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Ben Ratliff

Part-time Faculty
(212) 998-7314
1 Wash Pl, Room 429

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B.A. Classics, Columbia College, 1990

Ben Ratliff has written about pop, jazz, traditional and experimental music for publications including Granta, Slate, Artforum, Wire, Rolling Stone, the Guardian, and The New York Times, where he worked as a music critic for twenty years. His subjects are popular music, listening, journalism, creative nonfiction, and the practice and history of cultural criticism. He has taught criticism and nonfiction writing at New York University’s Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute and the Columbia University School of the Arts. He is the author of four books: Every Song Ever: Twenty Ways to Listen in an Age of Musical Plenty (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2016); The Jazz Ear: Conversations Over Music (St. Martin's/Griffin, 2009); Coltrane: The Story of a Sound (Picador, 2007, finalist for the National Book Critics Circle award in Criticism); and Jazz: A Critic’s Guide to the 100 Most Important Recordings (Times Books, 2002).

Teaching and Research Interests

cultural criticism, popular music, traditional music, experimental music, jazz, listening, journalism, creative nonfiction

Ben Ratliff

Recent News


Ben Ratliff’s book Every Song Ever: Twenty Ways to Listen in a Time of Musical Plenty (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2016) was reviewed in The New York Times, The Atlantic, and The New Republic.


Ratliff delivered the 2017 Una’s Lecture at University of California, Berkeley. A revised version of the lecture—“Mere Virtuosity: Variations on a Slippery Idea”—was published as an essay in the Spring 2018 issue of Virginia Quarterly Review.


On September 22, 2016, Ratliff was interviewed by Marc Maron for his WTF podcast.