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#1122764 - 01/19/17 02:55 AM JPF list of best ever singer songwriters  
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John Voorpostel Offline
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Couch and Ben and Michael were talking about lists of "best" and it really is subjective with no real right or wrong, simply a concensus, an agreement among peers, as to who are the best ever singer sonwriters.


But here is an interesting exercise. I think we are a pretty knowledgeable and seasoned community. I'd like to know if we can reach a concensus of the top group.


I suggest we all list our top 5 choices and see where it takes us. I don't really want to impose rules, but generally speaking, no bands would be a good constraint.


And there is no right or wrong here---just your top 5 choices. Let's see if we form a concensus. I'll be happy to tabulate a longer list based on our collective input, with final rankings dependent on number of mentions

I'll start

Bob Dylan
Paul Simon
Neil Young
Bruce Springsteen
David Bowie


If writing ever becomes work I think I'm going to have to stop

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#1122768 - 01/19/17 03:33 AM Re: JPF list of best ever singer songwriters [Re: John Voorpostel]  
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couchgrouch Online content
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Dylan
Tom Waits
Neil Young
Townes Van Zandt
Leonard Cohen

Bruce is a more than worthy mention but I left him off because I consider the E-Street Band integral to his sound and success, making him less a singer songwriter and more leader of a band.

#1122769 - 01/19/17 04:03 AM Re: JPF list of best ever singer songwriters [Re: John Voorpostel]  
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BenJones Offline
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I think the only two consensus singer songwriters this forum will be Dylan and Neil Young.

Reason number 1, the age of the people here, and the style of music, mostly country and folk here. Reason two because those two are always mentioned and noted, and
Reason 3, they are actually two of the best

It may seem like sacrelig but I don't enjoy listening to Dylan all that much. I absolutely acknowledge him as the godfather of the singer songwriter, and one of the best of all time, but there is that enjoyment factor. Like a rolling stone I could listen to every day forever, no problems. But it's just I don't find his music all that entertaining, please don't shoot m, I do acknowledge him for his greatness.

Which, if you ask a teenager or young person in their 20's they would have no problem smacking Dylan around, poking fun at his voice etc, likewise Neil young or tom waits

So I have to be honest with myself, and mix the best of both worlds, my perceived favorites and my actual favorites

I won't put Dylan on the list, simply cause I don't listen to him much at all

I will keep Neil Young, and I don expect to see many smokey robinsons here, but man, that guy is a master pop songwriter.

Lennon/McCartney
Neil Young
Paul Simon
Bruce
Billy Joel


I

Last edited by BenJones; 01/19/17 04:07 AM.
#1122770 - 01/19/17 05:22 AM Re: JPF list of best ever singer songwriters [Re: BenJones]  
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MidniteBob Offline
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Raleigh, ya'll
In my humble opinion, the list begins with Woody Guthrie...

...I'll leave Dylan out, simply because I think he's an alien and shouldn't be counted, nor should Springsteen for the same reason...

I will also leave out John & Paul....Because we're talking individual singer/songwriters.

On the other hand, I realize that I am going to cheat here on my list, because they wern't solo acts, but only one of them wrote:

2: Paul Simon

3: Pete Townsend...He, alone, conceived Quadraphenia(sp) & Tommy...

Getting back to my first mention....Dylan stole a line from a Woody song..

"You be right from your side and I'll be right from mine"

Here is a link to a Woody Tribute concert, circa 1968:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3CmV4aSZNf8

Ok, getting back to the intention of John's question about singer-songwriters as if there were no else on stage with them...

1. Tom Waits:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EtLVXBqfqBY

2. Steve Goodman:

The best-ever one man-one guitar, here's just a sample...And I'm posting this one, because the Cubbie's won last year!!!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7xBxZGQ1dJk

3. Nanci Griffith, a champion of other songwriters....:

Here's just one of hers:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2GK462XnRjQ

4. John Prine:

Yeah, I got laid a couple times by singing "Angel From Montgomery"..But here is my favorite John Prine singer-songwriter performance, all by himself:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4hkJ4mFINyo


5. Hank Williams....Can anyone imagine what it would have been like to hear him "live" in a bodunckt bar???

6. It's a tie...Willie Nelson & Buddy Holly....If they had been born in a later year, and you could hear them onstage, with just a guitar.....My mind boggles

Midnite




Satchel was right. Something is gaining on me.

