McCoy Tyner

Based on McCoy Tyner and Keith Jarrett, my next blog is going to be “Jazz Pianists Who Were Quite the Lookers in Their Younger Days.” The only problem is that I would spend so much time looking at the photos, I’d never get around to posting them.

McCoy Tyner AllMusic page

Mary J. Blige

My friend Jim has an intense and possibly unhealthy passion for Mary J. Blige. He considers it a major failure of my parenting that my kids don’t know all her song titles and lyrics by heart. Bonus points for scoring hits with one dramatic tale of unhappy love after another, and then titling a song “Be Happy.”

Mary J. Blige AllMusic page

Marvin Gaye

Is it OK to admit that I like Gladys Knight’s version of “I Heard It Through the Grapevine” better than Marvin Gaye’s? But I like his version of “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” way better than Diana Ross’s, so it all evens out, right?

Marvin Gaye AllMusic page


I totally called it. When Madonna’s Erotica album and Sex book flopped (relatively), I predicted she would disappear for a year or two and then return all mature and matronly. And that’s exactly what she did—with an actual kid, no less. I did not, however, predict the pom-poms at the Super Bowl. That was just embarrassing.

Madonna AllMusic page

Louis Jordan

I am embarrassed to admit that I learned about Louis Jordan by name only after Joe Jackson pretended to be a jump blues singer on Jumpin’ Jive. I am not embarrassed to admit that I think song titles like “Ain’t Nobdy Here But Us Chickens” and “What’s the Use of Getting Sober” are awesome.

Louis Jordan AllMusic page

Louis Armstrong

Following up Lou Reed with Louis Armstrong is like watching a Quentin Tarantino marathon and then switching to the collected works of Shirley Temple. If you could capture sunshine and package it in musical form, you’d basically be listening to Louis Armstrong.

Louis Armstrong AllMusic page

Lou Reed/Velvet Underground

Rumor has it that Lou Reed once wrote a happy song.

Lou Reed AllMusic page

Los Lobos

I guy I knew in college once said that although “La Bamba” is a great song, it just “wasn’t right” for Los Lobos to cover it. So a white guy from the Midwest gets to tell a Mexican-American band that they shouldn’t cover a song that was made famous by a Mexican-American and that is based on a Mexican folk song. Ladies and gentlemen, may I introduce “straight white male entitlement.”

Los Lobos AllMusic page

LL Cool J

I know he went from bad boy to pop faster than you can say “sellout,” but I could still look at LL Cool J all day. Listen to. I mean, listen to.

LL Cool J AllMusic page

Little Richard

“Wop bop a loo bop a lop bam boom!”

Why isn’t Little Richard considered the greatest, ever? Is it the lipstick?

Little Richard AllMusic page