Archive for the 'Music' Category

Death of a Ladies’ Man

R.I.P. Leonard Cohen, a major contributor to the soundtrack of my youth. I trust it is not inappropriate at this moment to pay tribute with this brilliant, weird and spot-on parody by the Austin Lounge Lizards. Herewith Leonard Cohen’s Day Job, from the (thoroughly brilliant) album Employee of the Month:

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Goodnight to the Street Sweepers, Night Watchmen, Flame Keepers…

More great music, a propos of nothing in particular:

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(YouTube version here.)

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Song of Bernadette

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When I screw up, I try to confess and atone for my errors.

Just about exactly a year ago, I posted a list of the 25 most beautiful folk songs ever recorded. How on earth did I manage to overlook Judy Collins’s stunning cover of Leonard Cohen/Jennifer Warnes’s heart-wrenching “Song of Bernadette”?

I’m afraid this egregious oversight has deprived you all of a year of sublime listening pleasure. My apologies to Miss Collins and to all of my readers.

Though YouTube says this is from a 1991 Collins concert in California, she performed a nearly identical rendition at Wolf Trap in 2000. The Live at Wolf Trap CD is well worth its exorbitant price; every track is stunning.

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When the Saints Go Marching In

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(Click here to watch on YouTube.)

Sixteen years ago, Slate Magazine was launched, with Paul Krugman and me as the alternating economics columnists. At the time, Paul was fond of observing (with considerable dismay) that most of the time, highly educated and intelligent non-economists appear to be completely incapable of distinguishing between compelling arguments and utter nonsense in the field of economics. His essay on “Pop Internationalism” is a brilliant series of riffs on this theme — a guided tour of sheer balderdash that gets a respectable hearing even though no economist could possibly take it seriously. “Pop Internationalism” (the lead essay in the book of the same name) is high on my recommended reading list.

The lesson I took from this observation was that we (Krugman, I, and economic commentators in general) had a responsibility to explain not just what economists believe, but why we believe it — to help readers understand that there’s a rigorous underlying logic to the discipline, and that there are good reasons for insisting that people adhere to that logic. Nowadays, when he’s at his most obstreperous, I sometimes suspect Krugman of having drawn a very different lesson — that because nobody understands the real logic of economics, we can get away with saying any damned thing we want to. It’s a frustrating thing to watch, because when he’s good, he’s very very good. But when he is bad he is horrid. I won’t list examples here, but you can find quite a few by browsing my Paul Krugman archive.

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