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Exclusive Listening Preview ... Read: Brent Schlender, Rick Tetzeli's Becoming Steve Jobs Ammon Shea's Bad English … Robin Givhan's The Battle of Versailles … Brandon L. Garrett's Too Big to Jail … Jay M Smith, Mary Willingham's Cheated Naomi S. Baron's Words Onscreen Listen: Kendrick Lamar ... Courtney Barnett ... Empire: Original Soundtrack ... Seth Avett & Jessica Lea Mayfield ... Watch: The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies ... Unbroken ... Into the Woods ... and more.

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Wine Glasses

Singer, songwriter, actor, and activist Nellie McKay has amassed quite a following with her quirky musical approach. She started out wanting to be a jazz musician. Now when she sits down at the piano or picks up the ukulele, you’re likely hear some blend of jazz, pop, hip-hop, cabaret or vaudeville. She’s nothing if not outspoken, and the causes she holds dear — animal rights, for instance — are apt to turn up in her unpredictable song lyrics. The London-born, New York-based performer’s latest recording, My Weekly Reader, is a collection of favorite songs from the 1960s. For her portrayal of Polly Peachum in the Broadway production of The Threepenny Opera, she won a Theatre World Award. And the Humane Society honored her with a Doris Day Music Award, in recognition of her dedication to animal rights.

Listen to an exclusive preview of My Weekly Reader through April 1

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From the BBC:
Apple's Tim Cook offered liver to dying boss Steve Jobs

Becoming Steve Jobs: The Evolution of a Reckless Upstart into a Visionary Leader
By Brent Schlender, Rick Tetzeli

A rich and revealing account that will change the way we view Jobs, Becoming Steve Jobs shows us how one of the most colorful and compelling figures of our times was able to combine his unchanging, relentless passion with a more mature management style to create one of the most valuable and beloved companies on the planet.


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Listen to The Thread:
Are we, like, literally ruining the English language?

Bad English: A History of Linguistic Aggravation
By Ammon Shea

The editor behind Reading the OED: One Man, One Year, 21,730 Pages offers an entertaining look at the words and phrases commonly used in modern English that were originally considered wrong, slang or impolite.


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Listen to Morning Edition:
How a 1970s Fashion Faceoff Put American Designers in the Spotlight

The Battle of Versailles: The Night American Fashion Stumbled into the Spotlight and Made History
By Robin Givhan

This first book by fashion critic Robin Givhan presents a vivid account of the 1973 runway event at Versailles that traces how then-emerging designers, including Oscar de la Renta and Anne Klein, helped establish America as a dominant force in international style.


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Listen to Morning Edition:
For Banks Too Big to Jail, Prosecutors Count on a Promise to Behave

Too Big to Jail: How Prosecutors Compromise with Corporations
By Brandon L. Garrett

Taking readers into a complex, compromised world of backroom deals, this unprecedented look at what really happens when criminal charges are brought against a major company in the United States presents data from more than a decade of federal cases that reveals of pattern of negotiation and settlement.


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Listen to All Things Considered:
Cheated Out of an Education: Book Replays UNC's Student-Athlete Scandal

Cheated: The UNC Scandal, the Education of Athletes, and the Future of Big-Time College Sports
By Jay M Smith, Mary Willingham

Jay M. Smith and Mary Willingham examine the University of North Carolina — Chapel Hill’s corrupt policies concerning their academic system for student-athletes.


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Listen to Press Play with Madeleine Brand:
Reading on Screen

Words Onscreen: The Fate of Reading in a Digital World
By Naomi S. Baron

In Words Onscreen, Naomi Baron, an expert on language and technology, explores how technology is reshaping our understanding of what it means to read. Reaching past the hype on both sides of the discussion, Baron draws upon her own cross-cultural studies to offer a clear-eyed and balanced analysis of the ways technology is affecting the ways we read today — and what the future might bring.

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Wine Glasses

Listen to All Things Considered:
To Pimp a Butterfly Aspires to Be Music's Great American Novel

Dear Reader,

Hip-hop Music will never be the same. King Kendrick's essential new album, To Pimp a Butterfly, is unfathomably fulfilling. Sonically rooted in 1970s funk and jazz, To Pimp a Butterfly is a thoughtful record speaking directly to many of today's most difficult issues, yet it feels light years ahead of what other artists are making. This is a masterwork that will change the trajectory of all future hip-hop albums. Don't miss it. It's the most important record to be released in a long time.

