Band/Artist Profile Music Education Playlists

Hot and Heavy: A Queercore Field Guide

Last week, we learned about the proliferation of queercore within the hardcore punk scene.

To briefly recap, queercore emerged as a subculture in the mid-1980s. It started from punk’s DIY scene, with purveyors of handmade magazines and other forms of media serving as the movement’s basis.

Queercore, also known as homocore, reflected the experiences of LGBT individuals in a society that was often hostile towards open displays of queerness.

“homocore block in 1994 chicago pride parade.” Image published to Wikimedia Commons by, licensed CC BY-SA 2.0

While I primarily focused on Limp Wrist’s influence on the scene, there are numerous other bands that defined the genre.

As we move farther into pride month, I encourage both members of the LGBT community and allies to reflect on the convictions outlined by the queercore scene.

To help with this, I’ve composed a short “field guide” of various tracks and artists — some punk, some not — classified under the “queercore” umbrella.

Pansy Division

This band has a classic summertime driving-down-the-road-with-the-windows-down style.

Closer to the sound of blink-182 than Limp Wrist, Pansy Division is edgy but light enough for casual listening. With upbeat guitar riffs and a sardonic lead vocalist, the band produces tracks to be enjoyed both ironically and in earnest.

Album cover for “More Lovin’ From Our Oven” by Pansy Divison

Based out of San Francisco, the band formed in 1991 and solidified itself as one of the only openly gay rock bands in the contemporary scene.

Touring with Green Day in 1994, Pansy Divison was one of the most commercially successful queercore bands to exist. The band’s pop-punk style and often-comical songs about queerness garnered significant acclaim.

Recommended Tracks

“Smells Like Queer Spirit” (Nirvana cover)

A flagrantly ironic cover of a Nirvana classic, this track cleverly queers one of the most well-known songs by one of the most gatekept bands. Play this track for your favorite straight white man and watch his blood pressure surge.

Against all odds, we appear
Grew up brainwashed,
But turned out queer
Bunsplitters, rugmunchers too
We screw just how we want to screw
Hello, hello, hello, homo

Pansy Division, “Smells Like Queer Spirit” (Nirvana cover)

“Fem in a Black Leather Jacket”

He looks as good in a skirt as he does in jeans
He is a most notorious queen
His personality, I’m not impressed
But I can’t wait to get him undressed

Pansy Division, “Fem in a Black Leather Jacket”

G.L.O.S.S. (Girls Living Outside Society’s S–)

Based in Olympia, Washington, G.L.O.S.S was an openly trans-feminist hardcore punk band.

Formed in 2014 and dissolved in 2016, the band’s existence was tragically brief. While G.L.O.S.S. had the opportunity to “make it big” with a $50,000 deal by Epitaph Records, the band ultimately decided to remain unaligned with a large corporation.

Shortly after turning down Epitaph’s deal, G.L.O.S.S. announced its breakup in an issue of the punk zine Maximum Rocknroll.

Cover for G.L.O.S.S. album “Trans Day of Revenge”

The band members explained that the growing “cult of personality” surrounding the group, as well as the obligations of touring and performing, were taking a toll on their mental and emotional health.

The band’s sound blended classic hardcore with trans-affirming themes to create raucous, angsty riffs striking back against heterosexual hegemony and anti-transness. Their songs are undeniably iconic.

Recommended Tracks

“G.L.O.S.S. (We’re From the Future)”

They told us we were girls
How we talk, dress, look, and cry
They told us we were girls
So we claimed our female lives
Now they tell us we aren’t girls
Our femininity doesn’t fit
We’re f– future girls living outside
Society’s s–!

G.L.O.S.S., “G.L.O.S.S. (We’re From the Future)”

“Lined Lips and Spiked Bats”

They told us to die, we chose to live
They told us to die, we chose to live
Straight America, you won’t ruin me
Sick American dream

G.L.O.S.S., “Lined Lips and Spiked Bats”

Los Crudos

As I mentioned in last week’s post, Limp Wrist’s predecessor was a Chicago-based band called Los Crudos.

Active from 1991 to 1998 and comprised of all Latin American members, Los Crudos helped to make a place for Latine punks in a predominately white subculture.

