Sunday, October 10, 2010

My Top Ten TV Show Intros of all time

Going through all of the memorable TV intros takes forever. There are dozens of great ones deserving of mention so it was tough to narrow it down to these ten. Keep in mind this is not a top ten shows list. Not even close. None of these are among my favorite shows which would include The Office (American and British versions), Arrested Development and House. These are the best intros only. What makes a great intro? Very simple- Does it make you want to watch the show? It should combine a good theme song with well edited show images. It should be exciting and/or funny. Some shows were never as good as their introduction. And some great shows had horrible intros or horrible theme songs...Family Ties for instance! If that song had no nostalgic effect on me I'm sure I'd find it nauseating.

Admittedly this list is biased. I favor the shows I grew up watching but part of that is because the TV intro was more in style back then. Having a catchy theme still works but back then everybody knew the theme song for Cheers, and M.A.S.H., and The Jeffersons. By the way none of those made this list. Actually I should give a few honorable mentions that are great but didn't make the cut.
Happy Days
Mission: Impossible (awesome theme song)
Get Smart
Laverne and Shirley
The Addams Family
Mork and Mindy
The Andy Griffith Show
The Beverly Hillbillies
Spongebob Squarepants (Yes!)
Good Times
Gilligan's Island
I Spy (one of the best produced openers of all)
The Greatest American Hero (love it or hate it you'll never get "Believe It Or Not" out of your head!)
and a whole bunch more you will hate me for leaving off....sorry ladies no Brady Bunch or Bewitched either.

Here are the ten I chose:

Hawaii Five 0

Strong sound and image combination. Practically anyone can hum this theme song. The show is back but probably won't be as good without Jack Lord.

Star Trek

The original and simply the best intro. "To boldly go where no man has gone before" That kind of teaser made even skeptics tune in. Then they saw a Romulun and decided "Naaaah, not for me"

The Dukes of Hazzard

Dumb show but excellent intro. It has all the elements that make a large demographic feel compelled to tune in. Fast cars, guitar picking, Catherine Bach making preteen boy hearts go all aflutter, and of course a character named "Cooter".

The Twilight Zone

This spine tingling music along with Rod Serling's ominous voice make one great TV intro recipe. Hard to compete with this in the "memorable" department. People sound out this music any time they are freaked out in the same way we all hum the Jeopardy theme when somebody won't hurry the hell up!

Police Squad

Two words- Abraham Lincoln. Classic. Absolutely the funniest opener of all time!

Knight Rider

Very 80s but the soundtrack holds up surprisingly well unlike many other action shows from the period; MacGyver and Street Hawk for instance.

Simon and Simon

Underrated classic that's hand-clappin' good. This intro gets me all fired up and ready for some butt kickin' 80s TV action! Nice 'stache McRaney!


This has a special place in my heart. As a young boy I'd come a runnin' at the sound of it!

Magnum P.I.

BOOM! In yo face with 'copters and ferraris and a massive mustache! Yeah, Hawaii and guns and girls and stuff! Where's Kenny Loggins to provide some vocal power?
Perhaps I was too young to get it but the show never lived up to the hype of this intro to me.

The A-Team

This is my favorite intro ever! Makes me wanna blow crap up! In mere seconds you respect Hannibal, wanna be coooool like Face, laugh at Murdoch, and get the heck out of B.A.'s way! And this theme song never gets old like so many others. It still packs a punch. Classic.

Friday, September 10, 2010

My Top 15 Favorite Female Music Artists

Once again this list is not a "greatest of all time" list but my personal favorites. So you won't see Joni Mitchell, or Madonna, or Patti Smith. And no I don't have Whitney, Mariah, or Christina Aguilera on my list either. I do like Tina Turner, Grace Slick, and Debbie Harry but no, not on the list. But I did struggle over leaving Debbie Gibson off of my list, because Electric Youth is such a masterpiece of creativity....especially the video. Here's my list:

15. Kim Gordon (Sonic Youth)

Singer, songwriter, bassist and sometime guitarist for the modern post-punk equivalent of The Velvet Underground, New York's Sonic Youth. Kim along with husband and guitarist Thurston Moore is the voice of the group. She's got grit, she's got style.

