Category: Music

Prince (1958-2016)

By , April 21, 2016

Musician Prince
Prince, the Artist formerly known as Prince, aka Prince Rogers Nelson has died at age 57.

The Minneapolis native sold more than 100 million records during his career, won seven Grammy awards, and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2004. He started writing songs at age 7 and is best known for hits “Raspberry Beret,” “1999,” and “Little Red Corvette.”

Prince won seven Grammys, a Golden Globe, and an Academy Award for the best Original Song Score for Purple Rain. Rolling Stone magazine named Prince number 27 on its list of the 100 Greatest Artists of all time.

The 1984 film, Purple Rain, is regarded as one of the great rock musical drama films of all time. The soundtrack was the first Prince album to chart at number one and featured “When Doves Cry”…..which we can expect to be hearing again and again and again in days to come.

Prince remade genres and mixed influences from funk, rock, and R&B. His unique onstage performances showcased his supreme musical talent and mastery of vocals, guitar, keyboards, and drums that mesmerized fans for over three decades. His 2007 Super Bowl performance introduced a new generation of fans to his genius.

Prince performed at The Fox Theatre in Atlanta last Thursday night – the second of two back to back sold out shows. Prince made what is believed to have been his final public appearance on Saturday at a dance party in Minnesota.

- Laurie

Honoring Merle Haggard

By , April 7, 2016

Merle Haggard album coverHis mama’s name was Flossie.

He hopped his first train at age 10.

His second wife served as a bridesmaid at his third wedding.

No wonder Merle Haggard wrote some of country music’s greatest songs.

“Workin’ Man Blues” and “Mama Tried” and “Okie From Muskogee” the list goes on….

Hundreds of recordings by this Country Music Hall of Famer and Kennedy Center Honor recipient are available in the Nashville Public Library collection.

See the library’s collection of works by Merle Haggard.

Download an album from Hoopla (free with your library card)

Listen on Freegal (free with your library card)

- Laurie

Making the Ryman: Lula Naff

By , March 14, 2016

Exterior of RymanGuest blogger, Sara, shares one of her favorite Nashvillians with us today.

Lula Naff is the woman behind shifting the Ryman Auditorium from a religious venue to the entertainment destination it is today. In observance of Women’s History Month, I thought what better way to show off Nashville, the Public Library, and women than by reintroducing this famous woman that many may not know about but whose existence helped to shape one of the city’s greatest event venues.

Today the Ryman is known for musical events, the Grand Ole Opry, Country music, and excitement. But, it wouldn’t be known by these and other descriptions if it hadn’t been for Lula Naff. Her remarkable decision making and innovative ability to book diverse events have allowed the Ryman to maintain its historical run as a “must-see, must-do” for both locals and visitors to Nashville who crave a great time. Ms. Naff’s early influence of seeking various forms of entertainment for public and private viewing has become the catalyst for other venues attempting to gain larger audiences in Nashville. Though originally conceived as a building used for worship, debt and poor foot traffic forced Naff to invite wider varieties of performers to bring in more audiences and money.

Lula Naff was born in Fall Branch, Tennessee in 1875. She later worked as a stenographer for DeLong Rice Lyceum Bureau of Johnson City. She became widowed and, in 1904, the company moved to Nashville, bringing her and her young daughter along. After the company’s closure in 1914, Naff’s part-time job of booking Ryman Auditorium’s shows became her full-time career. By 1920, she was elevated to manager of the Ryman, becoming the first woman to fully manage the venue. It was because of her innovative ideas in booking such vast events and capturing more audiences that the Ryman was able to maintain its popularity and create an image of diversity. She retired in 1955, having worked over fifty years with the Ryman, and died in 1960 at the age of 85.


During her career, Naff recruited a variety of musical performers, speakers, and actors to the Ryman, including:

Tobacco Road Cast

Cast photograph of Tobacco Road signed to Lula Naff

*The Fisk Jubilee Singers, who began using the Ryman as their regular performance venue in the early 1900s.

* Helen Keller and Anne Sullivan Macy, in 1913, which was the first sold out show at the Ryman.

*Merchant of Venice, featuring Maude Adams as Portia in 1922.

*Mrs. Franklin D. Roosevelt speaking on behalf of the Girl Scouts Council of America in 1938.

*Tobacco Road in 1938. Naff won a lawsuit against the Nashville Board of Censors who tried to ban the play and arrest main actor John Barton for indecency.

*Grand Ole Opry, which began their live performances in 1943.

Want to learn more about Lula Naff? The Special Collections department at Main library branch has an extensive collection of Lula Naff’s personal memorabilia, dating from the early 1900s to her retirement. Or check out the segment NPT did for Carousel of Time.

