Monday, April 27, 2015: Writer Nick Hornby has made a career of writing about the aging issues facing many contemporary men, in his best-selling novels High Fidelity and About A Boy. His latest book, Juliet, Naked, tells the story of a music fan named Duncan, who discovers an unplugged version of one of his favorite albums. In his effort to connect with the record’s now-washed-up creator, Duncan discovers that his girlfriend already has found him, and formed an unlikely friendship with the musician. What do British novelist Nick Hornby and American pop pianist Ben Folds have in common? The 2010 CD called Lonely Avenue, 11 songs featuring Hornby’s lyrics and Folds’ music and voice. They both join Bob at the piano in our performance studio to discuss how their long-distance mutual admiration turned into an album of playful yet often soul-stirring songs.
Tuesday, April 28, 2015: Today is the 89th birthday of Harper Lee, author of the much-loved novel To Kill a Mockingbird. In 1960, the book became an immediate bestseller and a classic of American literature. Lee is famously reclusive and hasn’t given an interview since 1965. Bob is still hoping to sit down with her one of these days, but until then, we bring back two conversations Bob had about Lee. First, to mark the 50th anniversary of the book’s publication in 2010, writer and filmmaker Mary McDonagh Murphy compiled interviews with over two dozen contemporary writers, historians, journalists and artists for her book Scout, Atticus, & Boo: A Celebration of Fifty Years of To Kill a Mockingbird. Then, Bob talks with Charles Shields who wrote a biography in 2006 titled Mockingbird: A Portrait of Harper Lee. Since she wasn’t available, Shields talked with roughly 600 people who knew her.
Wednesday, April 29, 2015: Even though he was a United States Congressman for two terms, Ben Jones is known first and foremost as “Crazy Cooter” for his role on The Dukes of Hazzard. Jones’ road to the halls of Congress was an unlikely one – starting in a shack with no electricity or plumbing. Jones tells his story in his memoir Redneck Boy in the Promised Land. Joe Nick Patoski has spent nearly his entire career covering the Red Headed Stranger and getting some really good stories along the way. He assembled them for his 2008 biography titled Willie Nelson: An Epic Life. Today, Patoski shares a few of those stories with Bob on the occasion of Willie Nelson’s 82nd birthday.
Thursday, April 30, 2015: On this date 40 years ago, Saigon fell to North Vietnam, effectively ending US involvement in the Vietnam War. Like many young men of his generation, Tim O’Brien was drafted. He spent two years as an infantry foot soldier in My Lai, Vietnam. Drawing from those experiences, O’Brien wrote a collection of stories he titled The Things They Carried. It’s still regarded as a masterwork of war time impressions. Then, journalist and historian Nick Turse spent 10 years researching Pentagon archives and interviewing Vietnam War veterans and survivors for his book titled Kill Anything That Moves: The Real American War in Vietnam.
Friday, May 1, 2015: On May 4, 1970, a student protest against the Vietnam War on the Kent State campus ended in tragedy when members of the Ohio National Guard shot and killed four and wounded nine Kent State students. Dr. Jerry M. Lewis witnessed the campus shootings and has been involved in researching and memorializing the fatal incident. Dr. Patrick Coy is director of Kent State’s Center for Applied Conflict Management which was founded as a result of the shootings. The two will discuss the 45th anniversary of the historical events and the role of student activism in American culture. May 1st is a little-known federal holiday, Loyalty Day. Made official in 1958, the original purpose was for Americans to reaffirm their loyalty to the United States. But loyalty oaths have a problematic history in this country, starting with the Revolutionary War. George Washington was for them, so was Joe McCarthy who believed you were not patriotic enough unless you took one. Loyalty is a tricky virtue, the foundation for love and family, but also the cause of much misery and betrayal, especially when loyalties collide. Pulitzer Prize winning Wall Street Journal columnist Eric Felten offers a meditation on the subject in his book, Loyalty: The Vexing Virtue. Today is also the 76th birthday of Judy Collins who has been performing songs for decades that she hopes “help people heal.” She talks with Bob about the 2008 CD called Born to the Breed - A Tribute to Judy Collins. The album includes Collins covers from Joan Baez, Leonard Cohen, Rufus Wainwright, Jimmy Webb, Shawn Colvin and Dolly Parton.