14. Patsy Cline

Loretta Lynn and Tammy Wynette are great in their own right, but Patsy was always my favorite of the country divas. Her style was simple but beautiful and many of her songs have stood the test of time, like Crazy and I Go Walking.

13. Billie Holliday

Lady Day did not have the range of other jazz vocalists but a silky smooth style that set her apart. She also had an unmistakable image with the white carnation in her hair.

12. Lauryn Hill

I consider Lauryn the most talented female hip-hop artist of them all. Her writing and vocal skills are the best. I don't know what happened to her but when she was with The Fugees and made her solo debut nobody was better to me. The last I saw of her was a live acoustic set that blew me away. Turns out she can play a guitar as well.

11. Norah Jones

Norah is my wife's favorite. I have endured the same CD, Norah's debut Come Away With Me, over and over to the point of disdain. But fortunately, I like her work and have huge admiration for her ability to incorporate different genres and styles into her trademark sound. She is obviously very talented as a songwriter and musician.

10. Dolores O'Riordan (The Cranberries)

I don't know if she's still recording, and I didn't notice anything special from her last solo work but when Dolores was writing and recording songs with The Cranberries, particlarly the first three albums, she was the best. I thought of her like a female Bono, since she is Irish and the singer-songwriter of the group. Her vocals are perfectly melodic and piercing on the heavier tracks. C'mon, haven't we all tried to imitate that high lilt on Zombie?

9. Etta James

The Queen of the Blues, with a vocal as raw and powerful as a steam engine.

8. Ingrid Michaelson

She is new on the scene and I don't even know most of her work, but what I have heard is some amazing songwriting. She has a knack for lyrics and creating harmonies that many other artists could learn from in my opinion. Die Alone is such a good song it never gets old.

7. Aretha Franklin

What can I say about the Queen of Soul that hasn't already been said? She might have the most powerful voice any woman ever had. Her gospel work is sometimes overlooked but just as awe-inspiring.

6. Feist

I got to see her in concert, and even though she's a dork, her musical ability and songwriting are awesome. She has such a pretty voice and knows how to craft a catchy tune like few around today.

5. Sarah Vaughan

I have already written about Sarah on my jazz list, but I will say that it might seem unfair to include jazz vocalists on a list with singer-songwriters and musicians. But I can't help it with a voice like Sarah's. She should be on any list of female talent.

4. Emily Haines (Metric, Emily Haines and The Soft Skeleton)

I was fortunate enough to see Metric live a few years ago. I love her voice and her songwriting.

3. Shara Worden (My Brightest Diamond)

Shara might be the most talented female artist around today. Her operatic vocals are beyond any female singer I've heard. I got to see My Brightest Diamond live also, and even thought they were the opener with an abbreviated set, Shara still put on an incredible show.

2. Alison Krauss

Alison Krauss is an angel on Earth. I've said many times jokingly, that if I weren't married I'd be an Alison Krauss stalker. Who am I kidding, though, she'd want to marry a guy like me any day! But seriously, I have enjoyed her voice and musical ability for years and finally saw her live at Red Rocks with Robert Plant. I'm a Led Zeppelin fan, but I have to say I was only interested in seeing Alison perform. She's my favorite living female artist.

1. Ella Fitzgerald

As previously stated, Ella is my favorite female artist in any genre of music. I know she didn't play an instrument or write any songs but she recorded every standard in the Great American Songbook at least once. Her voice was sonically perfect. Like Nat King Cole, she sang every syllable with perfect diction. She hits every note with no noticeable effort and had the range of an opera singer. Her intonation has been described as "flawless" and "God-like". Her work with Louis Armstrong is my favorite.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

My Favorite Jazz Artists

(Joe Biden was voted "most expendable sidekick")

I love Jazz and have built a respectable collection of music over the years. I'm not in the same league as any jazz aficionodo probably because I like so many other genres of music so much. But I often get on a jazz "kick" and add to my music collection. Here is a list of my favorite jazz artists. You will notice that nearly all of them come from the same era and style. I particulary like traditional jazz from the bebop era. I am not as much into swing, although I do enjoy it too, and I have very little fusion or modern jazz. That's why you don't see names like Herbie Hancock, Jaco Pastorius, or Pat Metheny on this list. One day I will probably delve deeper into that arena of music. Although I do have a little post bop in my collection like Ornette Coleman and McCoy Tyner. I also include my favorite vocalists on this list.

