing in front of the shelves and quietly weeping. It was sad. But, if I’m gonna be honest with you, I’m a simple man. I prefer listening to recorded music. I never really understood the whole ‘hiss’ thing. It sounds “warmer” he would always say. What does that mean, warmer? Can I dance to it? Does it have a killer guitar solo? In the bridge does it change key? These are the questions that are important to me. Eh, what do I know.

“The Magnetic Media Hour” went off the air on August 14th, 1993. This November “Big Shoe Dance Party” will be celebrating it’s 30th year on the air.

Rick Pecoraro
WXNA Contributor

Photo credit: stuart.childs on Flickr

Is This America?

In observance of the upcoming July 4 holiday, this week’s WXNA blog post features a list of some of our DJs’ favorite songs about the U.S. of A.

Read as you listen with our Spotify playlist!


DJ ED
Eighties/Schmeighties
Fridays from 10 to Noon

“Little America”- REM

Songs that hit the sweet spot of celebrating America without dipping into cheap sentimentality, jingoism, or out and out nationalism are hard to come by IMHO. Little America hits it both in its particulars of recounting the band traveling around the south on tour—”Another Greenville, another Magic Mart”—and in general showing the pure pleasure of the road trip free and easy. I saw REM many times and for me this was their best live song. An exhilarating celebration of freedom. 


DJ Cranky Pants (Ashley)
Set Records to Stun
Fridays from 6-8 a.m.

“America”- Simon & Garfunkel

Ever since Dustin Hoffman and Katharine Ross plopped down on the back seat of that bus at the end of The Graduate (1967), disaffected middle-classers have questioned the American Dream. In “America” (1968), Paul Simon seems convinced that while the search may be eternal, the promised land remains an illusion.


The popGeezer
The English Breakfast
Saturday, Noon to 2 PM

“American Tune” (1973) by Paul Simon, from the album “There Goes Rhymin’ Simon”

Paul Simon wrote this song, using the music of Renaissance era composer Hans Leo Hassler, after Richard Nixon’s re-election.

My emotional attachment to it is two-fold.

It’s the first Simon album I ever bought. Even though I wasn’t old enough to “get” any of it then, I really loved it. Now, over the passing decades, I return to the album, and this song, again and again.

“America Tune” is succinct, emotional, and very direct. And these lyrics especially stir a hard-won, but not cynical, patriotism in me:

“Oh, we come on the ship they call the Mayflower
We come on the ship that sailed the moon
We come in the age’s most uncertain hour
And sing an American tune”


DJ Lauren
Different Every Time
Mondays 3-5pm

This is Not America” is a song by David Bowie, Lyle Mays and Pat Metheny used in a soundtrack to the 1985 film The Falcon and the Snowman. But the reggae-fueled, Carla Bley arranged instrumental that I am thinking of is from Charlie Haden’s “Not in Our Name”, the Liberation Orchestra’s 2005 response to the Iraq War on Verve . In this context, surrounded by an ironic, dissonant Battle Hymn of the Republic and a stately version of Lift Every Voice, the tune takes on a new meaning. Haden believed that you could capture people with beauty and that the politics would follow. “This is Not America” reminds me that even with its set-backs, the journey to democracy is one worth taking, that politicians don’t always speak for me, and that dissent is patriotic.


Dave Brown
The Black Ark
Thursdays 11:00 p.m. – 12:00 a.m.

“American Music”- Violent Femmes

You were born too late
I was born too soon
But every time I look at that ugly moon
It reminds me of you


Mike Mannix
Psych Out!
Wednesdays from 7-9 p.m.

“America the Myth”- Christ on Parade
The corporatization of our political system is destroying our country. No amount of empty rhetoric, fireworks, or flag waving is going to stop that. We are flying too close to the sun on wings of soft wax.


Hound Dog Hoover
Goin’ Down South
Monday 1-3 pm

“America”- Willie King
Sweet plea for togetherness from a late bluesman and community organizer from rural Alabama. Great soul blues groove and call-and-response vocals.


DJ LT
Shout, Sister, Shout!
Sundays 1-2pm

“Fireworks” by Irreversible Entanglements

Last thing we saw was fireworks symbolizing somethin’
Can’t tell the difference between America and the unknown
The forever-expanding and reshaping the landscape

Poet Camae Ayewa (a.k.a. Moor Mother) uses her words as an instrument in free jazz collective Irreversible Entanglements. I can’t think of a better song to listen to on this day! It explores the symbol of fireworks, yes, but also Black trauma and liberation– all rendered by the lively collaboration of improvisation. In both form and content, this song is a true embodiment of American values such as democracy and freedom.