Album cover for “Doble LP Discografia” by Los Crudos

The band tackled themes related to imperialism, xenophobia and immigration. All songs were sung completely in Spanish.

In addition, they openly called out homophobia — the band’s lead vocalist, Martin Sorrondeguy, was openly gay — and thus Los Crudos solidified themselves as adjacent to the queercore movement.

Recommended Tracks

“Me Lo Paso Por El Culo”



The Butchies

With a career spanning between 1998 and 2005, The Butchies started in Durham, North Carolina as an all-female punk band.

Though their style was far from hardcore, they were a distinct force within the queercore movement.

Their songs were imbued with staunch political messages, focusing on themes relating to lesbianism, gay romance and misogyny.

Album cover for “Are We Not Femme?” by The Butchies

In a 1999 issue of The Advocate, singer-guitarist Kaia Wilson said of the band’s reputation for its leftist politics:

“I say, maybe it’s because we’re so openly hated every day, maybe because one in three teens who commits suicide is gay. I say that the people who come to our shows are glad that we are [political].

Recommended Tracks


Well it’s not supposed to bring you madness
And it’s not too far too cold forgiveness
When we hold to truths so false like bibles
Won’t you come and meet me here

The Butchies, “Trouble”

“The Galaxy is Gay”

Who are you anyway and how did you get inside
II heard you’re from the gay galaxy and now you’ve got to hide
Sure wish you would have gone here
Wish just the same you’d stay next year

The Butchies, “The Galaxy is Gay”
Music Education

Disco’s Revenge: The Birth of House Music

House music began in the underground clubs of 1980s-era Chicago.

Defined by its signature four-on-the-floor beat and classical tempo of 120 beats per minute, house served as the foundation for contemporary pop and dance music.

Despite house music’s significant cultural impact, its history is rarely addressed in discourse.

Not only was house music instrumental in the development of many contemporary music genres, but it was rooted in unequivocal Black queerness.

Photo by Sam van Bussel on Unsplash

The Death of Disco

Before house, there was disco.

Emerging in the 1970s, disco formed with influences from the LGBT community, Italian Americans, Hispanic and Latine Americans and Black Americans.

The genre was known for its four-on-the-floor beats, syncopated basslines, string sections, brass and horns, electric pianos, synths and electric rhythm guitars.

Though its elevaton to the mainstream distanced the genre from its roots, disco’s inception was starkly countercultural: a response to the aggression (and subcultural hypermasculinity) of rock and the social stigma surrounding dance music.

Photo by Katie Bonilla on Unsplash

Derived from within marginalized communities, disco represented a richness in history and culture far removed from the straight white hegemony of the twentieth century.

Disco centered on vivid, unapologetic self-expression rooted in the era’s overarching sexual revolution. Groups like Earth Wind & Fire and Kool and the Gang emerged, bringing disco — and its message — to a broader audience.

However, such popularity also garnered enmity.

Disco Demolition Night, an event often marked as the death of disco, occured July 12, 1979 at Chicago’s Comiskey Park.

During the event, originally marketed as a Major League Baseball promotion, a crate of disco records was blown up on the field. Chaos ensued as thousands of audience members rushed out after the explosion in a riot.

This brazen display of hatred for disco music riveted the nation, inflaming the stigma already surrounding the genre. In the years following the event, disco’s popularity nosedived.

The once-bustling scene faded into virtual obscurity.

The Birth of House

In the decade proceeding the death of disco, queer Black DJs in Chicago’s underground club scene began developing something new, something that expanded upon the danceability and expressivity of disco.

Photo by Joshua Fuller on Unsplash

Among these DJs was the openly-gay Frankie Knuckles, whose impact on the genre’s development earned him the moniker “Godfather of House.”

Knuckles defined himself in the scene by playing unique mixes, blending together tracks and experimenting with different sounds and speeds. He also pioneered the practice of adding a drum machine and reel-to-reel tape player to create new tracks.

In the background of Knuckles’ musical innovations, a darkness was brewing. In June 1981, the first cases of the illness now known as AIDS were identified in five young gay men in Los Angeles.