And for the record this is not necessarily a list of the greatest jazz artists of all time, but would closely assimilate such a list.

Sarah Vaughan

Sarah had remarkable range for a jazz singer. She could sing low and sultry and then raise the roof with her high notes. She is very close to being my favorite vocalist but that honor goes to another jazzy lady.

Stan Getz

Of the Cool Jazz artists Stan is probably my favorite. I particularly love his greatest work, the bossa nova breakthrough album Getz/Gilberto. Every note is pitch perfect to me.

Bill Evans

Evans is quite possibly the greatest genius of jazz piano. I know that's saying a lot when you consider guys like Art Tatum, Oscar Peterson, and Thelonious Monk. But of all jazz pianists Miles Davis wanted Bill to play for him. Miles once said Bill's playing sounded like waterfalls. His style is unmistakeably beautiful.

Art Blakey

Usually when the greatest jazz drummers are discussed you will hear names like Max Roach, Buddy Rich, or Gene Krupa. But my favorite is Art Blakey, not just for his work with the sticks but as a band leader for The Jazz Messengers. A Night in Tunisia and Moanin' are some of the best jazz albums of all time.

Wes Montgomery

Like the drummer argument, many will argue over jazz's greatest guitarist, and there are many. I am a Django Rheinhardt fan, I like Kenny Burrell and George Benson. John Scofield is obviously great too. But Wes is the king in my opinion. Willow Weep For Me is one of my favorite albums and I also love it when Wes plays with Jimmy Smith.

Charles Mingus

Other than Duke Ellington himself, I believe Charlie is jazz's greatest composer and bandleader. Some of his hard bop creations sound cutting edge even today. He was an innovator in music and in coolness.

Lee Morgan

Lee Morgan was an underrated trumpet player who backed up Wayne Shorter and John Coltrane and was a member of Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers before making a solo masterpiece, The Sidewinder. His style and songwriting were fantastic.

John Coletrane

What can be said about Coltrane that hasn't already been said? He basically took the foundations of jazz saxophone laid down by Charlie Parker and other early bebop pioneers and forged into new realms of music. His dissonant style is difficult to appreciate in parts of his career but he never shied away from expressing himself. Every jazz lover should own Giant Steps, Blue Train and A Love Supreme. I would also recommend Crescent.

Charlie Parker

"Bird" has been called a musical genius. Some even say that after Louis Armstrong he is the greatest jazz innovator who ever lived. It is hard to say when you consider the impact Miles Davis had in music history, but without a doubt Charlie stands alone among saxophone innovators. His effortless style of play is so unique, I imagine many other proficient players were jealous of his ability. Unfortunately he died far too young and his body of work is very sparse compared to Coletrane and others.

Cannonball Adderley

Cannonball is the "Happy Coltrane". His melodies are less dissonant and sonically perfect. What makes Miles Davis' Kind of Blue such a great listen is the back and forth saxophone duet between Cannonball and Coltrane. But Cannonball has many solo efforts worth paying attention to as well, particularly Somethin' Else which I've listened to so many times I hear it in my sleep.

Medeski, Martin, and Wood

So here they are, the only modern jazz, fusion type artists on my list. Although the trio has done plenty of traditional styles with a modern twist. The live album Tonic is my favorite but I enjoy all of their stuff.

Louis Armstrong

"Satchmo" is the king of jazz and arguably the single most important musical figure of the 20th century. I have to admit I rarely listen to any of his early groundbreaking work like The Hot Fives and Hot Sevens but I love his duets with Ella Fitzgerald.

Ella Fitzgerald

Ella is my favorite female singer in any genre of music. Her voice is like velvet and glides over the notes so gracefully it seems like she isn't even trying. There was even some discussion before my youngest daughter was born about naming her Ella!

