By Tom Warner, Librarian, Best & Next Department
In the midst of the COVID-19 health crisis, many of us are turning to music as an escape from the stress and anxiety this unprecedented pandemic has caused. Maybe that’s because, as William Congreave famously observed, “Music hath charms to soothe a savage breast, to soften rocks, or bend a knotted oak.”
Let’s hope music does have a curative effect on our savaged breasts, because many of the troubadours we turn to in our hour of need have themselves contracted the deadly coronavirus; according to Billboard, over 30 musicians have reported having the disease, with five – John Prine (April 7, age 73), Oscar-nominated songwriter and Fountains of Wayne co – founder Adam Schlesinger (April 1, age 52), jazz pianist Ellis Marsalis, Jr. (also April 1, 85), jazz trumpeter – composer Wallace Roney (March 31, age 59), and Arrows singer Alan Merill (March 29, age 69), who co – wrote “I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll, ” a later breakout hit for Joan Jett – recently passing away from complications related to the virus.
That unfortunate list includes popular artists Christopher Cross, Sara Bareilles, Jackson Browne, John Prine, Larry Campbell, Placido Domingo, Scarface, Radiohead guitarist Ed O’ Brein, Bon Jovi keyboardist David Bryon, Rita Wilson (Mrs. Tom Hanks), and even Idris Elba (yes, the actor – he opened for Madonna’s Rebel Heart Tour in Berlin).
If there’s any consolation, it’s that the music these artists and others create lives on forever. And music of it lives on Hoopla, the digital media service that enables you to borrow music (as well as audiobooks, ebooks, comics, movies, and TV shows) for free using your Pratt Library card. Once you use your card to set up an account, you can download or stream up to 15 titles a month to enjoy on your computer, tablet, television, or mobile device. So grab your library card and earbuds and start listening today!
Following is a Hoopla playlist highlighting the music of several of these afflicted artists. Keep them in your thoughts and prayers and ears!
The late – great Adam Schlesinger was the co-founder of pop band Fountains of Wayne (as well as Ivy and Tinted Windows), before branching out to write award-winning tunes for stage (Broadway’s “Cry – Baby”) and screen (That Thing You Do, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, Sesame Street, Stephen Colbert).
Hoopla offers all five Fountains of Wayne albums for downloading or streaming to mobile devices, including their critically acclaimed third album with the hit single “Stacy’s Mom”, Welcome Interstate Managers (2003)
- Hoopla offers all five Fountains of Wayne albums for downloading or streaming to mobile devices, including their critically acclaimed third album with the hit single “Stacy’s Mom,” Welcome Interstate Managers (2003).
- You can also listen to Tinted Windows, the supergroup Schlesinger formed with former Smashing Pumpkins guitarist James Iha and Hanson singer Taylor Hanson.
- Hoopla also features selections of songs Schlesinger wrote for the popular television show Crazy Ex-Girlfriend.
Country folk singer-songwriter Prine, a two-time Grammy winner, was known for his humorous songs of protest and social commentary. Before succumbing to complications resulting from the coronavirus, Prine had survived cancer and the loss of a lung.
His legacy was best summed up by his peer Bonnie Raitt, who in a 1992 Rolling Stone interview commented: “He’s a true folk singer in the best folk tradition, cutting right to the heart of things, as pure and simple as rain.”
- Hoopla has 18 titles, including the full studio albums John Prine (featuring the hits Illegal Smile and Angel from Montgomery, the latter famously covered by Bonnie Riatt), Pink Cadillac, Diamonds in the Rough, Common Sense, Storm Windows, Bruised Orange, Sweet Revenge and the hits collection Prime Prine.
Jazz trumpeter Wallace Roney grew up in Philadelphia and learned his craft studying with the Philadelphia Brass Ensemble and later with Langston Fitzgerald of The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. He came to national attention performing in the Washington, D.C. area, winning Downbeat’s Best Young Jazz Trumpeter award in 1979 and 1980.
Hoopla boasts 30 selections featuring Wallace Roney and five full-length studio albums, including his acclaimed Misterios (1994), Village (1997), No Room For Argument (2000), No Job Too Big Or Too Small (2018) and his final recording According To Mr. Roney (2019).
Ellis Marsalis, Jr.
Patriarch of the legendary musical family whose ranks include sons Branford and Wynton, Ellis wasn’t just a talented pianist but a respected educator, as well, teaching at the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts, the University of New Orleans, and Xavier University of Louisiana, and receiving an honorary doctorate from Tulane University for his contributions to jazz and musical education in 2207.
Elliss Marsalis III, the rare Marsalis son who didn’t pursue a music career, is a photographer and poet who has lived in Baltimore for more than 25 years. Ellis Marsalis is represented by seven titles in the Hoopla library, including his albums Pure Pleasure for the Piano (2012), An Open Letter To Thelonius and New Orleans Christmas Carol
Five-Time Grammy winner Cross is best known for his #1 hits “Sailing” (1980) and “Arthur’s Theme” (1981).
Hoopla has 14 Christopher Cross selections, including the albums Christopher Cross (1979), Arthur: The Soundtrack (1981), Every Turn of the World (1985), and Back of My Mind (1988).
Rolling Stone magazine listed Browne in its list of “The 100 Greatest Songwriters of All-Time,” and no wonder: songs like “These Days,” “The Pretender,” “Running on Empty,” “Lawyers in Love,” “Doctor My Eyes,” “Take It Easy,” and “Somebody’s Baby” helped propel him into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2004.
- Hoopla lists over 60 selections and 25 full-length studio albums, including his great, defining 1970s output: Saturate Before Using (1972), For Everyman (1973), Late for the Sky (1974), The Pretender (1976), and Running On Empty (1977).
Placido Domingo has recorded over 100 operas in his long-running career, and has crossed over into Latin and popular singing success, as well.
Hoopla offers listeners over 190 selections from the legendary singer!
Houston-based rapper and politician Scarface (Brad Terrence Jordan) started out in the Geto Boys before launching a successful solo career in 1991.
Hoopla has 14 full albums by Scarface, from his first Mr. Scarface Is Back to his last Deeply Rooted, as well as selected tracks by the Geto Boys.
Singer-songwriter-actress has been nominated for eight Grammy awards and composed and wrote lyrics for the Broadway musical Waitress, for which she earned Tony and Grammy nominations for Best Score and Best Album, respectively.
Hoopla offers 13 selections featuring Bareilles, including What’s Not Inside: The Lost Songs from Waitress.
These are just a sampling of the many artists whose songs can be heard on Hoopla; there are thousands more, in every conceivable genre! For a list of the most borrowed titles of 2019, click here.