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#1122776 - 01/19/17 10:07 AM Re: JPF list of best ever singer songwriters [Re: John Voorpostel]  
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BenJones Offline
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Did I cheat with Lennon/McCartney?

I thought individually, they still hold up, and they are strong performers

Singe/songwriter not only means songwriting but performing, and thats why my list is what it is

Both groups are good at both, but with slight edges....

Stronger writers:
Dylan
Leonard Cohen
Tom Waits
Randy Newman

Stronger performers:
Bruce
Paul Simon
Neil young
Billy Joel

If you agree that the reason to put a song on is first and foremost for enjoyment,
That's where I differ on some names. On paper I'd say Dylan, but on listening experience it's, Beatles, Pete Townshend, Bruce, etc

I do expct many Merle's here too





Last edited by BenJones; 01/19/17 10:12 AM.
#1122777 - 01/19/17 11:44 AM Re: JPF list of best ever singer songwriters [Re: John Voorpostel]  
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PopTodd Offline
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My "best" list is different from my "favorite" list. Since the latter will probably be a little more-interesting, I'll go with that one:
• Ray Davies
• Nick Lowe
• Harry Nilsson
• Paul Simon
• Hank Williams, Sr.

#1122782 - 01/19/17 01:35 PM Re: JPF list of best ever singer songwriters [Re: John Voorpostel]  
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Ricki E. Bellos Offline
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Doesn't it naturally follow that I would think my favorites are also the best? grin

Joni Mitchell
Patty Griffin
James Taylor
Paul Simon
Lucinda Williams

#1122783 - 01/19/17 01:53 PM Re: JPF list of best ever singer songwriters [Re: John Voorpostel]  
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John Voorpostel Offline
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Don't think you cheated with Lennon\McCartney as they can be viewed as one...certainly that wrinkle was in the back of my mind when I suggested "no rules"

And yes, singer\songwriter does mean they have to write and perform their own material.

Thanks for playingall...look forward to more contributions

And Go Canada...love to see Neil, Joni and Leonard in the mix smile


If writing ever becomes work I think I'm going to have to stop

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#1122785 - 01/19/17 02:47 PM Re: JPF list of best ever singer songwriters [Re: Ricki E. Bellos]  
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Originally Posted by Ricki E. Bellos
Doesn't it naturally follow that I would think my favorites are also the best? grin

Joni Mitchell
Patty Griffin
James Taylor
Paul Simon
Lucinda Williams


I think this is much closer to being right than other lists I have seen here. The most obvious factor is that you put female s/s on equal footing as the males as well they should be since they were at a huge disadvantage.

I will add a name which no one else has included I think simply due to ignorance more than anything. Janis Ian. From a younger age than any other name on any list, she's been world class. Sure, she's not as famous, but if you're talking sheer talent, she's the match of any other name on the lists above. And listen to the work she's STILL doing. Simply not listening to her is your problem, not hers, when it comes to talent.

I'll put some thought into a list, but Janis Ian is every bit as good and in many cases far superior to some of the names mentioned on other lists. She's a ground breaker and her consistent work from a ridiculously early age and with the obvious sexist bias in the industry for much lesser talents like the hugely over-rated Bruce Springsteen who is a rocker far more than singer songwriter through his his career. You might as well pull Prince and Michael Jackson into the discussion if you're including Springsteen who is no more a singer songwriter than they are through his career mostly playing with the likes of the world class E Street Band.

Let the whining begin....


Brian Austin Whitney
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#1122788 - 01/19/17 03:27 PM Re: JPF list of best ever singer songwriters [Re: PopTodd]  
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BenJones Offline
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Originally Posted by PopTodd
My "best" list is different from my "favorite" list. Since the latter will probably be a little more-interesting, I'll go with that one:
• Ray Davies
• Nick Lowe
• Harry Nilsson
• Paul Simon
• Hank Williams, Sr.


That is an excellent point. Favorites are different than are brain tells us is best.

I could think Willie mays or mickey mantle are the greatest ball players of all time, but are they my favorite? How could they be?

If you use covers as a barometer it could help break it down.

