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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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 …

Yo-Yo Ma’s Bach

December 31st, 2020


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 …

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 Joy and Genius of Erroll Garner

December 17th, 2020


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


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 …

JFK in the American Century

October 22nd, 2020


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


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 …

Warped Speed

September 24th, 2020


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 …

Wagner and Wagnerism

September 17th, 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 …

Look on the Blyth Side

September 10th, 2020


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


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


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


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


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


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 …

Nicholson Baker Searches for Secrets

July 30th, 2020


Nicholson Baker, prose writer beyond category, has a new book for COVID time, speaking directly to the dread of weaponized biology as only Nick …

The Next Generation

July 23rd, 2020


Everybody knows the force of Black Lives Matter by now; many millions have been touched directly. But what do you know about Sisters Unchained, or Families for Justice as Healing, or Say Her Name, or the Muslim …

A Public Conversation Gone Sour

July 16th, 2020


The All-American Thinking Class is beside itself: under pressure inside and out. It is a target already in Donald Trump’s reelection campaign, for lock-step conformity, he says, against “our magnificent liberty.” But …

Reparations and the Wealth Gap

July 9th, 2020


Forty acres and a mule was the promise made to black slaves, even before the Civil War was over. General Sherman of the Union Army drew up the plan, …

Return of the Prophet: Baldwin in the 21st Century

July 2nd, 2020


This week, we revisit our 2017 show on James Baldwin.

James Baldwin was the prophetic voice of an era that isn’t over. Fifty years ago, he was a young, bug-eyed man from Harlem who wrote, in essays and novels, his …

Warrior Cops

June 25th, 2020


Once upon a time in the crack cocaine epidemic of the 1980s, “community policing” came forth as the solution to a law-and-order problem. In 2020 …

Deaths of Despair

June 18th, 2020


The warning bell sounded in 2014: a down dip in the ever-rising American lifespan, which was 50 years, on average, in 1900, and up close to 80 years into the 21st century. Then something happened and kept happening – …

Inequality and Injustice

June 11th, 2020


“A Change is Gonna Come,” the songwriter put it: it was Sam Cooke, at a peak of the civil rights movement in 1964. And it is surely coming again, …

Reviving Reconstruction

June 4th, 2020


We’re transfixed, all of us, looking at a collision of deadly viruses, racial hatred and a pandemic disease. Suddenly what commands attention is …

Moral Economics

May 28th, 2020


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

Coronavirus Conspiracism

May 14th, 2020


What we’re learning again in coronavirus time is that when the medical system stumbles in a pandemic – and when the media machinery, the chattering class stumbles on top it – watch out! Something like it happened two …

COVID’s Cold War?

May 7th, 2020


The coronavirus may have arrived just in time to punctuate a 50 year turn in the grand tide of events. It could mark, that is, a fresh fixation in …

Public Health Across the Pacific

May 1st, 2020


There’s a shocking big truth in those coronavirus numbers – hidden in plain sight, as the saying goes. It comes down to this: China and various neighbors in East Asia beat the lethal virus to its knees months ago. It’s …

Questions of Leadership

April 23rd, 2020


The Andrew Cuomo Daily Show has become the high ground of coronavirus talk: all kinds of numbers, trend lines, and family feeling, too. The Donald Trump Show has typically been a carnival of rage, boasting, and …

The Many Faces of Ferrante

April 16th, 2020


This is a rerun, prompted by the HBO series My Brilliant Friend, based on the  “Neapolitan Novels” of Elena Ferrante.

Ferrante’s identity remains …

Viral Inequality

April 10th, 2020


The curve of the coronavirus is bending. Just in the awful American swath of the grim COVID reaper, we have entered peak season with some flattening …

The Pandemic’s Path

April 3rd, 2020


How did it happen? And who’s accountable? Seems now a lot of people saw it coming. Stephen King wrote his viral bestseller The Stand 30 years ago; Bill Gates put his warning in a TED talk; our Pentagon had a plan to …

Profits or People

March 27th, 2020


Week 4 was when dollar signs kept turning up, and up, astonishingly: price-tags on the virus’s damage, price-tags on fighting it. The bailout of …

Springtime in the Plague Year

March 20th, 2020


It’s the virus’s world. We just live in it: isolated, locked down for the duration, sheltering in place, with an alternate risk of cabin fever. The …

Contagious Crisis

March 13th, 2020


Our journals of the plague year start this week. Coronavirus went pandemic, and the investors’ bull market turned free-falling bear. In the …

Plagues, Pathogens, and Panic

March 6th, 2020


Stuff we’re all learning in coronavirus time: the word miasma, for example, meaning noxious bad air; that we touch our faces 23 times an hour; that sanitizers like Purell were made to kill bacteria, not viruses, and …

The New Red Scare

February 28th, 2020


The winter round of the presidential race goes to Bernie Sanders, not so much for winning the most votes from Democrats as for coining the key word, the big theme for 2020, which is: billionaires! Not just the …

Malcolm X in Boston and Beyond

February 14th, 2020


The life of Malcolm X is the classic hero’s journey, in a setting we almost know: a story of anointment, dedication, fate, faith, family, incredible …

The New Hampshire Primary

February 7th, 2020


Say what you will about the cranky-Yankee New Hampshire primary, in a remote, mostly white state in the shape of a dunce cap on the map of New England. It’s still the place where presidential candidates have to go …

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