House as a Home

While some argue that Knuckles was not the founder of house (in fact, the source of the name “house” is even contested) as a genre, it’s undeniable that his passion for the craft helped transform house into an international phenomenon.

Like disco, house was born from the creative influences of queer people of color. Its vibrance reflected a desire for freedom, autonomy and actualization.

Photo by Simon Noh on Unsplash

Dance halls were unifying spaces in which patrons could exist without fear. They became sanctuaries for individuals cast out of their broader communities on the basis of their sexual and/or gender identities.

Additionally, house reflected a bold response to the “murder” of disco at the hands of (majority white and heterosexual) detractors.

House rose from disco’s ashes a stronger, more sensational being. And it still goes strong today.

Additional Reading

Music Education

“You just think it looks cool.” Straight Edge and the Hardcore Punk Scene

I love record stores.

There’s something unparalleled about walking into a brick-and-mortar shop and seeing rows upon rows of crates and shelves, the walls papered with posters and zine covers and collages. It’s the best kind of liminal space.

Photo by Caleb Woods on Unsplash, free to use under the Unsplash License

I went to a local record store last weekend for the first time in years. In fact, it was the first “real” record store I’d ever been to.

As I perused the crates, I was delighted to find a copy of Minor Threat’s 1981 EP, “First Two Seven Inches.”

The EP was a primary contributor to the soundtrack of my late teens. At the time, I lived in a beach town still recovering from the previous year’s hurricane.

A primier vacation spot for many middle-class families, the town fell to ruin in the off season. Homelessness, drug addiction and violent crime underscored the area’s stark wealth disparity.

The “clean” coastline was peppered with million-dollar beach homes and luxury condos. Ten miles inland, average citizens struggled to make ends meet amid a stifling job market.

Many turned to drugs and alcohol as a means of making life bearable. Among these individuals were friends, coworkers and bosses.

It was during this time that I became first acquainted with Minor Threat. The band’s jilting, ragged strains mirrored my own consternation with the building chaos in my inner circle.

Music Education

Defining Midwest Emo

I heard people nitpick the definition of midwest emo long before I began listening to the twinkly, mathy indie-emo that most consider to be actual midwest emo.

For every pretentious boyfriend I’ve had who’s corrected me when I slipped up and put Mom Jeans into the midwest emo category, there are 100 other people on Reddit telling a well-meaning user that no, Joyce Manor is not real emo.

Music Education

“Twin Fantasy (Mirror to Mirror)”: A Lesson in Production

I’ve been listening back to Will Toledo’s original release of “Twin Fantasy” from 2011 as of late. I wanted to try to figure out why I keep coming back to this amateurish, messy project as opposed to its more polished re-release.

Where 2018’s “Twin Fantasy” (subtitled “Face to Face” for distinction) flows between its softer and more aggressive moments cleanly, there is often very little distinction between these tones on “Mirror to Mirror”. Toledo’s guitar work here is often frantic and uncertain. His backup guitar on tracks like “Beach Life-In-Death” plays like static noise for most of the song. His drumming is almost imperceptible under that static, and his voice often sinks into all the other instrumentation.

A Case Study

And yet, the older recording of “Beach Life-In-Death” is often the one I come back to. As a song that largely grapples with Toledo’s experiences as a young gay man (while homophobic rhetoric was still commonplace in the U.S.), that blurring of sounds seems to capture his anxieties on the matter better than the newer recording. In the last portion of the song, for instance, fragmented vocal clips attack listeners from all sides like they’re being yelled at. Even though the language becomes indecipherable, the stress from being attacked like that again and again accumulates through the song’s cutoff.

That portion of the song is replaced in the “Face to Face” version with a shorter, less human-sounding stutter. The replacement seems to reflect that Toledo has lost some of those fears from 2011. He’s dampened those voices attacking him as he’s matured.

When I listen to 2011’s “Beach Life-In-Death”, I can feel myself in the same position as Toledo was. As someone facing the onslaught of transphobic rhetoric throughout the U.S. now, I feel a stronger connection to his younger self dealing with people who despise him for a harmless part of his identity. Despite the song remaining mostly the same over 7 years, the message relayed to audiences changes with small tweaks in production.