More big time professional artists have covered, Dylan, the Beatles, and Springsteen than any other artist

Such diverse acts and or songwriters as Donna summer, Aretha Franklin, Johnny cash, Hank Williams junior, Steve Earle, Townes van Zandt, the who, to the highly mentioned here, Lucinda Williams, to modern day, John Mayer, taylor swift, Jason isbell, have covered springsteens songs.

That is a pretty good support system. A lot of people bailed on Bruce cause of his politics, I do wish he'd stay out of them, but his first 7 albums are a great gift to me

Last edited by BenJones; 01/19/17 03:35 PM.
#1122789 - 01/19/17 03:28 PM Re: JPF list of best ever singer songwriters [Re: John Voorpostel]  
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Kurt Fortmeyer Offline
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Tennessee
In no particular order...
Merle Haggard
Willie Nelson
Tom Russell
Kathy Hussey
Guy Clark


I love words. They say so much.

http://kurtfortmeyer.com
#1122791 - 01/19/17 03:54 PM Re: JPF list of best ever singer songwriters [Re: John Voorpostel]  
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Ray E. Strode Online content
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Well,
Beauty is still in the eye of the beholder. Some singer/song country writers that were pretty successful but not an all inclusive list were:

HANK WILLIAMS
MARTY ROBBINS
BILL ANDERSON
JOHNNY CASH
MERLE HAGGARD.


Ray E. Strode
#1122792 - 01/19/17 04:05 PM Re: JPF list of best ever singer songwriters [Re: Kurt Fortmeyer]  
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Michael Zaneski Offline
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John, the Uncut list perhaps misrepresented its intention which was to show a diverse group of artists who wrote great albums consisting of very personal songs.

Speaking for myself, I know that if I had more guts I'd write more personal songs. More songs that were close to the bone, with less fictive elements, and with fewer degrees of separation from my life and my self. I mean..where's my song about the dozen or so years taking care of my mom? It was one of the most affecting, meaningful things I've ever done--and yet I can't find a way to put it into words.

And so with that preamble I mean to say that I might put a greater value on the singer-songwriters who have guts and do find ways to consistently write personal things and things drawn from their life and experience. So for that reason, no Lennon/McCartney, no Tom Waits, no Randy Newman. Great story-tellers and I love 'em, but I just can't feel close to them, cuz to me, they seem to put up a bit of a barrier with the lyrics they choose to write.

But this is a democratic process, so for what it's worth:

Joni Mitchell
Janis Ian
Leonard Cohen
Tori Amos
Townes Van Zandt

There are many others, but I feel real close to these folks. They invite me into their lives in a very intimate way, and that's something I need and have always needed from the "singer-songwriters" I listen to.

Mike




Last edited by Michael Zaneski; 01/19/17 04:08 PM.

Fate doesn't hang on a wrong or right choice
Fortune depends on the tone of your voice

-The Divine Comedy (Neil Hannon)
from the song "Songs of Love"
from the album "Casanova" (1996)
#1122793 - 01/19/17 04:13 PM Re: JPF list of best ever singer songwriters [Re: Michael Zaneski]  
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BenJones Offline
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Originally Posted by Michael Zaneski
John, the Uncut list perhaps misrepresented its intention which was to show a diverse group of artists who wrote great albums consisting of very personal songs.

Speaking for myself, I know that if I had more guts I'd write more personal songs. More songs that were close to the bone, with less fictive elements, and with fewer degrees of separation from my life and my self. I mean..where's my song about the dozen or so years taking care of my mom? It was one of the most affecting, meaningful things I've ever done--and yet I can't find a way to put it into words.

And so with that preamble I mean to say that I might put a greater value on the singer-songwriters who have guts and do find ways to consistently write personal things and things drawn from their life and experience. So for that reason, no Lennon/McCartney, no Tom Waits, no Randy Newman. Great story-tellers and I love 'em, but I just can't feel close to them, cuz to me, they seem to put up a bit of a barrier with the lyrics they choose to write.

But this is a democratic process, so for what it's worth:

Joni Mitchell
Janis Ian
Leonard Cohen
Tori Amos
Townes Van Zandt

There are many others, but I feel real close to these folks. They invite me into their lives in a very intimate way, and that's something I need and have always needed from the "singer-songwriters" I listen to.

Mike



.

Yeah I think that falls into the umbrella of "favorites"

You are more likely to like an artist if they speak to you in some way.

