Tuesday, February 4, 2014

A Short Treatise on Music (Or, Where I Explore Our Personal Catalog of Music)

Lately, on my way to the hospital in the morning, I've been trying to listen to less talk radio and more music. If any of you have ever commuted anywhere you know that morning radio is problematic for two reasons: 1., the DJs are beyond annoying, and 2., they hardly play any music. I love NPR, but sometimes the news in the world is so depressing that I need a break. So, I've been listening to a lot of music lately and I thought it would be fun to do a post all about music. Plus, LMW keeps saying she'd love to see a music post from us so here I go.

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Trying to do a post about "music" is tough because it's so broad. How do I approach it? What do people care about when it comes to music? What do I care about?

I decided to channel my inner Jack Black (there is very little) and do it in the style of Barry from "High Fidelity." Here are a series of Top Ten lists to consider. Maybe I'm channeling my inner David Letterman instead.

A few caveats. All of these albums and/or songs come from our own collection. I decided to limit it that way so I could actually stand half a chance at finishing this thing. So, if you take issue with my lists, it may actually be more of an issue with our music collection than my musical tastes, but either way, these are my opinions. Any attempt to discredit any choice based on logic will fail because right here at the onset I'm saying, "This is what I feel, so deal with it!" ;) Also, each list is not necessarily in order from best to worst. I just wrote them as I thought of them.

(I am open to learning about more and would love to hear from anyone who wants to. I love discovering new artists or artists I really should have appreciated from the beginning.)

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Top 10 Jazz Albums

Jazz is my first love so that's why I started here. This list could change on a daily basis, but here it is for now.

1. Miles Davis, "Kind of Blue"

Any jazz collection missing this album can no longer be classified as a jazz collection. It instantly becomes a misguided attempt to appear cultured and knowledgeable. I'm not judgmental at all. :P "Kind of Blue" has got to be one of the seminal albums of all of jazz recording history as much for its simplicity as anything else. The actual melodies and structure is not very complex, but the things that Miles, John Coltrane, Cannonball Adderly, and the others do on those recordings is nothing short of incredible.

2. John Coltrane, "Giant Steps"

Love him or hate him, Coltrane's style is one of a kind and most tenor saxophone players claim him as a major influence. You could buy the album just to hear what Coltrane did on one track, "Giant Steps," and you still would have gotten the steal of the century.

3. J.J. Johnson, "The Eminent J.J. Johnson," either volume

I fully admit that I am biased so of course J.J. Johnson, arguably the greatest jazz trombonist ever, is on my list. I could easily pick any album he's ever made, but these two in particular are great representations of what he is capable of. "Turnpike" in particular has one of my favorite J.J. Johnson solos ever.

4. Dave Brubeck, "Time Out"

Brubeck's piano style is so unique and instantly recognizable, and "Take 5" is such an iconic sound. The entire album is worth a listen, too. His use of alternative time signatures is something that always blows me away no matter how many times I hear the album. (While it wouldn't make my Top 10, Brubek's interpretation of the music from "West Side Story" is phenomenal as well.)

5. Harry Connick, Jr., "We Are in Love"

I know Harry is getting a lot more popular with his time on "American Idol," but he's been cool for a lot longer than that. I remember hearing this album for the first time back in 1991. My friend Tony told me to listen to it while we were riding a train to Vancouver on a band trip. Thank you, Tony. Harry had already done the "When Harry Met Sally" soundtrack, and he covered a lot of jazz standards on his earlier piano album, but this is an album filled with originals for his big band. It epitomizes what he has brought to the jazz world.

6. Wynton Marsalis, Standard Time (any volume)

Marsalis has recorded a lot of albums in a lot of styles with a lot of different groups, but his Standard Time albums are the best. He covers just about every jazz standard you have ever heard and his style can be downright haunting. He also infuses just the right amount of New Orleans without becoming completely Dixieland.

7. Charlie Parker, Jazz at Massey Hall

Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker, Bud Powell, Charles Mingus, and Max Roach. "Perdido," "Salt Peanuts," "All the Things You Are," "A Night in Tunisia." I really don't have to say anything else.

