NPR Music

You know how some CDs come with a warning label reading "not for kids" or "explicit material"? Ann Powers' latest book Good Booty: Love and Sex, Black and White, Body and Soul in American Music should come with its own warning label – "Warning: read this book and you will never hear music the same way again!"

It's time to crank up the amps, warm up the drum machines, dust off the sax (or whatever your instrument of choice is) and enter the Tiny Desk Contest.

As Valentine's Day approaches on the calendar, the topic of love has a knack for subsequently creeping into every passing thought. And while you might be able to drown out the ads for chocolate hearts, overpriced flower bouquets and forcibly romantic dining, love songs are as old as the art form itself and know no occasion.

Love is complicated, scientifically speaking. There's no single, specific "love chemical" that surges through our bodies when we see our beloved, and we can't point to a specific corner of the brain where love resides.

The U.K.'s jazz scene is flourishing these days thanks, in part, to the young artists pumping it with new life. We Out Here, the latest compilation project from DJ and producer Gilles Peterson's indie label Brownswood Recordings, is a fitting proclamation of ownership from the contemporaries who are adding color to the landscape.

Vic Damone, a singer who rose to fame along the tail end of the post-war era embodied by The Rat Pack, died yesterday at Mount Sinai Medical Center in Miami Beach, Fla., according to a statement from his family. He was 89.

A first-generation Italian-American, Damone grew up closely studying the work of another similarly situated artist, Frank Sinatra, who would later become a cherished friend. "Without Frank there would not have been a Vic Damone," Damone once said.

John Perry Barlow, who died last Wednesday at 70, was one of those unusual figures whose obituaries find no point of common agreement. An Internet evangelist who once wrote song lyrics for the Grateful Dead, Barlow was also a poet, activist, cattle rancher and corporate consultant, whose peripatetic career defied easy summarization.

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