Mile Davis

Although the title "Hardest Working Man in Show Business" has been taken by James Brown, I think it aptly applies to Miles Davis who never stopped working and inventing. He is responsible for pioneering four types of jazz music: Bebop, Cool, Modal, and Fusion. And he created what many consider the greatest jazz album of all time, Kind of Blue. I have several Davis albums on CD and yet I've barely scratched the surface of his massive catalogue.

Duke Ellington

Duke is probably my favorite jazz artist. He is without a doubt the best composer and band leader of them all. His live album Live at Newport 1956 shows how electrifying his performances could be. Every time he tried to end the show the crowd grew close to rioting. And in the midst of the hysteria Duke uttered his trademark valediction "We do love you madly." First class all the way.

There are dozens of great jazz artists that I also love who didn't make this list. Some others I enjoy are Thelonious Monk, Horace Silver, Billie Holliday, Count Basie, Lester Young, Chet Baker, Dizzy Gillespie, Milt Jackson, Sonny Rollins, Dexter Gordon, and Dave Brubeck.

Monday, August 2, 2010

The Wost Movies I've Ever Seen

The Worst Movies I've Ever Seen- not the worst movies ever made, because let's face it who has time in their life to compile that list? I don't think I need to tell anybody that Friday the 13th movies suck or whatever Jean-Claude Van Damme did for ten years running.

And I will put another qualifier on this topic. There are worse movies that I've seen than these ten, but they aren't popular or blockbuster type movies and so bringing them up is a waste of time. I can think of some that few people have seen, like The Power of One for example, but I think that's a good thing. This is a list of beloved, over-played flicks which suck that much more because of the undeserved praise and box office payola they received. You may ask why Pearl Harbor isn't on my list...simple, I never saw it! I was smart enough to know better after one preview. Michael Bay + Ben Affleck = cinematic swine flu.

And speaking of that awful combination:


This was picked as the worst movie of the year by either Siskel or Ebert the year it was released. I suggest reading Ebert's review online since it does a much better job of explaining why it sucks than I could. But I think the people I mentioned above have everything to do with it- horrible acting, and horrible directing. I laughed like crazy when Bruce Willis had to hold the detonator with his thumb at the end. After every single small detail of their stupid mission went wrong up to that point it sure was a big surprise when that happened, uh-huh. That's what was so wrong with this retarded movie, I was laughing when I think I was supposed to get teary-eyed and straight-faced when I was supposed to be laughing. That's Michael Bay for ya. Oh and producer of garbage, Jerry Bruckheimer too.

Remember The Titans

Did I mention Jerry Bruckheimer? What a coincidence, here's another one of his movies I hate. I know of everything on my list I'm gonna get the most flak over this one. Everybody just loves the sweet story of football triumph and racial harmony. Please, what a bunch of fake manipulative swill. I never once fell for the drama this was trying so hard to dish out especially since it was based on a true story. That's what killed me. There is no way in real life these guys strutted out onto the field in unison singing "Ain't No Mountain High Enough"! And when the white boy gets hospitalized and the black boy comes to see him all weepy that's when I'd had enough. I saw that whole scenario coming from a mile away. What is this, an afterschool special on race relations? Want a real football movie? Watch Friday Night Lights. Want a football/race feel good movie? Watch The Blind Side. And even Radio, which is manipulative and sappy and far-fetched in spots, is better than Titans to me.

Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves

This could very easily be a candidate for the worst film ever made. As a matter of fact I think it holds the record for the most "flubs" in a major film. That means continuity errors and other mistakes. First off Kevin Costner is awful, absolutely awful as Robin Hood. His motivation is never clear, his accent comes and goes, and his hair looks like he just shot a Duran Duran video. What I never understood is why anybody decided to follow this Robin Hood at all. Morgan Freeman's character is far more compelling and he has BOMBS to blow crap up for goodness sake! I'd elect him the leader of the revolution!
Then there's the characters and the writing. Alan Rickman as the villain is a comic pansy that cannot be taken seriously. Maid Marion is an ass kicking ninja (??) at the beginning and nearly beats Robin Hood, but at the end she's a typically pathetic damsel in distress pinned to the floor by the aforementioned pansy villain. I guess the first half and the second half of the film were written by different people.