- Sara



Wilson Collection pays tribute…

By , January 25, 2016

David Bowie

Recently Updated!

I think it’s safe to say that the year 2016 is starting off a little more bitter than sweet. Not only has the winter weather showed up with a vengeance, but there have been several shocking and heartbreaking deaths already this new year. Though this tribute is predominately focusing on David Bowie and his love for reading, I’d like to first recognize a few other individuals who also recently passed away.

The most recent passing being of the great, English actor Alan Rickman, who passed away last Thursday (the 14th) of Pancreatic Cancer. Though my favorite role he played will Always be Severus Snape in theAlan Rickman Harry Potter films, he was famous for many of his other films including Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves, Love Actuallyand of course, Die Hard. No one will ever forget his voice either.

On a more personal note, this next individual that passed away on Jan. 12th is being mentioned because his death was felt by everyone in the Butler Bulldog community – a community I am very much a part of as a proud alumna. At the young age of 25, former Butler basketball player Andrew Smith passed away after 2 tough years battling Cancer.

I could go on about the tough fight Andrew put up, how strong his wife was throughout the battle (and how strong she still is), and what he means to the school, but you’d be reading forever, and as Brad Stevens (former Butler coach-turned Celtics coach) said “it still wouldn’t do him justice.” But I’ll simply say that my thoughts go out to his family and friends, and summarize his character with a message sent out from the school – “He is, was, and always will be a Bulldog.

Andrew SmithSorry to take it down a notch, but like all lives, these are worth mentioning and remembering.

For the last tribute, I’m going to recognize innovative English musician, David Bowie. Bowie passed away on January 10th, just 2 days after his birthday and the release of his latest album, Blackstar.

As sad as I am at his passing like many others, I will halt here on my tribute to Bowie because if you are a regular follower of the Library’s Off-the-Shelf blog, you have already seen the beautiful tribute written by Bryan on January 11th. If not, click here to check it out. Instead, I’d like to share a few of Bowie’s favorite books via the Wilson Collection.

David BowieLike music and art, Bowie enjoyed immersing himself in a book; it was one of his favorite forms of relaxation. When he toured or was filming a movie, he had a large collection of books with him always. And, he was also one of the first celebrities to pose for the American Library Association’s series of READ posters. For the 1987 edition, you can find Bowie jumping for joy (it appears) while he reads Fyodor Dostoevsky’s The Idiot. 

If you haven’t already seen the many shared articles and Twitter feeds, a list of Bowie’s top 100 favorite books was released (unsure of when and by whom initially). Though I wish we had every single one of them in the Wilson Collection, I was at least happy to find a few.



Here are 3 of his favorites:

Madame BovaryMadame Bovary
Author: Gustave Flaubert
Water-Color Illustrations by: Gunter Böhmer
LEC: 1938

  • This is a tragic story about Emma Bovary, the wife of a doctor, who indulges in adulterous behavior to escape her provincial life. I say “tragic” because the story ends with Emma taking her own life due to unhappiness.
  • This book is not only considered to be a masterpiece, but is also a seminal work of literary realism. It received strong backlash when it was first published due to its controversial content.
  • This copy of the book is signed by well-known German-Swiss illustrator, Gunter Böhmer. Though he was also known as a talented painter and draftsman, he was best known for his stylistic book illustrations.

The BridgeThe Bridge
Author: Hart Crane
Photographs by: Richard Mead Benson
LEC: 1981

  • It is a long poem with varying scope and style and was written as an ode to the Brooklyn Bridge and New York City.
  • Though he traveled around to different cities while writing the poem, Crane also spent time in an apartment that overlooked the famed bridge. What Crane didn’t know when he was living there was that the designer of the bridge also stayed there during the bridge’s construction.
  • The photographs taken for the LEC copy were by talented photographer, Richard Mead Benson – a longtime admirer of New York’s geographical beauty.

The LeopardThe Leopard
Author: Giuseppe di Lampedusa
32 Photographs from the film by: Giovan Battista Poletto
Arion Press: 2015

  • The story is based on the life of the author’s grandfather, Giulio Fabrizio Tomasi, who was Prince of Lampedusa. It follows the life of a family during the Italian Risorgimento, or Resurgence.
  • Published posthumously after several failed attempts, The Leopard eventually became the top-selling novel in Italian history after initial political attacks, and is now also considered to be one of the most important literary works in the modern Italian literature.
  • The book was also made into a film, the same film that the 32 photographs were taken from.

