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Monday, October 05, 2009

Thirty or Thirty-One Great Singers and Some of their Greatest Moments

Here are 31 great singers and some of the moments that I thank them for. There were originally 30.

I know that this is a fool's errand. You will probably, and rightfully, say, "How did you miss Sam Cooke/Delroy Wilson/Andy Partridge/Emmylou Harris/Hank Williams/John Lydon/Sandy Denny/Buddy Holly/Rob Tyner/Sam Phillips/Martha Reeves/Bing Crosby/Kurt Cobain? What are you smoking?" Guess it just shows how many truly great singers there are.

I suppose that I could have done artists who had just one great thing and did it fantastically well, like Little Anne, or the guy from the Castaways who sang "Liar, Liar," but I wanted artists who did more than one fantastic thing. So here they are, mostly long-term artists, and thankfully, not a Celine Dion, Bruce Hornsby, or Jon Bon Jovi among 'em.

These artists aren't really listed in order, except maybe for the first few.

Why are there 31 and not 30? Because I refuse to leave out Gene Clark.

John Lennon, “God,” “You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away,” “All I’ve Got to Do”

Paul McCartney, “Long Tall Sally,” ”Got to Get You Into My Life,” “For No One”

Carl Wilson, “Long Promised Road,” “I Can Hear Music,” “God Only Knows”

Sheila Chandra, “ABoneCroneDrone 5,” “Om Namaha Shiva,” “Dhyana and Donalogue”

Sade Adu, “Is it a Crime,” “It’s Only Love That Gets You Through,” “Like a Tattoo”

Arthur Lee, “Maybe the People Would be the Times or Between Clark and Hilldale,” “Nothing,” “Seven and Seven Is”

Dusty Springfield, “I Close My Eyes and Count to Ten,” “Just a Little Lovin’,” “The Windmills of Your Mind”

Aretha Franklin, “I Never Loved a Man (The Way I Love You),” “Spanish Harlem,” “I Say a Little Prayer”

Ray Charles, “Mess Around,” “Night Time is the Right Time,” “Busted”

Smokey Robinson, “The Tears of a Clown,” “Ooh Baby Baby,” “The Tracks of My Tears”

The Bee Gees, “Nights on Broadway,” “Blue Island,” “In My Own Time”

The Everly Brothers, “Sleepless Nights,” “Cathy’s Clown,” “Devoted to You”

Nick Drake, “Which Will,” “Time Has Told Me,” “Clothes of Sand”

Michael Jackson, “Billie Jean,” “I Want You Back,” “I Am Love”

John Fogerty, “Bad Moon Rising,” “Lodi,” “Who’ll Stop the Rain”

Marvin Gaye, “Can I Get a Witness,” “What’s Going On,” “I’ll Be Doggone”

Colin Blunstone (The Zombies), “The Way I Feel Inside,” “Time of the Season,” “She’s Not There”

Bill Withers, “Grandma’s Hands,” “Use Me,” “You”

Brian Wilson, “Please Let Me Wonder,” “You Still Believe in Me,” “The Warmth of the Sun”

Art Garfunkel, “Bridge Over Troubled Water,” ‘For Emily, Wherever I May Find Her,” “So Long, Frank Lloyd Wright”

Michael Nesmith, “What Am I Doin’ Hangin’ Round?,” “Grand Ennui,” “Silver Moon”

Steve Winwood, “I’m a Man,” “Empty Pages,” “No Face No Name No Number”

Glenn Tilbrook (Squeeze), “Pulling Mussels,” “Woman’s World,” “Satisfied”

Elvis Presley, “Love Me,” “Hound Dog,” “Burning Love”

Ella Fitzgerald, “Angel Eyes,” “Let’s Do It,” “Black Coffee”

Syd Barrett, “See Emily Play,” “Golden Hair,” “Lucifer Sam”

Frank Sinatra, “I Get Along Without You Very Well,” “That’s Life,” “In the Wee Small Hours”

Little Richard, “Keep a Knockin’,” “Tutti-Frutti,” “Good Golly Miss Molly"

Rodd Keith, “Atomic Wise,” “I Died Today,” “Ecstasy to Frenzy”

Juanes, “La Camisa Negra,” “A Dios Le Pido,” “Suenos”

Gene Clark (The Byrds), "I'll Feel a Whole Lot Better," "From a Silver Phial," "If You're Gone"

Comments welcome!


