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Author Interviews
2:47 pm
Tue November 5, 2013

Sales Take Center Stage: To Boost Morale, Companies Burst Into Song

Steve Young learned about industrial musicals when he started coming across compilations, like this one, in used record stores. (You definitely want to click to enlarge this.)
Courtesy of Blast Books

Originally published on Fri November 8, 2013 8:47 am

Why would someone write a sentimental ballad about a bathroom? For the same reason someone would write a rousing song about tractors: So the song could be used in what's called an industrial musical.

These musicals were like Broadway shows, but they were written and performed for corporate sales meetings and conventions from the 1950s to the 1980s. The lyrics were all about the products being sold and how to sell them. Some of them were lavish and costly, even though they'd be performed only once.

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Author Interviews
2:15 pm
Mon November 4, 2013

From Sulking To Sanctions, A Street-Level View Of Life In Iran

Iranian demonstrators march in Tehran in 2011, during a protest asking the government to intensify its enforcement of the Islamic dress code.
Atta Kenare AFP/Getty Images

Monday is the 34th anniversary of the 1979 storming of the American Embassy in Tehran, when Iranian militants took 66 hostages and held them for more than a year. U.S.-Iranian relations have been contentious ever since, but recent events have stirred hopes for progress.

Iranian voters overwhelmingly chose a more moderate president in June, and American and Iranian mediators are meeting to try to resolve disputes about Iran's nuclear program.

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Book Reviews
2:01 pm
Mon November 4, 2013

Female Friendship Puts 'New' Angle On Italian Classism And Machismo

The Story Of A New Name Book Cover

Originally published on Fri November 8, 2013 8:46 am

Some writers you read and move on, but every now and then you read one whose work knocks you back against the wall. This happened to me with the great Italian novelist Elena Ferrante.

I first encountered her through her scalding 2002 novel, The Days Of Abandonment, whose narrator, Olga, may be the scariest jilted wife since Medea. What makes Olga scary is not what she does, but what she thinks and feels, and her ferocious precision in describing everything from lousy sexual encounters to her not-altogether-maternal feelings about her children.

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Music Reviews
11:08 am
Mon November 4, 2013

Amir ElSaffar Navigates Uncharted Blue Notes On 'Alchemy'

Amir ElSaffar's new album is called Alchemy.
Nicole LeCorgne Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Mon November 4, 2013 2:01 pm

Trumpeter Amir ElSaffar grew up near Chicago, playing jazz trumpet. In the early 2000s, while in his mid-20s, he began investigating the music of his Iraqi heritage, studying in Baghdad and with expatriate musicians in Europe. Then he began combining the two.

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Fresh Air Weekend
8:03 am
Sat November 2, 2013

Fresh Air Weekend: Chris Hadfield, Brandy Clark, Kennedy Conspiracies

Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield has spent a total of six months in space. In his new book, he writes that getting to space took only "8 minutes and 42 seconds. Give or take a few thousand days of training."
NASA Courtesy of Little, Brown and Company

Originally published on Sat November 2, 2013 10:34 am

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:

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