‘Hunky Dory’ – Salon.com

[Originally published on SALON.COM]

Dear Kiddos,

Hey, you turkeys. Listen up. I need you to listen for five minutes. I’m going to impart a little wisdom. You can take it or leave it. For what it’s worth, I’d rather you took it.

The advice is this: David Bowie’s Hunky Dory is a perfect album, and, since perfect albums are a rare commodity, it is worthy of deep and repeated listenings.

I’m listening to Hunky Dory as I write this. How many times have I listened to this, my favorite record? Like a million? And it never gets old.
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About That Day – The Atlantic

[reprint of an article that appeared in the September 2011 issue of The Atlantic Magazine]

I TURNED 31 on September 6, 2001. At the time, my girlfriend, Erica, and I shared a studio apartment in New York City, three blocks south of the World Trade Center. We spent my birthday on the West Coast, a beautiful day in Los Angeles. A couple of days later, I went to KFK Jewelers on West Third. The jewelers agreed to custom-design an engagement ring and mail it to me in NYC. Erica and I were headed there the next day.

Which was September 10, 2001. Sometime on the following day, I started keeping a journal.

88 Greenwich Street, NY, NY

WENT TO BED AT three last night after writing a song, “Lovebird,” and making love with Erica. About 9 a.m., heard two loud explosions. Didn’t fully awaken us. Phones started ringing. Mom on my cell (I missed it) and a college friend of Erica’s on the landline. It’s all very confused at first. It’s not unusual to hear construction in the morning, and I think I muttered a sleepy complaint about the loud noise.
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How I Wrote Songs Without a Guitar After 9/11 – The Atlantic

[This article originally appeared on TheAtlantic.com on August 9, 2011.]

How I Wrote Songs Without a Guitar After 9/11

The frontman for the Old 97s shares never-released demos of the songs he wrote just before and after fleeing his Manhattan apartment. (Also see “About That Day,” Rhett Miller’s dispatch in the September Atlantic.)

Transcribed from an interview with Jennie Rothenberg Gritz:

On 9/11, after my girlfriend, Erica, and I left our apartment, we stopped to get supplies. I saw a red notebook on the shelf, and I grabbed it and grabbed a pen. Like everything else, all of my notebooks were trapped up in the apartment, and I was looking at an immediate future without being able to write down thoughts or song ideas.
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Tangled Up in America

[Originally published in the SEP/OCT/NOV 2012 Issue of Book Forum]

Tangled Up in America
Hey, hey, Bob Dylan, I wrote you a letter—about seein’ your world of people and things.

Dear Bob Dylan,

I hope this finds you well. You don’t know me. My name is Rhett Miller. I make albums as a solo artist and as the front man for a band called Old 97’s. I am like you, at least in that I’ve dedicated my postadolescent life to writing songs and singing them for folks. I write you now to pay my respects (much as you did to one of your heroes all those years ago in “Song to Woody”), to thank you for giving so much of yourself, and to ask you: What are we to do now? Here, at this late date, at the tip-top of the Tower of Babel, with all these voices shouting and so few listening, what are we to do?
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From The Desk Of Rhett Miller – Magnet

[Originally published on MagnetMagazine.com on June 8, 2009.]

From The Desk Of Rhett Miller

Over the course of a four-album solo career, Old 97′s frontman Rhett Miller has been an instigator (2002′s The Instigator), a believer (2006′s The Believer) and, finally, himself (Rhett Miller is out this week on Shout! Factory Records). Lyrically, his vulnerable (“God give me strength and a good length of rope”) and mischievous (“Last thing I need is another girlfriend/Two’s enough”) sides are on full display, and the album finds Miller at his most Beatlesque, surrounded by a crack band that includes Jon Brion and Apples In Stereo drummer John Dufilho. Miller—and a whole army of friends—will be guest editing magnetmagazine.com all this week. We’ll let the captain explain himself:

MAGNET asked me to guest edit its website. Hmm … That’s on the Interweb, right? And what is that vast web of information good for? Finding out about good stuff. At first, I thought I’d recommend all my favorite stuff. Then I realized I know quite a few people with good taste, and I could not only get them to do my work for me, I could make an even more awesome list of recommendations for you, the reader. I sent out a quick email to a few friends and got a great response. It wasn’t exactly a form letter, but all the letters had this explanation in common: I’d like to make the whole thing a list of tips for readers, point them to some good stuff that they might otherwise miss. My concept is similar to Twitter’s #followfriday. Except that instead of tweets and twitterers, I’d recommend real stuff. Like books, songs, movies, iPhone apps … well, kind of real stuff. But why stop at entertainment? How about cars, parks, caves, airlines, towns, cupcakes? Many of my friends were shockingly unfamiliar with Twitter—what?!?—but they all got the gist and sent me some great ideas that I will pass along to you throughout the week.
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Tender Til The Day I Die

[A short story originally published on the web site FiveChapters.com in 2009.]

Tender Til The Day I Die
By Rhett Miller

“Won’t you come away with me?”

He got the words out, but she was already twenty feet away. Out of earshot. Especially since he’d muttered the words under his breath. The kid reading a paperback in the Mystery/Thriller section heard him.

“She was pretty,” the kid said.

“Still is. She’s not dead.” Joe pulled a slim volume from the box of books he’d bought off her on behalf of the Hey Penny Bookstore. The box radiated heat from having just been outside on the hot summer day. The cover of the pamphlet in his hand featured red type surrounding a black-and-white photo of John F. Kennedy on a stretcher, a sheet pulled back to expose the remaining half of his head. The box was filled with Kennedy stuff. The Warren Report. “A Life In Pictures.” Hardcore conspiracy tracts.
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