Concluding Thoughts

Even though songs on “Mirror to Mirror” sound more shallow and low-quality, that essence also creates a better impression of what it’s like to be young, queer, and full of both anxieties and hope. The album feels like it was created purely out of self-expression and a need to put his voice out into the world.

“Face to Face”, meanwhile, reflects Toledo’s growth over the ears. He’s reinterpreting what his music used to be into something more confident. He’s no longer singing until his voice cracks, resulting in a lesser sense of urgency to get this music out into the world.

Just because you don’t have access to a studio or the best equipment in the world doesn’t mean you can’t make good music. That lower quality, though, will impact how your music is received. It might be childish, or it could have a youthful innocence and hope. It might sound cheap, or it could sound honest and unscathed by the need to profit off of your music.

Music Education

On Musical Elitism: Indie and Institutional

“Oh, I only listen to real music. You wouldn’t get it. I’m so individualistic and nobody else shares my taste in music.”

At all points in history has there been some form of elitism in music. Often, it is fueled by racism, classism, and other forms of discrimination, especially by the dominant forces in the music industry. However, there has also been a counter-elitism among people who listen to less mainstream artists for the past few decades that has seemed to become more prevalent since the 2000s.

Since I’m centering this discussion around music in the US, which is predominantly English-speaking, I will refrain from discussing music in other languages. It’s cool to see latin music and K-pop becoming popular in the English-speaking US over the past decade, however.

Racism in the Music Industry

Black artists have consistently been the ones to bring innovations to music in the US, from rock to hip-hop to jazz. Even pop music (considering pop as a genre) has its foundations in music created and innovated on by Black artists. As a result, Black artists are often somewhat overrepresented on music charts, and rightfully so.

Famous jazz musician Charles Mingus. Photo Courtesy of Tom Marcello, under Creative Commons.

From 2012 to 2020, they represented 38% of all artists on the Billboard top 200. However, they are consistently overlooked for awards like the Grammys, receiving only 26.7% of nominations over the same period. Much of this discrimination comes from the overwhelming lack of people of color as executives in the music industry: only 4.2% are Black.

Additionally, many of the most notable “snubs” in the Grammys over the past decade or so have been against Black artists. Despite now having the most Grammy wins of any artist, Beyoncé has only one win in the Big Four categories. So, why do programs like the Grammys continue to be so popular, even though discrimination continues to be so prevalent?

I believe there are two predominant reasons: hope for better and ignorance of these issues in the first place. There are many people who likely hold onto the hope that this year will be the year that the music industry reverses course on its racist tendencies. I think there are even more who don’t notice these issues at all–or don’t care–since they aren’t affected.

How Music Bros Shape the Conversation

However, this lack of representation extends beyond institutional practices. Fans of independent music online tend to be white, financially comfortable men. Some of these listeners tend to obsess over classical music, especially the music that has overwhlemingly shaped the contemporary, western understanding of music theory, though that is worthy of its own discussion.

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Most of the rest of these indie music fans tend to congregate on platforms like Rate Your Music and music-related social media groups. These are the places where I see the most elitism in music among people who hold no actual power over record labels or other parts of the music industry. Here, elitism comes through in the form of gatekeeping of up-and-coming artists as well as discriminatory biases.

On the all-time best album chart on Rate Your Music, Black artists comprise about 25% of the 50 top albums. Again, this percentage is well below the representation of Black artists on the Billboard top 200. More striking, though, is the lack of women and queer artists in these communities. On that same chart, only three of the top 50 albums have female vocalists (where gender is most noticeable), and the first, Björk, is only 31st. There are only three openly queer artists in the top 100 albums, and only two in the top 50.

Why is the Non-Mainstream Music Discussion Like This?

I bring these numbers up, because I think elitism in these types of music circles is largely predicated on the belief that mainstream listeners, especially women, will “ruin” the music. These listeners also tend to have a suspiciously high overlap with “incel” groups. The resulting misogyny (and queerphobia) leads to generally less respect for women and queer artists. Unless these artists are accepted into the “canon” of great artists they are largely neglected. As a side note, no female queer artists or trans artists until Big Thief at no.398.

