This might have been “My Favorite 20 Songs”, or “My Favorite 20 Favorite Foreign Musicians”, or “My Favorite 20 Musical Groups”. But those turned out out to be difficult to tie down. I have hope I will not be constantly changing the following list of living musicians that are my favorite.
Lucky me, I live in the USA. Most expensive health care, idiots like Donald Trump, Democrats, Republicans, and worst and I mean WORST, the worst music sophistication in the world. Taylor Swift Performer of the Decade? Really? When it comes to music the rest of the world thinks the USA is insane. So to prove I don’t hang with USA musical taste, here’s my list of musicians I like.
Not groups but people. Alive, mostly (the dead list is at the end). Clicking on the name will link to the Wikipedia entry. You probably haven’t listened to many of them.
1 Bob Dylan Too much has been written about Dylan and most of it is just nonsense. In the 1960s and 70s, he wrote songs that seem to have come from another world. After the 70s his miracle gift disappeared. Forty years too late he was awarded a Nobel. Dylan is to music what van Gogh is to art (and more). I was lucky enough to grow up in the 60s. In a listening booth at Paige’s music, his poetry changed my life. He has played Along The Watchtower more than any other song: YouTube. Some people claim Dylan is God. I can’t argue with that.
2 Candy Dulfer World’s best alto saxophone player (and I’m a fan of Charlie Parker but she’s waaaaay beyond his league). Here she is playing Lily Was Here: Youtube. YouTube has several versions of Lily Was Here, just search. For years I never knew she played saxophone on my favorite Van Morrison album. She got her saxophone training from her father, also a famous saxophone player. She’s Dutch and little known in the USA. For a great view: YouTube.
5 Eilen Jewell I spend a lot of time looking at iTunes to see if Jewell has released a new song. She’s a little religious and can also be heard with the Sacred Shakers. Her voice is unmistakable. Here she is: YouTube.
6 Karla Bonoff I once heard her sing at a small recording studio. I could have sold my ticket for a thousand dollars, hundreds of people were trying to get in. How many people could get Linda Ronstadt as a backup singer: YouTube. She has written songs that are timeless. And my favorite song of hers: YouTube.
8 Taylor Momsen She fronts the group The Pretty Reckless. Model, actress, singer, and songwriter. She gave up acting to devote herself full time to songwriting and singing. She reignited my interest in rock and roll. In 2021 The Pretty Reckless released the most important R&R record in over a decade. Here’s an older concert: YouTube. You might know her as Jenny Humphrey or Cindy Lou Who.
9 Jeff Lynne Famous for Electric Light Orchestra (ELO). Here he is at Wembley Stadium: YouTube. (Try not to tap your foot.) Or with my favorite backup singer: YouTube. Richard, his piano player, was with him for many years.
12 David Stewart You probably know him better as the person who made Annie Lennox famous. He’s one of the most famous people in music. Here he is playing one of his tunes with Candy Dulfer: YouTube. He wrote the music for several films including one of my favorites, Cookie’s Fortune. The movie is hard to find but worth the trouble.
13 Suzi Quatro There’s no way to describe her. You just need to slowly try to take her in. The first woman to play an instrument and lead her own group. She started it for women in music. Try this: YouTube. Here she is being cuter than cute: YouTube. And … she was in Happy Days. Watch this if you want to know more about her: YouTube. She’s a real icon.
16 Kacey Musgraves Single-handedly dragging country music into the 21st century. Doesn’t hurt she’s incredibly beautiful. On SNL: YouTube. She’s one of many artists who have used LSD to be creative, specifically “Slow Burn”.
18 Judy Collins Nancy and I went to see her at the Auditorium in Chicago many years ago. Still the best concert I’ve ever been to. Her best album, and the best album ever recorded, is Who Knows Where The Time Goes. Here she is singing Sandy Denny’s famous song: YouTube.
19 Richard Thompson I saw Richard Thompson twice. Once when he was with ex-wife Linda and once solo. Best guitar player? Best performer? He was once in a very famous band with Sandy Denny. YouTube. If you want to know more: YouTube. A very famous concert: YouTube.
20 Jessie J Here she is outdoing Whitney Houston: YouTube. World’s Best Singer. Yes, WORLD’S BEST SINGER. If there was an award for “Stage Presence” … she’d get a lifetime award. Proving she can sing: YouTube. The USA only knows her for this: YouTube. Noone sang Parton’s “I Will Always Love You” better than Dolly until: YouTube.
21 Patti Smith I played the Horses album all the way to Galveston TX. I couldn’t wait to join her fan club, run by her mother. A famous performance in Germany: YouTube. She proved that Rock and Roll was the most important form of music ever created. Today, Rock and Roll in the United States is largely ignored by awards groups. She also proved you didn’t have to be a great beauty to be sexy. “Jesus died for somebody’s sins but not mine.”
22 Tina Turner Here she is at sold-out Wembley: YouTube. (What is there about that short-haired British dancer on the right?) Tina does not need an explanation. Like many good artists, she was more popular over seas than than in the USA. Known as “The Best Legs In Music”. She eventually abandoned the USA. Need more Tina: YouTube. (Dennis Ralston is the guitar player on the left.)
And a few thoughts about music …
The Best Voice, without a doubt, in music is Morgan James. Classically trained. I just don’t like her choice of songs. Her she is at her best: YouTube. Daryl’s House: YouTube. She married that guitar player. Not a good choice. Here is absolute proof she’s THE BEST VOICE IN MUSIC: YouTube. Yes, she was in Godspell.
And one of the most amazing singers on the planet: YouTube.
So you still think Taylor Swift is “Performer of the Decade”? Awards in the music industry are bought and paid for. And sometimes just popularity awards. Taylor Swift is the Donald Trump of the music business. There are thousands, YES THOUSANDS, of singer / songwriters better than Taylor Swift. Like politics, music is a con and about money. Expand your horizons and open your mind and ears. And get good blue-tooth, noise-canceling headphones: Sennheiser Momentum 3 or Sony XM4. NOT BOSE. Or get the Apple AirPods Pro if you want earbuds.
The ones I miss:
Aretha Franklin An album of hers took me to New Orleans and back.
Glen Campbell I couldn’t stop listening to “Galveston”. Great guitar player.
Leon Russell I once found myself standing next to him the entire time he was performing at a bar in Bloomington IN. A musicians musician.