Top Picks: a musical tribute to Bob Dylan, 'Too Big To Fail,' Azam Ali's latest album, and more

Recordings of famous musicians performing Bob Dylan classics, an HBO movie about the 2008 economic crisis, a collection of lullabies sung by music superstar Azam Ali, and more recommendations.

William Hurt in "Too Big to Fail" and HBO drama.
Antique gramophone
The Mythic City: Photographs of New York by Samuel Gottscho, 1925-1940

A star-studded crisis

We lived through it, watched the Oscar-winning documentary "Inside Job," now we can watch Hollywood bring the great economic meltdown of 2008 to life in HBO's Too Big to Fail (May 23, 9 p.m.). The movie stars William Hurt (photo), Paul Giamatti, and Tony Shalhoub and centers on Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and the symbiotic relationship between Wall Street and Washington.

Lullabies for the little ones

Singer and composer Azam Ali, who was born in Iran, raised in India, lived in the US, and settled in Canada, is a true exemplar of world fusion music. With the birth of her first child, she began collecting lullabies from around the Middle East. The result, From Night to the Edge of Day, is a mix of traditional tunes and new ones that express her sorrow for the children of the region, many of whom live in exile or conflict, along with hope for the future. Her lovely vocal lines and dark ambient settings amply produce the desired effect.

Playlists like you've never heard

The Library of Congress just released 10,000 recordings on the website National Jukebox ( In conjunction with Sony Music, this first of many releases features RCA Victor recordings from 1901 to 1925. Among the performers are names you've heard of, but probably never actually heard: the great Caruso, Negro spirituals singer Marian Anderson, incomparable ragtime pianist Eubie Blake, and many, many more.

tribute to a troubadoUr

Maybe you can teach old songs new tricks! Bob Dylan turns 70 this May and a crew of talented singer/songwriters were invited to record 16 of his songs. The resulting album, A Nod to Bob 2, is a revelation, especially to those of us who stopped listening to Dylan in the 1970s. Half the selections are unfamiliar tunes but sound like new Dylan classics as reimagined by Lucy Kaplansky, Pieta Brown, Meg Hutchinson, The Pines, and Austin stalwarts Jimmy LaFave and Ray Bonneville.

Live from the Capitol

Tune in for PBS's National Memorial Day Concert live from the US Capitol on May 29 at 8 p.m. Hosted by Joe Mantegna and Gary Sinise, the program will feature an all-star lineup.

New York as modern metropolis

The Mythic City: Photographs of New York by Samuel H. Gottscho, 1925-1940 depicts a golden era of architecture. Imagine Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers gracefully leaping off the undulating counters of Chase National Bank or through the geometric gardens of the newly built Rockefeller Center. No economic depression here. Even the humble Harlem River Houses are portrayed in this tome, with an intro by Donald Albrecht, as stately sanctuaries. These are not just photos of buildings: They are templates of gilded dreams.

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