There tends to be a lot of talk among these types of music listeners, especially over the past few years, about how Tiktok and other platforms are “ruining” music. When a song by an artist commonly accepted amongst these listeners as a “great” goes viral, they lament about how they can’t enjoy the music anymore. These listeners think that their interpretation of good music is the best interpretation, and any attempt to break the gatekeeping of these artists is a tragedy.

Likewise, these listeners often disdain music that gets especially popular for similar reasons. Artists like Taylor Swift, Harry Styles, or Bad Bunny have been seen as “trashy pop” only liked by teenage girls and people who don’t really “get” music like these white men in their mid-20s.

It’s okay to not like popular artists because you don’t vibe with their sound or genre. As for myself, I don’t typically listen to any of the three artists I just listed, but I still enjoy Swift’s music. I listen to a lot of Beyonce or The Weeknd. That doesn’t mean I don’t also love music by lesser known artists.

Closing Thoughts

WKNC is a radio station that prides itself on playing music by less popular artists, especially those whose voices are often left out of discussions of what “the best” music is. I hope that this mindset is able to spread farther than the idea that men (especially white, cisgender, heterosexual men) overwhlemingly make better music. And this should extend to what the music industry chooses to become popular as well.

–DJ Cashew

Music Education

An Introduction to Japanese Rock

Since World War II, US and Japanese cultures have intermingled significantly, resulting in a large American market for Japanese media. While anime might be the most prevalent example, Japanese music has also gained a significant following among listeners in the US.

Personally, I’ve been drawn to Japanese rock (J-rock) as a rock style that sounds distinctly unlike anything I’ve heard from English-speaking artists. Several artists have impressive catalogs of work that deserve more widespread recognition. Now, I don’t speak Japanese, so I can’t say anything regarding the lyrical quality of most of these artists. However, the music itself is stellar enough to enjoy on its own merits.


POLKADOT STINGRAY was my first introduction into J-rock, and I think they provide a good jumping off point for deeper exploration into the genre. Their music primarily features a high-pitched, snappy electric guitar leading their songs and a very active bass guitar that’s just satisfying to focus in on. Much of J-rock also utilizes this type of guitar playing rarely found in the US, especially in popular, contemporary rock artists. Additionally, vocalist Shizuku’s rich, breathy singing allows the more intense instrumentals to shine through A significant funk influence also permeates their discography, like on the album “Nanimono (何者)”, which is my personal favorite.


If you’re looking for a more laid-back band, then Odottebakarinokuni (踊ってばかりの国) is up your alley. The band has a much softer sound than POLKADOT STINGRAY and features a more familiar, US indie rock style compared to other J-rock artists. Tracks like “EDEN” highlight the lead vocalist’s drawn out singing and a guitar with an almost overwhelming, yet quiet, overdrive.


Noise rock has also thrived in Japan as evidenced by bands like Melt-Banana. The punk band’s work has become especially popular in the US and UK, where punk often favors pure noise over the groove found in Melt-Banana’s music. Yasuko O.’s shrieking singing on tracks like “Lie Lied Lies” gets drowned out by a guitar that blows out speakers and drums that leave your head pounding in the best possible way.


CHAI is an uncommon example of a J-rock artist who frequently uses both English and Japanese lyrics and collaborates with English-speaking artists like Gorillaz and Duran Duran. While their music can be profoundly different to most other J-rock artists, they also hold a unique sound among US and UK artists. CHAI incorporates electronica and dance into their rock that makes their sound incredibly fun. When their groove is paired with that same snappy guitar popular in J-rock music, the result is catchy, experimental, and perfect to jam out to. I highly recommend “PUNK”, which captures their style perfectly.

Music Education

An Introduction to Country: Three Artists to Get Started With

As you all may or may not know, I co-host a country, bluegrass, and folk show from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. While I’ve always been a folk guy, not so long ago I barely listened to either country or bluegrass.

The reason for this is that my introduction to country was through my parents, who mostly listened to commercial or stadium country: Blake Shelton, Kenny Chesney, Luke Bryan, etc. I think for many in my generation, this is unfortunately what we know country music to be.