8. Benny Goodman, "Live at Carnegie Hall"

If for no other reason, this album is on the list for its historical impact. This was the first big band to hit the mainstream by performing at such an iconic venue. "Sing, Sing, Sing" is the one track you have to listen to. Gene Krupa's drum solo is one of the great solos you will ever hear.

9. Dizzy Gillespie, Birks Works: Verve Big Band Sessions

Not everyone realizes that Dizzy had his own big band. He did, and this recording is phenomenal.

10. Thelonius Monk, 'Round Midnight

I don't think Monk gets nearly the recognition that he should. His use of dissonance and his simplistic style probably turn off a lot of casual listeners, but listen a little more carefully and you'll see his brilliance. Plus, how can you not love a jazz musician with a name like Thelonius Monk.

Honorable Mention: Frank Sinatra, "Sinatra at the Sands (with Count Basie & His Orchestra)"

Pair one of the greatest band leaders with one of the greatest jazz vocalists and you get one incredible recording.

(At this point Stacy is probably screaming inside about me not including Michael Buble. I will say that he would make a Top 10 Jazz Vocal Albums list, probably multiple times, but he's not quite in my top jazz albums. I will say that he is one of the best live performers I've seen ever, though.)

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Top 10 Other Albums

1. Sting, "Live in Berlin"

How can you pick just one Sting album? Even among his live albums it's tough to pick one. I'm a little sad that I didn't fully appreciate the brilliance of Sting until the past few years. With that said, I fully appreciate him now. This live album features the Berlin Symphony and is incredible.

2. John Mayer, "Where the Light Is: John Mayer Live in Los Angeles"

Mayer is one of those artists whose music I will buy without hearing it first. I've never been disappointed. He is, in my opinion, a very underrated guitarist and songwriter. This live compilation contains so many of his biggest hits that it is a must have. His cover of "Free Fallin'" is one of the best I've heard, too.

3. Dave Matthews, "Live at Radio City (with Tim Reynolds)"

Dave is another artist that has sight-unseen status in our collection. His band does great work, but even better is his duet work with Tim Reynolds. He puts all kinds of unique twists on his own songs and if you have never seen Dave live, go do it. He's a great live performer. I'd even say that he is better live than in the studio. This album is slightly better than his "Live at Luther College" album, but I couldn't fault you if you like the Luther College recording better.

4. Europe, "Almost Unplugged"

OK, don't judge me. The first record (yes, vinyl record) I ever owned was Europe's "The Final Countdown." What a great song (and album, by the way). Who didn't love it? So, a few years ago I'm looking up Europe to see what they've been up to. Apparently, they did this great quasi-unplugged album and it's wonderful. Through this discovery I also found a number of more recent albums they've done, with even more mature songwriting. I kid you not. It's worth a listen.

5. Paul Simon, "Graceland"

Funny story. The 25th anniversay of "Graceland" was in 2012. In commemoration his label released a special anniversary edition of the album. I went to our collection to see how different it was and realized we did not own it. We have a small "best of" album but not this one. Almost immediately I went out and got the album. If you're not familiar with the history of this album look it up. And then listen to all of the songs. And then listen to Simon's commentary on the anniversary album all about recording the album. And then find the SNL performance of Simon and Lady Blacksmith Mambazo back in 1987. And then think about the significance of this album in light of Nelson Mandela's passing last year.

6. Ed Sheeran, "+"

I'm not sure how you say this album's title (much like that time period where Prince used some symbol for a name), but it's irrelevant when you listen to this recording. Ed Sheeran is un-freaking-believable. His songwriting is way more mature than his age (22) would suggest, and he is incredible live. He opened for Taylor Swift on the Red tour and I was blown away when I saw him. I wish we could have seen him in a full concert. For a fun diversion look up the music video for "Lego House." It's hilarious.

7. George Michael, "Listen without Prejudice"

First there was Wham, and then there was the whole rockabilly era, and then there was that whacked out, "what the hell" period for George Michael. Somewhere after "Faith" and before his seeming descent into madness, he released this album. It seems like a heartfelt apology for his earlier albums. I remember listening to this album in high school and every time I hear anything from this album I'm immediately taken back there.