Sleepless In Seattle

I LOATHE this movie. When I first saw this movie after all the hype about how romantic it was, about how it was inspired by An Affair To Remember the classic romance starring Deborah Kerr and Cary Grant I was sorely disappointed. This movie is a joke. Compared to what I consider a great romantic comedy, When Harry Met Sally, this movie is empty and has what I consider a horrible message about love. Meg Ryan's character is trapped apparently in a loveless relationship with Bill Pullman, who has the sniffles *gasp* and so when she hears a widower on a radio show she falls for him.....okay, if that's putting too fine a point on it, then somebody tell me exactly what happens. They don't even meet face to face until the end and don't speak but it's "fate" I suppose. As I've said before on this blog, I want to see the next five minutes I call the "cab ride scene" where they do talk and it's revealed they have nothing in common. Then she has to crawl back to Bill Pullman and beg him to take her back!


Okay, so this won Best Picture and everyone on planet earth saw it TWICE and loved it. Well, so what. If you say it looks great and the depiction of the sinking ship was historically accurate you may be right, but as is typical of a James Cameron film the story was predictable and the characters extremely childish and paper thin. I had no sympathy for any of them plus they reminded me of characters in a bad cartoon. Billy Zane in particular plays such an over the top jerk, nothing he does seems realistic. But the worst thing about this movie is the way the real life characters like Molly Brown are just background scenery for a cheap dime store romance we can hum every note to all the way to the predictable finish. What a shame.


You can pretty much just take the review above and stick it onto this one. Once again James Cameron gives us a ground breaking cinematic feat, watched and rewatched by everyone, and yet the story and characters are cheap, familiar, and sophomoric. It doesn't help that the main character is a moron. How am I supposed to sympathize with this dunderhead? The story is ripped right from Dances With Wolves and Pocahantas and better than neither. I couldn't believe a good actor like Stephen Lang got suckered into playing the drill sergeant, an R. Lee Ermey impression so overdone by now I assumed it was supposed to make me laugh. I probably wouldn't have hated this movie so much if it weren't shoved down my throat with relentless hype as the "#1 movie of all time!" Really? It was more like a Saturday morning cartoon posing as the world's longest Go Green commercial.

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest

First of all, I wasn't one of these people that thought the first Pirates film was the greatest thing since Sonny and Cher broke up. I liked the first movie alright, but didn't get all of the fainting over Johnny Depp as Jack Sparrow. So I guess I deserved to have hours of my life and twenty or so dollars ripped from me by the mindless, overindulgent, repetitive, disgusting, and completely pointless sequel. I have never left a theater more pissed off than after this movie and my wife felt about the same. Needless to say I never saw the third film which I've heard is even worse. Surprise, surprise.

The Matrix Reloaded

Yeah, better wear those shades in that dark room so you don't draw attention to yourself or anything, sigh. Here's another sequel that absolutely destroys the original film without prejudice or common sense. Like the Pirates sequel this was a collossal pointless waste of time. But, unlike Pirates which is supposed to be dumb mindless fun, the Wachowski brothers take all of this garbage completely serious. It's like they are trying to impress us with every meaningless line and every meaningless interminably long fight scene. How many fight scenes do we need? Well, according to these boneheads a whole bunch. Then there's the crap philosophy where character say things which make absolutely no sense. Here's an idea, maybe Keanu Reeves and philosophy don't mix, that is unless you want the audience to think this is a comedy. Anyway, I could go on and on about how this movie sucks but that would be like watching it and I think that's what the terrorists would want!

Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones

I grew up loving Star Wars and so it is with sadness that I have to say that the prequels SUCK! When Phantom Menace proved to be horrible, I had hope that the second film would somehow redeem the series. Oh well, so much for that frickin' pipe dream. First of all, Hayden Christensen can't act, but to further exacerbate that fact, his director AND writer was George Lucas! I couldn't believe my ears at some of this dialogue....wait, no, I saw Phantom Menace. Yeah I could believe it. As a matter of fact it wasn't even as bad!