Authenticity is what defines country music and these artists just do not come off as authentic through their music. However, a couple of years ago, I was introduced to Tyler Childers’ 2017 album “Purgatory”. It shocked me how authentic this record was, despite its popularity.

Since listening to that record, country has become one of my favorite genres. I have become a fan of so many excellent, true-to-their-core country artists that I want to share with those of you who might be interested in the genre but don’t know where to start.

These artists are all modern country artists (all started releasing music in 2010s) and they are also are quite popular. However, I think that these artists all show that great country music is still being made and provide a variety of different sounds within the genre.

Tyler Childers

Tyler Childers is a guitar player, singer and fiddler from Kentucky. Starting his career in 2011, Childers had his breakthrough release in 2017 with “Purgatory”, which was produced by Sturgill Simpson, another artist on this list.

I would recommend starting out with “Purgatory” if you want somewhere to get starter with Tyler Childers. After that, his first album, “Bottles and Bibles” is also good, but you could truly listen to anything by him after you check out “Purgatory”.

Colter Wall

Colter Wall known for his gruff, deep vocals and his guitar playing. From Saskatchewan, Canada, Wall released his first EP in 2015 after he left college. He has released five studio albums since then, the last one being released in 2020.

All of Colter Wall’s work is so solid, I don’t think there’s a stand-out album to listen to first. I’d check out his discography in the order which he released in, so you can see how his sound has developed over time.

Sturgill Simpson

Sturgill Simpson is a guitar player and singer from Kentucky. Starting his solo career in 2013, he released “High Top Mountain”, which is my favorite record by him. He has released seven albums since starting his solo career. His last album, “The Ballad of Dood & Juanita”, is a story album and another one of my favorites.

If you want a story about a gunfighter, then you should check out his latest album. However, if you just want some good country music, I’d start at the beginning of his discography. Simpson is another artist that you cannot go wrong with, all his music is consistently great.

Miscellaneous Music Education

How Does Eastern Music Differ from Western Music?

Although in the modern day, Eastern culture has had a lot of influences on Western music and Western culture has had a lot of influence on Eastern music I wanted to a brief break down of the unique differences between the two.

The main difference even an untrained ear can pinpoint is the instruments used.

For example in Eastern music, the most common traditional instruments in many cultures are lutes. The Middle East has a lute called the Oud. India uses the Sitar. China has a lute called the pipa. The list goes on. 

Essentially they have instruments that create these entrancing tunes as well as more complex melodies in general. There are many overlapping rhythms and are at the forefront of traditional Eastern music. They use 7-tone and 5-tone systems that rely more on the manipulation of melodies instead of using set chords.

On the other hand, the West has more instruments that are found in orchestras such as string instruments, guitars, woodwind instruments, and percussion instruments such as saxophones and flutes, and bagpipes. 

Western music in general puts harmonies at the forefront. They have more complex harmonies and have something called a 12-tone equal temperament. In simple terms, the series of eight notes are organized equally instead of in an odd fashion.

One way to put it is, that Western music is oriented around written music. It can be written down and repeated in an orderly structure. Eastern music is oriented around oral music. It can’t necessarily be captured in notes and is more dynamic and improvisation.

While you can categorize Western music, at its core, Eastern music is not necessarily a genre or category. 

As you move from one country to another, their entire way of composing and creating music is different. The instruments they use change based on culture and the way they arrange their rhythms and melodies vary as well.

Don’t want to get too historical here, but because the West has this shared ‘European’ culture it’s easy to say that most Western music sounds similar.

This can’t be said about Eastern music because of how diverse each continent and subcontinent is. South African music is far different from North Eastern Asian music. 

That’s one of the most fascinating things I love about music. 

How each culture has its own music and how music can tell so much about the country’s culture and history.

If you hadn’t had the chance to listen to some Eastern music, I truly recommend it. 

Even what we consider ‘pop’ music sounds far different in Japan or Lebanon or Bollywood.

