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The Best Online Essays of 2017

“The Sea Was Never Blue” by Maria Michela Sassi
Aeon, July 31, 2017

“When Drummers Become Writers: The Strange Wisdom of Method Books” by John Colpitts
The Paris Review, May 19, 2017

“The Life of a Field Recordist” by Jack Needham
Red Bull Music Academy, March 24, 2017

“Where Have All the V Chords Gone? The Decline of Functional Harmony in Pop” by Dean Olivet
Flypaper, August 14, 2017

“The Contradictions of Joseph Conrad” by Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o
New York Times, November 21, 2017

“Sweet Bitter Blues” by Amanda Petrusich
Oxford American, January 6, 2017

“The Erasure of Islam from the Poetry of Rumi” by Rozina Ali/
The New Yorker, January 5, 2017

“Powerlessness and the Politics of Blame” by Martha Nussbaum
National Endowment for the Humanities, May 1, 2017

“The Lost Pleasure of Reading Aloud” by Kate Chisholm
The Spectator, August 26, 2017

“Evelyn Waugh Revisited” by William H. Pritchard
The Hudson Review, January 2017

“When Gospel Sermons Came on the Phonograph” by Jerry Zolten
The Conversation, June 29, 2017

“Breaking Elgar’s Enigma” by Daniel Estrin
New Republic, February 1, 2017

“Why Do Stars Like Adele Keep Losing Their Voice?” by Bernhard Warner
The Guardian, Thursday, August 10, 2017

“One Man’s Mission to Unearth Africa’s Lost Treasure Trove of Music” by Abdi Latif Dahir
Quartz, April 28, 2017

“You Probably Think This Art is About You” by Carolyn Stewart
The American Interest, August 16, 2017

“Is Goodness Natural” by Nakul Krishna
Aeon, November 28, 2017

“The Man Who Broke Ticketmaster” by Jason Koebler
Motherboard, February 10, 2017

“Consciousness Began When the Gods Stopped Speaking” by Veronique Greenwood
Nautilus, November 9, 2017

“Are Pop Lyrics Getting More Repetitive” by Colin Morris
The Pudding, May 2017

“Who was the First Modern Philosopher?”  by Steve Nadler
TLS, April 5, 2017

“Was Weird Al the Real Star All Along?” by Geoff Edgers
The Washington Post, February 16, 2017

“How To Sell A Country: The Booming Business Of Nation Branding” by Samanth Subramanian
The Guardian, November 7, 2017

“Going Deep” by Jay Jennings
Oxford American, February 16, 2017

“Why You Hate Contemporary Architecture” by Brianna Rennix and Nathan J. Robinson
Current Affairs, October 31, 2017

“The Premium Mediocre Life of Maya Millennial” by Venkatesh Rao
Ribbonfarm, August 17, 2017

“In the Footsteps of Marcel Proust” by William Friedkin
New York Times,  May 15, 2017

“Raphael Up Close” by Andrew Butterfield
New York Review of Books, July 15, 2017

“Take a Trip to Los Angeles’s New Internet Celebrity Summer Camp” by Megan Farokhmanesh,
The Verge, July 20, 2017

“An Oxford Philosopher’s Moral Crisis Can Help Us Learn to Question Our Instincts” by Olivia Goldhill
Quartz, October 15, 2017

Here is a list, in no particular
order, of articles I enjoyed
during 201
7. They are mostly
longform essays, with a focus
on m
usic and culture, but with
a few
articles on other subjects
included as well.

For a list of my favorite
recordings of the year,
click here.
Selected articles by Ted Gioia
available on the web
Ted Gioia can be contacted at

