Fresh Air

Monday through Thursday at Noon, and Monday through Friday at 7pm on WMRA
  • Hosted by Terry Gross

Fresh Air opens the window on contemporary arts and issues with guests from worlds as diverse as literature and economics.

We continue our tribute to Sondheim by listening back to a 2010 interview in which he shared the stories behind some of his most famous songs and gave his take on other great lyricists.

Sondheim, who died Nov. 26, was the lyricist and composer who gave us Sweeney Todd, Into the Woods and other shows. In 2010 he spoke about his writing process, from rhyming to finding the right note.

Copyright 2021 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

Actor/filmmaker Rebecca Hall had what she describes as a "real gasp" moment when she first read Nella Larsen's 1929 novel Passing.

The book centers on two light-skinned African American women who run into each other after not having seen each other for many years. One of the women is an active member of Harlem's Black community. The other is married to a white man and is passing as white.

Reading the story of these fictional women, Hall realized that her maternal grandfather had also passed as white.

Copyright 2021 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

DAVE DAVIES, HOST:

As I see it, there are two very different audiences for Get Back, Peter Jackson's new documentary about The Beatles' Let It Be sessions. There are the most rabid fans, who will watch it and recognize instantly the stuff they've never heard or seen before. And for them — well, for us, because I'm part of that group — this Disney+ docuseries is a true treasure.

Fresh Air Weekend: Dave Grohl; Will Smith

Nov 27, 2021

Fresh Air Weekend highlights some of the best interviews and reviews from past weeks, and new program elements specially paced for weekends. Our weekend show emphasizes interviews with writers, filmmakers, actors and musicians, and often includes excerpts from live in-studio concerts. This week:

Copyright 2021 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

DAVE DAVIES, HOST:

The words "Licorice Pizza" are never spoken in Paul Thomas Anderson's new movie, Licorice Pizza, and so you may wonder where the title comes from, especially if you weren't in Southern California in the '70s. It's the name of an old chain of record stores that were around when Anderson was growing up in the San Fernando Valley.

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

This is FRESH AIR. I'm Terry Gross. We thought it would be fun to spend Thanksgiving with Paul McCartney, so we're going to feature my recent interview with him. We talked about his life and music through two projects. He has a new two-volume set of books called "The Lyrics," collecting his lyrics and the stories behind them, starting with songs he wrote before the Beatles and ending with songs from his latest album, "McCartney III," which was released late last year.

Dave Grohl still remembers the first punk show he ever saw: Naked Raygun, in Chicago around 1982, at a little corner bar across from Wrigley Field called The Cubby Bear.

"They knew four chords and the singer was, like, on top of my head, and I was against the stage, and it was life-affirming, because I thought ... 'Oh my God! This is what I want to do,' " the Foo Fighters frontman says.

Copyright 2021 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

There's something audaciously old-fashioned about Kevin Birmingham's biographies of great novels.

Author Ryan Busse jokes that he was born with "a shotgun in one hand and a rifle in the other." It's a shorthand he uses to explain the significant role that guns played in his childhood in western Kansas.

"I grew up hunting and shooting with my father. Guns were things we used on the ranch and farm," he says. "The few times that we got to spend together doing something fun and enjoyable, oftentimes it was with a gun. ... [Guns] are things that became very culturally important to us."

Fresh Air Weekend highlights some of the best interviews and reviews from past weeks, and new program elements specially paced for weekends. Our weekend show emphasizes interviews with writers, filmmakers, actors and musicians, and often includes excerpts from live in-studio concerts. This week:

The great New Zealand writer-director Jane Campion has long been acclaimed for her films about the complex inner lives of women, notably in 19th-century dramas like The Portrait of a Lady, Bright Star and especially The Piano. Her tense and gripping new movie, The Power of the Dog, thus marks something of a departure. It stars a superb Benedict Cumberbatch as a 1920s Montana rancher named Phil Burbank who's the very picture of rugged American masculinity.

Copyright 2021 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

DAVID BIANCULLI, HOST:

DAVID BIANCULLI, HOST:

This is FRESH AIR. I'm David Bianculli, professor of television studies at Rowan University in New Jersey, sitting in for Terry Gross. Today, our interview with Twyla Tharp, one of the most celebrated dancers and choreographers of our time. Earlier this year, she was the subject of a PBS "American Masters" documentary. And this weekend, three duet dances from her archives will be performed on stage in New York City.

Copyright 2021 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

It may be hard to believe, but modesty was once considered a virtue. These days, of course, our world is dominated by people — and by expressions of pop culture — that keep telling you they're big and important. If you call a TV show "modest," it sounds as if you're saying that it's bland and unambitious, a loser in the great Squid Game of modern life.

Copyright 2021 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

As a child, journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones didn't hear much in school about the role of Black people in U.S. history. "Black people are largely treated as an asterisk in the American story," she says.

Copyright 2021 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

DAVE DAVIES, HOST:

Blair Braverman, an adventurer and sled dog racer who finished Alaska's nearly 1,000-mile long Iditarod race in 2019, has some advice for aspiring mushers. Rule no. 1, she says, is to never let go of the sled or the dogs.

Copyright 2021 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

Fresh Air Weekend highlights some of the best interviews and reviews from past weeks, and new program elements specially paced for weekends. Our weekend show emphasizes interviews with writers, filmmakers, actors and musicians, and often includes excerpts from live in-studio concerts. This week:

Andie MacDowell draws from the chaos and darkness of her childhood for 'Maid': MacDowell grew up with a mother who was mentally ill and addicted to alcohol. "Understanding the complexity of mental illness was something that I'm versed in," she says.

Copyright 2021 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

DAVE DAVIES, HOST:

Marine veteran and intelligence officer Elliot Ackerman served five tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, and won the Silver Star Medal for leading a platoon in the Battle of Fallujah in Iraq. For him, Veterans Day is a time for reconnection.

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