Drew Wilson
Loud Love
Sundays at Midnight

These are on my setlist every year:

“America Rules” by Murphys Law

“American Heavy Metal Weekend” by Circle Jerks

“Rock N America” by Catholic Girls


Chad Pelton
Dustbin Days
Wednesdays from 11pm-1am

“4th Of July” by Dave Alvin

Dave Alvin’s “4th of July”, particularly the version on King of California, expertly captures the desperation of a relationship quietly breaking apart, while simultaneously describing the sound of every small town backyard 4th of July celebration, ending with kids shooting off bags of fireworks into the night air. America in 6 stanzas.


DJ Michael Roark
Tuesdays from 12-2 p.m.
“Now That the Buffalo’s Gone” by Buffy Saint-Marie
Lest we forget the freeways we travel were built on Manifest Destiny, i.e. genocide, here’s a song to remind you of our ugly past, and our greedy not-so-pretty present.

Music Feels Pride

Being a gay man and deejay on WXNA (Slings & Arrows, Tuesdays noon to 2), and it being the month of June, I was asked by the station manager if I would consider writing a blog for Pride. My first thought was, Why not? I like to think I might have something to say on the matter. But then my mind went blank. So, it was suggested I might want to discuss music that affected me as a closeted youth and the powerful pull music can have to open hearts and minds, to be a solace or a catalyst.

Well, after wracking my brain, I couldn’t think of any music that spoke to me as a youth on that level. Of course, music enters the soul in ways unknowing, and surely the inner self hiding within was listening to the music that passed my ears in a way differently from the outer self. Dancing queens like ABBA and Donna Summer, or the witchy swirl of Stevie Nicks, were scratching an inner itch, and music my brothers brought into the house—The Rolling Stones, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, The Pretenders—scratching an outer.

The PretendersI remember my 12-year-old self hearing Pretenders I for the first time in my brother’s room. He brought it home, excited to listen, as a friend of his had suggested he get it. When that first song came on with its driving drums and thrashing guitars, I was hooked. But it was Chrissie Hynde’s vocal attitude that sealed the deal. Her incisive intensity scared the bejesus out of me, and I loved it. 

When she sang, “but not me baby, I’m too precious, fuck off,” I was (1) blown away by the fact that such language could be said on a record, and (2) excited that it was a woman who would say it. It was my first “fuck” in music. The lacey frills of Stevie Nicks twirled away. I wanted the staunch leather of this badass woman to reach into places I didn’t yet know existed.  On that album I discovered the essence of the preciousness within (a resource not to be wasted) and the rowdy and lawless swagger without. Selves coalesced. 

Of course, time moves on, and Tom Petty’s drawl prevails over Hynde’s as I get older. One can’t change the vicissitudes of time. Just like one can’t change the crucial way music makes you feel when you’re young and alone and scared and hiding within yourself. When you feel that the world rejects you. 

The music on the jukebox at the Stonewall Inn must have had that kind of powerful effect. It was stacked with the songs of its time, 1969, a year of revolution. (In 1969 it was illegal for gay people to congregate and drink—let alone dance—together. The Stonewall Inn was a place where they could do all three.) Witnesses claim that shortly before that historical raid, “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” was played. It has also been noted that one of the favorite songs to dance and sing along with on the Stonewall Inn jukebox was “Aquarius (Let The Sunshine In)’ by The 5th Dimension. Clearly, it is a song about transcendence: 

Harmony and understanding
Sympathy and trust abounding
No more falsehoods or derisions
Golden living dreams of visions
Mystic crystal revelation
And the mind’s true liberation

The word “liberation” must have struck a chord and reverberated in the hearts of the young queer men and women and transgender individuals who frequented there. Along with “This Is My Life (La Vita)” by Shirley Bassey, with its refrain of “let me live, let me live,” and others, these songs must have forged feelings of rebellion, independence, and hope. 

So, when the cops came (with little backup at first, it must be noted) in the post-midnight hours on that hot New York City night, something burst. Liberation enflamed the dark. Love steered the stars. And here we are, a people on a road to vindication. Pride.

Michael Roark
Slings and Arrows
Tuesdays, noon-2pm

How Playing Music Has Helped with Making Music

Our very own DJ Anne McCue was recently quoted in a feature on how her show “Songs on the Wire” influences her work as a musician and songwriter: “For two hours every week, I’m listening to new music,” McCue says. “That’s been an incredibly inspiring experience. It’s really expanded my mind. That’s really helped with my creativity. You have to let go of the music business and just get back into the music.”