Sincerely,
Your Humble Digital Producer

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Listen to The Current:
Courtney Barnett performs live in studio

Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit
By Courtney Barnett

"Not many artists these days have literally a global audience primed and ready to receive a debut album in the way Courtney Barnett has. Her first two EPs slowly built such a buzz in Australia, (she's based in Melbourne) that they were smushed together as her first physical release to the rest of the world. The song 'Avant Gardener' caught our attention and her initial touring cemented the opinion that this was one of the most promising young artists to watch this year. Reviewers constantly touting her wonderful word play and fresh take on everyday life made the hype fantastical. The pressure on her for this first full length must have been extraordinary, I bet she had a lot of trouble breathing in — to use a phrase borrowed from 'Avant Gardener.'

"The stakes may have been high, but all you have to do is glimpse the coverage from South by Southwest to know she's pulled it off with aplomb. Especially as she has obviously taken so much care to present it as a complete album — a real LP — perfectly paced and even self-referential as a piece. ... [Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit] will be considered one of the best debuts of the year, a phrase that has so much weight, and promise of future pressure to perform, all over the world." — Mark Wheat, Host, The Current


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Listen to Morning Edition:
Empire Sets Dynasty-Style Soap Opera to a Hip-Hop Beat

Empire: Original Soundtrack from Season 1

Music from the critically acclaimed TV drama about the head of a hip-hop label and his family. Features cast members along with guests Mary J Blige, Estelle, Courtney Love and others.


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Listen to The Current:
Seth Avett and Jessica Lea Mayfield perform live in studio

Seth Avett & Jessica Lea Mayfield Sing Elliott Smith
By Seth Avett & Jessica Lea Mayfield

The songs of Elliott Smith are widely revered — especially by those who came of age in the ’90s — but a new generation of listeners is only beginning to discover him. Seth Avett & Jessica Lea Mayfield Sing Elliott Smith is likely to expose new fans to the great singer-songwriter. Smith released five albums in his lifetime and died in 2003 from two stab wounds to the chest; he’d left a suicide note. His songs, which often dealt with depression and desperation, were beautiful and quiet.

This album, by Jessica Lea Mayfield and The Avett Brothers’ Seth Avett, was made over a four-year period with great love for the man and his songs. The production is lean, the harmonies are beautiful, and the words and melodies are kept at the center of all 12 songs.

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Listen to Weekend Edition:
Pippin Performs the Final Ballad of The Hobbit

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies

From Academy Award-winning filmmaker Peter Jackson comes The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, the third in a trilogy of films adapting the enduringly popular masterpiece The Hobbit, by J.R.R. Tolkien. Bilbo finds himself fighting for his life and the lives of his friends in the epic Battle of the Five Armies, as the future of Middle-earth hangs in the balance.


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Listen to The Frame:
Unbroken sound designers recreated a 30-minute scene from scratch

Unbroken

Academy Award winner Angelina Jolie directs and produces Unbroken, an epic drama that follows the incredible life of Olympian and war hero Louis “Louie” Zamperini (Jack O’Connell) who, along with two other crewmen, survived in a raft for 47 days after a near-fatal plane crash in WWII — only to be caught by the Japanese navy and sent to a prisoner-of-war camp. Adapted from Laura Hillenbrand’s enormously popular book, Unbroken brings to the big screen Zamperini’s unbelievable and inspiring true story about the resilient power of the human spirit.


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Listen to The Frame:
Into the Woods scribe James Lapine learns the writer may be king on Broadway, but not in Hollywood

Into the Woods

From the director of Chicago and the producer of Wicked comes a modern twist on the beloved fairy tales you thought you knew. Meryl Streep stars in this epic musical saga about daring to venture Into the Woods. Iconic characters, such as Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, Jack and the Beanstalk and Rapunzel, find their fates intertwined with a humble baker and his wife, whose longing to have a child sends them on a quest to reverse a witch's (Streep) curse. With an all-star cast, this spellbinding adventure is everything you could ever wish for!

