Issue 11, Summer 2019

Our Annual Best: “Chuck Berry’s Blues” The Common Reader’s print annual round-up.

Life With Rodents

I had been surprised days earlier when I found gray fur on one of the traps, from a now partially bald mouse who had a story to tell his many buddies, but here was something worse: not an uncaught rodent, but a half-caught rodent.

Animal House

Shuffling through the vaccination and microchip records, reading the myriad names, I sometimes smile with nostalgic fondness, but more often my eyes mist as I am reminded of the multitudes we have loved but lost.

Colin Kaepernick, Kneeling, and the Meaning of Gratitude

In some ways, the current wave of African-American football players kneeling during the national anthem replicates the Bebop revolution that changed the public persona of the black male jazz musician. Now it is black players demanding that audiences recognize that their attitude is not the same as their white peers.

A Rose By Any Other Name?

Diacritical marks might seem like a tiny blip in the larger picture of tumultuous politics and proposed policies that actively harm our minority populations, yet they serve as a reminder of our important presence and contribution to this nation.

The Art of the Mistake

Theories of mistakes in jazz scholarship helps us understand the ways in which mistakes in jazz performance are valued by audiences and performers—and the ways in which they are not.

Chuck Berry’s Blues

There are at least two great mysteries about Chuck Berry. The first is why the father of rock ‘n’ roll became so cavalier and dismissive about his work once he achieved popularity. The second is how someone so deeply scarred as Berry could continue, at least for a period in the ’60s, to create music infused with so much joy, feeling, whimsy, and bristling intelligence.