There is so much wrong with this film I really can't see getting carpal tunnel putting it all down. But one thing that ruins all of the prequels is the way the action is SOOOOOO boring. That's because the actors look bored and the things they do are so ridiculous it might as well be a Wile E. Coyote cartoon. When they drop several stories or fly through asteroids you never believe they are in danger, since everything is CGI. No tension means boring action.

And here is the #1 worst movie I've ever seen:

Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace

Nothing about this movie makes sense. Nothing. I have no idea how trade routes are taxed and what's more I don't care. Lucas gives us nothing to care about from beginning to end, whether it's a monotone lifeless queen, a retarded crack addled cartoon rabbit-dog creature, TWO useless jedi, and a little kid who's acting makes Keanu Reeves seem nuanced. There is no main character. The plot is confusing and full of holes. Darth Maul is a wasted character who just looks cool and Qui Gonn is not even necessary which makes Obi-Wan's role unclear and far too limited. And of course there are long boring scenes of people talking about things nobody really cares about. They fly from here to there without any real purpose and then fly back. Nothing much is accomplished in the end but I'm sure they will make up for that in the next two movies....yeah, we know how that turned out.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

World Cup Soccer

Every four years I enjoy watching the World Cup. I have been paying attention to this global event since the U.S.A. hosted it in 1994 and since I grew up playing soccer it wasn't hard for me to embrace the spectacle. But every four years I am reminded (repeatedly!) how much people in America hate soccer. I hear it everywhere, from talking heads on TV like Letterman, Leno, and even Glenn Beck, to radio, to my own family! Since I have observed the debate on soccer (or football as it's known everywhere but here) I thought now was a good time to put in my two and half cents.

First of all, I have never thought soccer was a better sport than our big 3 American sports, football, baseball, and basketball. I am first and foremost a football fan, that is American football. If anyone ever looks at this blog they probably know that Alabama Crimson Tide football is my first love, sports-wise. I love college football and the SEC specifically above all. I also really like the NFL. Nothing competes with these on television. TV was created to air football games....just my opinion. I also love baseball which has its haters as well. I like basketball, I don't necessarily love it, but if my favorite teams are winning, I can be just as passionate about it as any other sport. Soccer however is the sport of my youth. I played from the 3rd grade up into high school. I was in excellent shape and even made the 8th grade basketball team as a result. I could barely make a shot but I outhustled every one of my teammates in practice because it was a breeze compared to soccer practices.

Anyway, what I find comical is the way every four years when the World Cup comes around Americans everywhere act like they've never heard of this new thing called soccer! "What, you mean you can't touch it with your hands...what a dumb sport" "The clock counts up, not down?" "Why don't they stop the clock for injuries or take time outs?" "You mean they can end in a scoreless tie?!!!"

I hear how boring it is, how pointless it is, how wussy or wimpy it is or even that it's a communist sport! But most baffling to me of all is that every time I hear a bash soccer rant invariably this phrase is uttered "Soccer fans are so elitist. They say if you don't like soccer 'you don't get it'. Oh, I get it, I just think it sucks. They are always shoving soccer down our throats. Well, this is America and we don't like boring, sissy sports blah blah blah..." I also have heard how it "waters down" our beloved American sports because soccer Moms put their kids in soccer at the expense of football or baseball, etc. I call all of this "Exhibit A in the court of ironic opinions"

I'm not saying these professed "soccer elitists" don't exist it's just that I've never met one! I like soccer and the words "you just don't get it" have never crossed my lips. On the other hand the elitists I do encounter, by the frickin' boatload, are soccer bashing American fans who can't wait to jump on the "Soccer Sucks!" bandwagon every four years when the World Cup is on. I've been listening to it for weeks now. Is there no ability for introspection anymore? Isn't it a bit obvious that the arrogant attitude is not coming from FIFA or soccer enthusiasts but YOU? And maybe if I'd never played I wouldn't be interested, but even then I can't imagine being so narrow as to bash it because others like it so much. I personally couldn't care less what other people like or don't like...until I am repeatedly berated with their opinion obviously. It is also interesting that nobody ever complains about tennis or golf "watering down" American sports, after all those were created by the Brits just like soccer.