8. Peter Gabriel, "So"

Here is another album I didn't fully appreciate until the past few years. In high school I was sort of a music snob, mostly listening to jazz music and dismissing a lot of other stuff. Don't get me wrong, I listened to plenty of R&B, rap, pop, rock, whatever. I just didn't fully appreciate it all. This album has all of the Gabriel greats and has definitely withstood the test of time.

9. Mumford and Sons, "Babel"

I discovered Mumford and Sons a few years ago when they were nominated for a Grammy as the Best New Artist. They didn't win, but I was intrigued. Their first album, "Sigh No More," is phenomenal, and it's hard to place one above the other, but I give the nod to "Babel." If you have the deluxe recording there is a bonus track of Mumford and Sons playing "The Boxer." It's blasphemous to suggest that Simon's original isn't the best, but I'm just saying . . .

10. Chicago, "Chicago 17"

Chicago has been around for so long it's tough to pick one album that epitomizes the group, but the closest I can come up with is this one. If nothing else, it has all the songs I remember from my teen years. They are classics in my mind. There is also a very heavy association with meeting Stacy and our early dating and married years. She is a huge Chicago and Peter Cetera fan so their songs immediately bring that nostalgia to mind.

Honorable Mention: Genesis, "Invisible Touch"; U2, "The Joshua Tree"

You have to draw the line somewhere, and on certain days U2 easily cracks the top ten, but this is another example of a band I didn't fully appreciate until later in life. "Invisible Touch" has so many of the classic Phil Collins era Genesis songs and was one of the few cassettes of pop/rock music that I owned as a teen.

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Top 10 Recent Discoveries (or Re-Discoveries)

Some of these albums are ones that we've very recently purchased or become aware of, and some of them are oldies (or at least not incredibly recent) that I've listened to again for the first time in a while and thought to myself, "Hey! That's really great! Why haven't I listened to it in a while?"

1. A Great Big World, Is Anybody Out There?

If you've been living under a rock, or if you don't EVER watch TV or listen to the radio you may not have heard anything by these guys, but you need to right now if you haven't. "Say Something" is one of the most beautiful duets you will hear this year. I caution you against watching the music video--it is a real tear-jerker. Really, all of the songs on the album are great. To give you an idea of how great they are, Christina Aguilera heard the original version of "Say Something" and immediately wanted to rerecord it with them. That's saying something for sure. Incidentally, both versions are on the album.

2. Elvis Costello & the Roots, "Wise Up Ghost & Other Songs"

I'm not a big Elvis Costello fan. I like a few of his songs, but really his name is more entertaining than his actual music. Oh, and he's great as a guest on one episode of "Frasier." But for some reason when I heard about this album coming out I was very intrigued and the fact that the Roots are Jimmy Fallon's band intrigued me even more. This is a great funk-pop-rock kind of offering and has a lot to enjoy on it.

3. Esperanza Spalding, "Radio Music Society"

Female bassist with giant hair. Sounds like an SNL skit more than a recording artist but she is out of this world. She actually won the Best New Artist Grammy in 2011, which made her the first jazz artist to win that particular award. This recording is very accessible to jazz fans and general music fans alike.

4. Europe, "Bag of Bones"

And apparently Europe is still recording. They still sound the same, with a little added maturity. The songs are fresh and new but the feeling is still 1986. I'm a little jealous that Max ended up getting this album for Christmas and I can only "borrow" it. Although, in the world of mp3s I just uploaded it to the cloud and downloaded it to my iTunes and iPod and now I have access anytime. (Can you imagine if Doc Brown sent me to the 1960s and I said that sentence to my teenage father how he would react?)

5. John Mayer, "Continuum"

Not a new album. Not even one that totally has slipped under the radar. I was just in a John Mayer mood recently and decided to listen to this album all the way through. Challenge: Go find the track listing and find a song that is NOT great on this album. My favorite song from my relistening is "Dreaming with a Broken Heart." Simple, but great.