If you’re interested in visiting the Wilson Collection, you’ll find it on the 3rd floor of the Downtown Library in the East Reading Room (between the Fine Arts department and Non-Fiction). The hours are the same as the Main Library hours. If you’d like a personal tour of the collection where you’d get to see the books up close and even get to look through them yourself, either respond to this blog post or call either of the following numbers:

(615)880-2356 – leave a message for Liz.


R.I.P. David Bowie

By , January 11, 2016

David BowieYes, even Martians die. Bowie looms large over pop culture like spaceship in a Sci-Fi movie casting a shadow over Earth. Lucky for us, he came to enlighten.

Without Bowie, would there be Lady Gaga, Elton John, or George Clinton? Okay, Clinton is a stretch, but Mick Jagger would never have worn a sparkle jumpsuit without a visit from Ziggy Stardust. How many people heard Iggy Pop, Lou Reed, Brian Eno, and Scott Walker because of Bowie? Not to mention he played Jareth the Goblin King and Pontius Pilot.

Velvet Goldmine director Todd Haynes said that glam rock was a crack in the facade of an oppressive culture. Now that facade has begun the crumble and we can appreciate how subversive Bowie’s gender bending personas were. Don’t let this theoretical touting obscure the fact he was a great tune-smith who never stopped challenging himself or his audience, while most of his peers made the same record over and over for thirty years. I’m looking at you, Mick. Even the records he dialed in had hits. The ones that weren’t hits still changed music forever.

I’m sure other folks will have a lot to say about Bowie in this space, but for the time being here are my favorites:

Blackstar by David Bowie

His last, just released record (aka blackstar) and newer albums are on Freegal.

Low by David Bowie

My personal fave, Low, and a lot more of his discography is on Hoopla.

Stage by David Bowie
If Low is my fave, you know I prefer the Berlin years over the Ziggy years. The gauntlet is thrown, rock snobs. Great live versions of the Berlin era tracks, featuring Nashville’s own prog prodigy Adrian Belew, can be heard on Stage.

“I’m always crashing / in the same car”

The Wet-plate process, Dukes and the Iodine State

By , December 24, 2015


2015 has been a generous year for those who love southern writing. Sally Mann surprised us with her lovely authentic memoir, Hold StillSure, she could have used a stricter editor, but if you ever wandered the backroads below the Mason Dixon line, you enjoyed this ride. And it was her appreciation of her Daddy, after all, that went on too long. So, all is forgiven.

Then The Southerner’s Cookbook reminded us that you can never, ever, ever say enough about southern food. Any cookbook that begins with a “Southern larder” section that includes Duke’s mayonnaise is all right by me. This book was produced by the editors of “Garden & Gun” and includes writing by John T. Edge, Rick Bragg and Roy Blount, Jr. The only bar-b-que sauce recipe you’ll ever need (Eastern North Carolina style vinegar-pepper sauce) is on page 234.

Finally, the most spellbinding longing, languid gift of southern writing this year came from Jason Isbell’s Something More Than Free. The magic is that the writing is intimate, and yet it turned out that the whole music world was listening. I’ve got a drawer of snapshots he’s never seen that illustrate this turn through the south. Edited perfectly, it left audiences waiting for more.

“As anyone who grew up on the food can attest, life without a little South in your mouth at least once in a while is a bland and dreary prospect” John Egerton





My Favorite Holiday Music

By , December 22, 2015

It’s that time of year, when the world falls in love. And every song you hear seems to say, “Merry Christmas.”

Wait. I think I heard that somewhere before. Anyway, it’s almost here – that magic day that comes just once a year. I hope your shopping is done. (I hope mine is done, too, by the time this posts!) So this year, I want to share with you my favorite Christmas albums. These are ones I listen to every year without fail.

The Christmas Album
The Manhattan Transfer

I blame this one on my dad. He has always been a huge Manhattan Transfer fan as I was growing up, so of course I loved them too. This may be my super-all-time-favoritest album for Christmas ever. If you haven’t heard it – you need to. It’s gorgeous and peppy and fun. Go download it on freegal right now. Go…oh. What? You only have 7 tracks to download and there’s 11 total? Ok, just come by my office and I’ll sing the other four for you so you don’t have to wait until next week to finish your album. That’s how much I want you to hear this album. I think my favorite song on the album is the very first one – Snowfall. It’s sad that we lost lead singer Tim Hauser (he’s the bald guy in the picture) last year. As the founder and driving force behind the group, he has been and will be missed.

