Sonic Sidebar

Richly textured audio essays from big names and deep thinkers.

rock and roll
Sonic Sidebar

For author Jennifer Egan — whose novel "A Visit From The Goon Squad" documents the inner life of lifelong rock and roll stars—the pauses in rock ballads might say as much or more than the riffs.More

Not playing
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John Cage’s "4’33” was first performed on August 29th, 1952, by pianist David Tudor. He came out on stage, sat at the piano, and did not play. The audience was not impressed. Kyle Gann tells the story in “No Such Thing as Silence."More

Jukebox hero
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In 1985, The New Yorker writer Susan Orlean started traveling around the country to find out how Americans spend their Saturday nights. One thing she discovered? How many Saturday night songs there are.
 More

stove
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To The Best Of Our Knowledge producer Doug Gordon explains what it’s like to live with obsessive compulsions.More

Length: 
3:04
Screenshot from "Desert Bus" playthrough by Phrasz013.
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A simulated eight-hour bus drive earns you one point. Why would anyone want to play a game like that?More

Length: 
3:19
Umbrellas as art
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Celebrated curator Hans Ulrich Obrist has a vision: get art out of galleries and into the real world.More

Length: 
8:02
Mark and Laurie, The Wedding
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Our digital producer, Mark Riechers, tells us why he got married in a movie theater.More

Length: 
6:22
listening intently
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A listener reminds us that it wasn't just teenage boys listening to Pink Floyd in 1973. More

Philip K. Dick sitting in chair
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Jonathan Lethem considers Philip K. Dick one of his literary heroes.  Lethem talks about how Dick was able to combine his brilliant imagination with his original mainstream ambitions to produce the groundbreaking literary science fiction that he's known for.More

Length: 
4:48
ignored on the phone
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For three decades, MIT professor Sherry Turkle's been looking at the ways we interact with machines. She believes our digital devices are taking a toll on our personal relationships.More

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