I also think us guys are forgetting the women a bit. I think Tori Amos is great too, I also think Susanne vega is great.

5 is such a narrow list, I'd have a hard time writing in concrete my top 20, and I like different artists for different reasons

The Ramones and the clash speak to me, but so does Johnny cash and billy Joel.

Some artists I don't connect with, those are the ones that are hard to fit into a list

Last edited by BenJones; 01/19/17 04:15 PM.
#1122794 - 01/19/17 04:19 PM Re: JPF list of best ever singer songwriters [Re: John Voorpostel]  
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Barry David Butler (D) Offline
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Sebring, Florida USA
Dan Fogleberg....Neil Diamond....Rogers and Hammerstein and George Gershwin...
Harry Chapin...Marvin Hamlish and Carole Bayer Sager..

#1122795 - 01/19/17 04:31 PM Re: JPF list of best ever singer songwriters [Re: BenJones]  
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PopTodd Offline
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Originally Posted by BenJones


I also think us guys are forgetting the women a bit.

Not forgetting, just not using gender as a criteria. Just listed mu 5 favorites. But, if I could go past 5, to 10 or 20, I would list Carole King, Dolly Parton, and Kirsty MacColl among others, if I took a bit of time to think about it.

#1122800 - 01/19/17 05:23 PM Re: JPF list of best ever singer songwriters [Re: PopTodd]  
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MidniteBob Offline
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Raleigh, ya'll
Originally Posted by PopTodd
Originally Posted by BenJones


I also think us guys are forgetting the women a bit.

Not forgetting, just not using gender as a criteria. Just listed mu 5 favorites. But, if I could go past 5, to 10 or 20, I would list Carole King, Dolly Parton, and Kirsty MacColl among others, if I took a bit of time to think about it.


And now that I've had time to think, and my thunks have led me to believe that this isn't about one guy-gal-alone on stage, but includes all songwriters who are also musicians, I'll have another stab at it, and again will leave out Dylan & Springsteen & John/Paul, because we only have 5 and that would fill up 4 of the spaces...

So, in no particular order:

Stevie Wonder, who hasn't been mentioned yet, but even Paul Simon, when he won a Grammy for "Graceland"(?) thanked Stevie Wonder for not releasing an album that year because Stevie had won "Album of the Year" twice in the previous two years.

Carol King

Paul Simon

Pete Townsend

Bruce Cockburn...or Leonard Cohen...Or Neil Young...Or Joni Mitchell...I'll leave to our Canuck brethren to choose which one.....Personally, I'd list Bruce Cockburn because I have darned near every album he's ever released and while the others have had their songs covered by many, you never hear anyone "cover" a Cockburn song...Bruce, an incredible guitar player is also an incredible writer who borders on poetry and is just too hard to cover.

Midnite


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#1122804 - 01/19/17 06:02 PM Re: JPF list of best ever singer songwriters [Re: MidniteBob]  
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Carole King...

#1122812 - 01/19/17 06:26 PM Re: JPF list of best ever singer songwriters [Re: John Voorpostel]  
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It's interesting that when I'm actually thinking about Townes Van Zandt's songs, I realize that most of them aren't very personal, but perhaps fanciful in a personal sounding way (if that makes any sense), like much of John Prine's work. But feeling close to these guys was made easy by their easy going, rambly stage presences.

I see Paul Simon on many lists, but listening to his music (for me) is tarnished by the fact that he's made some really bad decisions by not given others credit on his albums. For instance, all the New Orleans Zydeco and African musicians involved in the making of Graceland that got no credit. Them and East LA band Los Lobos.

He also stole Martin Carthy's arrangement of Scarborough Fair, note-for-note, and did not even say "thanks."

Simon's response to David Hidalgo of Los Lobos, after stealing what would become "The Myth of Fingerprints" on Simon's "Graceland" was "sue me..see what happens.."

It's been said that many psychics and fortune tellers with a real "gift" still cheat to get an edge (insecure lot that they are), and that great artists "steal." Still..

http://ultimateclassicrock.com/los-...aul-simon-a-jerk-alleges-graceland-snub/

http://dangerousminds.net/comments/disgraceland_steven_van_zandt_rips_on_paul_simon

Last edited by Michael Zaneski; 01/19/17 06:38 PM.

