Jackson 5/Jacksons

This might knock me down a few more cred pegs, but I’d rather listen to early-period Jackson 5 than late-period Michael Jackson any day. On the other hand, I’d rather listen to … well, almost anything … than the “Michael’s-McCartney-duets-were-big hits-so-let’s-bring-in-another-aging-white-British-rock-legend-from-the-60s” Jagger collaboration “State of Shock.”

Jackson 5 AllMusic page

Jacksons AllMusic page

Isley Brothers

In the 2000s, Ron (I think) Isley did a weird/creepy duet with R. Kelly where (I think) Isley was the jilted lover, and Kelly was the guy fooling around with Isley’s girlfriend. I’m pretty sure there was a mention of a gun, and I believe they even made a sequel. I vote we pretend the whole thing never happened and listen to “Shout” or “It’s Your Thing” one more time. Also: Lots of songs with parts.

Isley Brothers AllMusic page

Isaac Hayes

In the history of cool, there’s cool, and then there’s Isaac Hayes. In the history of gold chains, there’s gold chains, then 80s rappers, and then Isaac Hayes. And in the history of songs with really long spoken word introductions, Isaac Hayes stands alone. Plus (for you younger folks out there): Chef.

Isaac Hayes AllMusic page


Here’s where I really lost my gay membership card. When my friends and I used to go out regularly (roughly a million years ago), the clubs all played hip-hop and funk. Loved it. After a couple of years, they all switched to house. Hated it. Which is a bit ironic, given my teen love of disco and how closely the two styles are related. On the other hand, I never said I was consistent.

House AllMusic page

Horace Silver

“Song for My Father” is one of those landmark songs that everybody knows, even if they don’t know what it’s called or who it’s by. If either of my sons ever writes a song for me (hint), I hope … well, actually I don’t care if it becomes popular. It would just be nice.

Horace Silver AllMusic page

Hieroglyphics/Del the Funky Homosapien

OAKLAND IN THE HOUSE! Besides just genuinely being awesome, props to the Hieros for regularly putting on a free outdoor music festival downtown. And bigger props to Del for using a line from Liberace (!) as one of his album titles.

Hieroglyphics AllMusic page

Del the Funky Homosapien AllMusic page

Herbie Hancock

Herbie Hancock’s Joni Mitchell cover album, River: The Joni Letters, won the Album of the Year Grammy in 2008 and went to #5 on the Billboard 200. It was his highest-charting album ever, and higher than any actual Joni Mitchell album in over 30 years. Which doesn’t have a whole lot to do with anything, except I like to mention Joni Mitchell as often as possible in these posts. (Hancock also did a Gershwin cover album where Joni sings an absolutely amazing version of “The Man I Love.” For the record, he has also recorded about 1,000 albums that have nothing to do with Mitchell.)

Herbie Hancock AllMusic page

Heavy Metal

My friend Marcy, a big metal-head, was furious the year that Jethro Tull won the Grammy for best heavy metal group back in the late 80s. “Jethro Tull? NOT! METAL!” she shouted to anyone who would listen. I don’t know much about metal, but I’m pretty sure that any group that has flute as a lead instrument doesn’t qualify.

Heavy Metal AllMusic page

Harry Belafonte

Day-O!! Da-a-a-ay-O!! I bet people bust that out all the time when they run into Harry Belafonte. I bet Harry Belafonte is really sick of people doing that.

Harry Belafonte AllMusic page

Hank Williams

I don’t really listen to—or even know much about—country music. But if I did, I might listen to Hank Williams. He looks like Bing Crosby’s dapper country cousin, but he was one of the original members of the “live fast, die young” set (decades before Hendrix, Morrison, Joplin, etc.). Looks can be deceiving.

Hank Williams AllMusic page