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Since being discovered at age 24 in front of a Texas campfire in 1986, singer-songwriter and activist Michelle Shocked has voiced her political opinions through a variety of musical styles, including bluegrass, swing, and rock. In Kind Hearted Woman (Private Music, 1996), Shocked’s first album in four years, she returns to her folk roots with a set of mellow storysongs about life in rural America.

Mother Jones asked Shocked what she’s been reading and listening to lately. Here’s what she had to say about Odelay (Geffen Records, 1996), the latest release from underground folk/hip-hop boy-man Beck.

“I thought the art direction on the cover was too art-directed. The Dust Brothers production was too hip by half, and I was admittedly a little envious of how the whole thing was pulled off with that Geffen flair, but when you take it all down to the sound, the CD is a deep, sonic, poetic, cool collage.”

Also recommended by Shocked:

The Holy Bible. “I’m not committed to a scholarly approach,” says Shocked. “But I’ll tell you it works pretty good in an I Ching sort of fashion. Flip it open to any page and carry a thought for the day, which will become more lucid as the day’s events unfold.”

The horrors of World War II descend on the peaceful Greek island of Cephalonia in Louis de Berniéres’ historical novel Corelli’s Mandolin (New York: Vintage Books, 1994). Mixing satire and lyricism, the book manages to capture the worst and best of human capacity in one breath. “It’s just a really amazing way to put yourself in that place and time,” says Shocked. “It makes you laugh, and on the very next page you’ll sob.”

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THE TRUTH...

is the first thing despots go after. An unwavering commitment to it is probably what draws you to Mother Jones' journalism. And as we're seeing in the US and the world around, authoritarians seek to poison the discourse and the way we relate to each other because they can't stand people coming together around a shared sense of the truth—it's a huge threat to them.

Which is also a pretty great way to describe Mother Jones' mission: People coming together around the truth to hold power accountable.

And right now, we need to raise about $400,000 from our online readers over the next two months to hit our annual goal and make good on that mission. Read more about the information war we find ourselves in and how people-powered, independent reporting can and must rise to the challenge—and please support our team's truth-telling journalism with a donation if you can right now.

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