Fate doesn't hang on a wrong or right choice
Fortune depends on the tone of your voice

-The Divine Comedy (Neil Hannon)
from the song "Songs of Love"
from the album "Casanova" (1996)
#1122813 - 01/19/17 06:33 PM Re: JPF list of best ever singer songwriters [Re: Michael Zaneski]  
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Originally Posted by Michael Zaneski
It's interesting that when I'm actually thinking about Townes Van Zandt's songs, I realize that most of them aren't very personal, but perhaps fanciful in a personal sounding way (if that makes any sense), like much of John Prine's work. But feeling close to these guys was made easy by their easy going, rambly stage presences.

I see Paul Simon on many lists, but listening to his music (for me) is tarnished by the fact that he's made some really bad decisions by not given others credit on his albums. For instance, all the New Orleans Zydeco and African musicians involved in the making of Graceland that got no credit, including Los Lobos, and for his stealing Martin Carthy's arrangement of Scarborough Fair, note-for-note, and not even saying "thanks."

Simon's response to David Hidalgo of Los Lobos, after stealing what would become "The Myth of Fingerprints" on Simon's "Graceland" was "sue me..see what happens.."

It's been said that many fortune tellers with a real "gift" still cheat to get an edge, and that great artists "steal." Still..

http://ultimateclassicrock.com/los-...aul-simon-a-jerk-alleges-graceland-snub/

http://dangerousminds.net/comments/disgraceland_steven_van_zandt_rips_on_paul_simon
m

I love little Stevie,, but he rips on anybody who is not Bruce. I have never seen him rip Bruce for any song, album, or political rant. Nothing like home cooking.

Paul Simon writs great entertaining songs. He's not one that I sit and start to think or dream. Like some artists make me do, but if you writ sings, you know how good he is

#1122832 - 01/19/17 10:22 PM Re: JPF list of best ever singer songwriters [Re: John Voorpostel]  
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Feel free to add, subtract etc.

I envision a list of probably 20 to 30 who have been mentioned, which will likely settle on another round of discussion etc until we get to a list most of us can agree on.

And maybe we should actually expand this to everyone's top 10?

Happy to administer such a beast. I will start a spread sheet and simply enter lists. No biggy for me


If writing ever becomes work I think I'm going to have to stop

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#1122833 - 01/19/17 11:19 PM Re: JPF list of best ever singer songwriters [Re: John Voorpostel]  
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Originally Posted by John Voorpostel
Feel free to add, subtract etc.

I envision a list of probably 20 to 30 who have been mentioned, which will likely settle on another round of discussion etc until we get to a list most of us can agree on.

And maybe we should actually expand this to everyone's top 10?

Happy to administer such a beast. I will start a spread sheet and simply enter lists. No biggy for me


Joni Mitchell
Janis Ian
Leonard Cohen
Tori Amos
Townes Van Zandt
Guy Clark
Lucinda Williams
John Prine
Tom Russell
Duke Special

Many consider Waits a "singer-songwriter" and that's pretty much what he was through "Heart Attach and Vine." But beginning with "Swordfish Trombones" --to me..he's in a category of one--a truly unique artist beyond categorizing. Simply one of the greatest artists that the Americas has produced. He would be in my top five all time artists for sure (along with Scott Walker, Kate Bush, and Peter Gabriel)..but singer-songwriter, no, even though "Tom Traubert's Blues" will still turn me into a puddle after 12 bars or so..

I really want to put Dylan in but the guy has never once made me cry.

Same with Harry Nilsson. Such a clever writer, but doesn't touch my heart directly.

Whereas a little known Irishman by the name of Duke Special makes me feel stuff consistently for the last several years and albums..so he gets to be in my top ten.

Mike


Last edited by Michael Zaneski; 01/19/17 11:51 PM.

Fate doesn't hang on a wrong or right choice
Fortune depends on the tone of your voice

-The Divine Comedy (Neil Hannon)
from the song "Songs of Love"
from the album "Casanova" (1996)
#1122838 - 01/20/17 12:47 AM Re: JPF list of best ever singer songwriters [Re: John Voorpostel]  
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Seems we can't even agree what a singer songwriter Is



Last edited by BenJones; 01/20/17 01:32 AM.
#1122840 - 01/20/17 02:06 AM Re: JPF list of best ever singer songwriters [Re: BenJones]  
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Originally Posted by BenJones
Seems we can't even agree what a singer songwriter Is


Ben,

It's true, but it's not just us, it's used differently by different people, in different contexts, etc.

