Cover art for podcast Open Source with Christopher Lydon

Open Source with Christopher Lydon

50 EpisodesProduced by Christopher LydonWebsite

Christopher Lydon in conversation on arts, ideas and politics

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Mann the Magician

September 24th, 2021


Thomas Mann was one of those cultural giants the world doesn’t seem to make anymore—artists with authority, almost as big as their countries, at the …

Moonshot Economics

September 16th, 2021


It’s hard not to notice that we’re flunking tests, right and left, and running out of strategies against global-size troubles. COVID, we said, was our test for the age of viruses. At summer’s end the variants are …

Tragic Architecture

September 9th, 2021


Those twin towers of the World Trade Center wrote two epic stories into the skyline of Manhattan: rise and fall. Most of us saw the hellscape of fire and smoke in the fall of the towers, live on television, 20 years …

The Joy and Genius of Erroll Garner

September 2nd, 2021


This show first aired on December 17, 2020.

Erroll Garner, the jazz pianist, is undergoing an upward revaluation of the sort that artists dream …

The End of the War

August 26th, 2021


The war for Afghanistan is over: the Taliban won in a walk. We’re shocked, more than surprised, but then what? Is this our American empire at …

Tarantino’s 9th

August 19th, 2021


This show first aired on August 8, 2019.

Spoiler alert! (Really.) The big movie to reckon with this summer may be as much about the mood of 2019 as …

Into the Feel Tank

August 12th, 2021


This mood we’re in: stuck, anxious, alone, desperate for an exit ramp, even to another bad stop on the same old highway. COVID, climate, chaos—or is …

JFK in the American Century

August 5th, 2021


This show was first broadcast on October 22, 2020.

A bold new life of JFK cues Emerson’s line: “there is no history, only biography,” …

A Tale of Two Deltas

July 29th, 2021


That blood-red full moon of July looked for sure to be on fire, but only because we saw it through smoke that had drifted thousands of miles east …

Five Stones for Goliath

July 22nd, 2021


You can’t help noticing the badge of success in American business has changed. Robber barons a century ago built monopolies, then palaces. In our …

Liner Notes for the Revolution

July 16th, 2021


We know their songs, not so much what they were going through, those Black women artists who wrote and sang so many anthems of American life: Bessie Smith’s “Gimme a Pigfoot” and Mamie Smith’s “Crazy Blues”; stars …

Moral Economics

July 8th, 2021


This show first aired on May 28, 2020.

John Maynard Keynes was a philosophical giant in twentieth-century England. In his day job, he was a …

Middlemarch at the Beach

July 1st, 2021


This show first aired July 18, 2019.

Middlemarch, a novel by the woman who gave herself a man’s by-line, “George Eliot,” may be the most honored …

A Disease of Humanity

June 24th, 2021


What we call Alzheimer’s—the loss of memory, mind, autonomy—wasn’t always called a disease. It was an aspect of aging, a symptom, a condition: senile dementia. Shakespeare made it the last of his seven ages of man, …


June 17th, 2021


If you’re still struggling to grasp Bibi Netanyahu’s downfall in Israel, listen to this: a Jewish-American novelist, a Palestinian-Arab screenwriter and a Canadian-American-Israeli pundit all walk into a Zoom room …

Extraterrestrial Encounters

June 10th, 2021


Stand by for news from outer space: news the government never said it was collecting or considered important, perhaps because people who take UFOs …

Yo-Yo Ma’s Bach

June 3rd, 2021


This show first aired on May 21, 2020.

The force of art to rescue a world breaking down; the power of music in particular to heal people one by …

Lab Leak

May 27th, 2021


There’s a swerve in the road, signs that say “Sharp Curves Ahead,” in the origin story of the COVID pandemic. Where did that virus come from? And how did it leap to the human species, to kill by now more than three …

The Sackler Empire

May 20th, 2021


The opioid epidemic, still rampant, still deadly, turns out to be a family story at its root. Empire of Pain is Patrick Radden Keefe’s account of the drug company that touched off an American plague and the family that …

Pandemic Premonitions

May 13th, 2021


A year and a half into the COVID story, notice the many unknowns, and one big known. Even now, nobody can tell you absolutely whether the infectious …

COVID in India

May 7th, 2021


The humbling of India, the torment of India, is full of messages for the rest of us. Beware the second wave of the pandemic: that’s the one that has …

Armenia in History and the Heart

April 29th, 2021


Where is Armenia, the place, the idea? Where then? Where now? And how come the delight on top of the darkness in saying “I am Armenian”? Armenians were a tiny, ancient Indo-European people, between East and West, the …

The Free World

April 22nd, 2021


Recovery and renewal arrived on a flood tide that lifted all kinds of production—culture above all. This was the era that gave the world a new look: …