Also visit
Great Books Guide
The New Canon
Conceptual Fiction
Postmodern Mystery
Fractious Fiction
Ted's Twitter Feed
The African Origins of the Love Song
The Rise of the Fragmented Novel
Why Are Music Scholars Ignoring Musical Universals?
The Adventurer's Guide to Finnegans Wake
Notes on Conceptual Fiction
Has Music Criticism Turned Into Lifestyle Reporting?
Vladimir Nabokov, Sci-Fi Writer
How Sartre Cured Existential Angst with Jazz
If John Coltrane Had Lived
The Decline of Satire
My Year of Horrible Reading
The Backlash Against Jazz
The Con Man Who Invented American Popular Music
The Bumbling Shostakovich
The Rise of Artisan Music
The Year American Speech Became Art
What We've Learned About the NSA
The 8 Memes of the Postmodern Mystery
Ted Gioia Interviews Composer Terry Riley
Why the Fuss About Jonathan Franzen?
Slaves for Love: How Bondage Shaped the Love Song
A Conversation About Jazz with Ted Gioia
The 100 Best Recordings of 2015
The 100 Best Recordings of 2014
The 100 Best Recordings of 2013
The 100 Best Recordings of 2012
The 100 Best Recordings of 2011
The Weirdest 1960s Novel of Them All
Franco: The James Brown of Africa
How Alice Got to Wonderland
Does the Music Business Need Musicianship?
The King of Western Swing
Post Cool
The Year of Magical Reading
Frank Sinatra at 100
What is the Clumsiest Classic Novel?
The Crisis in Music (podcast)
The Weird Tales of H.P. Lovecraft
How to Fix Online Music
My 10 Favorite Novels on Music
A Conversation with Ted Gioia about Love Songs
The Music of the Tango
The Letter That Changed the Course of Modern Lit
The End of the Angry Guitar
Doris Lessing's The Golden Notebook
Do Blues Musicians Need to be Really, Really Old?
The Unconventional Sci-Fi of Kurt Vonnegut
Twelve Essential Tango Recordings
Alan Lomax and the FBI
Robert Musil and The Man Without Qualities
Cool Jazz in 100 Tracks (Part 1) (Part 2)
Lecture on the History of Love Songs
Henry James, Horror Writer
Why Only Revolutions Will Not Be Televised
David Foster Wallace's Infinite Jest
The Crisis in Music (video lecture)
How Good a Singer Was Dean Martin?
How Music Videos Changed Love Songs
Why Bessie Smith Matters
The Zombification of Popular Music
The New Revolt of the Masses
Was Ambrose Bierce Inspired by Agoraphobia?
Apple's New Paradigm for Music
Fix-Up Artist: The Chaotic SF of A.E. van Vogt
Jazz Vocals in the New Millennium
A History of New Orleans Music in 100 Tracks
The Making of Ulysses
The Great American Novel That Wasn't
In Search of Dupree Bolton
Gulliver's Travels and the Birth of Genre Fiction
Five Essays on Novelist John Fowles
Where Did Our Revolution Go?
How Lester Young Changed the English Language
The Reinvention of the Cowboy Novel
The Many Lives of James Joyce
The Complex Gender History of the Love Song
William Gaddis's The Recognitions
5 Lessons the Music Biz Can Learn from TV
Hipsters: The New Scapegoats
B.B. King's Best Performances
The Most Mysterious Woman in Sci-Fi
12 Memorable Works of Hispanic Fiction
Thomas Pynchon's Inherent Vice
The Alt Reality Nobel Prize
The Decline of a Great Jazz Record Label
Don DeLillo's Underworld
How NY Became Center of the Jazz World
Milton Nascimento: 12 Essential Tracks
When Science Fiction Grew Up
The Most Influential Film of the 20th Century
Donna Tartt's The Goldfinch
Is Sleep Music a Real Genre?
Jonathan Franzen's The Corrections
Curse You, Neil Armstrong!
Bill Evans: 12 Essential Tracks
Early Vintage Wynton Marsalis
Remembering Cordwainer Smith
My Favorite American Novel
Q&A with Ted Gioia
The Jazz Pianist JFK Saved
A Look Back at Martin Gardner
Robert Heinlein at One Hundred
The Fourteen Skies of Michael Chabon
Is Bird Dead?
Philip K. Dick's VALIS
Why Lester Young Matters
Vladimir Nabokov's Pale Fire
Making a Case for Clark Ashton Smtih
Who is Grace Kelly?
Italo Calvino's Winter's NIght
Jonathan Lethem's The Fortress of Solitude
Could Chet Baker Play Jazz?
Thomas Pynchon's Gravity's Rainbow
The Jazzy Side of Frank Zappa
Fritz Leiber at 100
Günter Grass's The Tin Drum
David Mitchell's Cloud Atlas
Harlem Jazz: 12 Essential Tracks
Mark Z. Danielweski's House of Leaves
The Postmodern Mystery: 50 Essential Works
Art Tatum at 100: 12 Essential Tracks
Fringe Guitar
J.G. Ballard's Crash
Interview with Dana and Ted Gioia
The Puzzling Case of Robert Sheckley
Robert Johnson and the Devil
Fear and Self-Loathing in Scandinavia
Herbie Hancock: 12 Essential Tracks
Remembering Drums of Passion
Three Existential Horror Novels
Keith Jarrett: 12 Essential Tracks
In Defense of The Hobbit
Brad Mehldau: 12 Essential Tracks
David Foster Wallace's The Pale King
The South Asian Tinge in Jazz
Assessing Brad Mehldau at Mid-Career
Cormac McCarthy's Blood Meridian
Can Clubs Legally Ask Musicians to Play for Free?
Jonathan Littell's The Kindly Ones
Lennie Tristano: 12 Essential Tracks
Virginia Woolf's Orlando
Why Cool is Dead
A Tribute to Richard Matheson
The Pianism of Denny Zeitlin
The Chronicles of Narnia
David Bowie's Jazz-Oriented Valedictory
Tito Puente: The Complete 78s (1949-1955)
Toni Morrison's Beloved
The Tragedy of Richard Twardzik
Michael Chabon's Telegraph Avenue
The Science Fiction of Samuel Delany
Can Tarzan Survive in a Post-Colonial World?
Ian McEwan's Atonement
Can a Dictionary be a Novel?
New Details About the Young William Gaddis
Interview with Ted Gioia (on Delta Blues)
William Gaddis's JR
Roberto Bolaño's 2666
Talking to Myself About the State of Jazz
Harper Lee and Her Great Southern Novel
Thomas Mann's The Magic Mountain
Italo Calvino's Neglected Sci-Fi Masterpiece
Philip Roth's American Pastoral
Ken Kesey's Novel-in-a-Box
How I Learned I Was a Jazz Fan