NPR : World Cafe

Filed Under:

World Cafe Looks Back: '90s Alternative

This episode of World Cafe honors the alternative rock movement of the 1990s, with six artists who rose to mainstream success: Kristin Hersh, Belly, Liz Phair, Evan Dando and Juliana Hatfield, and Matthew Sweet.

We begin with Hersh, who helped define the college rock sound of the late '80s and '90s as lead singer of Throwing Muses. In this interview from 2001, she describes the songwriting process of "Your Ghost" with R.E.M.'s Michael Stipe for her first solo record. Hersh's half-sister and bandmate in Throwing Muses, Tanya Donelly, eventually left the band to form Belly. She appeared on World Cafe in 1993, to discuss the success of her album Star and share her "meanest" song, "Untogether."

Liz Phair floored fans and critics with her 1993 debut Exile in Guyville, a song-for-song response to The Rolling Stones' Exile on Main Street. In this 2003 session, Phair discusses the struggle to live up to the overwhelming weight of her first album, as well as the way motherhood affected the creative process behind her pop-infused self-titled release.

In a session from 1992, both Juliana Hatfield and The Lemonheads' Evan Dando discuss the records that brought their music to a wider audience. For Hatfield, that release was Hey Babe, her first solo album after she left the Blake Babies; for Dando, it was The Lemonheads' It's a Shame About Ray, which featured Hatfield on bass and vocals. In this interview, Hatfield discusses her inability to write a song with just three chords, while Dando describes working with Johnny Depp on the music video for "It's a Shame About Ray."

Finally, we turn to a 1995 session with Matthew Sweet, who enjoyed enormous critical and commercial success with his 1991 debut, Girlfriend. In this interview, Sweet and host David Dye discuss the shrinking size of headphones, as well as Sweet's work with producer Brendan O'Brien.

This segment originally aired on October 13, 2011.

Copyright 2012 WXPN-FM. To see more, visit


Kentucky Boy Solves Rubik's Cube In Record Time

A 14-year-old boy from Lexington, Ky., has solved a Rubik's Cube in less than five seconds. As Guinness World Records declares this a record-breaker, we hear how NPR covered a Rubik's Cube competition in 1981.
WAMU 88.5

Recipes Get A Makeover With GIFs, Science, And Emojis

On Food Wednesday, we explore the new ways recipes are being presented, with everything from GIFs to scientific method.

WAMU 88.5

International Military Action In Syria

French President Hollande meets with President Obama in Washington to seek additional U.S. support in the fight against ISIS in Syria, and NATO holds an emergency meeting over the downed Russian fighter jet: An update on international military strategy in Syria.


Used Rocket Is A New Breakthrough For Blue Origin's Space Plan

Blue Origin, the space company founded by Amazon billionaire Jeff Bezos, has sent a craft past the edge of space and then landed its rocket safely – and vertically — in Texas.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.