This morning on the way to work I was flipping through the radio. I landed on a song that made me stop and listen. I’d never heard the song before, so it must be new. Once I got to the office I checked the playlist of the station and discovered the singer. I sadly discovered the lyrics were rather blasphemous on the playlist widget, but the female singer was so strong it made me stop and listen.
This made me think about what other singers make me stop and listen, regardless of whatever else I’m doing. So I made a list. Of course, the list excludes both my wife—the best singer ever, and U2’s Bono. Everyone knows that U2 is my all-time fave, so it is wrong to put them on the list.
So, here is the list of 5 who come to mind, but it is not a complete list. Everything is fluid.
- Natalie Merchant—There is just something ethereal about her voice. Maybe I’m just showing my Gen-X street cred, but I think her voice is one of the iconic sounds of the last 20 years, whether she’s with the Maniacs or not.
- Jim Morrison—Yeah, I know he was demon possessed but his voice is just odd. Whenever I hear a Jim Morrison song I have to stop and listen. Listening to him sing is like rubber-necking at a car crash on the freeway.
- ZZ Top—Not only do these men have the best Texas-Rock and Roll sound ever, but their beards are legendary. La Grange still gets a lot of airtime, and I have to listen. I have to listen because I’ve driven through La Grange, Texas more times than I can remember. I know that the song is about ill repute, but I still have to listen.
- Mick Jagger—I list Jagger, and not the Rolling Stones because to me, Jagger is the power behind that thing. Keith Richards, I think, actually died in 1987. Today he is only a digital reanimation brought to us by Dreamworks. Jagger’s voice, with its arrogant britishness says, “Stop what you’re doing and listen.” Gimme Shelter is not the greatest song ever, but it has to be in the top 10.
- Frank Sinatra—Old Blue Eyes has the purest vocals, rivaled only by Nat King Cole. But Frank is better because he did more. I think I have every single song he ever sung. Not only is his voice amazing, he was the king of cool. I’d like to be the Frank Sinatra of preachers, so now I have to find a way to do all my ministry from Vegas. Okay, maybe not.
Some of you will notice some missing personas. Led Zeppelin, for one. I love Led, but Robert Plant on vocals was always a negative, not a positive. The guitar riffs are what made them. John Fogerty almost made the list, but I decided that I can skip him over on the radio dial. What interested me was how these distinctive singers all seem so much more amazing in the backdrop of what passes for music right now. We are in a music drought with all the vanilla copy-cats.