My Top ~20 People, Living, In Music

Speaking of music, whatever happened to this fad: YouTube. Another Flash Mob in Ireland: YouTube. More: YouTube. And more ELO: YouTube.

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.

3 Beth Hart I’d Rather Go Blind: YouTube. She has an entire album with Joe Bonamassa: YouTube. Her life story deserves a movie.

4 Bryan Ferry YouTube. YouTube. YouTube. World’s best musicians. Worlds most beautiful women. Must be a Bryan Ferry concert. And of course Roxy Music: 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.

7 Linda Ronstadt With three of the world’s most famous guitar players: YouTube. Like most males my age, I was in love with her. A famous concert: 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.

10 Helen Folasade Adu Better known as just Sade. Absolutely the sexist woman in history of music. Only six studio albums? Her famous Smooth Operator: YouTube. Or for more raw sex: YouTube.

11 John Fogerty Bad Moon Rising: YouTube. He just kept turning out hits.

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.

14 Lucinda Williams On Austin City Limits: YouTube. One of the great song writers.

15 Dwight Yoakam Country claims him but a much more accurate description is Southern California Country and Bluegrass. YouTube.

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”.

17 Taylor Dayne Taylor Dayne took “little black dress” to another level. Sexyist woman on the planet? Take a look: YouTube.

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.

If you really like music, subscribe to Playbill on YouTube: YouTube. Or, an SNL star: YouTube.

And one of the most amazing singers on the planet: YouTube.

One of the best things in music is Playing For Change. This will get you started: YouTube. Just search YouTube. My favorite: 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:

Eva Cassidy Best singer ever. YouTube.

Sandy Denny YouTube. She wrote Who Knows Where The Time Goes.

June Pointer YouTube. It wasn’t The Pointer Sisters without June.

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.

Candy Dulfer

I’m not a big fan of jazz. Except I like Candy Dulfer.

A saxophone is a difficult instrument. Nuances are hard to come by, especially in jazz.

Candy Dulfer is Swiss. Her father was a famous saxophone player. At an early age she had the best teacher and the best saxophone. She’s 50 years old and probably the world’s best saxophone player. You can find her on YouTube.

Wiki entry.

Random Numbers

Random numbers are extremely hard to generate. But let’s backup.

I started out working as a college student writing statistical computer programs for a medical researcher using an IBM 1130 (a lot like a personal computer but very expensive). $7 an hour in 1966. Yes, random numbers get used in many unexpected areas. Then working for a (nameless) mofia construction company building a weapons factory for the army. Vinnie, my boss, had a blonde daughter who theoretically worked for me but … well you know. No random numbers. But they had this incredible IBM 1130, the biggest 1130 you could buy and a cost-plus contract (we were stealing your tax dollars). One year of business was enough. I went back to statistical programming, mostly Landsat data. On the side, I got to work with lots of Ph.D. students doing their research. The world was beyond interesting … IBM 360/67 (Purdue), IBM 360/95 (NASA), CDC 6600 (Indiana University), CDC 6500 (Purdue). (There were others: Univac 1108, IBM 1620, IBM 1401, IBM 5100, etc.) The most interesting computers on the planet, especially the 360/95 (Even an IBM 360/195 down the street at Columbia). Fortran, COBOL, PL/1 (even CDC PL/1 which never went out of 0.95 beta status), IBM 360 Assembler, CDC Assembler (COMPASS), Univac 1108 Assembler, IBM 5100 Algol, etc. I still have printouts from both the 360/95 and 360/195 computers. I have disk packs from the CDC 6600 and IBM 1130, circuit boards from the CDC 6600 (real transistors), and some core planes including an RCA Spectra. At NASA, I worked for Robert Jastrow (Google him), but mostly I talked to Russians Jews thru an interpreter. We all spoken Fortran. Life was complicated. Random Numbers came to an end when I retired and went to work for Indiana State University as a Systems Programmer. My brain was tired. Manhattan was tiresome.

Btw, the NASA lab is still there. The largest remote sensing lab in the world. It’s above Tom’s, from Seinfeld. Back in my days, it was top secret and heavily guarded. Once inside the nameless door on 112th street, give the password and the guard behind the desk in the small room might let you in the elevator. Just say the password, nothing else. No small talk allowed. They were worried about violent student protests even though we were trying to save the planet. I passed the security check! This was my second gov job!

Link to a larger image.

Google map of Tom’s and NASA Goddard lab in Manhattan.

So, random numbers. I find three kinds of numbers interesting: prime, fractal, and random. Prime number and fractal research is huge. Random not so much. You can now use your smartphone to retrieve a completely random 1 or 0 from a quantum event. But in programming, things are still a little complicated.

After I retired to Indiana State University, l needed a hobby. Back to random numbers. I started generating random number based plots (Calcomp 3-pen plotter). The area with the plotter was next door to the photography area and art area with lots of students painting. The painting instructor noticed one of my plots and asked if he could have one. I was flattered, no one had ever shown an interest. A week later students were painting things that looked a lot like my random number patterns.

And then years passed. The plotter had been retired. Personal computers came along and one day while I was contemplating whether to plan suicide or find something interesting I found my old IBM random number booklet from 1968. Years ago that booklet, along with Walker and Lev, had changed my life. So began my personal computer screensaver I labeled scrsave1968. I had, fortunately, learned the computer language C for some reason. Microsoft Visual Studio to the rescue.

The interest faded and I retired. Tigers took up lots of my time. Then I dug out scrsave1968 and began making changes and feeding the images into a fractal program. I rewrote it as Visual Basic making it easier to change. And the result:
Link to scrsave1968 images.