Ted Gioia

  • Not in a Shy Way

    A musician's centenary celebration typically offers a chance to revisit songs long departed from the charts and to recall mostly forgotten triumphs. But that’s hardly the case with Frank Sinatra. I recently checked, and saw that the ten best-selling jazz songs on iTunes include four by Sinatra. And the top-selling jazz album today is a collection of Sinatra tracks for the Reprise label, most of them around a half-century old.

    Face it, the Chairman of the Board hasn’t gone anywhere. He’s still where he’s always been: A-number-one, top of the list, king of the hill. David Lehman tells the story,

  • Roll Over, Cole Porter

    Something strange and wild happened in American popular music during the middle of the 1950s. You can almost identify the precise date when the change took place. Rock ’n’ roll certainly existed before Elvis Presley reached the top of the charts with “Heartbreak Hotel” in the spring of 1956, but it didn’t yet dominate the airwaves. Dean Martin, Tennessee Ernie Ford, and Nelson Riddle had each enjoyed No. 1 singles in the preceding months. But Elvis’s success changed the rules of the music business; during the remainder of the decade (and for years to come), most of the rising stars were rock