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Alan Light

Alan Light

Alan Light has been one of America’s leading music journalists and authors for more than twenty-five years. A frequent contributor to the New York Times and numerous other publications, he is the co-host of the daily music talk show "Debatable" and the monthly interview series "In the Light" on SiriusXM.
 
Alan’s books include THE HOLY OR THE BROKEN: LEONARD COHEN, JEFF BUCKLEY AND THE UNLIKELY ASCENT OF 'HALLELUJAH', which Kirkus Reviews named one of the best books of 2012, and LET'S GO CRAZY: PRINCE AND THE MAKING OF PURPLE RAIN.  He also wrote WHAT HAPPENED, MISS SIMONE? — a companion to the Academy Award-nominated documentary of the same title — and his most recent book is the illustrated biography JOHNNY CASH: THE LIFE AND LEGACY OF THE MAN IN BLACK.
 
Alan is the co-author of Gregg Allman’s best-selling memoir, MY CROSS TO BEAR, which Rolling Stone and Billboard named one of the best rock & roll memoirs of all time, and he was the writer of THE SEARCHER, an acclaimed two-part documentary about the life and music of Elvis Presley, which premiered on HBO in April 2018.
 
Alan was the founding music editor and editor-in-chief of the urban culture monthly Vibe. In that time, Vibe’s circulation climbed from 200,000 to 600,000 and the magazine was nominated for four National Magazine Awards. Alan then served as the editor-in-chief of Spin magazine. Before helping launch Vibe, Alan was a Senior Writer at Rolling Stone, where he began working in 1989.
 
Alan’s writing has appeared in such publications as the New Yorker, the Wall Street Journal, Pitchfork.com, Mother Jones, New York magazine, and MOJO, and he is a two-time winner of the ASCAP-Deems Taylor Award for excellence in music journalism. He has written liner notes for numerous albums and DVDs by such artists as the Beatles, Bob Dylan, Whitney Houston, and Chuck Berry, and his essays on subjects from Bruce Springsteen to the roots of hip-hop have appeared in many other books.

Pic: Mary Ellen Matthews

42 articles

By Artist | By Date

List of articles in the library by artist

Allman Brothers Band, Eric Clapton, Booker T. Jones, John Mayer, Keith Richards: Crossroads Guitar Festival: Madison Square Garden, New York

Live Review by Alan Light, MSN.com, April 2013

Two nights. Nine-and-a-half hours. Thirty-three guitar players (more or less). Ninety-one songs. ...

The Band, Levon Helm: Love for Levon: Izod Center, New Jersey

Live Review by Alan Light, MSN.com, October 2012

LEVON HELM wasn't exactly a household name. But when the former drummer and vocalist for The Band died in April after a long battle with ...

The Beatles, George Martin: The Real Fifth Beatle: Sir George Martin On Sgt. Pepper, Why Abbey Road is Better and More

Interview by Alan Light, MSN.com, June 2007

There were many who vied for the title, but in the recording studio, there was really only one Fifth Beatle. ...

The Beatles, Ringo Starr: Ringo Starr

Interview by Alan Light, Newsweek, Spring 2012

IN. 1962, RINGO Starr was the scruffy-looking drummer in a Liverpool band called Rory Storm and the Hurricanes. The group was one of the bigger ...

The Bee Gees, Robin Gibb: Robin Gibb remembers Saturday Night Fever

Retrospective and Interview by Alan Light, MSN.com, September 2007

FOR BABY BOOMERS, this year marked the 40th anniversary of the Summer of Love. For hipsters worldwide, 2007 means that it's been three decades since ...

Harry Belafonte

Interview by Alan Light, MSN.com, October 2011

"NOBODY'S EVER known what to call me," says Harry Belafonte. "Was I a folk singer, jazz, pop? Or was I even a singer at all? ...

The Black Keys: Blackroc: Cold Fusion

Profile and Interview by Alan Light, Relix, January 2010

NEVER BEFORE HAVE THE PURE ELEMENTS OF HIP-HOP AND ROCK BEEN SUCCESSFULLY CATALYZED TO CREATE SOMETHING ENTIRELY NEW – UNTIL NOW. BLAKROC, THE CREATION OF ...

