NPR News

World Cafe Looks Back: Guitar Greats

Oct 5, 2011

Over the years, World Cafe has seen its share of guitar gods.

When I was a kid, I assumed that in the future things would get better and better until we were all driving flying cars and playing badminton with space aliens on top of 500-story buildings. Frankly, I kind of counted on this happening. But now I don't assume that we'll just keep going up anymore.

Note: Wilhelm Furtwangler's last name is typically spelled with an umlaut over the 'a' character. The npr website does not support characters with umlauts over characters. A variation of Furtwangler's name without the umlaut is spelled Furtwaengler.

Wilhelm Furtwaengler's name may be hard for Americans to pronounce, but the reason this great conductor isn't so well-remembered here is that he chose to remain in Germany during WWII, though he was never a member of the Nazi Party, and was exonerated by a postwar tribunal.

Foster The People On World Cafe

Aug 11, 2011

Los Angeles's Foster the People seemingly appeared out of nowhere, taking the blogosphere and Top 40 radio by storm with the viral single "Pumped Up Kicks," a breezy summer jam with a subtly sinister edge.

Elton John And Leon Russell On World Cafe

May 30, 2011

From his start with the band Bluesology in 1961, multi-award winner Elton John (born Reginald Kenneth Dwight) has time and time again proven himself to be one of the most iconic singer-songwriters of our day. Rising to international fame by the 1970's with the hit "Your Song," Elton has since released an overwhelming number of studio albums, many of which have climbed their way to the top of the charts.

Chuck Brown On World Cafe

Feb 3, 2011

Chuck Brown, the Godfather of Go-Go music, died in 2012. A year earlier, he'd stopped by World Cafe to discuss his 50-plus-year career and his last album.

This segment, from Jan. 18, 2008, is part of our Vintage Cafe series, in which we revisit some of our best studio performances. Here, we remember an Americana legend and drummer for the '60s rock group The Band, Levon Helm, who died in 2012.

Levon Helm first picked up a guitar at age 8, but soon switched to drums. Though best known as the famous drummer for the rock group The Band, Helm continued to influence music with his collaborations and solo works.

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