Little may our listeners know, Anne isn’t the only musician-DJ at WXNA. Read below to see how curating a radio show has informed the music-making of several of our DJs, and vice versa!


“I think, to a lot of musicians, listening and playing are almost inseparable. If you think of the most awful, confused, disjointed band you’ve ever seen, the foundation of their horribleness was probably a lack of listening. The act of listening, sometimes seen as mere fertilizer used to serve the playing / creation, is really the soil itself – at least half of the entire equation. If you are a musician, compare the flow states achieved when playing with a tight band where the synergy is palpable and powerful, and being absorbed into a beautiful record through headphones or what-have-you. They are not the same, but I think they’re intrinsically linked. If you’re not a musician, you actually are! Haha. Gotchya. At least if you’ve ever actually listened to music, you’re already most of the way there. For myself, combining the practice of listening with the communal nature of terrestrial radio broadcasting, makes for a ritual that directly informs and encourages good, perceptive performing. Come all, let’s listen deeply together!”

-DJ Trev of Our Golden Tones; making music as Trevor Nikrant and in Styrofoam Winos.


“The link between deejaying and creating music can be identified as mutual growth. All of us should strive to master our chosen craft and ideally we can link different creative endeavors to inform one another. For instance, if a musician is exploring a new genre that technically challenges them, why not explore similar music while deejaying on the radio? For a DJ it is important to allot time in the week to sit down, drop a needle on a record and listen to uncharted territory.  The unknown is the edge of understanding and future growth. As the student, if we only study what we know, then the creative in us has been sealed in a box, only to imitate our narrow scope of understanding. The next time a creative block obstructs our output, it may be time to listen to worlds and stories we do not know, because they may become our own.”

-DJ Brer Sunshine of The Black Gold Historical Society; making music as Brer Sunshine.


If you are a musician, how do you know when something is Done? Good? Decent? Listenable? Play it on the radio. The radio does not lie.  The airwaves are more Democratic than the Bill of Rights. Is loud or just full of volume? Does it sound deep or bassy? Is it loud or dynamic?  As a DJ, I’m flummoxed (flabbergasted) and surprised at how often records made by cool people under cool circumstances–impeccably dressed with excellent smelling hair tonic wearing never-seen-in-stores posh vines–will make records that do not hold up the thrilling prom-heard-round-the-block chaos that is The Kingsman’s “Louie, Louise,” the steel factory smoke of Bo Diddley’s “Pretty Thing,” or the shiny chrome of B.B. King’s “She’s Dynamite.”  

– Paul Burch of Works Progress Radio Hour; making music as Paul Burch.


“When Shout, Sister, Shout! used to be late at night, I’d often leave a show I’d either played or attended and race on over to the station with a new record in hand from the merch table. I loved cueing up some brand new vinyl and trying to quickly track down a song I’d just heard over at Betty’s or wherever. Nothing seemed more appropriate for Nashville’s airwaves than an echo of her own shows, still hovering in the air. I think there is a natural overlap between performing and playing music on the radio in their real-time urgency, their inescapable live-ness, never existing in isolation or a vacuum, like how recording or writing can sometimes be. Curating a playlist helps me think about “flow”– the way songs can move in succession as almost a meta-song of its own, another art form altogether. Doing this helps me to consider “flow” in my own music– how I want to ease into the hour or so of programming, how I want to transition or pause, when to play a cover song, etc. Digging for radio gems also keeps me on my toes with listening to new stuff for inspiration and never drawing solely upon the same well of influences over and over again.”

-DJ LT of Shout, Sister, Shout!; making music as Lou Turner and in Styrofoam Winos.

The Singular of Vinyl: Kiwi Jr.

Jay Millar from the Plural of Vinyl highlights his favorite album of the moment.

Kiwi Jr., Football Money (Mint Records)

Despite the plethora of current Aussie bands that find their way onto the playlists of the Plural Of Vinyl, it somehow figures that Kiwi Jr. are a Canadian band. And oddly enough, at times they remind me of turn-of-the-century canucks The Flashing Lights, especially on the emotive jangly “Comeback Baby.” The Flashing Lights led by Matt Murphy of Super Friendz, were a favorite of mine so mixing that with some Pavement-ish sounds gets me into a full blown nostalgia love fest. If I’m merely dropping one lazy comparison it would be later era Pavement.

