Arts and Entertainment

Sheryl Crow "Feels Like Home" (Warner Bros)

Album: Taylor Swift, Fearless, (Big Machine)

Taylor Swift, a lion-haired, God-thanking teenager from Pennsylvania, is currently the hottest thing in the US since sliced Obama, and Universal is shifting as many copies of Fearless as possible before she does a Britney.

Album: Miss Lana Rebel, All I Need (Loose)

Ah, good old-fashioned country music. Well, good old-fashioned country music as played by someone who spent her twenties in "a sludgy, noisy, instrumental math-metal band called Last of the Juanitas". Miss Lana Rebel is a native of Portland, Oregan, who writes and sings whisky-soaked country songs guaranteed to put tears in your beers. Too left-field for the Nashville mainstream, 'All I Need' is one for those who can tell their Neko Case from their Mary Gaulthier.

Butch Baldassari: Mandolin player whose work encompassed several musical genres

Avirtuoso mandolin player, Butch Baldassari effortlessly straddled musical genres.

Bettie Page: Queen of the Fifties pin-ups who became a cult figure

Though her modelling career only spanned seven years in the Fifties, the American pin-up Bettie Page fuelled many a fantasy and helped usher in the sexual revolution of the Sixties.

Lambchop, Union Chapel, London

Lambchop once played so quietly at London's Somerset House that you could hear the birds in the trees above them.

Police foil plot by white supremacists to kill Obama

A plot by far-right extremists to assassinate Barack Obama and kill and decapitate dozens of other black Americans at a school has been broken up, US officials claimed yesterday.

Charlie Walker: Honky-tonk singer of 'Pick Me Up On Your Way Down'

Charlie Walker was a honky-tonk musician and disc jockey best known for his classic recording of "Pick Me Up On Your Way Down". Written by the great Harlan Howard, the song, with its insistent shuffle rhythm, was a Top Five country hit in 1958.

Don Helms: Hank Williams' steel guitarist

A highly influential steel guitarist, Don Helms was best known for his membership of Hank Williams' band The Drifting Cowboys. His distinctive style, with its blues inflections and characteristic use of the upper octaves, featured on over a hundred of the singer's classic sides, including "Cold, Cold Heart" (1950), "I Can't Help It (If I'm Still in Love With You)" (1951) and "Your Cheatin' Heart" (1952).

Johann Hari: Here's how to tune in to both Muslims and the Deep South

Music is the key to understanding two of the most politically charged, politically reviled places on earth

My Secret Life: Kid Rock, Musician, age 37

The home I grew up in... was a beautiful, very middle-class American colonial house. It was set over six acres of land and there was an apple orchard out the back. My dad got me selling the apples to our neighbours at an early age.

Nicole Kidman gives birth to girl



Nicole Kidman gave birth on a Monday to a baby girl named Sunday.

Album: Solomon Burke, Like a Fire (Pinnacle)

The King of Rock and Soul's last album Nashville didn't, as far as I recall, get a UK release, but Like a Fire continues its clear country orientation with a satisfying set of country-soul performances, ranging from the almost swamp-funk gospel of Ben Harper's "A Minute to Rest and a Second to Pray" at one extreme to "If I Give My Heart to You", a torch-song in the pioneering black-country tradition established by Ray Charles, at the other.

Album: Emmylou Harris, All I Intended to Be (Nonesuch)

Emmylou's Daniel Lanois period is over. She's back in Nashville with Brian Ahern on the other side of the thickened glass, which means that an elegantly chiming country-rock sound replaces the arty false perspectives and cultivated grit of the Lanois vibe.

Album: Dolly Parton, Backwoods Barbie (Dolly/Universal)

The first album on her own label has apparently secured Dolly Parton her first Top 20 placing since 1993 – and no wonder, given its combination of technical accomplishment and sheer likeability.

Eddy Arnold: Country music superstar

Eddy Arnold was arguably the most successful country singer of the 20th century. He sold an estimated 85 million records and enjoyed more than 140 US hits, 28 of them chart-toppers. He cut his first single for RCA Victor in 1944 and was still very much a presence on the country scene in the 1990s, having made a guest appearance on the teen sensation LeAnn Rimes' award-winning album Blue in 1996.

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As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

Mussolini tried to warn his ally of the danger of bringing the country to its knees. So should we, says Patrick Cockburn
Britain's widening poverty gap should be causing outrage at the start of the election campaign

The short stroll that should be our walk of shame

Courting the global elite has failed to benefit Britain, as the vast disparity in wealth on display in the capital shows
Homeless Veterans appeal: The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty

Homeless Veterans appeal

The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty
Prince Charles the saviour of the nation? A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king

Prince Charles the saviour of the nation?

A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king
How books can defeat Isis: Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad

How books can defeat Isis

Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

She may be in charge of minimising our risks of injury, but the chair of the Health and Safety Executive still wants children to be able to hurt themselves
The open loathing between Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu just got worse

The open loathing between Obama and Netanyahu just got worse

The Israeli PM's relationship with the Obama has always been chilly, but going over the President's head on Iran will do him no favours, says Rupert Cornwell
French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

Fury at British best restaurants survey sees French magazine produce a rival list
Star choreographer Matthew Bourne gives young carers a chance to perform at Sadler's Wells

Young carers to make dance debut

What happened when superstar choreographer Matthew Bourne encouraged 27 teenage carers to think about themselves for once?
Design Council's 70th anniversary: Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch

Design Council's 70th anniversary

Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch
Dame Harriet Walter: The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment

Dame Harriet Walter interview

The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment
Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Critics of Tom Stoppard's new play seem to agree that cerebral can never trump character, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's winter salads will make you feel energised through February

Bill Granger's winter salads

Salads aren't just a bit on the side, says our chef - their crunch, colour and natural goodness are perfect for a midwinter pick-me-up
England vs Wales: Cool head George Ford ready to put out dragon fire

George Ford: Cool head ready to put out dragon fire

No 10’s calmness under pressure will be key for England in Cardiff
Michael Calvin: Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links