By the time John Denver died in a plane crash in 1997, he had written and sung a remarkable assortment of cherished music: "Rocky Mountain High," "Take Me Home, Country Roads," "Sunshine on My Shoulders," "Leaving on a Jet Plane" and many more. He was often mocked by edgier musicians for being a kind of musically soft, spongy Wonderbread of a singer-songwriter. But his songs have endured — and influenced more than one generation.
Undercover agents, wiretaps, shady meetings in parked cars - the unfolding political scandal in the New York City mayor's race has all the right elements for drama. Six politicians - Democrats and Republicans, - have been arrested in an alleged plot to rig a primary in this year's election.
For more, we turn now to Errol Louis. He's the host of NY1's "Inside City Hall" political program and he joins us from New York. Errol, thanks so much for being back with us.
Charlotte Church was just 12 years old when she made her 1998 debut album, Voice of an Angel — and that's what she seemed to posses. The tween rocketed into success with classical and religious music, singing for the pope, the Clintons, Nelson Mandela and the queen of England.
"If I look at it cynically, I was just a little bit of a freak, really: This small little girl with this big adult voice," Church says. "And I was a commodity for a while, you know. But I think that's also just the bare truth of it, really. People are always curious about child stars."
April is the cruelest month, according to one of the most famous poems in the English language. Perhaps to take the edge off of April, the Academy of American Poets chose it as the month to draw attention to the art and legacy of poetry — and the achievement of American poets.
We're celebrating this month by hearing from young poets about how they chose — or were chosen by — poetry, and why poetry — one of the oldest human art forms — still matters.
You might think alarm bells would be sounding in Washington, given the warnings coming out of North Korea. But when they talk about North Korea, U.S. officials are sounding like exasperated parents responding to a child's tantrum.
At the White House on Friday, spokesman Jay Carney said the United States "would not be surprised" if North Korea actually carries out a missile test.
Roger Ebert was a critic, not a blowtorch. He could be sharp if he thought a movie insulted the audience, but had a champ's disdain for a cheap shot.
Many critics ridiculed the film Deep Throat when it came out in 1973. Who couldn't mock its absurdities? Roger just wrote, "If you have to work this hard at sexual freedom, maybe it isn't worth the effort."
Roger Ebert was a Chicago newspaperman who typed with two fingers — it sounded like a machine gun, columnist Bob Greene remembered on Friday — who was from the age when reporters were fueled by ink and booze.
Willemjin Verkaik is the latest leading lady to play Elphaba, the misunderstood green girl who grows up to become the Wicked Witch of the West in Broadway's long-running Wicked. She has also played the role in Dutch and German in Europe.
Credit Joan Marcus
Hugh Panaro plays the title character — here done up as The Red Death for the show's spectacular masked-ball scene — in The Phantom of the Opera, Broadway's longest-running show. Twenty-two years ago, Panaro made his debut with the show as Raoul, the male romantic lead.
Credit Joan Marcus / Disney
Tshidi Manye (center) as the baboon narrator Rafiki, with the ensemble of The Lion King. The long-running adaptation of the popular Disney animated film has been on Broadway for 15 years.
When I was a teenager falling in love with the theater, I picked up a book called Broadway's Greatest Musicals. The sole criterion for inclusion was that a show run for at least 500 performances, which translates to about a year and a quarter.
The number 42 has been retired from every team in Major League Baseball, and in recent years, teams have been eager for fans to remember why: It was the number Jackie Robinson wore for the Brooklyn Dodgers when he broke the sport's color barrier — and began to break a new path in American history.
This is WEEKEND EDITION, from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon. Know why I am hoarse? Because it's time for sports.
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SIMON: All that cheering. Florida Gulf Coast Eagles got eaten by the Gators yesterday, but the Cardinals are still flying high. Louisville, Florida, Michigan and Duke move on to men's college basketball Elite 8; and baseball season opens tomorrow when the Texas Rangers face the Houston Astros.
We're now joined by Howard Bryant, of ESPN.com and ESPN the Magazine. Good morning, Howard.
This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon and we'll have to wait until June to learn what the U.S. Supreme Court has decided on the two gay marriage cases before it. But this week, the justices heard oral arguments and they gave perhaps some hints of their thinking. One case concerns the constitutionality of California's ban on gay marriage, the other case is a challenge to what's called DOMA, the Defense of Marriage Act.