April 16th, 2021


Bidenomics is different, we are beginning to notice. Just keeping score in the trillions of dollars takes some getting used to. But some key rules …

The Life of Roth

April 8th, 2021


Philip Roth, the late novelist, may hold the record for “most ways to tell his own story,” in fiction and fact; in his psychiatric farce around a …

We’ll Always Have Casablanca

April 1st, 2021


You must remember this, the song says. In fact, it’s hard to forget at Oscar time every April, that Casablanca, the Best Picture of 1942, was an …

Back to School

March 25th, 2021


The public schools that are reopening this spring are not the same ones that shut down in the COVID cloud a year ago. “Learning in person” is back, …

Wagner and Wagnerism

March 18th, 2021


This show originally aired on September 17, 2020.

Richard Wagner, man and musician, was the embodiment of excess—too much of a good thing if you loved him, something worse if you didn’t. Those weren’t just operas he …

The CRISPR Challenge

March 11th, 2021


The CRISPR challenge is back—first to grasp, then how to apply the biggest scientific breakthrough of our century so far. You remember CRISPR: nature’s own repair kit, guarding your genetic code, cell by cell, tuning …

Plague Year Two

March 4th, 2021


We labeled it the Plague Year even before we began living it. The news last March came with medieval and bubonic overtones of catastrophe. A virus …

Billie Holiday at 100

February 25th, 2021


This show first aired July 30, 2015.

The astonishment about Billie Holiday in her 100th birthday summer is how differently we hear her. Back in the …

Write Like the Russians

February 18th, 2021


The invitation this hour, or maybe the dream, is to learn how to write short stories with the poignancy and power of the old Russian Masters, and …

Malcolm X in Boston and Beyond

February 11th, 2021


This show first aired on February 13, 2020.

The life of Malcolm X is the classic hero’s journey, in a setting we almost know: a story of …

Market Mania

February 4th, 2021


Casino capitalism is the polite old phrase for the rigged game of high finance. Shark tank frenzy is a better fit for the action on Wall Street this …

Presidential Poetry

January 28th, 2021


Amanda Gorman did more than steal the show, more than capture Joe Biden’s inaugural moment. She may have opened a new road in poetry as well as …

Moral Prophecy

January 22nd, 2021


Thomas Jefferson said: “I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just.” That is eighteenth-century American language for an intuition that never quite dies – the idea that people and nations are accountable …

The Abyss

January 14th, 2021


The omens are powerful and clear for the American future—that is, for a reputedly sane and stable multi-racial democracy. It’s just that the two …

St. Louis Blues

January 7th, 2021


The city of St. Louis is the story of this hour. At the heart of North America, where the great Missouri River joins the Mississippi, it was the gateway to Thomas Jefferson’s Louisiana Purchase—to Indian territory, the …

Greta Gerwig Meets Louisa May Alcott

December 24th, 2020


This show originally aired January 23, 2020.

In the Oscar-excitement around the new Little Women, director Greta Gerwig has a note for all of us: her hero at the party is still the woman who wrote the book a hundred …

The mRNA Story

December 10th, 2020


mRNA is the bright spark in a disaster year still darkening under the surge of COVID deaths and new cases. mRNA is the messenger molecule with news …

Empire in Denial

December 3rd, 2020


It’s not just Joe Biden under pressure in the post-Trump transition. It’s the American way in the world, the mindset of a global enforcer. Stephen Wertheim is our guest: a remarkable young historian with a concise and …

Documenting Democracy: Fred Wiseman’s ‘City Hall’

November 20th, 2020


What Fred Wiseman found in Boston City Hall is not what he was looking for.  The master of documentary film is famous for his almost innocent camera eye that unlocks visual drama in big institutions — the New York …

Election Disconnection

November 12th, 2020


Call it a four-year try-out we’ve just been through of strong-man, one-man politics.  The election put it to a vote, and the country said: enough …

The Soul of Care

November 6th, 2020


This show originally broadcast February 20, 2020.

Arthur Kleinman is a name that comes up again and again when you search around our big college …

COVID on the Ballot

October 29th, 2020


COVID, COVID, COVID, all you hear is COVID, the man tweeted, but how could it not be tagged as the COVID election in the plague year 2020? COVID has …

The Upswing

October 15th, 2020


Here’s the good news about the awful condition we’re in, from one of the great American people-watchers, Robert Putnam of Bowling Alone fame: it’s …

Green New Generation

October 8th, 2020


The other historic 2020 political contest began in a hallway outside Speaker Pelosi’s office just two years ago. Not along party lines, oddly …

The Confidence Man

October 1st, 2020


From that food-fight of an un-presidential debate, the last month of the 2020 campaign is about democracy itself, in danger: reduced now to slanging …

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