Bon Jovi, Coldplay, Billy Joel, Alicia Keys, Paul McCartney, The Rolling Stones, Bruce Springsteen, Kanye West, The Who: 12-12-12: The Concert for Sandy Relief: Madison Square Garden, New York

Live Review by Alan Light, MSN.com, December 2012

IT MIGHT HAVE been the single greatest gathering of talent for a rock show – or it might just have been, as Mick Jagger put ...

Boogie Down Productions, KRS-One: KRS-One: Wisdom From The Street

Profile and Interview by Alan Light, Rolling Stone, 30 May 1991

Kris Parker once lived in the subways and shelters of New York. Now the rapper known as KRS-One is hip-hop's righteous voice — and one ...

David Byrne

Interview by Alan Light, MSN.com, August 2008

IN NEW YORK CITY this summer, David Byrne is everywhere. His installation titled Playing the Building transformed the Battery Maritime Building into a giant musical ...

Cheap Trick, John Fogerty, Foo Fighters, Stevie Nicks, Queens Of The Stone Age, Rick Springfield: The Sound City Players: Hammerstein Ballroom, NYC

Live Review by Alan Light, MSN.com, February 2014

"THAT ROCK fantasy camp shit?," screamed a shirtless Taylor Hawkins. "This is it right here!" The Foo Fighters drummer – taking a rare turn standing ...

Kenny Chesney

Profile and Interview by Alan Light, Radio.com, September 2014

"THERE'S THIS perception that I only sing about partying and getting drunk," says Kenny Chesney. "If people saw how hard I work, and how much ...

Kenny Chesney, Steve Earle, Jerry Lee Lewis, Dave Matthews Band, John Mellencamp, Willie Nelson, The Pretenders, Neil Young: Farm Aid

Review by Alan Light, MSN.com, September 2008

"THIS IS OUR twenty-third Farm Aid," said John Mellencamp, "and when we started this thing, we were naïve enough that we thought we'd have this ...

Chic, Nile Rodgers: Nile Rodgers: The Next, Not the Last

Report and Interview by Alan Light, Savoy Magazine, Fall 2018

Nile Rodgers has long been considered one of the coolest artists on the music scene, and shows no sign of slowing down. Following his victory ...

Jimmy Cliff

Interview by Alan Light, MSN.com, July 2012

THERE IS exactly one reggae singer in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame whose name is not Bob Marley. The truth, though, is that ...

Elvis Costello, D'Angelo, Kat Edmonson, Prince, The Roots, The Waterboys, Wendy And Lisa: The Music of Prince: Carnegie Hall, New York

Live Review by Alan Light, MSN.com, March 2013

PRINCE HAS long been considered a gold standard as a singer, guitarist, stage performer, and producer. He's such a singular force, though, that he hasn't ...

Creedence Clearwater Revival, Grateful Dead, Richie Havens, Santana: Woodstock's 40th anniversary

Retrospective and Interview by Alan Light, MSN.com, August 2009

Woodstock was a beginning, and it was an end. ...

P. Diddy

Interview by Alan Light, Elle, October 2006

"THERE HE IS! There he is!" ...

The Dixie Chicks: The Playboy Interview

Interview by Alan Light, Playboy, December 2006

IT IS MARCH 10, 2003. The Dixie Chicks – Natalie Maines, Emily Robison and Martie Maguire – are playing an SRO show in London at ...

The Four Tops, The Supremes, The Temptations: Motown at 50

Retrospective and Interview by Alan Light, MSN.com, January 2009

FIFTY YEARS AGO this month in Detroit, a 29-year-old African-American songwriter named Berry Gordy, Jr – a former boxer, autoworker, and Army veteran – borrowed ...

Buddy Guy on his autobiography

Interview by Alan Light, MSN.com, June 2012

"A LOT OF people have the blues and don't even know they got it," says Buddy Guy. "But just keep living and you'll figure out ...

Levon Helm

Profile and Interview by Alan Light, MSN.com, May 2011

LEVON HELM is standing in his kitchen, grinning. At the head of the table, singer-songwriter Garland Jeffreys is showing guitarist Larry Campbell, best known for ...

Jay-Z: Carnegie Hall, New York City

Live Review by Alan Light, MSN.com, July 2012

LIKE ANY REAL MC, Jay-Z loves a challenge. He just takes things to a higher level than, well, anyone. So it wasn't enough that on ...

Billy Joel on The Stranger

Interview by Alan Light, MSN.com, July 2008

IN 1977, BILLY Joel was struggling to catch a break. The Long Island native was approaching 30, and had released four albums to no great ...

