Here is a list, in no particular order, of essays and articles I enjoyed during 2019.
They are mostly longform essays, with a focus on music 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.
Ted Gioia can be contacted at

Also visit
Great Books Guide
The New Canon
Conceptual Fiction
Postmodern Mystery
Fractious Fiction
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“A Suspense Novelist’s Trail of Deceptions” by Ian Parker
The New Yorker, February 11, 2019

“Why Won’t City Hall Fight for Chicago’s Homegrown Music Scene?
by Mark Guarino
Chicago Reader, January 23, 2019

“Machines Can Create Art, but Can They Jam?” by Ken Weiner
Scientific American, April 29, 2019

“The Hardships and Reward of Making Music in Prison” by Jacqueline Kantor
Topic, June 26, 2019

“What People Actually Say Before They Die” by Michael Erard
The Atlantic, January 16, 2019

“How We’ll Forget John Lennon” by Kevin Berger
Nautilus, January 10, 2019

“Ten Ways to Look at the Color Black” by Ed Simon
The Millions, March 15, 2019

“Turning Over: Why Page Turners Matter” by Benjamin Poore
Van, October 3, 2019

“The Night Charlie Parker Soared in South Central L.A.” by Lynell George
Alta, August 5, 2019

“Silicon Valley’s Secret Philosophers Should Share Their Work”
by Alexis Papazaglou
Wired, August 27, 2019

“The Most Gullible Man in Cambridge” by Kera Bolonik
The Cut, July 23, 2019

“When Pirates Studied Euclid” by Margaret Schotte
Aeon, July 2, 2019

“Showtime at the Apollo: An Oral History of the Theater That Became
Home to American Legends” by Lisa Robinson
Vanity Fair, April 26, 2019

“The Value of Inconvenient Design” by Jesse Weaver
Medium, March 5, 2019

“The Death of the Great Cultural Critic” by David Herman
New Statesman, October 23, 2019

“The Disappearance of John M. Ford” by Isaac Butler
Slate, November 15, 2019

“The Curious Cons of the Man Who Wouldn’t Die” by Nathaniel Penn
GQ, May 20, 2019

“In Defence of Disorder” by Alan Lightman
Aeon, April 15, 2019

“Google Translate is a Manifestation of Wittgenstein’s Theory of
Language” by Olivia Goldhill
Quartz, February 13, 2019

“The Power of Anonymous” by Tom Geue
Aeon, November 27, 2019

“The Quest to Acquire the Oldest, Most Expensive Book on the Planet”
by Margaret Leslie Davis
Literary Hub, March 21, 2019

“America’s Rural Radio Stations Are Vanishing” by Debbie Weingarten
The Guardian, June 6, 2019

“Henri Bergson, Celebrity” by Emily Herring
Aeon, May 6, 2019

“Rock Riff Rip-Off: The Legal Loopholes That May Leave Some of Rock’s
Greatest Rifs Up for Grabs” by Vernon Silver
Bloomberg, June 20, 2019

“The Art of the Pan: What’s the Point of a Bad Review in 2019?” by Rob Harvilla
The Ringer, January 10, 2019

“Why Red Means Red in Almost Every Language” by Chelsea Wald
Nautilus, October 3, 2019

“The Japanese Reissue Phenomenon: A View from the Inside” by Daisuke Ito
Residential Advisor, May 9, 2019

“The Last Shakers” by Katherine Lucky
Commonweal, November 28, 2019

“Why Literature Professors Turned Against Authors—Or Did They?”
by John Farrell
Los Angeles Review of Books, January 13, 2019

“The Pianist and the Lobster” by Errol Morris
New York Times, June 21, 2019
The Best Online Essays of 2019
Follow Ted Gioia on Twitter at
Selected articles by Ted Gioia on the web

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?
Schopenhauer for Millennials
Vladimir Nabokov, Sci-Fi Writer
Bach the Rebel
How Sartre Cured Existential Angst with Jazz
If John Coltrane Had Lived
Lectures on Proust in a Soviet Prison Camp
The Decline of Satire
Music as Cultural Cloud Storage
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
Four Essays on Leo Tolstoy
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 2018
The 100 Best Recordings of 2017
The 100 Best Recordings of 2016
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
Why Music Owernship Matters
The Tragic Story of America's First Black Music Star
Frank Sinatra at 100
Ella Fitzgerald at 100
Music and Violence (video talk)
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
Is Miles Davis's Kind of Blue the Greatest Jazz Album?
How Joan of Arc Conquered Mark Twain
The Most Intriguing Musicians of 2017
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
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
John Coltrane: Prophet and Seer (video)
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?
Duke Ellington's Sacred Music
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