Funny how nobody ever complains about American football being shoved down our throats or even NASCAR, which I don't give half a rip about but I see it on TV constantly. Maybe because these self-deluded soccer haters are fans of those sports, and no one ever complains about things they like being forced upon them. Besides it's a free country you know, nobody is holding a gun to your head and making you watch something you hate. Yes, it is obvious that ESPN and other entities on TV want soccer to catch on more in this country and so they might have an agenda, but when they put on a WNBA game I just turn the channel, I don't call in radio shows to vent about how much I hate women's basketball! But the difference between the WNBA or NASCAR or even the NFL and the World Cup is obvious. It's only the biggest sporting event on the planet! Soccer, no matter how much Americans may loathe it, is played all over this country and is the only sport played on every single continent. You don't have to like it, but the crusade to make people hate it is much more annoying and futile than any attempt at shoving it down people's throats. And like the Olympics when it's an international competition and the USA is involved I tend to have a patriotic urge to pay attention. Call me crazy.

Anwyay, the match of the century is coming on so I gotta go....Argentina v. Germany. This should decide the whole enchilada. But don't worry, I won't judge anyone who doesn't feel compelled to watch.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

My Favorite Music Artists of all time

(Elvis Presley won "favorite founding father of rock" in the last poll. Thanks.)

Well, it's about time. I am resisting the urge with all my might to make this a top ten mostly because after my top two there is a bunch of parity in my mind. I will save those top two for last.

Pink Floyd

I'm not that interested in anything Waters or Gilmour have done since the band broke up but when they were making music together it was by far the best in the world. Dark Side of the Moon is in my opinion the premiere rock album and Wish You Were Here is close behind it.


I believe until Larry Mullen Jr. hangs up his sticks for the final time U2 holds the title of "greatest band in the world" but Radiohead is by far the most talented, relevant, and creative. They are the heirs apparent in my opinion. Many great bands create one masterpiece, but each successive album Radiohead produces is a new groundbreaking tour-de-force. I look forward to many more years of inventiveness.

The 77s

Outside of Christian circles this band is virtually unknown. I have been following them since the early 90s after their "fifteen minutes of fame" when Island records released their self-titled third album. Mike Roe is over fifty now but continues recording with the new lineup. They've done every genre of music from New Wave, to blues, to hard rock, to rockabilly. I sometimes feel like the only person in their fanbase but I don't care. They are still one of my favorites.

Elvis Presley

I am unashamed in my admiration for "The King" even as it has become sort of a novelty. I feel like I'm on a mission to preach his worthiness to each new generation of doubters. He is NOT the first "Backstreet Boy" as someone recently said to me! When Sam Phillips first heard him sing "That's Alright Mama" and it's B-side, the Bill Monroe bluegrass standard "Blue Moon of Kentucky" he realized this was something new, something that would get people's attention. Not once did Sam think, "this dude sure has a pretty face, I think I'll make him famous."

I watched the Paul McCartney documentary "The Real Buddy Holly Story" recently and not only was Buddy Holly a huge fan of Elvis, but the original Crickets said they went to see Elvis when he came to Lubbock because "we didn't know what he looked like". They didn't even know for sure if he was white. It was all about the sound. The image came soon enough. Yes, he made lots of really bad movies and sullied that image some, but the raw talent was always there. I am a fan of the early Elvis, before the pills, before the rhinestone jumpsuits. Like Hank Williams less than a decade before and Robert Johnson a few decades before that, Elvis had a voice that cut through the fog, stood out among imitators, and forged a new era in music.

Elvis with fellow Sun Records star B.B. King

B.B. King

Although I am a huge Muddy Waters fan, I consider B.B. the undisputed "king of the blues". He crossed genres more effectively than any other blues artist but has always stayed true to his own style. The voice, the guitar, the songwriting are the best of all in the blues genre. He puts a passion into it that nobody else can match. As I've already mentioned on this blog I have seen B.B. live twice and those were experiences I will forever cherish. I love B.B. King!

