[Here’s some of my favorite artists chosen for their consistent quality, creativity, inspiration and a personal vision which I find copacetic with my own. I’ve added my random and spontaneous impressions for what they might be worth. In no particular order…jbm 1/8/2017]
Nina Simone: took up Langston Hughes’ torch and brought the light to a worldwide audience. “I Ain’t Got No, I Got Life” pretty much sums everything up in one song!
Yusuf/Cat Stevens: I like them both
Bruce Cockburn (pronounced coburn): Canadian folk rock activist with a mesmerizing voice and masterful guitar playing – his lyrics ain’t bad nether
Lucinda Williams: uniquely her own Texas by way of Louisiana liberal blues folk alt country rocker
Patti Smith: poet, rocker, national book award winning author, philosopher, photographer, mystery loving, grave venerating, collector of objects and memento-mori
Steve Earle: master craftsman, unabashedly political, alt country rock actor author teacher
Joe Strummer: strident, passionate, well spoken, fan loving, altruist artist of the first caliber
Jimmy Cliff: inspirational, affirming, soaring voice, political before Bob Marley (recommend seeing the movie: “The Harder They Come” in which he stars)
AJJ (formerly Andrew Jackson Jihad): very dark very real with a little bit of slapstick, telling the truth til it hurts
The Black Keys: back to basics, from Akron, OH like Jim Jarmusch & Devo – I wonder what’s in the water (besides tire manufacturing residue)?
Father John Misty: good surrealist fun
PJ Harvey: intense, very British, taking what Patti started to another level, her recent videos are very well done
Fruitbats: easy to listen to, hard to describe
The Mountain Goats: great storytelling
The Decemberists: literate, seafaring, lovely lyrics and arrangements
Band of Horses: nice harmonies put to hard driving melodies
Charles Bradley: the screaming eagle of soul (watch documentary “soul of america”)
Neutral Milk Motel: one album but such an album!
Big Star: 3 albums but such albums!
The Baptist Generals: 2 albums but such albums!
Elliot Smith: painfully beautiful, inspired blending of melody and lyrics, utterly unique
The Band: everyone should know their pedigree
Creedence Clearwater Revival: same
John Mellencamp: prolific, well crafted, socially conscious songs and always highly listenable
Cat Power: deceptively low key, very beautiful music, unique lyrics
Los Lobos: just another band from east LA
Randy Newman: jazz, folk, blues, and a touch of vaudeville, its all there with plenty of satire, parody, social criticism
John Hiatt: blues/rock put to uniquely american themed lyrics
John Prine: folk/country master craftsman
The Neville Brothers: they take you immediately to New Orleans
Natalie Merchant: easy on the ears
Sinaed O’Connor: beautiful voice, strangled lyrics, tortured life
Tom Waits: a category all his own
The Clash: the best punk had to offer (in my humble opinion)
The Pogues: rough ready rowdy
Van Morrison: the Belfast Cowboy
Leonard Cohen: poet, ladies man, Buddhist monk, magnificent songwriter
photo credit: scene from the movie “The Man Without a Past” written and directed by Aki Kaurismäki.