Produced by Alec O’Hanley, guitar player from Alvvays, and released in March of 2019 via Mint Records out of Toronto, it’s an effervescent jangly ball of indie-pop fun with smirk inducing lyrics delivered with a slightly snotty deadpan tone. Largely guitar, bass, drums, & keys but it’s lightly sprinkled with some other fun sounds.

A couple lines I feel like pointing out because they make me smile:

“I’m a salary man, I want cigarettes from Japan… that taste like oranges.” – from “Salary Man”

“Gimme more Star Wars, gimme open bar chords, gimme more, gimme more more more!” – from “Gimme More”

“Last night your dreams were broadcast, but no one you know owns a television” – from “Comeback Baby”

If I had a complaint about this record it would only be that it’s too damn short. Gimme more!

Jay Millar
The Plural of Vinyl
Tuesdays, 7-9 a.m.

Freeform Love: WXNA Turns 3

My indoctrination into music nerd-dom came rather late in life. I spent my high school years as a science fiction/comic book/movie/comedy nerd. My primary access to new music was what I heard on mainstream Top 40 radio, most of which left me cold in the late 1970s. My only source for records was the Russellville, Kentucky, Big K (a local discount store chain that was devoured whole by Walmart in 1981) where I scoured the racks for movie soundtracks, comedy LPs, and Beatles records, the one musical group I was truly passionate about during my high school days.

Growing up in the boondocks of Western Kentucky meant I had no access to a local record store to discover artists I’d never heard before, and I lacked a music “mentor” to say, “You’ve never heard fill-in-the-blank? Here, listen to this!” Occasionally I might see an interesting act on TV like Blondie or Devo, but the musical infrastructure to nurture a budding fascination simply did not exist in my world.

My first year of college at Western Kentucky University in Bowling Green, Kentucky, changed my life more completely than I could ever imagine. Not only did I feel like I was free from the rural “prison” of my high school teenage years, but I suddenly found the perfect means to express my teenage angst and frustration – punk rock. My first few weeks of college led me to records by the Ramones, the Sex Pistols, the Clash, Elvis Costello (back when he was one REALLY pissed-off skinny geek), and more. But along with the punk rock, I was also discovering 1960s rock beyond the Beatles: glam, ’70s hard rock, classic early rock’n’roll, and more. Albums like London Calling, Jerry Lee Lewis Original Golden Hits, The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society, and The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars all arrived in my growing collection within weeks of each other.

The result was that I quickly developed very egalitarian tastes in music. For me, Otis Redding’s Dock of the Bay was just as much “new music” as X’s Under the Big Black Sun. At the same time, I became aware of just how boring and timid mainstream commercial radio was. Records like R.E.M’s Chronic Town knocked my socks off, but you sure didn’t hear it on the big radio stations.

“Someone should start a radio station that just plays great music, no matter when it came out or what style it is!” became one of my frequent rants. “It might not be the highest rated station in town,” I bellowed at passing clouds, “but there are enough people who would dig it if someone just had the balls to just do it!”

It would take me three decades to finally put my time and money where my rant was. Of course in the meantime, I’d discovered college radio, but even it often fell victim to the “format” infection, and its entanglement with university politics and dependency on a young, inexperienced and constantly rotating management team meant that even the best station could be decimated with one graduation ceremony or an arbitrary decision by an institutional bureaucrat.

Around the same time I secured a community-volunteer spot on Vanderbilt University’s WRVU in 1997, I also discovered WFMU and other like-minded freeform stations that were just beginning to extend their programming to the internet. A similar station was what Nashville truly needed — an independent, community-focused radio station, founded on a belief that good programming, no matter how eclectic, would find its audience.

The death of WRVU as a terrestrial broadcast station in the summer of 2011 was a tragedy for Nashville’s cultural scene, but it also presented an opportunity. That’s why I jumped at the chance when Heather Lose called me in the March 2012 to ask if I had any interest in starting an independent, listener-supported community radio station in Nashville. At our first meeting, I said we had to be totally freeform, every DJ programming their own show, and I was pleased and surprised to find that everyone else felt the same way.

Seven years after that first meeting, and three years since WXNA officially began broadcasting that vision of freeform, people-powered radio is not only still going strong but is growing. WXNA is a testament to both our volunteers and our listeners. It demonstrates that real human beings sharing their passion for music, the arts, and the human condition can inspire hope, bring real change to the world, and share our humanity in the moment, right here and now, along with proving that punk fury-powered rants sometimes turn out to be right.

Randy Fox
Randy’s Record Shop
Mondays, 7-9 a.m.