Gil Asakawa's Nikkei View | music
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Here's the best description I've read yet about the "Jack FM" format -- a hodgepodge of album oriented and hit songs from the past two, maybe three decades played up in no particular order. The stations that feature the format (Denver's Jack 105.5 FM was the first station in the U.S. to adopt the format, which was birthed in Canada) typically use taglines that state something like, "Music we like," or "Playing what we want."

James Talley, songwriter and real estate agent
The best music – the kind that can stand that clichéd ol’ test of time – has a way of resonating as deeply and fully today as it did back when it was first recorded. That’s what comes to mind when I listen to “Got No Bread, No Milk, No Money, but We Sure Got a Lot of Love," the debut album by singer-songwriter James Talley. The album was released way back in 1975, but it sounds as fresh and relevant as it did back then – and as a bonus, it sounds downright hip today, even though it was something of an anomaly back then. Never heard of James Talley? Don’t feel bad, most music fans haven’t.

It's been 25 years since John Lennon was murdered in front of his New York City apartment building by a crazed fan. Over time, the media have covered the anniversary with diminishing interest, but this year resonates because of its quarter-century milestone. I've been listening to a pretty good two-CD compilation, "Working Class Hero: The Definitive Lennon," released by Capitol Records (and compiled, with "definitive" decisiveness, by widow Yoko Ono), and appreciating Lennon's solo work more than I have in years.

A long time ago, in a galaxy far away, I wrote a rhapsodic review of Madonna. I thought back then that she was a perfect encapsulation of American consumerism, and though that's kind of an icky concept, I thought she was special because her music was so good. She captures (or at least back then, captured) the American "zeitgeist" (sorry to use such a geek crit-term, but it's a good one) with pure pop for all people. Anyone who didn't like her music were just plain high-culture snobs or didn't have an ounce of humor and/or rhythm in their bones.

I'm always fascinated by the field of rock criticism. It's hard to believe that a career that didn't exist until the mid-1960s and didn't become commonplace until the late 1970s and early '80s -- that's when most paper in America finally relented and realized they better have a "staff pop music critic" onboard -- is already entrenched in traditions and patterns. There's even a Web site to rock critics' serious navel gazing, RockCritics.com. I used to be a rockcrit, and I loved my decade-plus covering music, especially because I did it for Westword when it was still a fledgling alternative paper, and I was in it for the passion. I had my heroes -- brainy academic Greil Marcus, Rock & Rap Confidential founder Dave Marsh and the Village Voice's self-proclaimed "Dean of American Rock Critics," Robert Christgau.

Every day's bus ride from the Westminster Park and Ride is like listening to the weirdest radio station imaginable -- a lot weirder than even the heyday of "underground" radio of the late '60s and early '70s. And every ride, I hear gems out of the 10,064 tracks on my 40GB 4G iPod that make me smile, or take me back, or get me to notice something new and cool that I didn't know or notice before. That's the beauty of shuffling through the music.

I just heard one of the most gawdawful songs of the rock and roll era -- or any era, for that matter -- on CNN. I was working away, and the TV outside my office door started playing Joe Cocker's 1973 Top 40 hit, "You Are So Beautiful." The sound stopped me cold, and I got all shakey and felt like vomiting.