Christmas Songs
Jars of Clay

This one’s all me. I’ve been a Jars of Clay fan since high school. You may have heard of them because of the song, Flood, that came out in the 90′s. I think I like this album so much because of their song choice. They picked some standards like O Little Town of Bethlehem or God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen. But they also picked songs that aren’t often sung like Love Came Down at Christmas and In the Bleak Midwinter. My favorites are Wonderful Christmastime, written Paul McCartney, and Christmastime is Here from Charlie Brown. If you can’t get the physical CD because some else has it checked out, you can also listen to this album on hoopla. You don’t want to miss this mellow Christmas celebration.

Christmas Collection
The Carpenters

Ok, so I picked one because of my dad and one I liked. This last one has to be my mom’s favorite album. It never feels like Christmas until I hear Karen Carpenter singing “Merry Christmas Darling.” It seems like we always listen to this one in the car as we are travelling places over the holidays. I think Karen is the more famous of the siblings, but Richard has got some musical chops too. He did all the arrangments and played the piano – which let me tell you as a pianist, those parts are HARD! Besides Merry Christmas Darling, I also like their Carol of the Bells arrangement and Nutcracker medley. You can check out the one of the three CD copies if other folks will share, or you can also catch this one on hoopla.

Well, that’s it. Those are my favorites. I hope you all have a very Merry Christmas!

Happy listening…and eating cookies…and opening presents…and watching The Christmas Story

:) Amanda

Popmatic Podcast for December 9, 2015: Best Music of the Year

By , December 9, 2015

It’s the best music of the year! Luckily, Sarah and Jesse are here to ballast this nerd ship. Would Amanda of all people pick something the library doesn’t own? For shame. Plus what is tickling out fancy this week. If anyone wants a Spotify list, ask in the comments. You know what else to put in the comments? Your picks for the best music of the year!


1) “Cassette” by Viet Cong and their video for “Continental Shelf
2) The Deepest Lake by Dengue Fever
3) Heroes by Sabaton

The Fool by Ryn Weaver1) The Fool by Ryn Weaver
2) Daybreaker by Moon Taxi CD | Freegal
3) Then Came the Morning by The Lone Bellow

A Special Episode of Open Mike Eagle1) Beat Happening‘s catalog
2) A Special Episode by Open Mike Eagle
3) Natalie Prass by Natalie Prass

Skrillex and Diplo present Jack U1) Jack Ü by Skrillex & Diplo
2) Capture the Sun by Blockhead
3) “Uptown Funk” by Mark Ronson

Art Angels by Grimes1) Art Angels by Grimes
2) Mute Records’ catalog
3) Over the Edge Radio


Underdawgs: How Brad Stevens and the Butler Bulldogs Marched Their Way to the Brink of College Basketball’s National Championship by David Woods


Winter by Marissa Meyer

Bryan’s into file formats.


Transcripts of the show are available upon request.

Kickoff Banned Books Week with Freedom Sings

By , September 17, 2015

Freedom SingsThe library is going full tilt this year with Banned Books Week—a week long celebration of the freedom to read (Sept. 26-Oct.3). Every year during Banned Books Week, libraries, schools, bookstores, authors, publishers, and readers ensure open access to information by highlighting the problem of censorship with public readings, displays, discussions, and concerts.

We are kicking things off with Freedom Sings—a critically acclaimed multimedia experience featuring music that has been banned, censored, or sounded a call for social change. Freedom Sings is the inspiring story of free speech in America told through rock, pop, hip-hop and country music. Fight censorship and come to this free concert on Saturday, September 26th at 2pm at the Main Library.

Ken Paulsen, creator of Freedom Sings and president of the First Amendment Center, didn’t want me to spoil the show by revealing a full set list but you can pregame with a little Janis Ian (CD | Freegal) and Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young (CD | Hoopla).

If you come to the show and are “guilty” of reading banned books and proud of it—and we hope you are—take a “shelfie” with your favorite banned book. Librarians from the teen department will be on hand with a ton of banned books and a photo backdrop. Share your “shelfie” on social media with the hashtag #NPLbannedbooks to enter a contest to win Banned Books Week prize packs. Post those shelfies before October 3rd.


Free Music, You Say?!

By , August 14, 2015

Did someone say free and live music all in one sentence?! That’s right, it’s that time of year again when NPL and local radio station, Lightning 100, begin both of their free concert series – the Courtyard Concerts and Live on the Green. Both concert series provide a wide variety of talented performers for any connoisseur of music…don’t believe me, just watch! Check out the line-ups below along with links to what the Library has to offer…

2015 Courtyard Concerts

All concerts occur in the 2nd floor Courtyard, from 11:45 – 1:00 on nine consecutive Tuesdays from August through the beginning of October. And they are rain or shine, with a secondary location already set up just in case.

