Top Five Songwriters Of ALL TIME: And I So Dislike Lists
In a rare conference conversation between some of my closest musical friends, concert buddies and other just plain music freaks, we began the discussion of greatest songwriters. While many will disagree with the five presented here and offer replacements, I simply say that's why we love MUSIC.
Let the discourse begin:
Bob Dylan: There is NOTHING I can add to the written narrative of the importance of Bob Dylan to MUSIC. 'Like A Rolling Stone' completely redefined popular music; Rock historian Greil Marcus devoted an entire book to it's impact, Like a Rolling Stone: Bob Dylan at the Crossroads. In the late 1990's, Dylan returned with a vengeance releasing Time Out Of Mind, and hasn't let up. A new album is on the way in 2015, his 36th studio album Shadows in the Night, with Rolling Stone reporting it will be nothing but Frank Sinatra songs!
Jagger/Richards: The debate will forever rage, Rolling Stones vs. Beatles. I'm a Stones man. Growing up in the gritty, blue collar, working-class side of Pittsburgh, Pa I can identify with Beggars Banquet and the expanse of the quintessential classic Exile On Main Street. The infighting and bickering between Jagger and Richards is stuff of Legend, yet they have held it together for 50, FIFTY, years now. Based on longevity alone, Stones over Beatles. The song below, 'Saint Of Me' was released just prior to the 45th anniversary as a band, is a perfect example of the Stones: Historical lyrics (reminiscent of 'Sympathy For The Devil') a crushing lead from the Human Riff Kieth Richards, a touching middle eight from charismatic Mick Jagger, understated acoustic touches from Ronnie Wood and the Heart & Soul, the Driving Force- Sound of the Stones; CHARLIE WATTS - Drumming just slightly behind - as all great Jazz drummers do; giving you, the listener, a feeling of being pulled along by Kieth's riff.
Lennon/McCartney: What Bob Dylan did in a single song, 'Like A Rolling Stone,' took the Beatles almost a decade to do - CHANGE Music as we knew it. Lennon/McCartney grew from the Pop format of "I love her, she loves me" to a Rock band asking, "What does it mean?" The Stones were a Rock band that NEEDED the Beatles to show them the way. Perhaps the best example of the influence of Lennon/McCartney is the way others have interpreted their classics. From personal experience; when stranded in the Prague train station with a Frenchman, two Russians, an Italian and a couple from China we sang the Beatles catalog to pass the time and understand each other. It is eight hours of my life that I'll never forget.
Johnny Cash: Honestly, how can you have a conversation about Music without 'The Man In Black' coming up? Again, another to change the course of MUSIC as we understood it at the time. Cash holds the rare honor of inductions to the Country Music, Rock and Roll, and Gospel Music Halls of Fame. Johnny Cash's songs defined generations of musicians AND he just happened to be in the right place at the right time to cut what became know as: 'Million Dollar Quartet,' a recording of an impromptu jam session involving Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins on December 4, 1956, in the Sun Record Studios. I've included Johnny's cover of Tom Petty's song only because at the end of his life, covers became a staple for him. They only served as vehicles to highlight his brilliant understanding of music.
Dark horse and ONLY because they are so inextricably linked, Jay Farrar/ Jeff Tweedy (while sharing writing credits, there are 'Jeff' & 'Jay' songs): Mix the Folk of Woody Guthrie with a Punk ethos and add shimmering Pop overtones and you just scratch the surface of Uncle Tupelo, the now revered band founded by Jay Farrar & Jeff Tweedy. I've included two examples from the band's debut release. Both gentleman have perused different 'directions' following the demise of the band that I'll leave you to discover. But I promise it will be worth your time...
Jay Farrar Lead Vocal 'Whiskey Bottle':
Jeff Tweedy Lead Vocal 'Screen Door':