There's the "big umbrella" definition which holds the most artists, and that's your basic dictionary definition:

a person who sings and writes popular songs, especially professionally.

Then there's the somewhat smaller definition. Tim Wise, in "the Cambridge Companion To the Singer-songwriter" defines it:

Singer-songwriter is a term used since the 1960s to describe a category of popular musician who composes and performs his or her own songs, typically to acoustic guitar or piano accompaniment, most often as a solo act but also with backing musicians, especially in recordings.

Here's one from Musicclout.com that is typical of the smallest compartmentalized definitions:

You play an instrument
You write voice/lyric driven music
Your lyrics are often more poetic/abstract, genuine, and personal
You perform solo or with interchangeable band members


This last is the most common usage, especially when it is considered a musical genre unto itself. Tim Wise even goes on to recognize this smaller definition in a later chapter of The Cambridge Companion, since, as he says, otherwise diverse artists that aren't generally considered singer-songwriters such as Chuck Berry, Paul McCartney, and Kanye West would then, by definition be considered as such.

So as you see..it ain't our fault. The definition itself has different interpretations..

My favorite definition is this one from Gearslutz.com:

Singer/Songwriters: 'Sensitive', suffering, big ego with no humour, 'Important' lyrics , social consciousness, minor keys and (out of tune) major-seven chords , occasional but always unsuccessful attempts to 'rock out' (unless their name happens to be Neil Young), the feeling of being talked down to....

As to Tom Waits. I consider him alternative rock since "Swordfish Trombones" though yes, technically he sings and does play instruments. But when he performs, he mostly just sings, and the musical accompaniment is so atypical of what is considered that of the singer-songwriter ilk that I can't group him in anymore.

Do note, though: I usually can't think of anything more wasteful, time and energy wise than haggling over definitions, cuz it seems like one wrung away from how many angels can dance on the head of a pin (LOL..old Catholic metaphor re:being trivial)..but here we are..cuz it seems important to at least write out all the definitions..I took a day off from demo-making so this is my day to just have some fun. Yes, I am a nerd. I can have fun writing out definitions, thankyouverymuch. smile

Mike

Last edited by Michael Zaneski; 01/20/17 02:52 AM.

Fate doesn't hang on a wrong or right choice
Fortune depends on the tone of your voice

-The Divine Comedy (Neil Hannon)
from the song "Songs of Love"
from the album "Casanova" (1996)
#1122841 - 01/20/17 02:24 AM Re: JPF list of best ever singer songwriters [Re: John Voorpostel]  
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And we're songwriters, imagine the difficulty somebody who just listens to music has. And they are the only ones who really count

I don't think they dwell to much on categories. There's too many categories.

I'm guessing if you stop the next ten people you see and ask them what a singer songwriter is, they would either punch you in the mouth and walk away, or say anybody who who uses their own name as their band name

Neil young, Bruce, Billy Joel, James Taylor, Tom Waits

If you ask ten teenagers ey will most likely say Ed Sheehan , Taylor swift, John Mayer maybe...o

Last edited by BenJones; 01/20/17 02:30 AM.
#1122842 - 01/20/17 02:34 AM Re: JPF list of best ever singer songwriters [Re: John Voorpostel]  
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Our working definition is simple---someone who writes and performs their own material---

Though I do like some of the things being said smile


If writing ever becomes work I think I'm going to have to stop

iAccountant --- Info L inc --- Taxboard
#1122843 - 01/20/17 02:39 AM Re: JPF list of best ever singer songwriters [Re: John Voorpostel]  
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Originally Posted by John Voorpostel
Our working definition is simple---someone who writes and performs their own material---

Though I do like some of the things being said smile


That would also be Ozzie Osborne and Alice Cooper!

And if we were on a hard rock or heavy metal forum, writers like tom waits and Lucinda Williams would not be mentioned

Here we get the typical writers spanning from 50'', 60's and 70's

Last edited by BenJones; 01/20/17 02:42 AM.
#1122844 - 01/20/17 02:46 AM Re: JPF list of best ever singer songwriters [Re: BenJones]  
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Originally Posted by BenJones
Originally Posted by John Voorpostel
Our working definition is simple---someone who writes and performs their own material---

Though I do like some of the things being said smile




Here we get the typical writers spanning from 50'', 60's and 70's


Smile when you call me "typical".