Bob Dylan

He's a genius. Actually, we throw that word around way too much in our culture, but he is the only person on this list or maybe in all of modern music that can be accurately described that way. Dylan sees things in a way nobody else does and writes about them in a way nobody else is capable of. When David Crosby of The Byrds first heard him he said "what's so great about this guy? He doesn't even have a good voice" Then after reading the lyrics to "Mr. Tambourine Man" he quickly said, "Yep, he's a genius". Lyrically there is no equal to Dylan as a songwriter, and musically he's in very lofty company as well. Once in a while I need a Dylan fix and just about any of his early albums will do the trick, but my favorites I've already chronicled on this blog if anyone is interested in finding them.

Dylan with "The Man in Black"

Johnny Cash

"...The Memphis Flash, didn't smoke hash, woulda been a sissy without Johnny Cash!"
-Bono on Elvis in his poem "American David"
Johnny Cash is bigger than country. He's bigger than life. What makes him so awesome in my estimation is that, like Bob Dylan, he defies all conventions of his supposed genre and steams his own trail. There are no other artists comparable to him. When you hear a Johnny Cash song it is totally his. Unlike Elvis and others, The Man in Black cannot be imitated, he is too unique. He was and is revered in Nashville, probably because nobody else there could walk as tall or exude coolness the way he did. We miss you Johnny.

Hank Williams

I guess I'm just a sucker for "kings". I love the king of the blues, the king of rock 'n roll, and I love the King of Country. Hank is among the most important musical figures of the 20th century. His music crosses genres even though it was probably never intended to by him. Tony Bennett made "Cold, Cold Heart" popular in a jazz setting. Norah Jones has also recorded it. Beck is famous for performing Hank's songs in concert. Personally there are few things in life that can compete with a Hank Williams song in my book. I like them as much as chocolate or a good beer. A Hank tune will pick me up any time of day in any situation. His voice, like Elvis, is unmistakeable, powerful, soulful, beautiful. Every one else that every sang a country song pales in comparison, even country crooners like George Jones. I always sing along too, I just can't help myself. What's so amazing is that he was only 29 when he died and his career spanned all of four years. Like a comet. What a legacy!


My love for U2 stems from a perfect storm in my life. If I had not begun listening when I did they wouldn't probably be as important to me. But when Rattle and Hum first came to theaters I was an impressionable 14-year-old who up until that time listened to only Christian music or Top 40 garbage. U2 was my first experience with "real music" so to speak. Of course they have become extremely commercial since then and many have disowned them for that. I will always be a fan but I recognize most of their best work was done decades ago.

Anyway, back to the beginning. I saw the movie and then bought all of their music. I was an awkward and troubled young man with few friends so I would turn to U2's music as a refuge. I watched my own video of Rattle and Hum over and over. I watched Under a Blood Red Sky a bunch too. There are certainly more talented bands, there are more creative songwriters too, but U2 has an intangible quality, a "passion" that nobody in music can match for me. Bono is much loved and much reviled for his outspoken nature and his showmanship. I still think he's the greatest frontman rock has ever seen (with all due respect to Jim Morrison, Freddie Mercury, Roger Daltrey, Mick Jagger and many other greats)Whether they "sold out" or whatever I love them and always will.

The Beatles

Well, who else? I have always liked The Beatles. Even before my U2 "conversion" I was a Beatles fan. Now, I only liked their harmless early stuff, because like I said I was young and knew nothing about music. But in my late teens and early 20s I was die-hard into all of their music. I listened to "The White Album" and Abbey Road at least once a week. I worked with a guy who was a Beatles fanatic and he told me all of the stories he knew about them, the "Paul is Dead" clues and all that. I had a video of A Hard Day's Night the movie which I used to watch with my daughter (now 13) and she would ask to "watch Ringo" all the time when she learned to talk. I remember the cover of that video falling apart. We have it on DVD now of course as well as Help!. The importance of The Beatles to modern music would encompass way more than this blog post so I will leave it for now. But the simple fact is nobody is bigger than them, not even Elvis. And to me nobody is better than them although I love U2 just as much.
But I could go for a Hank Williams song right now....

Apologies to Led Zeppelin who almost made the list and I've decided to make a separate list for my favorite jazz artists. There are too many to list here.