NOTES is a cultural history of popular music. From the Archies to Zappa... from psychedelia to castrati... from wax cylinders to mp3s... NOTES is devoted to ferreting out the little-known and sometimes amazing facts behind the music that has accompanied American life since the rise of the industrial age.

The Musical Heroes of HEE-HAW, Pt. 3: Grandpa Jones

The Musical Heroes of HEE-HAW, Pt. 3: Grandpa Jones

Another important HEE HAW veteran was Louis Marshall Jones, the bluegrass and gospel great who had gone by the sobriquet of "Grandpa" since he was just out of his teens!
The Musical Heroes of HEE-HAW, Pt. 2: Roy Clark

The Musical Heroes of HEE-HAW, Pt. 2: Roy Clark

HEE HAW counted among its regulars not one, but two of the greatest guitar virtuosos to emerge from the world of country music in the 1950s and '60s.  In addition to Buck Owens, there was also Roy Clark.  Learn more about Clark's stellar career in this episode of NOTES.
The Musical Heroes of HEE-HAW, Pt. 1: Buck Owens

The Musical Heroes of HEE-HAW, Pt. 1: Buck Owens

Although often denigrated by the cognoscenti, HEE HAW was responsible for airing some of the greatest names from the world of country music.  Among its regular cast members was Buck Owens.  On this episode of NOTES, we tell the story of the Baron of Bakersfield.
The Zen of Monk, Pt. 2

The Zen of Monk, Pt. 2

Thelonious Monk's compositions and arrangements changed the way the world heard music.  But to what extent was his groundbreaking style the result of mental illness?
The Zen of Monk, Pt. 1

The Zen of Monk, Pt. 1

At first, people laughed at Thelonious Monk, because they couldn't hear his art.  Then they worshipped him because they did.  In this episode of NOTES, we look back at a man who shattered preconceptions and shifted paradigms by finding perfection in imperfection.
Music of the Classic Xmas TV Specials

Music of the Classic Xmas TV Specials

There are fascinating stories behind the music of some of television's best-loved holiday specials.  Hear a few of them in this episode of NOTES.
Kim Fowley, Pt. 2: Rock n' Roll Svengali

Kim Fowley, Pt. 2: Rock n’ Roll Svengali

In the 1970s, Kim Fowley's most famous project was producing and managing the Runaways, the groundbreaking all-girl band that made the world safe for acts from the Go-Gos to the Donnas. In this episode of NOTES, learn more about the controversial act that introduced the world to a young Joan...
Kim Fowley, Pt. 1: Rock n' Roll Zelig

Kim Fowley, Pt. 1: Rock n’ Roll Zelig

No artist's career transverses as many disparate corners of the rock n' roll world as Kim Fowley's does. From the Argyles to Frank Zappa, Fowley has been there, done that. Learn more about the amazing Kim Fowley in this episode of NOTES.
In Search of the Green Man

In Search of the Green Man

He lit up May Day parades and peered from church facades. He is still with us today, distributing Christmas gifts and hawking canned vegetables. And he lives on in pop music as well. Learn more about the mysterious Green Man in this episode of NOTES.
Commie Crazy!

Commie Crazy!

Even as it went nuclear nuts, America also went commie crazy. While Wisconsin Senator Joe McCarthy ferreted reds out from under our beds, conservative country singers and right-wing rockers gave musical voice to our nationalistic nightmare. Find out more in this edition of NOTES.
Latest entries

Come On-A My House

How a song co-written by a chipmunk became the theme for a house built by a rabbit.

Uncovering the Covered Album

Know the difference between an album cover, a cover album and a covered album.

The Uncertain Paternity of the Foxtrot

The origins of the foxtrot are lost in a tangle of unanswered questions.

A Magnetic Musical Personality

Stephin Merritt: Cole Porter, Nino Rota — or both?

Pure Pop For Now Sims

Computer games have proven fertile grounds for songwriters since the late 1970s.

The Awful Miasma of Melisma-ah-ah-ah-ah

Craven will never lo-o-o-o-o-o-ve melisma.

The Sons of Jocko Homo

Regarding the theory of de-evolution, and its best-known proponents.

Playing Possum

The greatest Christmas song of all time?

That Was No Lyric, That Was a Mondegreen

The unintentional impact of the misheard lyric.

Roko Rule Kaj Musiko!

There have been many songs crafted in constructed languages.

The Race of Ernest Hogan

Ernest Hogan could run, but he couldn't hide from his betrayal of his own people.

A Female Impersonator, 65 Dogs — and Murder!

From Carnegie Hall to a prison cell, Rae Bourbon's arc was a tragic one.
Songs of the Fallout Shelter

Songs of the Fallout Shelter

Like many a romance, America's love affair with nuclear power took a sour turn once a third party entered the scene. Find out how when the Soviets developed their own hydrogren bomb, atomic terror infiltrated pop music in this episode of NOTES.

The Bizarre Story of Rae Bourbon

His life led him through the little-known world of "pansy humor" — and into murder.
Atomic Pop

Atomic Pop

There was a time in the mid-20th Century when America believed atomic power would cure virtually all ills. And pop music wasn't immune to the nation's atomic fever. Learn more in this episode of NOTES.

The Immoral Mr. Auteur

"King Leer" gleefully skewered sacred cows and poked persistently at the boundaries of the acceptable.
The Sad Demise of Russ Columbo

The Sad Demise of Russ Columbo

He was talented... popular... and young.  Then he was dead — at the hands of his best friend.  The story of Russ Columbo is one of popular music's greatest tragedies.  Learn more about the man who might have usurped Bing Crosby's throne on this episode of NOTES.

Shock of the Neu!

Neu! was truly a *new* band.
Growing Strange Fruit

Growing Strange Fruit

Some songs entertain... others change the world.  Learn about one of the latter — a song inspired by an awful, true event, written by a leftist organizer and immortalized by one of the greatest voices in jazz — in this episode of NOTES.

Oi! Oi! Oi!

They never should have made it. It was a long way to the top for AC/DC.