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The 10 Most Popular Posts on The Honest Broker
This is a partying day for me—it’s both my birthday, and also (by pure coincidence) the 6-month anniversary of the launch of The Honest Broker. Both these occasions give me an excuse to look backward, but I’ll spare you the reflections of an aging author, and focus instead on a (still young) web newsletter and column.
I’m fortunate that Substack offers me detailed metrics, the best I’ve ever enjoyed as a writer. This helps me understand which articles people enjoy (or not, as the case might be). And though we don’t chase clicks here, they are greeted graciously when they come knocking—or merely clicking—at my chamber door.
Below are the ten most popular posts since the site launch—out of more than 60 total postings.
If there are subjects you would like me to write about in the future, feel free to share them in a comment. And don’t hesitate to suggest unusual topics—that’s part of the agenda here.
The Honest Broker is a reader-supported guide to music, books, and culture. Both free and paid subscriptions are available. If you want to support my work, the best way is by taking out a paid subscription.
And here are the top ten (in order of views).
How I Became the Honest Broker: It was fitting that this was the most popular article—by a factor of more than two-to-one—because it describes the unusual story and deeply-held values behind The Honest Broker.
Twelve Predictions for the Future of Music: This was a candid and unapologetic take on emerging trends, and generated quite a bit of debate and discussion. In fact, I got more feedback on this article than for any other post on The Honest Broker.
The Man Who Put Out Fires With Music: This was the first essay in my ongoing series on “Visionaries of Music,” and focused on one of the most intriguing (and little-known) figures in 20th century music, the eccentric Charles Kellogg.
Why Do They Burn a Man at Burning Man?: In this essay I looked at the violent rituals of popular music, and tried to explain them in terms of the mimetic theory of René Girard. That’s one of the most satisfying things about publishing on Substack, namely that I can write about arcane subjects, outside the conventional definitions of music journalism, and sometimes discover that readers care about them as much as I do.
If AT&T Ran the Phone Business Like Google: This was a very unusual piece for me, one of the few times I’ve published a satire. But it was well received, and the fifth most popular post on The Honest Broker. Once again, the peculiar rule-breaking postings often found the largest audience—I’d like to encourage all the editors out there to mull over that fact.
The Most Musical Man in the World Turns 85: I celebrated the legacy of one of my favorite musicians, Hermeto Pascoal, on the occasion of his 85th birthday. This was another entry in my ongoing series on “Visionaries of Sound.”
The Honky-Tonk Nun of Ethiopia: Here was another “Visionaries of Sound” entry—this one focused on Emahoy Tsegué-Maryam Guèbrou, who will celebrate her 98th birthday in a few weeks.
I Write a Parenting Advice Column: I sometimes test my readers’ patience by writing about subjects completely outside music and arts. In any event, many read this long column that mixed autobiography with parenting advice.
The Worst Day in Jazz History: In this article, I revisited the Great Columbia Jazz Purge, a very dark day in the history of the genre.
Ten Observations on Lullabies: I have a deep interest in the music of everyday life, and here I looked into one of the oldest and richest song styles in human history. The lullaby gets little attention or respect—is there even one music history book about it?— but the response to the article showed again that many people appreciate the significance of non-commercial music categories.
As mentioned above, I welcome your suggestions on other topics I might address in The Honest Broker.