Friday, May 22, 2009

25 Random Things - #1

1. I think the 5 greatest musical acts in history are the Beatles, Elvis, Merle Haggard, Pink Floyd, and Allison Krauss. You don't have to agree, but then it just proves you don't know what good music is. I love music.

I have absolutely no musical talent, and can't sing at all. I wish I could. I would love to play an instrument or being able to sing. I can't, so I'll listen instead.

I like a lot of different types of music. Rock, southern rock, country rock, classic rock, Motown, classic country, the 60's British invasion, the 80's British invasion, country, blue grass, jazz, blues, early country, pop, original 50's rock, swing, current country, big band, etc. I have albums in all these forms of music. I think people who limit themselves to one type of music to listen to limit themselves in life. They're missing out on so much. Variety is the spice of life, and everyone should be able to enjoy different types of music.

Even though I'm not big on opera or rap, in its way, to those who enjoy it, it's good music. I've been to the opera, and would go again. It was fantastic. But I wouldn't buy any records. Same with rap. I've listened to it. Some of its good, some of its crap, and I just don't enjoy it that much. Just the way it is.

My musical tastes come from my family more than anything else. I think most people would say their friends, but not with me. Some, yes, but mostly my family. My older brother is 5 years older than me, and he started listening to music in the late 60's/early 70's. And there was some great stuff there. Music, rock music mostly, changed during that period and several new genres appeared. My brother listened to lots of different music, and I used to hear it from his room.

My parents also were a big influence. They used to listen to a lot of different types themselves. My mother grew up as teenager in the 50's, with Elvis, the Everly Brothers, etc. My father was a country boy who listened to Webb Pierce and Tex Ritter. I also remember my father listening to ZZ Top when he was in his 50's. Lots of music, lots of different types of music, and the ability to listen to it for the value of it individually, and not because it fit into a genre or someone told you it was good.

As an example, I could care less about the Rolling Stones, and I'm not really a Bruce Springsteen fan. But I love del Amitri and Queen. I prefer Earl Thomas Conley over Garth Brooks. Frankie and Deano over Eric Clapton and Rod Stewart. It doesn't mean I don't like all of them. I do. I just don't pick my music based on the popularity of the performer. I pick it based on whether I like it or not. Some people might laugh at that statement, but we all know people who only buy their music based on what's popular. Popular doesn't mean good.

And so on to my picks:

The Beatles: simply the greatest, in my mind. They changed music in a way that no one ever has. The top 5 songs in Billboard in one week. No one has ever done anything like that. My parents were in England in '63 and '64. I was born there. I remember them telling me about watching the Beatles on television before they ever made it to the states. The first pop movies with 'A Hard Day's Night' and 'Help'.

One reason I refuse to listen to REM is because Michael Stipe, lead singer of REM, said the Beatles were no big deal and had no influence on modern music. Yeah, he's an idiot and I hold grudges.

Favorite song: I Should Have Known Better
Bonus Track: Help

Elvis: forget about the movies and listen to the music. Buy a CD, open a bottle of wine or a beer, and listen to the songs with no distraction. I didn't like Elvis for a lot of years. He died on my 13th birthday, and ruined it. It was the only year my mother actually remembered my birthday on the day of my birthday. And then she sat and cried all night. Good times. And in the 70's, in Kansas City, Channel 5 used to have a 3:00 movie every afternoon. And at least every two months there was a week-long Elvis festival. And never King Creole or Jailhouse Rock. It was always Viva Las Vegas and the ones where he played twins, or something.

But over the years, I listened more and more and came to realize why they call him the King. Remember, at one time, this guy had more #1 singles than anyone in history. He sold more records than anyone else. Some of that was the hype, but not all of it. He was that good. There was a lot of schlock involved with Elvis, and he didn't go out the best way. But the man could sing.

Favorite song: Suspicious Minds
Bonus Track: Always On My Mind

Merle Haggard: of all the country performers, he's my favorite. I don't know why one person makes an impact more than any other, but the Hag Man does. He writes most of his own songs, he's lived a hard life, and made a success of himself. He doesn't have the greatest voice, but he can sing. But more importantly, he tells a story that gets you to listen to it.

He was the first concert I ever went to. And he has an unusual show. He walks and says hello. Then he sings to you. About half way through, he'll stop and say thank you for coming to see him. Then he sings some more. Then he says thank you and goes home. No light shows. No laser shows. No dancers. Just the music and song. What a concept.

Favorite song: Kern River
Bonus Track: My Favorite Memory

Pink Floyd: I was never a huge Floyd fan, at least until I saw 'The Wall' for about the 5th time. I loved the movie, and the music was good. But I never really listened to it. It was just a part of the movie, without being individual songs. That's a hard concept to get used to, unless you're into album rock, which I never was. Then one day I bought the sound track and listened to it without the movie. And I was hooked.

When I was in Turkey, I found a store where I could buy every (bootleg) Pink Floyd album for $2. So I did. And there wasn't a lot to do in Turkey, so I listened all the time. And I was hooked. There is one thing I know. Put on the sound track to 'The Wall', open a bottle of wine (or other means of relaxation) and by the time the song 'Comfortably Numb' comes on, you will be.

Favorite song: Comfortably Numb
Bonus track: Shine On You Crazy Diamond

Alison Krauss: I usually buy greatest hits albums. I would rather spend my money on an album that has 7 or 8 songs I know I want to listen to over an album that's popular and might have one or two songs I might like. The first album I ever bought based on one song and nothing else was 'I've Got That Old Feeling' by Alison Krauss. The video of 'Steel Rails' come on and I loved the song. I went out right away and bought the album, and have bought every album of hers since. I don't care for every album she has. Some are straight bluegrass. Some are straight country, or variations. Some are a combination. She's even performed with Robert Plant.

She's a very versatile performer. She's an award-winning fiddle player, a Grammy-award winning singer (among many others), and is extremely talented. You never hear a lot about her, which is good. I don't care about performer's personal lives. I care about their music.

Favorite song: Steel Rails
Bonus track: Carolina On My Mind

That's it. Not much, really, but this is the first post. My favorite performers and a little about them, and why I like them.

So who are your top 5?


Fallen Angel said...

I used to spend a lot of time enjoying music and using it as a means to express things I couldn't in any other way. Lately however, it's been much less the case. I do enjoy Putumayo's world music collections a lot though. They are diverse and they somehow reflect this cultural confusion / mix I am living in.

tHeMARksMiTh said...

I'm in the same boat -- no musical talent and can't sing but like music anyway. I fit more into newer alternative rock, but I'd love to see the Eagles. As for rap, there's very little of any worth, at least as far as new rap goes. Some of the stuff at the beginning of the movement wasn't terrible, but the new guys are awful and bring nothing to the table.

Ron Rollins said...

It was hard to leave the Eagles off this list, but that's why it's hard to do them, also.

The only rap I've ever liked was from 'Hustle and Flow', but that was the exception.

Gabi, I don't know Putumayo? Portuguese?