Cold Missouri Waters The true story of a firefighting tragedy. (April 2011)

Forget to Breathe Eliza Gilkyson covers a John Gorka tune. (March 2011)

Dead Egyptian Blues One of the funniest songs you’ve ever heard about Tutunkhamun – even better than Steve Martin’s King Tut! (February 2011)

Birds Fly South I first heard this song in live performance, and it was very moving and powerful – but I think this studio version is just as good. (January 2011)

Wild Horse John Gorka covers an Eliza Gilkyson tune. (December 2010)

The Cape, by Guy Clark An ageless theme in the hands of legendary songwriting craftsman Guy Clark produced this little gem. (October 2010)

Killing the Blues Sometimes I think that a song as simple and perfect as this must come from outer space, or at least another dimension. (September 2010)

The Songs of Dave Carter He may no longer reside in this realm, but he left us with some astonishing songs. (July 2010)

Hank and Fred – Two American Icons The stories of two incredibly different men are woven together in this beautiful tribute – and Loudon Wainwright III is one of the only songwriters who could pull it off. (June 2010)

A Folk Song that Crosses a Border or Two Richard Shindell’s interesting take on what it means to wear a universally recognized T-shirt in an ever-shrinking world. (May 2010)

James – A Story Song But what a story! And the ending is a real nail-biter, too. (April 2010)

Blue Alert – Madeleine Peyroux Sings Leonard Cohen A good example of a singer being perfectly matched with the work of a songwriter for the ages. (March 2010)

Woody Guthrie and Jonatha Brooke – A Collaboration What happens when a contemporary siren of song puts music to the poetry of an American folk hero? (February 2010)

Joe Henry, Producer and Songwriter Extraordinaire Commentary on some of the superb work by a gifted writer and musician. (January 2010)

Calm Before the Storm, by Eliza Gilkyson  A song that works on multiple levels and can relate to a variety of audiences. (December 2009)

Vertigo, by Antje Duvekot A mesmerizing song about the dizzying heights of a new romance. (November 2009)

Cover Versions  Norah Jones’ breath-of-fresh-air cover of a Hank Williams classic is one of the best interpretations I’ve heard in a long time. (May 2002)

But Why Were They Shipbuilding?  I always knew what this song was about, but it took me a while to figure out why it was written. For my money, this is Elvis Costello at his finest. (March 2002)

In Search of a Powerful Voice  It’s always a joy to come across an album by a favorite singer who hasn’t been heard from in a while, especially when you’re seeking a strong voice and the new album is by Jennifer Warnes. (February 2002)

Calling All Angels  Did you ever feel that mysterious forces caused you to be in a certain place at a certain time? Here’s a story about a recent such experience that left me exhilarated for days. (January 2002)

George Harrison – A Postscript  Comments to the Blue Ear Forum on the passing of George Harrison, one of the more spiritual musicians to emerge from the world of rock ‘n roll. (January 2002)

Influences On Popular Music  The forces that shape popular music are numerous, and range from physical and emotional states of mind to the political and literary environments in which it’s created. Here’s a song that made me think a bit more than usual. (December 2001)

And Then There Are the Poets…  There are plenty of lyricists, but it’s the poets–like the great Texas songwriter Townes Van Zandt–who touch us most deeply. (November 2001)

Dark Humor for Dark Times  Like the great New Yorker cartoonist Charles Addams, Loudon Wainwright manages to be both dark and funny. “Hard Day on the Planet,” though, is mostly just dark. (October 2001)

Music of the Times  How my music-listening habits were affected by the tragedy of 9/11. (September 2001)

Rock ‘n Roll and the Rhythm of Language  It may only be rock ‘n roll, but ya gotta make sure the audience hears it. John Hiatt’s “Memphis In the Meantime” comes across loud and clear. (September 2001)

The Mary Ellen Carter  Folk music may slip in and out of fashion, but it will always be a part of the foundation of popular music. Need a lift? This song is almost as good as a straight shot of adrenaline. (August 2001)

Who Says Pop Music Stinks?  A rumination on the apparent decline of smell references in recent popular music. Warning to the aromatically challenged – this essay includes some of my favorite smell lyrics. (July 2001)

Lyle Lovett – American Craftsman at Work An appreciation of the singer/songwriter’s “If I Had a Boat,” and also his tribute to the Texas songwriters who have influenced him. (July 2001)

Two Songs by Shawn Colvin  A look at the intimate and introspective work of gifted singer/songwriter Shawn Colvin. (June 2001)

Storyhook Songs  How two obscure songs vabout the Old West, each of which could have been episodes from the Twilight Zone, got their hooks into me. (June 2001)

John Hartford–An American Original  A brief tribute to an artist from America’s heartland, whose work embraced songwriting, stringed instruments, and his beloved Mississippi River. (June 2001)

Sailing to Philadelphia  A peek under the cloak of this song shows it to be an American history lesson in disguise–by a British songwriter, no less. Mark Knopfler relates the hopes and fears of two mid-18th century surveyors. (May 2001)

Bob’s Oscar-Winning Song  Commentary on Bob Dylan’s “Things Have Changed,” which made use of a clever little mechanism to emphasize an existentially insightful lyric. Did you hear it? (April 2001)

Paul Simon’s the One  An end-of-the-20th-century acknowledgement of Simon’s career and his contributions to popular music, along with a review of his latest work. (January 2001)

Randy Newman’s Bad Love, on Dreamworks Records  A review of the 1999 album from one of America’s great contemporary songwriters.

Danny O’Keefe – On Songwriting and the Creative Process  The songwriter’s thoughts and comments about dancing with the muse, from a July 2000 interview.

An Interview with Danny O’Keefe  The complete July 2000 interview.