The maven

Blossom Dearie

Blossom Dearie in her prime

Appropriately enough, it was an ad agency colleague who guided me to and through the music of the Mad Men era. Before meeting him, I’d never heard of Blossom Dearie and was aware of Julie London only because she’d played that hot nurse character on television. Peggy Lee and Brenda Lee were not the same person, I discovered. My mother had been a fan of the latter.

The agency was Semaphore, circa 1997, and the colleague’s name was Allen Bardin. He was our resident pop culture maven, a keeper of exotic birds. Many of the most-played disks in my cabinet today are there because he told me to buy them, which I did sight unseen. He had a great ear. A great moustache, too.

So thank you, Mr. Bardin, wherever you are. For Blossom and Julie. And for “Miss Peggy,” of course, the aging diva whose apartment you found somehow and visited one day as a pilgrim visits a shrine. Unannounced, wasn’t it? And you parted friends?

The stories that boy could tell.