The Ken Burns of Rock Music

The Ken Burns of Rock Music

As usual, I’ve been busy.  But not with the usual things.  Our dog is getting older and slower, and taking him on walks is now a half-hour journey around the block.  Traveling to visit my marvelous mother involves 2 to 4 hours of driving (depending on traffic).  What’s a busy boy to do?  Why not study history?  But while reading a history book is technically possible while tethered to a tortoise-paced dog, my self-driving car has still not developed a stable sense of self.  Thumbing the pages of book while turning over the task of driving to an AI in its Terrible Twos would be reckless (Wreckfull is perhaps a better term).

Ah, but consider the Podcast.  Hands free, eyes free.  I’ve tried, and enjoyed, many podcasts with historical content.  They’re alright.  But there is One Podcast that stands above all others – it is mammoth in its breadth, exhaustive in its detail, inclusive of all the little bits that make history fun and alive.  It is…

A History of Rock Music in 500 Songs, by Andrew Hickey.  An audio equivalent to the visual opus of Ken Burns.  Every bit as engaging yet even deeper and more glorious.

Yet unlike Ken Burns (with his research staff of dozens), Andrew Hickey is ONE person, pulling together a universe of information and making sense of it all.  Perhaps that is part of it’s charm – We’re hearing directly from the auteur.  No professional narrator or other filter to the information.  Just one astute and passionate mind passing on knowledge.  Like hanging out with Socrates, baby.

As much as I admire and like Ken Burns, this is even better. More thorough. Thoughtful. Thrilling. The history of Rock Music is the history of the 20th Century. Just start at episode one. It gets better and better after that.

Apple Podcasts Link
A History of Rock Music in 500 Songs Website


  1. I forget how I originally found out about this podcast but it was specifically about the Dark Star episode. I’ve listened to an hour so far and there’s still over three and a half hours to go. I haven’t gotten any further because I feel like I need to devote uninterrupted time to it in order to honor all the work he put in to this one episode. In the meantime I’ve been listening to The Good Ol’ Grateful Deadcast which is also chock full of history, much of which is in the Bay Area. If you have any more podcast bandwidth you’ll probably like it. Especially since their earliest days were in Palo Alto.

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