6. John Mayer, "Paradise Valley"

So I put two Mayer albums on here. So sue me. "Paradise Valley" is his most recent release and it is a really pleasant change from his early work. I am convinced that if it weren't for how strange he is, he would consistently get more credit for how phenomenal a musician he is. This album's genre would definitely be classified as Americana, and it goes down smooth, like Southern Comfort, or so I'm told.

7. Harry Connick, Jr., "Star Turtle"

Harry has 30 or so albums and we have all of them but one (at last count). It is almost impossible to choose just one to tell you to listen to. "She" is a gem no one really remembers, but lately I heard a bunch of songs from "Star Turtle" and was impressed. It's a concept album and I don't want to say too much for fear of not representing it well. Trust me. There are some great tracks on here.

8. Mikey Wax, "Constant Motion"

Wax is an independent artist who has slowly built up a pretty good fan base. He's a classic singer-songwriter and is the nicest guy you'll ever meet. We are horribly behind on blogging, but he did a house concert at our house a couple of years ago and was phenomenal. He's been working on a new studio album and there should be news about it sometime soon. In the meantime, support an indie artist and check him out.

9. Norah Jones, "Come Away With Me"

I feel like for a short time Norah Jones was everywhere and then she faded into a very tight niche. Her voice is instantly recognizable and this album is so soothing.

10. Trombone Shorty, "Say That To Say This"

This dude is so incredible talented it's ridiculous. First of all, he plays trombone so that's one point in his favor. His style is jazz-funk-pop-soul-whatever else brings that swagger. This is his most recent album and is an excellent sample of what he can do.

Honorable Mention: Phillip Phillips, "The World From the Side of the Moon"

American Idol winners are so easy to dismiss since so many people just figure they won a big talent show. Phillip Phillips is the real deal. I know a couple of his songs are on the edge of overplayed, but the entire album is great. If he's managed correctly he should have a very long career a la Kelly Clarkson or Carrie Underwood.

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Top 10 "Obscure" Albums You Should Check Out

I use the word obscure only to say these are albums I haven't heard many people mention, or they may be lesser known for a variety of reasons. Some of you may take issue with me calling them obscure, but hopefully you see what I'm getting at.

1. Casey Abrams, "Casey Abrams"

It's not often that I can plug someone who didn't even crack the top half of the American Idol contestants in that year. Casey Abrams tried to do too many things on the show and ended up hurting his chances, but he is the real deal. He plays like 10 or 11 instruments on the album and does some really interesting work in the studio.

2. John Peter Lewis, "Stories From Hollywood"

Lewis was one of the weaker contestants in a weaker year for American Idol, but he fell victim to some unfair criticism by Simon Cowell. After he departed the show he bided his time for 2 years and then put out his first album. It's really strong and very unique. Funny story--we were watching "The Voice" this past year and there was a group called Midas Whale that I really enjoyed. I took one look at them and said, "Hey! That guy looks like John Peter Lewis." It turns out it was him. They've got an album coming out pretty soon here and it should be great. (We used to do an American Idol Review blog and I did a write-up about his album back in 2007.)

3. Darius Rucker, "Charleston, SC 1966"

Hootie's doing country? Yes. He has been for a few years. He's put out 3 albums as a country artist and while I'm not a huge country fan, I do love me some Hootie. I like a lot of songs off of all of the albums, but of the three, this is my favorite album overall. (His cover of "Wagon Wheel" is really fun, and it earned him a Grammy for the Best Solo Country Performance, but that recording is not on this album.)

4. Flogging Molly, "Drunken Lullabies"

This band is not obscure if you're into Irish punk bands, but most people I know are not. I really like Molly since they aren't too hard core into the punk side of things. Most of their music sounds like Irish Folk music or drinking songs infused with a heavy rock beat and sweet guitar work. This album is my favorite, especially the title track. 

5. Joshua Radin, "We Were Here"

A few of Radin's songs showed up on "Scrubs," and if you've ever seen the show, you know the music is really great. I listened a bit more to Radin's work and really liked this album. It's definitely on the mellow side, but sometimes that is exactly what you're looking for.