Anonymous Jim Newberry said...

Are you saving the Wiggins sisters for the top three singers of all time list?

12:23 AM, October 06, 2009

Anonymous Duck said...

Here are some that would be on my incomplete list: Roger Daltry, Ann Wilson, Layne Staley (Alice In Chains), Ronnie James Dio, Bruce Dickenson (Iron Maiden), Geoff Tate (Queensryche), Chris Cornell, Robert Plant, David Gilmour.

That's in addition to many that were on your list. I'm sure I'll think of others later.

5:23 AM, October 06, 2009

Anonymous Joyce W said...

I would probably have a lot of the same singers on my own list... but in almost every case (except for the Wilson brothers), totally different songs for 'greatest moments'.

For instance:
John Lennon: "I Don't Want to Spoil the Party", "Money"

Paul McCartney: "Till There Was You", "I'm Down" (and I'm with you on "For No One")

Dusty Springfield: "The Look of Love", "Am I The Same Girl?"

Ray Charles: "You Don't Know Me"

The Bee Gees: "To Love Somebody"

John Fogerty: "Fortunate Son"

Art Garfunkel: "Disney Girls"

Michael Nesmith: "Joanne"

Elvis Presley: "Little Sister", "Suspicious Minds"

Your list is totally solid ,too...and a lot of fun to read! Now I'm off to think about who else I'd put on my own. Great post!

5:41 AM, October 06, 2009

Blogger Crotchbat said...

Dusty Springfield - That's The Kind Of Love I've Got For You

7:47 AM, October 06, 2009

Blogger Crotchbat said...

Marvin Gaye - Heavy Love Affair

7:49 AM, October 06, 2009

Blogger John said...

I agree most strongly on the "Fool's Errand" part - other than you don't say "31 GREATEST", just great - and they are.

...but I must admit liking the Withers "Use Me" catch. Gotta spread the news!

7:50 AM, October 06, 2009

Blogger Stuart Shea said...

Geez, those Dusty and Marvin cuts are hot! Thanks.

10:49 PM, October 07, 2009

Anonymous usenews said...

Good list, not perfect, but a fun topic to mull over. For Colin Blunstone, I say "Tell Her No" and "Misty Roses"

11:59 AM, October 08, 2009

Blogger Bob Purse said...

Interesting list! I would certainly contend that any list missing the greatest singer ever recorded - Pete Seeger - is incomplete.

There's lots of people here I haven't heard, or heard enough of to have a conversation about. Like someone else who commented, I'd pick entirely different songs for some of those we agree on, like "Revolution" and "Come Together" for Lennon and "Sexual Healing" and "Let's Get it On" for Marvin.

But I can't argue with much here, except for Sade and Aretha, neither of whom do much for me, and Sinatra, whose talent is evident, but style does not connect.

I'd add Freddie Mercury, Randy Newman, Bob Dylan, Dan Hicks, Merigail Moreland, Wilmoth Houdini and David Seville.

1:36 PM, October 08, 2009

Blogger Amy said...

I find putting together these lists so damned difficult. For me personally, this list tends to change depending on what I'm listening to at the time, what genre I'm into.

Duck brings up a good point about various rock/metal singers. Dio, as much as he's a joy to poke fun at, has an amazing rock voice. I also could not escape giving a nod to Bruce Dickenson ("Run to the Hills" is a truly marvelous vocal performance).
Chris Cornell is also one of those singers that has a very powerful, emotional voice. His first solo album is actually quite good (There's a song called "Follow My Way" that really shows off his talent).
Personally, I would also have to include Freddie Mercury on my list.

There are a few random, oddball vocal performances I would also like to toss into the bucket.

Amy Winehouse: Love is a Losing Game
Karen Carpenter: Goodbye to Love (her voice was like warm milk and honey)
Joni Mitchell: The Last Time I Saw Richard
Nina Simone (too many songs to pick just one)

I'm completely with you on the McCartney, Colin Blunstone, Arthur Lee, Art Garfunkel, and many others.

11:07 AM, October 09, 2009

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Stuart,
Jude Kessler from the Fest for Beatles Fans of Shoulda Been There. I have a radio personality who is interested in doing an interview with you about your books. Could you please contact me at Thanks!
Cheers, Jude

1:36 AM, October 20, 2009


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