Music Education

From Sun Ra to The Velvet Underground: The Producer Who Made a Lane For The Strange

When people think of some of the greatest producers of the 20th century many people think of guys like Brian Wilson, Phil Spector, George Martin, Quincy Jones, Teo Macero, or Brian Eno. One producer who doesn’t come up often and has seemed to have faded away into obscurity is Tom Wilson. Recently, I’ve been listening to some of Tom Wilson’s work nonstop so I would like to highlight him and hope he can be brought back into popularity.

Tom Wilson got his start during the 50s when he started his own record label for jazz records called Transition Records. This label would introduce a lot of people to the newest genre pushing talents in jazz like Donald Byrd and Cecil Taylor. Wilson also got to produce a Cecil Taylor album with John Coltrane as the saxophonist that would later be released as “Coltrane Time” under Coltrane’s name.

Read more: From Sun Ra to The Velvet Underground: The Producer Who Made a Lane For The Strange

But most notably, Tom Wilson introduced the world to Sun Ra, who would become one of the greatest jazz artists of all time and an influence on many artists. Tom Wilson was not only putting artists out on his label but was also producing their albums as well as giving them a place to experiment.

After his run at Transition ended, Tom Wilson would end up at Columbia records becoming the first African American to hold the staff producer title at Columbia.

This is where he would start to produce for his most famous collaborator– Bob Dylan. Wilson started to produce for Dylan during “The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan” sessions. He produced four tracks on the album which many claim this is Dylans best album during his folk period. Wilson initially wasn’t too excited about working with Dylan because he favored jazz over folk but after hearing his lyrics he was “flabbergasted.”

He would go onto produce “The Times They Are a-Changin'” and “Another Side of Bob Dylan.” Their collaboration really started to shine on Dylans next album “Bringing It All Back Home” where Dylan famously went electric which would cause one of the largest shifts in rock music. You can hear Wilson’s voice at the start of Bob Dylan’s 115th Dream and you can even see him in an alternate take of the famous “Subterranean Homesick Blues” music video.

Many people credit Wilson with causing Dylan to go electric but that is up for debate, he certainly helped bring it together at the very least. Wilson and Dylan’s collaboration would end after Wilson produced “Like a Rolling Stone” but would get replaced for Bob Johnston for the rest of the Highway 61 sessions.

While at Columbia, Tom Wilson also produced the first Simon and Garfunkel album ” Wednesday Morning, 3 A.M.” This album at first did not do well which led to Simon and Garfunkel splitting up, but then eventually “The Sound of Silence” would gain a bit of airplay at college radio stations.

Wilson, seeing the minor success, would then create a version of the song with a rock backing band which caused it to be a number one hit and would bring Simon and Garfunkel to get back together and go on to become some of the highest selling artists of all time.

After leaving Columbia Wilson would end up at MGM where he would eventually get with The Velvet Underground. Even though Andy Warhol is listed as the producer Lou Reed and John Cale both state the Tom Wilson was the real producer of the groups debut ” The Velvet Underground & Nico.”

This album wasn’t initially commercially successful but would eventually become on of the most influential albums of all time and would be credited with many sub-genres of rock music like punk and drone. Wilson would produce the next Velvet Underground album “White Light/White Heat” which again was extremely influential and eventually loved by many.

Wilson would also produce Nico’s first album “Chelsea Girl” which again for a third time would go onto become a loved and influential album. John Cale would go onto say that “The band never again had as good a producer as Tom Wilson.”

While at MGM, within two months of producing the first Velvet Underground album, Wilson went on to produce the first Mothers of Invention album “Freak Out” which would start Frank Zappa’s career and would be a hugely influential album being cited as a major influence on The Beatles “Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band.”

He would go on to produce the second Mothers of Invention album “Absolutely Free.” Zappa states that “Tom Wilson was a great guy. He had vision, you know? And he really stood by us” and also “Wilson was sticking his neck out. He laid his job on the line by producing the album.”

Many of the albums Tom Wilson would work on would have the same thing associated with them: risk and influence. Wilson never wasn’t pushing the norms of music and the artists he was working whether it was Sun Ra’s space jazz, Dylans electric era, or The Velvet Underground creating early punk rock Wilson pushed for it. He would bring many of the best albums into fruition and for that I hope the next time the greatest producer conversation is being discussed Tom Wilson is in that conversation.