The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

Who Put the Bomp?

What does a car made in Wolfsburg, Germany, have to do with a novelty hit from 1961? It’s a strange tale, with musical connections to Dolly Parton, the Mamas and Papas, a children’s cartoon and an iconic scene from a famous 1980s movie. It’s about a boy from Brooklyn. Last weekend, I had my home […]

Born in Odessa, Ukraine, in 1886

Louis Wolfe Gilbert emigrated to the United States as a boy and became “one of the most prolific lyricists of Tin Pan Alley.” He started out as a singer on Coney Island, eventually settled in Hollywood, where he helped popularize Cuban rumba music and “was an innovator in his field, having been one of the […]

A Genuinely Weird Rock ’n’ Roll Story

Do you see that guy with the gold top Gibson Les Paul guitar? That’s Bill Bartlett, lead guitarist of a one-hit-wonder band from 1967. The Lemon Pipers had formed in 1966 in the college town of Oxford, Ohio, and signed a deal with New York-based Buddah Records. Their first single, an original written by Bartlett, […]

‘Watch This!’

The headline is a two-word text message I sent to my youngest daughter after watching producer Rick Beato’s “What Makes This Song Great” video about the 1970 Chicago hit, “Make Me Smile,” which is an absolute must-see. I’ve talked before about my love of Chicago: It happened the other day (thank you, YouTube algorithm) that […]

Everything You Love Is Cancelled Now

You can still purchase Elvis Costelo’s 1979 album Armed Forces, but who knows how much longer this will be possible? How long before we’re required to forget that it ever existed? Elvis Costello has said that he will no longer perform one of his biggest hits, “Oliver’s Army,” and has urged radio stations to also […]

The Savage Young

Dave Reaboi is a hater. The Southern Poverty Law Center doesn’t have a “Beatlephobia” category on their Hate Map, but if they did, Dave would be a dot on it. Like a lot of Beatle haters — and I could also name Ace of Spades in this category — Dave Reaboi is a Gen Xer, […]

8 Killed as Houston Hip Hop Show Becomes ‘Mass Casualty Incident’

If you’ve never heard of Travis Scott, he’s a rapper who is also Kylie Jenner’s baby daddy. A native of Houston, his 2018 album Astroworld, which went triple platinum, was named for a Houston amusement park that closed in 2005. The title now has deadly significance: At least eight people died and scores more were […]

R.I.P., Charlie Watts

The great rock-and-roll legends of our Baby Boomer youth are now marching like a parade toward the grave, and I ignore most of these routine obituaries, but I’ll make an exception for Charlie Watts of the Rolling Stones, arguably the most dapper man in rock-and-roll. Watts was not originally a rocker, but instead was a […]

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