I love words. They say so much.

http://kurtfortmeyer.com
#1122845 - 01/20/17 02:48 AM Re: JPF list of best ever singer songwriters [Re: Kurt Fortmeyer]  
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Lol, I'm guilty too

#1122846 - 01/20/17 02:49 AM Re: JPF list of best ever singer songwriters [Re: BenJones]  
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Well categories can be as fuzzy and wobbly as numbered lists. The trick is to not go down those rabbit-holes too far, as in trying to set a definition "once and for all" cuz it can't be done..and the effort can consume you.

I still have nightmares where I'm at work (Tower Records) and I'm arguing with a clerk about where, say, a new Michelle Shocked or John Gorka record should go--in pop/rock or folk. Categories are necessary, but the fewer the better, I think.

Mike


Last edited by Michael Zaneski; 01/20/17 02:50 AM.

Fate doesn't hang on a wrong or right choice
Fortune depends on the tone of your voice

-The Divine Comedy (Neil Hannon)
from the song "Songs of Love"
from the album "Casanova" (1996)
#1122847 - 01/20/17 02:56 AM Re: JPF list of best ever singer songwriters [Re: Michael Zaneski]  
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Originally Posted by Michael Zaneski
Well categories can be as fuzzy and wobbly as numbered lists. The trick is to not go down those rabbit-holes too far, as in trying to set a definition "once and for all" cuz it can't be done..and the effort can consume you.

I still have nightmares where I'm at work (Tower Records) and I'm arguing with a clerk about where, say, a new Michelle Shocked or John Gorka record should go--in pop/rock or folk. Categories are necessary, but the fewer the better, I think.

Mike

b

I did a stint at a now defunct record store too. I remember doing the same thing. Thankfully new releases were all on one wall.

I had one of my own recordings thrown in the rotation, I recall three maybe 4 people asking the clerk who that was, lol

Record stores were fun

#1122848 - 01/20/17 02:59 AM Re: JPF list of best ever singer songwriters [Re: BenJones]  
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Originally Posted by BenJones
Originally Posted by John Voorpostel
Our working definition is simple---someone who writes and performs their own material---

Though I do like some of the things being said smile


That would also be Ozzie Osborne and Alice Cooper!

And if we were on a hard rock or heavy metal forum, writers like tom waits and Lucinda Williams would not be mentioned

Here we get the typical writers spanning from 50'', 60's and 70's



Yeah, I think John's promoting the "too big" definition..

But as long as everyone makes choices along the lines of their own (personal) definition, the list might have some meaning.


Fate doesn't hang on a wrong or right choice
Fortune depends on the tone of your voice

-The Divine Comedy (Neil Hannon)
from the song "Songs of Love"
from the album "Casanova" (1996)
#1122851 - 01/20/17 03:01 AM Re: JPF list of best ever singer songwriters [Re: Michael Zaneski]  
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Originally Posted by Michael Zaneski
Originally Posted by BenJones
Originally Posted by John Voorpostel
Our working definition is simple---someone who writes and performs their own material---

Though I do like some of the things being said smile


That would also be Ozzie Osborne and Alice Cooper!

And if we were on a hard rock or heavy metal forum, writers like tom waits and Lucinda Williams would not be mentioned

Here we get the typical writers spanning from 50'', 60's and 70's



Yeah, I think John's promoting the "too big" definition..

But as long as everyone makes choices along the lines of their own (personal) definition, the list might have some meaning.



No the list is fine, just a rocky road

#1122852 - 01/20/17 03:38 AM Re: JPF list of best ever singer songwriters [Re: John Voorpostel]  
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Originally Posted by John Voorpostel
Our working definition is simple---someone who writes and performs their own material---

Though I do like some of the things being said smile


John,

This is your thread and you have the say as to what definition of "singer-songwriter" we use, but just for the record, I think it's the "too big" usage, in that theoretically we could end up with a consensus that looks like this:

Ozzy Osbourne (metal rocker)
Hoagy Carmichael (old-timey jazz singer/composer)
Meredirh Monk (Modern Classical Composer/singer)
James Brown (Godfather of Soul)
George Jones (Country)

Not that there's anything wrong with those artists. These are artists that write and perform much of their own material. But honestly..I'd be kind of embarrassed for anyone to see that list, because the WTF factor would be very high in their response. Most folks hold to a slightly smaller definition of "singer-songwriter." Your definition lets in artists from every genre. Genres that are in no way "singer/songwriter" except in the broadest sense like you are saying you want it used.

