Before Sting went solo and decided he was the reincarnation of Shakespeare (or, you know, the guys who wrote the Bible), the Police wrote sharp little pop tunes about stalkers, prostitutes, and pedophiles—not to mention the one about logic that “ties you up and rapes you.” I guess the band name was meant to be ironic.

Police AllMusic page

Pink Floyd

For our 8th grade graduation from my Catholic elementary school, the teacher asked the students to nominate a class song to be played at the ceremony. Sean Dougherty suggested “Comfortably Numb.” This suggestion was rejected.

Pink Floyd AllMusic page

Philly Soul

Musically, the 70s get pretty trashed for being a lousy decade. For the most part, they deserve it. On the other hand, I’m pretty sure Philly soul is the music they play in heaven, so these songs single-handedly redeem (pun intended) everything else that was on the radio for those 10 long years.

Philly Soul AllMusic page

Pharoah Sanders

I was curious whether “Pharoah” was a given name or stage name, so I looked it up. Turns out, it’s a little bit of both—his birth name is “Ferrell.” I also found out he lived in Oakland as a teen, so clearly he is awesome.

Pharoah Sanders AllMusic page

Pete Seeger

Doing this lists makes me realize that I know almost nothing about the protest/folk singers of the 50s and 60s. Sorry about that, Pete. I do know that he is not Bob.

Pete Seeger AllMusic page

Pet Shop Boys

Pet Shop Boys are so ridiculously over the top, they are in their own category of awesome. Their music is the fluffiest kind of dance-pop, their singer can’t sing … but their lyrics are so sad, and angry, and true. “She’s made you/Some kind of laughingstock/Because you dance to disco/And you don’t like rock” pretty much sums up my life ages 11-14.

Pet Shop Boys AllMusic page

Paul McCartney

I debated this one for a long time, given that McCartney’s solo work is pretty much the definition of “middle-of-the-road pop-rock.” But I decided to give him a list, because 1) as pop-rock goes, nobody is pop-rockier; and 2) I saw (well, heard—I was working on the concourse) him at the closing concert for Candlestick Park, where he played nonstop for almost three hours, was in great voice, and had Springsteen-level energy—all at age 72. That alone deserves some kind of shout-out.

Paul McCartney AllMusic page