6. Paulo Nutini, "These Streets"

Remember that young guy from England who sang all about his new shoes? Well, I don't know why we haven't heard more about him, but his first album is a great listen. Nutini is a really talented musician that should be a bit more prominent on the scene.

7. Scrubs Official T.V. Soundtrack

The show is known for its music and this album is a fantastic compilation of some of the highlights from the first few seasons.

8. Quincy Jones, "Back on the Block" or "Q's Jook Joint"

One year Stacy bought me the huge Quincy Jones box set and there is SO much great music on there. Instead of listing the entire four CD set I'll cheat and give you a two-for-one. Jones produced a couple of albums with a variety of artists doing really interesting things. Bono and Ray Charles together singing the blues? Yeah, it's on there. 

9. Trombone Shorty, "Orleans & Claiborne"

My good friend Peter turned me on to Trombone Shorty, and when he did, I remembered that we'd seen him perform on the Christmas episode of "Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip." (Don't get me started on yet another Matthew Perry television program that ended too soon.) Anyway, he and a bunch of New Orleans musicians were brought onto the show after Katrina, and they played an absolutely breathtaking version of "O Holy Night." I immediately checked out his first album and was hooked. 

10. Sting, "Songs from the Labyrinth"

Sting actually dug up some medieval lute music and recorded a whole album. It is not an album that will get you humming and singing, but this is an album that will increase your respect for Sting the musician about a hundred fold.

Honorable Mention: Weird Al Yankovic, "Alpocalypse"

Yeah, yeah. This seems like a really odd selection, but this recent album is as good as anything Yankovic was doing in the early 80s and 90s. Of course, you will need at least a rudimentary knowledge of recent pop music. "Party in the CIA." "Polka Face." "Skipper Dan." There are a bunch of great songs on here.

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All of Our Country Albums

I'd love to do a top 10 about our country albums, but the fact is we don't have that many. We're not huge country fans but there is some that we like. I'd comment if I had strong opinions or could compare it to much. I just hate to imply that we don't actually listen to all kinds of music.

1. Keith Urban, "Be Here"

2. Taylor Swift, "Fearless"

3. Billie Jo Armstrong and Norah Jones, "Foreverly"

4. Lonestar, "From Here to There: Greatest Hits"

5. Darius Rucker, "Learn to Live"

6. Keith Urban, "Love, Pain & the Whole Crazy Thing"

7. Lady Antebellum, "Own the Night"

8. Taylor Swift, "Red"

9. Taylor Swift, "Speak Now World Tour Live"

10. Taylor Swift, "Taylor Swift"

11. Darius Rucker, "True Believers"

12. Darius Rucker, "Charleston, SC 1966"

13. Wynton Marsalis and Willie Nelson, featuring Norah Jones, Two Men with the Blues

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Top 10 Songs I Wish I'd Written

Let me just say that I wish I'd written far more than these 10 or 11 songs. It's almost harder for me to pick out the songs that I'm glad I didn't write. These aren't necessarily my favorite songs overall; they're just songs that I think are incredibly well written.

1. Peter Gabriel, "Book of Love"

In my opinion, the best love song ever. I know I've mentioned it before but I just have to say it again. It is possible that I'm a bit biased because the song was used at the end of the "Scrubs" series finale, and I think that's one of the top 2 or 3 finales ever.

2. Elton John, "Your Song"

Honestly, Elton John's original isn't even my favorite version of this song, but how can you not love these lyrics? Until I became aware of "Book of Love" this was my number one love song of all time.

3. P!nk, "Just Give Me a Reason"

Brilliant duet. Just brilliant. It may have gotten a little overplayed over the past year, but it's still an example of excellent songwriting.

4. John Mayer, "Gravity"

This song is what put John Mayer on my radar. Yes, he already had a number of hits, but I heard this song at the end of an episode of "Numbers" and had to immediately look up all that John Mayer has done.

5. Sara Bareilles, "Gravity"

No, I don't have a thing for unseen natural forces. It just happens this is another great song with a familiar title. Like Mayer's song, this one also sent me scrambling to find more from Bareilles, and I was pleased to find all kinds of goodies I hadn't realized were hers.

