People Take Warning!<BR>Murder Ballads & Disaster Songs 1913-1938

American roots music -- the odd, mostly Southern sounds that flourished in the 1920s and 30s -- isn't for everyone. Newcomers may be more baffled than entertained by this latest compilation, some 70 plain-speaking songs arranged topically around disasters and murders, hardly the warmest introduction to the strange music that prefigures the great genres of American pop: jazz, blues, cowboy swing, R&B, and of course rock and roll. Aficionados, on the other hand, will take pleasure in finding over 30 songs never before reissued on vinyl or CD: twangy chronicles of airplane crashes, gut-bucket accounts of train wrecks, and howling ditties recording the floods and fires of the day. The murder tales take you from their downhome settings right back to their early templates -- the classic ballads imported from the British Isles. An introduction by Tom Waits celebrates these "graveside testimonials." But in the slender booklet, the producers might have done those just getting their feet wet a service by mentioning the gold standard for this type of collection: the legendary Harry Smith's Anthology of American Folk Music, the ur-compilation first issued in 1952, and still a constant revelation. As welcome as much of People Take Warning is, fans of Smith will notice not only a handful of songs repeated from Anthology -- including one of the too- many pieces about the sinking of the Titanic -- but also many of the same standout performers: Furry Lewis ("Kassie Jones") Charlie Patton ("Mississippi Boweavil") and Ernest Stoneman ("The Story of the Mighty Mississippi") to name a few. Nevertheless, there's plenty here to satisfy the true lovers of that old, weird America.-

April 17: "In less than three years, both GM and Chrysler would be bankrupt, and a resurgent Ford would wow Wall Street..."

Donna Tartt's The Goldfinch is the winner of the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. James Parker calls this Dickensian coming-of-age novel "an enveloping…

Books, CDs, DVDs to know about now
Poems That Make Grown Men Cry

And women too.  Luminaries from Colin Firth to Nick Cave and Jonathan Franzen chose the poems that bring them to tears, and the result is a stunning collection of poignant verse from writers like Auden, Whitman, Bishop, Larkin, Neruda and many others.  Warning: choking-up hazard.

The King of Pain

Trapped beneath his entertainment system, reality TV mastermind Rick Salter reflects on his life and tries to piece together the events of the previous evening. Seth Kaufman’s romp is an outrageous meditation on pain and entertainment in a deranged world in which the two are often interchangeable.

The Good Inn

Frank Black, frontman for the Pixies, has written a transgressive historical fiction with shades of Thomas Pynchon (focused as it is on the history of explosives and cinematic pornography), all set in a hallucinatory Edwardian Europe.