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Norah Jones' Music Tops Album Charts

March 07, 2004

Re "Don't Know Why Norah Jones Is Hot? Critics of Hip-Hop Do," Commentary, March 3: It amazes me how Jody Rosen can write a book about a song like "White Christmas" and then proclaim the superiority of hip-hop over Norah Jones and, presumably, anybody else whose songs employ melody, harmony and a modicum of human feeling.

Classical concert music has had its own proponents of "shockingly new sounds" and nonmelodic minimalism, and yet such works never managed to replace the kind of music for which the heart always hungers, and neither Schoenberg nor Steve Reich have chased Beethoven or Bach from the symphonic hall. Why must one generation of listeners be "right" and the other "wrong," as Rosen implies?

Duke Ellington said that there were only two kinds of music, the good kind and the other kind. Surely the good kind will always be vital, even without the fashionable bells and whistles of the day.

Preston Neal Jones

Hollywood

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As an old baby boomer and the father of a 10-year-old son, I think I may be able to see the real meaning of this unique week in which the top 10 recordings are hip-hop while the big album seller is Jones. Quite simply, the very young have made a complete separation between music and popular culture. When my son listens to what he thinks is music, he listens to stuff we both enjoy. When he gets involved with popular culture, he listens to whatever the latest thing is. I found this also to be true with my 25-year-old female real estate assistant. For her, Bing Crosby, the Beatles, Elvis, rhythm and blues, etc., all seemed to be one thing and hip-hop and that dreadful "Survivor" program entirely another.

George Black

Walnut Creek, Calif.

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I think Rosen is wrong. Jones does not sell because she is a comforting sound for "old" people in a world of hip-hop and electronics. I bought Outkast and Jones because of the quality of the music. Jones is a classy act, with incredible musicians and good songs, and Outkast is sheer fun and energy. I am 55, and when I hear a good product, I buy it.

Michael Hardinger

Carlsbad

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