6. Sting, "A Thousand Years"

The music and lyrics are fantastic on this song. Really, I could pick any number of Sting songs and put it here. I could probably make a list of Top 10 Sting Songs I Wish I'd Written

7. A Great Big World, "Say Something"

If you haven't heard this song, find it and listen to it (don't watch the video unless you want to bawl). Then really listen to the lyrics and see why I'm saying this. The music is simple, but such a perfect accompaniment.

8. Fleetwood Mac/Stevie Nicks, "Landslide"

This is also one of the top songs I wish I could play, too. It's, in my opinion, an iconic song from beginning to end. It definitely passes the "sigh test." You know that feeling when a song comes on and all air just leaves your lungs involuntarily and you are immediately transported to another plane of existence? Yeah, that.

9. Dave Matthews, "Mercy"

Dave is another musician that has very interesting lyrics. This is a fairly recent release so it's the DMB song that makes the cut, but at any point in my past I may have given a different answer, and all those songs would still be so awesome.

10. John Hiatt, "Have a Little Faith in Me"

Maybe it's the raspy voice. Maybe it's the great piano background. Maybe it's the lyrics. Actually, it's all three. Recently, this song came on in the car and it hit me that I wish I'd written this song.

Honorable Mention: Paul Simon, "Call Me Al"

Why do I wish I'd written this song? Let me answer by posting my favorite sequence in the song:

A man walks down the street
He says why am I short of attention
Got a short little span of attention
And my nights are so long
Where's my wife and family
What if I die here
Who'll be my role-model
Now that my role-model is
Gone Gone
He ducked back down the alley
With some roly-poly little bat-faced girl
All along along
There were incidents and accidents
There were hints and allegations

How can you not love this song? Paul Simon's songwriting is so unique and fantastic.

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So, how'd I do? What are your thoughts? What did I miss? Comment and let us know!


Dave Johnson said...

Wow - I actually have 5 of your top 10 jazz albums (not including the honorable mention). I have the Miles, Coltrane, Dizzie, Brubeck, and Monk. I've listened to Monk about 4 times and I have no freaking idea what is happening. How many more listens until is makes sense?

Also agreed about Sting, though I'd have to put Ten Summoner's Tales in my top ten. Live in Berlin is incredible. You REALLY need to grab Synchronicity by The Police - it's more like a Sting solo album and has some timeless pop songs on it. Haven't explored Mayer as much as I want to though much respect for his guitar playing.

Dave Matthews used to be a must buy for us, but we lost him somewhere around the fifth album and haven't caught back up. Christie is a bigger fan than I but we wore out his first few CD's back in the day.

I think guys our age should stop apologizing for liking 80's "metal" bands like Europe. They were mostly just pop bands with loud guitars and they could usually play their butts off compared to any band on the charts today. And some of the unplugged stuff was the best. I have an unplugged of Kip Winger, KISS, and Cinderella and they contain some of the most jaw dropping, bluesy, impromptu jams I've ever heard. Just because they had ridiculous hair doesn't mean they weren't good.

Our tastes in country run completely crosswise with the exception of Darius Rucker, whom, again, I haven't delved into enough. I guess I like the 80's guys like Alabama, Milsap, Johnny Lee, etc. Keith Urban intrigues me but country, much like metal, is a bit of a one trick pony at times so I tend not to invest much time in it.

Gabriel - agreed. So is really underrated as is Gabriel altogether. I need to listen to him more.

Good list. I'm hoping by next year I will have corrupted you a bit more and we'll see more Queen and Van Halen on there.

Some recommends for new listens that you may not stumble over anywhere(most all of it pop/rock):

1. King's X - Gretchen Goes to Nebraska
2. Jellyfish - Spilt Milk
3. Bruce Hornsby - Spirit Trail
8. Dream Theater - Falling Into Infinity
9. Kip Winger - Songs from the Ocean Floor
10. Big Wreck - Albatross
11. Chagall Guevara - self titled
12 Amanda Marshall - self titled
13. Flying Colors - self titled
14. The Mustard Seeds - self titled
15. My Chemical Romance - Danger Days

LMW said...