David Johansen, New York Dolls, Buster Poindexter: David Johansen: The MOJO Interview

Interview by Alan Light, MOJO, March 2015

DAVID JOHANSEN sits on the couch in the living room of his wife's long-time, walk-up apartment on a nondescript block of Manhattan's Upper West Side. ...

Led Zeppelin: Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones

Interview by Alan Light, MSN.com, October 2007

IT IS A ROCK and roll fantasy that most people had abandoned. On November 26 at London's O2 Arena, the three surviving members of Led ...

John Mellencamp, Pete Seeger, Bruce Springsteen: Pete Seeger's Birthday Concert: Madison Square Garden, NYC

Live Review by Alan Light, MSN.com, May 2009

IN THE NEW biography The Protest Singer, folk music paragon Pete Seeger tells writer Alec Wilkinson that the single word he believes in above all ...

Nas

Retrospective and Interview by Alan Light, MOJO, July 2014

IT IS THE winter that never ends in New York City, and on this mid-April evening, the rain outside is gradually turning to snow. The ...

Sinead O'Connor

Interview by Alan Light, eMusic.com, July 2007

IT WAS PERHAPS the most shocking crash and burn in pop music history. With her 1987 debut, The Lion and the Cobra, 20-year-old Sinead O'Connor ...

Robert Plant: The World's Roar

Retrospective and Interview by Alan Light, Relix, December 2014

AT FIRST GLANCE, you don't notice him. It's a little hard to believe – he is, after all, one of the most recognizable, distinctive, and ...

Prince: Body & Soul

Interview by Alan Light, Tracks, September 2004

The hit Musicology album and torrid live shows have made him a star again. Faith and marriage have made him happy. Yes, Prince has come ...

The Red Hot Chili Peppers: Red Hot Chili Peppers: Out Of Their Tree

Profile and Interview by Alan Light, Spin, May 2006

TWO YEARS AGO, RHCP went to Europe to play in front of the largest crowds of their 20-plus-year-career. After surviving numerous personnel changes, drug problems, ...

The Rolling Stones: Mick Jagger and Keith Richards on Some Girls

Retrospective and Interview by Alan Light, MSN.com, November 2011

"THE IDEA WAS ten songs, very direct, not a lot of backing vocals or horns, no duets or guests, very straightforward," says Mick Jagger. "We ...

Mark Ronson, Amy Winehouse: Mark Ronson: Stop Me If You Think You've Heard This One Before

Interview by Alan Light, Guilt & Pleasure, September 2007

Shedding the mantle of socialite DJ to become a critically successful producer, Mark Ronson is Jewtastic. ...

Paul Simon

Interview by Alan Light, MSN.com, October 2011

"CAN YOU IMAGINE us years from today?" wrote Paul Simon in 'Old Friends', from Simon and Garfunkel's 1968 album Bookends. "Sharing a park bench quietly/How ...

Soundgarden: Beast Kings of NY

Report and Interview by Alan Light, MOJO, February 2013

NOTE: This is Alan's "Director's Cut" version of the piece that ran in MOJO. ...

Steely Dan

Interview by Alan Light, MSN.com, May 2008

THE WORSE THINGS get, the better Steely Dan sounds. The songs of Walter Becker and Donald Fagen stand as the definitive account of urban decadence ...

Taylor Swift on 1989

Interview by Alan Light, Radio.com, October 2014

"EVERY RECORD, I've tried to challenge myself to make something different," says Taylor Swift. "Red was really experimental, so I ended up with a sound ...

Pete Townshend, The Who: Pete Townshend: "I Was Wild!"

Interview by Alan Light, MOJO, August 2015

"I DON'T WANT to tour, I don't want to go on TV, I don't want to go on the radio, I don't want to do ...

Van Halen: Café Wha?

Live Review by Alan Light, MSN.com, January 2012

"WELCOME TO Occupy Van Halen!," said a grinning David Lee Roth, as the band took to the stage of New York's tiny basement club Café ...

Roger Waters: Fearless

Profile and Interview by Alan Light, MOJO, August 2017

IN JULY 1978, the members of Pink Floyd gathered at Britannia Row, their studio in London. It had been almost exactly a year since the ...

Neil Young

Interview by Alan Light, MSN.com, December 2012

"THERE’S A day of reckoning coming," says Neil Young. "These superstorms and disasters—they're not a surprise, they were predicted, and they're only going to increase ...

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