Occurred this week – August 11th - Riders in the Sky
“America’s Favorite Cowboys”


August 18thRod McGaha


August 25th - Marshall Chapman, Malcolm Holcombe & Mary Gauthier
Songwriter’s Session


September 1st - Sara Sant’Ambrogio
Grammy Award-Winning Classical Cellist


September 8th - The WannaBeatles
Beatles Music at its best


September 15th - Jonell Mosser


September 22nd - Andy T Nick Nixon Band


September 29th - Jerry Douglas and Friends
Bluegrass and more


October 6th - Revolfusion


To learn more about each artist and the event, click on the following link to view the Courtyard Concerts’ page.

Live on the Green

And now for a slightly more crowded yet still as entertaining concert series. Live on the Green takes place in Public Square Park in front of the historic Metropolitan Courthouse, in downtown Nashville. Starting August 20th, the 4-week music festival occurs every Thursday evening, beginning at 6:15 and finishes around 11:00. For the second year in a row, the festival concludes with a 3-day, multi-stage event with many great artists, several of which are local.

Check out the line-up for this year:


"Moon Taxi" at Ascend Ampitheater on August 6th

Moon Taxi at Ascend Amphitheater on August 6th

As of recently, Lightning 100 has released the last few remaining artists. One of the last headliners that was announced is the local band, Moon Taxi (you can find Moon Taxi’s music on Freegal). Along with the Louisville-native band My Morning JacketMoon Taxi played a show at Ascend Amphitheater on Thursday, August 7th. Lightning 100 sponsored that show as well and announced after Moon Taxi’s performance that the band would be returning for Live on the Green. I know because I was there. I’ve seen both of those bands now several times and every time is different but equally as awesome. Moon Taxi has played Live on the Green many times in the past, only missing out on two seasons in its six-year span. So make sure you don’t miss them this year, they do a killer Pink Floyd cover of “Another Brick in the Wall.”

Without further ado, here is this year’s schedule:

August 20th - Elliot Root, Shakey Graves, and Lord Huron (Freegal)

August 27th - Houndmouth, J Roddy Walston & the Business (Hoopla), and Cold War Kids (Freegal)

September 3rd - Greg Holden (Hoopla), The Delta Saints (Freegal)and Moon Taxi (Freegal)

Three-Day Festival EventSeptember 10th-12th

Thursday - Civil Twilight (Freegal), Humming House, Kopecky (formerly the Kopecky Family Band) (Hoopla | Freegal), JD McPherson (Hoopla), Delta Rae (Hoopla)and Rodrigo y Gabriela (Hoopla|Freegal)

Friday - Smooth Hound Smith, Turbo Fruits (Hoopla|Freegal), Zella Day (Hoopla), The Vespers, Big Data (Hoopla), Colony House (Freegal), and Passion Pit (Freegal)

Saturday (starts at 1:15) - Mr. Steve, The Districts (Hoopla | Freegal), Future Thieves, Lennon & Maisy, Kaleo, Elle King (Hoopla|Freegal), Anderson East (Hoopla), Family of the Year (Hoopla), All Them Witches (Hoopla), another band to be announced on Aug 14th, and the final headliner is…….(drum roll please)…..BEN FOLDS (Hoopla|Freegal)!

Though I’m excited to see all of these bands (a few I’ve already seen and loved), I’m mostly looking forward to:

Elliot Root: Minus the multiple voices, they remind me of Milo Greene and The Lone Bellow a little – and seem like they’ll be great live.
Lord Huron: For obvious reasons, they have such a unique and lovable sound.
Rodrigo y Gabriela: I mean, come on…acoustic guitar duo that did a cover of “Stairway to heaven.” Yeah. 
Passion Pit: 
I missed him when I was at Bonnaroo a few years ago, so I’m glad I’m getting a second chance. With an indietronic sound and high-pitched talented voice, Passion Pit is similar to the bands Empire of the Sun, MGMT and a personal favorite - Matt & Kim
Kaleo: Another awesome band from Iceland, I think of the bands Ásgeir and Hozier when I hear them. Yes, Ásgeir is also from Iceland but the softness of this lead singer’s voice is very much as enjoyable as Ásgeir. And I was reminded of Hozier in their song “Way Down We Go” because of its edge.

Also, fun fact: one of the performers at Live on the Green this year is the daughter of comedian, Rob Schneider. Can you guess who? Here’s your hint, she has a catchy tune about her exes…

Find out more information about the festival, VIP tickets, personalized schedules and more at the Live on the Green website.  

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