Yesterday I posted an [impossible puzzle].( You weren’t meant to solve it, just to be intrigued. The answer is Don Was, President of Blue Note Records.

I knew a little of Don Was, because years ago a friend turned me on to Was_(Not_Was), a band that took me a while to appreciate. I had to invoke my rule of listening to new music at least three times, because I didn’t hear it properly at first.

It’s not his band I’m recommending, but only because recommending music is fraught. I tend not to do it anymore, as the success rate is so low. So often what excites me, makes others shrug.

But I strongly recommend his radio show, The Don Was Motor City Playlist, on NPR’s WDET Detroit, hosted by Ann Delisi. One or two recent shows are available to stream for free, but the entire backlog is available from Spotify. They have kept me copmpany during many a recent coding session.

The show started in 2021, a pandemic project, airing every Friday night at 10PM Eastern time, and it is phenomenal. Don Was turns out to be the Kevin Bacon of modern music. He’s worked with everyone, playing, producing, partying. His stories take you on a ride through the music industry like no other I’ve ever experienced, while he and Ann laugh their asses off at the memories. In between, he selects the most amazing, delightful, and varied playlists I’ve ever heard, yet they effortlessly form a unified whole.

So what’s with the puzzle? * At 14, he formed a band called the “Opalescent Hobnails” and almost got signed to a record deal by claiming he wrote songs actually composed by Arthur Lee. * In 2011, when he was down on his luck and ready to quit, he became President of Blue Note Records. * He produced an album for The Highwaymen and watched one night as Johnny Cash and Waylon Jennings gave Willie Nelson psychedelic mushroom tea to drink on stage. He said Willie really didn’t seem to mind. * He has worked with the Rolling Stones for over 25 years. * He produced Bonnie Raitt’s Grammy-winning album, Nick of Time * The Dalai Lama picked him out of a crowd, fondled his dreadlocks, asked where he was from, then called music superficial. * He met with Brian Wilson, while the big lawsuit was still going on. Brian had written new songs and wanted to record them with the whole group, but didn’t know how to ask. So Don Was went to San Diego, met the rest of the Beach Boys in a diner, and asked them if they were willing. Next thing he knew, the Beach Boys were at his house, recording a new album. Alas, it never saw the light of day, because Carl Wilson’s death from cancer intervened.

Every episode is has stories like that, filled with famous artists of all genres, surrounded by music and laughter to match.

@JohnPhilpin Run, dont walk.