Rock legend Al Kooper's got some 'New Music for Old People'
Al Kooper has had a long, varied and historic career in rock music. He wrote "This Diamond Ring," a No. 1 hit for Gary Lewis & the Playboys in 1965. He provided the iconic organ accompaniment on Bob Dylan's breakthrough hit, "Like a Rolling Stone." He also formed Blood, Sweat and Tears, discovered and produced Southern rock legend Lynyrd Skynyrd and teamed with guitarists Mike Bloomfield and Stephen Stills for the 1968 hit album "Super Session."
The Brooklyn-born, Queens-raised Kooper, 70, who now makes his home in Boston, also has been a keen commentator on music. He uses his critical skills to the fullest in a column perfect for boomers and seniors. 'New Music for Old People' (bit.ly/kooper-blog) is a weekly Top 10 of more current songs Kooper believes older adults will find as musically satisfying as the singles they purchased decades ago. The column also features older tunes that have been overlooked.
The column is a labor of love, but it still takes work: Kooper listens to scores of new releases and older songs every week. "I'm doing it as a consumer guide," he says. "Nobody wants to spend the time that I do in iTunes." Each column includes a digital jukebox where Kooper's selections can be streamed free to your computer. You can sign up to have the column emailed to you as soon as Kooper files it, typically late Thursday.
While Kooper's taste is varied, it does not extend to all genres. He is outspoken about his dislike of rap and hip-hop. "It destroyed classic soul, so I'm really vindictive about it," he says. And don't expect a recommendation for songs made by "death metal" screamers. "If there's a skull on the album cover, I bypass it," he says.
Kooper, who lost two-thirds of his vision in 2001 due to a rare eye condition, doesn't perform as much these days, but he will be onstage Thursday and Friday at B.B. King's club in Times Square (bit.ly/kooper-bbking). He also recently completed another labor of love: overseeing a four-disc anthology of Bloomfield's work, including cuts from "Super Session." Bloomfield, who also played on "Like a Rolling Stone" and is considered one of rock's greatest guitarists, died in 1981.
As for his column, Kooper says his goal is to find music that electrifies him the way it did when he first heard an exceptional song on the car radio years ago. "There are still records today that do that to me," he says. "But I have to search valiantly for them."