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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Five Stones for Goliath

July 22nd, 2021

50:55

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

51:25

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

50:22

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

50:17

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

50:51

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, …

Netanyahus

June 17th, 2021

50:40

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

50:53

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

50:59

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

50:57

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

51:05

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

50:06

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

50:11

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

50:10

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

50:14

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: …

Bidenomics

April 16th, 2021

50:10

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

50:10

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

50:05

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

50:06

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

50:15

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

50:10

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

50:05

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

49:57

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

50:14

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

50:24

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

50:17

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

49:53

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

50:08

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

50:11

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

50:16

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

49:59

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 Joy and Genius of Erroll Garner

December 17th, 2020

50:15

Erroll Garner, the jazz pianist, is undergoing an upward revaluation of the sort that artists dream of: a reputational transition forty-some years …

The mRNA Story

December 10th, 2020

50:04

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

50:15

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

50:15

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

51:15

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

50:25

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

50:09

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 …

JFK in the American Century

October 22nd, 2020

50:16

A bold new life of JFK cues Emerson’s line: “there is no history, only biography,” particularly when the life of a man and the American Century roll …

The Upswing

October 15th, 2020

50:17

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

50:15

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

50:07

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 …

Warped Speed

September 24th, 2020

50:11

The “warp speed” race for a COVID vaccine is a sort of lesson in bio-capitalism under pressure, as well as in pandemic politics. The vaccine tracker …

Look on the Blyth Side

September 10th, 2020

49:54

Mark Blyth is stumped. He’s the people’s economist who speaks the people’s language through his thick working-class Scottish accent. He hasn’t gone silent in the pandemic ruins of our prosperity. He’s as noisy as ever, …

The Neuro-Adventures of Oliver Sacks

September 3rd, 2020

50:02

This week, we’re replaying the conversation with Lawrence Weschler about his friend Oliver Sacks (it first aired on October 10, 2019).

Oliver Sacks …

The Unmaking of America

August 27th, 2020

50:12

Did you believe the investor Warren Buffett (net worth $80 billion) when he let down his guard a bit and said, “There’s class warfare, all right . . . and it’s my class, the rich class, that’s making war, and we’re …

Moby-Dick in 2020

August 20th, 2020

50:11

Here’s why we read Moby-Dick—for the first time? for the eleventh time?— because it’s the Great American Novel about now, in 2020 more than ever. …

Casino Capital

August 13th, 2020

50:12

Enjoy our casino show, which first aired on July 11, 2019.

Casino gambling makes an odd fit with old bean-and-codfish Boston, even with Boston today: …

American Autocracy

August 6th, 2020

49:58

The late innings of Donald Trump’s four-year campaign in the White House come to look stranger than the big-league baseball season—both of which are in the deep shadow of the pandemic (13 St. Louis Cardinals tested …

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