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Of Interest to Public Radio Fans
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40th anniversary collection

What a way to cap the 40th Anniversary season! A beautiful 4-CD collection of songs and sketches from the archive. Three discs are historical while the 4th captures many of the memorable musical performances from the three-day festival at Macalester College. The collection also includes a souvenir booklet with many pictures that should enhance your listening experience.

The lineup includes performances from Odetta, Chet Atkins, Jethro Burns, Butch Thompson, Doc Watson, Jean Redpath, Willie Nelson, Ricky Skaggs, Taj Majal, Emmylou Harris, Vince Gill, The Everly Brothers, Bobby McFerrin, Pop Wagner, Ivy Austin, The Wailin’ Jennys and so many more. Among my favorites are Chet Atkins' stunning version of “Vincent,” the catchy “Birdsong” by The Wailin’ Jennys, Greg Brown’s captivating “Iowa’s Waltz,” the stunning harmony displayed by The Everly Brothers on “Blues Stay Away from Me,” plus a few animal calls from Fred Farrell, info on Willie Nelson’s cats, and a tribute to Meiko.

Watch: Highlights from "40 Songs, 40 Years"

Thanks to everyone who joined A Prairie Home Companion on the MS Westerdam this past week. It was a great week filled with lots of music, great shows, awesome weather, sandy beaches, and "above average" company. It was a pleasure getting to know everyone and sailing with you! Keep an eye on the cruise website for photos and videos plus our own merchandise profiles.

Normally being a somewhat shy person, I made sure to eat my fair share of Powdermilk Biscuits before boarding the MS Westerdam on the A Prairie Home Companion cruise of the Eastern Caribbean so that I would have the strength to open myself up to meeting new people and forging new friendships. What I found was a wonderful community where it became so easy to start a conversation because everyone had a common interest: a love for A Prairie Home Companion and Garrison Keillor. That communal spirit is what is so captivating about these cruises. Many people have forged lifelong friendships and look to the cruises as a way to regularly catch up with each other and form a few new memories. It was a pleasure being among your company!

Below, and in future issues, I will provide some listener profiles. My main method of meeting people was spotting them with Prairie Home “gear” around the boat. Once spotted, I would sit down and find out their favorite story or memory, how long they have been listening, favorite group or experience and reward them with a little sampler CD. The result was an experience where I met so many fascinating people filled with stories, that it seemed to be the perfect way to cap the 40th Anniversary season of the show that we all love. I saw a lot more gear around the boat than one person could cover so I apologize if I missed you. I wish I could have heard every passenger’s story of how they came to discover this little radio show.

Michelle & David

Michelle & David from Monroe City, MO

Michelle is wearing our "Where the women are strong ... " T-Shirt. They began listening to the show in 1980. One of their favorite segments is the Dusty and Lefty sketches. They took a road trip and were looking forward to attending the Chocolate Festival, but when they arrived, they found it was sold out. Today, they look back and are thankful because on their drive home, they were listening to A Prairie Home Companion and heard Garrison announce the Barcelona cruise and promptly decided to jump on board and now have joined us on this trek.

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Stu & Mary

Stu & Mary from Boynton Beach, FL

Mary is sporting our Powdermilk Biscuits T-Shirt. They have been listening to the show since 1981. They are archivers of old shows and have boxes of old cassette tapes stored and saved. When asked her favorite Powdermilk memory, Mary said that it was Garrison’s response to her query about where all the stories came from and he stated that if “he hadn’t found Lake Wobegon, then Lake Wobegon would have found him.” Although, I think if I posed that question now that the cruise is done, she would have a different response as she sang a beautiful duet with Garrison of "The Water is Wide" while on board!

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Pam

Mike & Pam from Houston, TX

Pam is wearing the classic Raw Bits T-Shirt. They have been listening to the show since before they got married 25 years ago. On their wedding day, they listened to the show while driving from the wedding to the reception in the limo. And years later, they had a rule that their children could not talk during the News from Lake Wobegon segment so that they wouldn’t miss any details of the story. This is their fourth A Prairie Home Companion cruise.

As always, sign up for our Facebook fanpage to keep up with all the news!

Have a great week!
David Edin
dedin@mpr.org
Merchandise Manager


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