Brain Pickings

Posts Tagged ‘collaboration’

25 OCTOBER, 2011

The Phantom Tollbooth at 50: Celebrating Timeless Imagination

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What dumpster-diving in the 1960s has to do with timeless wisdom for the eternal kid.

The Phantom Tollbooth isn’t merely one of the most celebrated children’s books of all time, it’s also one of those rare children’s books with timeless philosophy for grown-ups, its map of The Kingdom of Wisdom a profound metaphor for curiosity and the human condition. This month marks the 50th anniversary of the beloved classic and there’s hardly a better celebration than The Phantom Tollbooth 50th Anniversary Edition — a magnificent volume featuring brief essays from renowned authors, educators, and artists — including Philip Pullman, Suzanne Collins, Jeanne Birdsall, and Mo Willems — alongside the complete original text and illustrations of the book and the now-legendary 35th anniversary essay by Where The Wild Things Are author Maurice Sendak.

Packaged in the classic original art, stamped and debossed on the case with a transparent acetate jacket, the book is an absolute treasure to touch and to hold, exuding in a tactile way the intangible magic that fueled a half-century of heart-warming enchantment.

Here’s a lovely short documentary about the book’s masterminds, author Norton Juster and illustrator Jules Feiffer, reminiscing about the unusual spark of their collaboration and the original creative process behind the work:

In another celebration of the 50th anniversary, a team of Brooklyn-based filmmakers is bringing to life a documentary about the beloved work of the imagination, currently raising funds on Kickstarter.

Juster’s new picture book, Neville, is also out today and looking absolutely delightful.

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21 OCTOBER, 2011

Indie Legends Celebrate the Songs of Shel Silverstein

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Andrew Bird, My Morning Jacket, Dr. Dog, and other indie icons pay homage to the beloved children’s author.

Though best-known as the author of children’s classics like The Giving Tree, beloved author Shel Silverstein (whose recent posthumous anthology of 137 never-before-seen poems and drawings is among the season’s greatest treats) was also a prolific songwriter. Not only did the album version of his book Where The Sidewalk Ends win a Grammy in 1984 for Best Children’s Recording, but he also collaborated with a number of prominent “grown-up” musicians between 1959 and his death in 1999, including Johnny Cash (“A Boy Named Sue”), Irish Rovers (“The Unicorn Song”), and Bobby Bare (“Daddy What If,” among many others).

Twistable, Turnable Man: A Musical Tribute to the Songs of Shel Silverstein (iTunes link) is a fantastic homage to Silverstein by a formidable roster of contemporary indie music icons, including Andrew Bird, My Morning Jacket, Dr. Dog, Lucinda Williams, and Bobby Bare, Jr., Bobby Bare’s son, performing with his four-year-old daughter Bella.

Rianbow Rumpus has a wonderful interview with Bobby Bare, Jr. on his memories of Silverstein and how the author’s ethic of fearlessness influenced his own songwriting.

via Rainbow Rumpus

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06 OCTOBER, 2011

Bob Dylan & Other Icons Resurrect the Unfinished Lost Songs of Hank Williams

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What Jack White has to do with dumpster-diving for music history.

Legendary singer-songwriter Hank Williams was only 29 when he died in the back of a car in 1953, yet in his short life he shaped the course of American music for decades to come. Some of the most celebrated rock’n’roll pioneers — including Elvis Presley, Bob Dylan, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Carl Perkins — got their start recording Williams songs. He has a posthumous special citation from the Pulitzer Prize, he’s been inducted into just about every American music hall of fame, and earlier this year he entered the loftiest of them all, the Recording Academy Grammy Hall of Fame.

In 2006, while handling a company dumpster, a janitor of Sony/ATV Music Publishing made a serendipitous discovery: In the dumpster were the unfinished lyrics found in Williams’s car the night he died. The lyrics eventually made their way to Bob Dylan in 2008, who set out to complete the songs for an affectionate album release celebrating Williams’s legacy. Three years in the making, the remarkable The Lost Notebooks of Hank Williams is out this week and features a formidable roster of musicians performing Williams’s unfinished songs, including Jack White, Norah Jones, Lucinda Williams, Alan Jackson, Sheryl Crow, and of course Dylan himself.

You can sample the goodness below and hear the entire Jack White track on Rolling Stone’s exclusive stream.

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