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Forget What the #885Countdown Votes Say: The greatest music of all time is happening right now

Strand of Oaks | Photo by John Vettese
Bruce Springsteen is okay and all, but I’d much rather listen to Strand of Oaks | Photo by John Vettese

One of the funnier things I saw this week while on #885countdown hashtag-watch came in the form of a joke-hashtag from Twitter user @bob_perst: #roadtothunderroad. Before we even hit the top 10, the number one was a foregone conclusion: it was going to Bruce Springsteen, it was going to be “Thunder Road.” Because of course.

This speaks to the immense, immense love of The Boss not just in general, but particularly in the Philly / South Jersey region and doubly so among XPN’s audience. It also speaks, to a (somewhat dismaying) degree, of how easy these countdowns can be to predict. It’s going to be Bruce, or Bob Dylan, or The Beatles at the top, the latter of whom racked up an unfathomable 47 songs in the countdown this year.

Predictability sort of comes with the territory, though. When thousands of people are voting on their favorite songs, can I really expect the R.E.M. deep cut from my list to actually chart in a meaningful kind of way? Continue reading →

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#885countdown Talk: What makes a song “the worst?”

Journey clowning around in the 80s. Many people think they wrote some of the worst songs ever, others stringently defend them. Or so we hear.
Journey clowning around in the 80s. Many people think they wrote some of the worst songs ever, others stringently defend them. Or so we hear.

As we’re winding down the 885 All Time Greatest Songs countdown playback, we’re also looking forward to part two of the countdown – the playback of the 88 Worst Songs. The notion of “best,” “greatest” and “worst” are, of course, quite subjective. Which will explain why (partial spoiler alert) there will be some songs on both the 885 All Time Greatest and 88 Worst Songs. As Paul Simon once said, “one man’s ceiling is another man’s floors;” or – to put it a slightly different way – “one person’s trash is another’s treasure.”

As we get ready to play the worst songs (as voted on by the WXPN community) tomorrow starting at 10 a.m., we want to know: “what exactly makes a worst song?” Continue reading →

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XPN Weekend Arts Crawl…Major American photographer, open studios, spooky stuff, and lots of theater!

One of Paul Strand's famous works, Wall Street, New York 1915
One of Paul Strand’s famous works, Wall Street, New York 1915

Major American filmmaker and photographer Paul Strand has a new retrospective at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Paul Strand: Master of Modern Photography features over two hundred of his prints, taken over six decades, displaying street portraits, machines, images of nature. Three of his films are showing, including his most well known avant-garde work, Manhatta. Through January 6th.

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The best 24 or 25 tweets we’ve seen about the #885countdown (so far)

The above tweet by Philly illustrator Matt Friedman showed up in our Twitter feed yesterday, and nicely sums up the beauty and hilarity of WXPN’s 885 Greatest Songs of All Time countdown. With music jumping all over the spectrum, it sometimes feels delightfully random; with like a bazillion Beatles selections ranking so far, it also feels somewhat predictable; and then, out of nowhere, there will be this sick transition between “Penny Lane” and “Rebellion (Lies)” by Arcade Fire, and you’ll be like “holy cow that was amazing” and you keep listening. It keeps you hooked. Equally addictive is the #885countdown hashtag on Twitter, where some amazing conversation and commentary has been unfolding. Here is some of the best of what we’ve seen so far. Continue reading →

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Flippin’ With The Dipper: Inside Wilt Chamberlain’s DJ career

Wilt Chamberlain | Photo courtesy of http://kuhistory.com/articles/center-of-attention/
Wilt Chamberlain | Photo via http://kuhistory.com/articles/center-of-attention/

There’s no doubt that the legendary Philly basketball player Wilt Chamberlain had mad skills on the court. But have you ever hear him behind the mic?

When he was in college at the University of Kansas in the mid-fities, in addition to becoming one of the greatest college basketball players of all time, Wilt carved out time to follow a passion he had for music, and had a weekly radio show on the campus radio station, KANU. It was called “Flippin’ with the Dipper,” and was also broadcast on KLWN in Lawrence, KPRS in Kansas City, WREN in Topeka, and several other stations in the area. Continue reading →

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Weekend Arts Crawl…Philly photos, parades of pride and boats, celebrating design…and so much more!

 

The Old City Seaport Festival will include a parade of boats. Courtesy of phillyseaport.org
The Old City Seaport Festival will include a parade of boats. Courtesy of phillyseaport.org

Ahoy!  It’s the third annual Independence Seaport Museum Old City Seaport Festival!  You can tour tall ships, see how boats were made in the old days, take a harbor tour, and witness the kick off parade of boats Friday and pirate battles on Saturday and Sunday!  Aye, matey…

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XPN Weekend Arts Crawl…Inside animals, outside in the area, and much more!

Body Worlds: Animal Inside Out previously appeared at museums in Chicago, Dallas,  Salt Lake City, Germany, Austria, the United Kingdom and Switzerland. Courtesy of fi.edu
Body Worlds: Animal Inside Out previously appeared at museums in Chicago, Dallas, Salt Lake City, Germany, Austria, the United Kingdom and Switzerland. Courtesy of fi.edu

The exhibit Body Worlds has toured the world several times showing what’s under the skin of real humans.  Now there’s Body Worlds, Animal Inside Out, opening Saturday at the Franklin Institute.  Animals large and small are opened up to show their blood vessels, muscular systems and various organs. Two Members Sunday workshops demonstrate how animals’ bodies are like our own. Continue reading →

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Watch Double Decker Music Series vol. 3, featuring Noun and Rat Catching

Double Decker Music Series
Marissa Paternoster | photo by Bob Sweeney

This month’s Double Decker Music Series featured performances by Noun (Marissa Paternoster of Screaming Females) and Rat Catching.  As the intimate audience rode around Philadelphia on the top level of an open-air tour bus, the musicians provided an alternative soundtrack to the historical sights.

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Watch Philly’s Evening Magazine explain The Grateful Dead to viewers in 1979

Segment title screen. Love the Star Wars font.
Segment title screen. Love the Star Wars font.

By 1979, The Grateful Dead was closing in on a decade and a half of recording and touring, were headlining arenas on the regular, and the non-countercultural media was becoming reasonably certain that Jerry and the boys were, you know, not just a fad. Enter Evening Magazine, a television news features program that aired locally on CBS-3; they caught up with the Dead and their devout Deadheads at The Spectrum in this segment that aired on November 6, 1979. Continue reading →

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The Beatles, live at Convention Hall in Philly, September 2, 1964

The Beatles perform at Convention Hall in Philadelphia on September 2, 1964 | Photo via hylitradio.com
The Beatles perform at Convention Hall in Philadelphia on September 2, 1964 | Photo via hylitradio.com

This year marked the 50th anniversary of The Beatles’ initial trip to our side of the pond and their first ever North American tour. If you didn’t know this, you must have been in hibernation back in February. The 1964 summer tour would eventually include an unlikely stop in Philadelphia on September 2 that almost didn’t happen. Thanks to a relentless Philly rock n’ roll radio personality and some tricky planning, it did. Continue reading →