Yay!! I'm glad my request has been met!! I hope we can still be friends, however, because our tastes run quite differently from each other.:) I don't have time now, but I'll come back and give you some lists of my own. For now, I'll just say that I do like country music a lot, but not top 40...I'm more into what they call Americana. I love that and traditional country, but not the pop sounding stuff that's played on the radio these days. I actually write for a country music website and can be very tough. As for Darius Rucker, I respect his effort and new allegiance to country music, because I believe it's authentic, but his country music really does bore me. I actually like Hootie better. I like his version of "Wagon Wheel", but much prefer the original from Old Crow Medicine Show. I'll be back to elaborate some more, but I'll also mention that I have tons and tons of music. It's what I spend my disposable income on. It's not nearly all of the music in my collection, but I have 70 gigs of music in my iTunes right now.

LMW said...

I love, love, love the Norah Jones and Billie Joe Armstrong album!!! It was sad that Phil Everly died so soon after it. I'm guessing since he was so sick, he might not have had a chance to hear it. And who knew Billie Joe Armstrong, lead singer of Green Day, could sing in such straight lines (something Robert Plant thanked Alison Krauss for teaching him how to do).

I also really enjoy Phillip Phillips and as you might have guessed, it's amazing that I like an American Idol winner so much.

To be honest, I stopped likeing Keith Urban's music less and less from Love, Pain and the Whole Crazy Thing forward. I don't like how his music has gone more pop and electric keyboards and drum machines almost make my brain shortcircuit.:)

I respect Taylor Swift as a person, respect that she can write catchy songs (I love songwriters!) and even like a handful of her songs, but her music doesn't catch me in general.

I'll be back with some lists of my own still.:)

Jimmy said...

Well thanks to you I realized I know nothing about jazz. Nothing. I'll work on that.

My thoughts:

Motown wasn't represented in your lists. That's the only major miss I can identify. And I realize not everyone loves MJ as much as I do, so I'll let that one slide.

I think history will look back and recognize that Lisa Lisa was more influential on 80s pop than we realized.

I love angry rap. It drives my wife nuts. I think I should get some slack for loving rap because I never got into hair bands. Dr. Dre and Eminem got it right in the early years.

Graceland is the one album I own that suggests I might be intelligent.

Neil Diamond and Jackson Browne are great songwriters with great voices.

It was released in the early 90s, but Stevie Nicks is the only person I know of that successfully makes a version of Silent Night sound scarily haunting yet reverent.

Wow. Didn't realize I had so much to say about music.

Anonymous said...

Ooh, lists and music. Two of my favorite things. :)

TIME OUT. I love Time Out! It's creative but very relaxing.
And "Sing, Sing, Sing" is gorgeous as well.

"Dreaming with a Broken Heart" is probably my favorite John Mayer song, although "Waiting on the World to Change" is pretty nice too.

THE JOSHUA TREE. I love it. It's probably my favorite album ever.

Dr. Mark said...

Dave, Monk is definitely an acquired taste, and some people never quite get it. For whatever reason I've always really identified with his style. Dave Matthews keeps getting better and better in my opinion. His last couple of albums are fantastic, even if there hasn't been as much radio play. And I do like Queen and Van Halen--they just don't crack my top 10. That's one of the problems with eclectic tastes. And did you miss a few numbers in your list? It skips some.

LMW, I've heard OCMS's original recording of "Wagon Wheel" and it's fantastic. I have a limit on bluegrass and how much I can ingest before I need a break, but that says as much about what I listened to as a kid as anything else. Older country isn't something that I've ever been able to get into, which is probably why the more pop-infused versions are what I enjoy. Looking forward to your list!

Jimmy, awesome comment. Like I was saying before, top 10 lists inevitably leave out great artists. MJ? Fantastic. I just don't usually reach for his albums above others, but when his songs come up on shuffle I always smile. Plus, he's one of Q's guys! We love Motown--Otis Redding, Sam Cooke, Marvin Gaye--but again, not quite top 10 for me. Angry rap can actually be quite insightful and intelligent. I wish Eminem applied his incredible talent to NOT being misogynistic, homophobic, and a general ass.

