What is Nakedly Examined Music?
Nakedly Examined Music is a podcast about songs and songwriting. Each episode, host Mark Linsenmayer (long-time host of The Partially Examined Life and longer time musician) speaks with a songwriter about three of his or her songs, which are played in full (along with an song at the end) during the podcast. You can subscribe to the podcast here.
What kind of music does NEM feature?
The ambition of the podcast is to be both broad and deep: You'll hear rock, folk, jazz, country, electronic, R&B, rap, classical, and experimental weirdness. But the center vein, the one that receives the most exploration, is the tradition of rock coming out of the Beatles with all their associated stylistic explorations (and who were of course drawing on earlier soul and tin pan alley), through early 70s prog, late 70s punk, 80s new wave, 90s grunge, up through the present where genres have mostly broken down. Pretty much, whenever thoughtful people are making music, we're interested, and if there's an artist or style you see missing here that you'd like to hear, contact Mark.
Is the podcast just for songwriters?
No. While songwriters will learn a lot, this is not a songwriting course, and relies on no prior knowledge of music theory or any of that. The point is to introduce you to new music, but with some context, and not just the worthless "did you guys have fun recording this album?" context you might get out of a celebrity musician interview, but you get to know what this person is like as a creator.
So it's just explaining the meaning of the lyrics?
No. The emphasis of the interview varies depending on the guest. For someone like David Lowery, where much of the creativity that goes into the song lies in the lyrics, yes, we'll talk about those, but many songwriters de-emphasize lyrics or don't even have any. Our conversations range over song structure, arrangements, stories behind the songs, recording techniques, band politics, influences, music theory, the music business, and the musical life in general.
Why would I care about interviews with people I've never heard of?
Because you're a smart person who doesn't buy into the Social Darwinist bullshit that good art automatically rises to the top, that "success" = "exposure in the mainstream." And the format here, again, is ideal for introducing you to new music.
What's the relation to The Partially Examined Life? Is this a philosophy podcast? Why are the two podcasts on the same website?
NEM is spin-off of PEL, part of a new podcasting network, with a common host and a common support team. Funds from PEL subscriptions/donations/advertising make NEM happen, so please support PEL's efforts. NEM is not a philosophy podcast, but we're certainly not averse to talking about big questions as they come up. Certainly the approach is influenced by PEL, where a text serves as the central touchstone of a reading group; for NEM, the songs themselves are the text, and Mark studies them and takes lots of notes.
Why doesn't the host shut up and let the guests talk?
Because a conversation is more interesting than hearing yet another stop on a musician's press tour where he tells the same stories again and again. Because the artist, while certainly cognizant of the details of the circumstance under which the work was created and the intentions behind it, arguably isn't in a privileged position in interpreting it as a work of art.
Do I need to listen to the episodes in order?
No, but it might help. The podcast is in part an ongoing story of discovery and sharing, so comparisons are sometimes made to past guests, and there's a effort to impart different lessons in each episode, so if you are interested in songwriting, you may find it helpful to take the whole journey with us.
How are guests selected? How can I appear?
NEM is open to just about any accomplished songwriter, which generally means three or more albums. If you are or represent such a songwriter, please contact us. Mark selects the guests using various flexible criteria, the most important of which is who seems like an interesting speaker. The best way to show your stuff is to record a Song Self-Exam, which is a short video of you explaining one of your songs. These will be added to our YouTube playlist regardless of whether you ultimately appear on the podcast, so free publicity!
Why have I not heard of more of your guests? Why aren't there more [insert neglected demographic] guests?
We're working on it! Celebrities are hard to reach! Particularly women, who have to shield themselves from stalkers and in most cases can't be cold-emailed. Why, do you have an in with someone? Please hook us up!