We're joined now by NPR legal affairs correspondent, Nina Totenberg. Thanks for being with us.
One argument used by conservatives in the Supreme Court cases is that gay Americans have become so politically powerful and prominent they don't need special consideration from the courts. Whether or not that's true, it is clear that lesbian-gay-bisexual-and-transgender advocacy groups have built a strong network of lobbyists and political activists in Washington, D.C.
This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon. And President Obama heads home from the Middle East today after a mixed reception to his four-day visit. Mr. Obama spent much of that time in Israel trying to lay the groundwork to revive the long-stalled peace process with Palestinians. He also traveled to the West Bank and met with Jordan's King Abdullah. NPR's Scott Horsley has a recap.
Kenneth Pattengale and Joey Ryan were doing just fine as solo performers. Then one night, Ryan walked into a bar where Pattengale was playing.
"I heard Kenneth perform a song that he had written from the perspective of a dead dog, only very recently having been hit by a truck," Ryan says, wryly. "And it was that sort of uplifting material that drew us together."
F. Scott Fitzgerald first saw his future wife from across a crowded room at a country club dance in Montgomery, Ala., where he was in basic training and she was waiting to be discovered by the world. They wed in 1920, and the two went on to have a famously turbulent marriage — tarnished by personal and professional jealousy, alcohol abuse and mental illness — which they both immortalized in their writing.
Anti-riot police face off with protesters in Saudi Arabia's eastern city of Qatif on March 11, 2011. Despite bans on the demonstrations, Shiite Muslims in the eastern part of the country have continued to stage protests, demanding political changes.
Editor's note: When Arab Spring protests broke out in Saudi Arabia in 2011, the government reacted quickly, pumping $130 billion into the economy and cracking down on dissent. While this approach has worked in some cities, the Shiite Muslims in the Eastern Province continued to demonstrate. Reese Erlich, on assignment for GlobalPost and NPR, managed to get into the city of Qatif and meet with protest leaders.
Host Scott Simon speaks with Sarah Brady about current attempts to pass gun control legislation. Brady has been active in promoting additional gun control since her husband, former presidential press secretary James Brady, was shot in the head during the attempted assassination of President Ronald Reagan.
Spring's around the corner, and baseball's back in full swing with spring training and the World Baseball Classic entering the elimination stage. While the Miami Heat have been on a tear, Grambling State just completed the opposite: a winless season at 0-28. Host Scott Simon is joined by Howard Bryant of ESPN.
The noisy film is mostly wordless, with animals and nature filling in the blanks between its strangely stark images.
Credit / The Cinema Guild
Lucien Castaing-Taylor and Verena Paravel, co-directors of the new documentary Leviathan, at a public screening of their film. Both are members of Harvard University's experimental Sensory Ethnography Lab.
Leviathan is a documentary — and yet not a documentary. It's a near-wordless, almost abstract depiction of an 80-foot groundfishing boat heading out of New Bedford, Mass. The film's unusual structure and point of view has gotten rave reviews at festivals and from many critics.
Sometimes you don't know quite what you're seeing and listening to in Leviathan. You hear metal groaning and rasping, see fish, gloves and tools tossed about on a boat that's pitching and rolling in a roaring wind.
Wednesday was more or less canceled this week in official Washington, D.C. An enormous winter storm bore down on the region, threatening ice, a foot of snow in the city (more in the suburbs), and wind and misery throughout the region.
Most of the federal government was closed. I know, I know. How could they tell? Local governments and schools, too. Flights were canceled, planes diverted, and throngs descended on grocery stores, picking the shelves clean of bread, milk and toilet tissue.
Not every Syrian American can go to the lengths that Abu Ahmed did, but here in the United States, they are watching the conflict closely. Muna Jondy was born in this country, but her father's family is from Daraa where the first protest back in 2011 began. She's an immigration lawyer in Flint, Michigan and president of a group called United for a Free Syria. She joins us from Michigan Radio in Ann Arbor. Thanks for being with us.
It takes an adventurous palate to be a food journalist, who must sample and judge from a wide world of cuisines. So it's understandable why some chefs and foodies might be suspicious of a food editor who decides to cut himself off from a broad swath of eating possibilities by becoming vegetarian.