Nevillegirl, I'm so glad you're on here commenting. When it comes to John Mayer the problem is whatever song I heard last is the one I wish I'd written. He's that good. "Waiting on the World to Change" is another of my favorites. In fact, if I could have written the entire Continuum album I'd be thrilled.

Boquinha said...

Dave, loooooooove "So." One of my very favorite albums from my adolescence.

LMW, wow, that's a lot of country music!! Excited to see your list! This past Christmas, I bought that Billie Joe Armstrong/Norah Jones album for Mark!

Jimmy, HILARIOUS. I laughed out loud several times at your comment - LOVE it. Also? I'd like to see you rock out to some angry rap. For real.

Nevillegirl, I LOVE "Waiting on the World to Change." Like LOVE. That song has such a timeless feel that I can't believe it's not him doing a cover. He WROTE that. Unbelievable.

Okay, now you, Sweetie. :) I love that you've been listening to NPR more and talking current events with me. Love it. Plus, it makes SNL so much more fun when we know what's happening in the world. But I have to say, you seem SO much happier listening to music more. You NEED music. I love that about you. I like how you wrote it as lists. And I'm not screaming about you not including Michael Buble on your list - I get it. And you're right - he is one of the best live performers we've seen. Just wow.

Oh, how I love Chicago and Peter Cetera. That is all.

I need to listen to that Great Big World album. You've heard it. The kids have heard it. I need to get on that!

"Have a Little Faith in Me" - great song.

Our Song - LOVE it. My favorite version is the Moulin Rouge one for sure.

The other day listening to Paul Simon and Sting (so excited to see them in concert!) with the kids, I was talking and totally stopped mid-sentence to sing along to "I'm dappled and drowsy and ready to sleep. Let the morning time drop all its petals on me," because HOW CAN YOU NOT SING ALONG TO THAT?!? Both the lyrics and the melody - LOVE it.

Dr. Mark said...

Stacy, you're so right about "Waiting on the World to Change." It does feel like something that Marvin Gaye could have done. I think you're right about needing music. I had that as one of my goals this year--to listen to more music--and I think it's helping me. Don't worry--I'll still keep up on current events. :)

Today I was listening to another album that deserves a huge shout out: Jason Mraz, "Love is a Four-Letter Word." It is filled with great songs and as Steve said a long time ago, it's one of the best produced albums to come out in a long time.

Glad you enjoyed the lists!

Anonymous said...

Very interesting post. I have to admit, jazz is not my preferred genre and I know little about it.

Graceland is soo good. I have a pirated version on cassette and recently upgraded to the digital version. I know the playlist by heart. "You can call me Al" is a great song. "Spies Like us," with Chevy Chase, is also really cool.

Peter Gabriel. Yes. "So" is fantastic. My cassette player ate my tape. Need to upgrade that one.

Right now, I'm partial to Sting's "The Soul Cages." But you really can't go wrong with Sting. He has some great old world Christmas songs, too.

And yes, Norah Jones has that voice...you just know it's her.

I'm also enjoying some of Alanis Morisette's more grown up music. Never cared for her pop stuff, but I do like "Thank U" and "Empathy."

We also really enjoy Toad the Wet Sprocket.

Boquinha said...

Ah, tapes. I love my tapes. I miss my tapes. We've recently been updating our music to digital - it's bittersweet.

I looooove Sting's "The Soul Cages." :)

Dr. Mark said...

@seventytwofishes, I got into jazz at a young age since I started playing it in the sixth grade. Over time I found myself drawn to it and by the time I hit high school that's about all I listened to.

"Soul Cages" is a great album. You really can't go wrong with Sting. The Christmas album you're talking about is fantastic, too. Such a perfect winter album.

Alanis Morisette and Toad the Wet Sprocket are great, too. I don't usually think to put their music on, but I always love it when it comes up on shuffle.

Emily Foley said...

We have NPR and three country stations so I don't feel I can intelligently comment on this post. But I like music!