I love music. We had a piano in my big Boston Irish family; my mother sang Handel, my father loved
John McCormack. An aunt gave us the Benny Goodman’s Carnegie Hall LPs--I flipped for “Sing Sing
Sing.” In high school I wore out my Billie Holiday and Duke Ellington records, but convinced I’d never
learn to play jazz, I became a writer instead.
“Hit the Road Jack” introduced me to Ray Charles in college. A girlfriend knew all of Chuck Berry’s lyrics,
and a drummer pal took me down to Harlem’s Apollo Theater to dig James Brown. I panned the Beatles
in my campus column, praising Martha and the Vandellas instead