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I would like to increase my knowledge (which is shallow) of classical music. Where do you recommend I start?

Asking where to start with classical music is like asking where to start with popular music: Do you start with Beethoven or Bach? Elvis Presley or Chuck Berry? Actually, if you don't own any Beethoven, you may want to start with something fairly accessible, like his Symphony No. 7 in A, Opus 92. First performed on Dec. 8, 1813, in the Great Hall of Vienna University, this work shows Beethoven at the height of his powers. In fact, it was reported that the audience was so appreciative, the second movement was encored. It is generally an upbeat piece and therefore very approachable for listeners who are now seeking to expand their musical experiences. It features many toe-tapping passages whose rousing melodies will remain with the listener long after the music has ended.

I recently heard that Jack White appeared in a movie. Has the movie come out yet?

Jack White, former singer/guitarist for the defunct rock duo White Stripes, made his movie debut in the Civil War epic “Cold Mountain” which was released on Dec. 25, 2003. White played a traveling musician named Georgia. Although his role in the movie was small, his presence on the movie’s soundtrack is very prominent. White is featured on five tracks including two new compositions: “Never Far Away” and “Christmas Time Will Soon Be Over.” The other three songs featuring White are “Wayfaring Stranger,” "Sittin’ On Top of the World,” and “Great High Mountain.” 

Have any members of Steely Dan ever identified the “Rikki” in the song “Rikki, Don’t Lose That Number”?

Although Steely Dan’s Walter Becker and Donald Fagen have not offered much information on the meaning of the song’s lyrics, the identity of “Rikki” has been confirmed by the man himself, Rick Derringer. Derringer began his career as vocalist/guitarist for the McCoys. While still a teenager, Derringer sang and played the monster guitar riff on their 1965 No. 1 hit “Hang On Sloopy.” After the McCoys disbanded in 1969, Derringer released solo albums and became a very prominent session guitarist playing with many musicians including Johnny Winter, Edgar Winter, Barbara Streisand, Meat Loaf, and Cyndi Lauper. As a solo artist, he is best remembered for his 1974 hit “Rock and Roll Hoochie Koo.” During an interview, Derringer recalled an early '70s recording session with Steely Dan in which Donald Fagen gave him a phone number and said “Ricky, don’t lose that number.” Although the rest of the song has nothing to do with Derringer, the phrase became the title for the biggest hit of Steely Dan’s career.

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What’s the name of that song? Where are they now? What does that lyric mean? Send your questions about songs, albums, and the musicians who make them to Bradford Brady and John Maron are freelance music writers based in Raleigh, N.C.

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