Still, I can understand that you want to be as inclusive as possible. In fact, it probably won't make a difference, many of us will stick to our own "personal" definitions and the list will flow accordingly. You could forbid that, but don't please. It's just a matter of disclosure. I really don't need to say how I arrive at my choices..

Mike

PS..this is happily starting to feel like a "Monty Python" sketch, haha..it's all good.. smile

Last edited by Michael Zaneski; 01/20/17 11:51 AM.

Fate doesn't hang on a wrong or right choice
Fortune depends on the tone of your voice

-The Divine Comedy (Neil Hannon)
from the song "Songs of Love"
from the album "Casanova" (1996)
#1122854 - 01/20/17 03:53 AM Re: JPF list of best ever singer songwriters [Re: John Voorpostel]  
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John seems to be a veteran of the forum, so I'm sure he knew the kinds of artists people here like

Most people are going to list the consistent names that come up in the discussions

Country it's Hank, Merle, Townes van Zandt,

Folk it's Dylan, Guthrie, Cohen, Lucinda Williams

Rock it's Beatles, Neil young, Bruce, Bob Seeger, Ray Davies,

Cause these are known commodities in the music business

You feel amiss if you don't mention them. But I do wonder ho many of these artists people listen to on a daily basis, I mean you do get tired of even the best of the best.

Plus there's absolutely no pressure when writing your list lol



Last edited by BenJones; 01/20/17 03:54 AM.
#1122856 - 01/20/17 04:06 AM Re: JPF list of best ever singer songwriters [Re: BenJones]  
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Well that's why Todd's idea was great. A favorites list, and then a "what you think others think are the best" list, LOL..

I think go with your favorites.. smile

It's too impersonal otherwise..

Why vote using the formula of "what we think are the best artists" when personally we're kind of disagreeing when we actually have different favorites?

Voting for what "we think are the best artists in others' eyes" can nominate singer-songwriters that nobody really likes, LOL..which seems kind of absurd..

But then..I guess I can like what I like and know it's not as good as something else that is "more important" --and so end up choosing the "more important" thing..even though I don't really like it.. .. ..ugh..I'm trying to convince myself..having a hard time..LOL.. smile

Mike

Last edited by Michael Zaneski; 01/20/17 04:26 AM.

Fate doesn't hang on a wrong or right choice
Fortune depends on the tone of your voice

-The Divine Comedy (Neil Hannon)
from the song "Songs of Love"
from the album "Casanova" (1996)
#1122857 - 01/20/17 04:12 AM Re: JPF list of best ever singer songwriters [Re: Michael Zaneski]  
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Originally Posted by Michael Zaneski
Well that's why Todd's idea was great. A favorites list, and then a "what you think others think are the best" list, LOL..

I think go with your favorites.. smile

It's too impersonal otherwise..

Why vote using the formula of what "we think are the best in others' eyes" when personally we're kind of disagreeing when we actually have different favorites?

Voting for what "we think is best in others' eyes" can nominate singer-songwriters that nobody really likes, LOL..which seems kind of absurd..

But then..I guess I can like what I like and know it's not as good as something else that is "more important" --and so end up choosing the "more important" thing..even though I don't really like it.. .. ..ugh..I'm trying to convince myself..having a hard time..LOL.. smile

Mike


How bout a list of songs that you ain't exactly proud that you like, but you just do

That might be a more revealing list

#1122859 - 01/20/17 04:22 AM Re: JPF list of best ever singer songwriters [Re: Michael Zaneski]  
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Originally Posted by Michael Zaneski
John, the Uncut list perhaps misrepresented its intention which was to show a diverse group of artists who wrote great albums consisting of very personal songs.

Speaking for myself, I know that if I had more guts I'd write more personal songs. More songs that were close to the bone, with less fictive elements, and with fewer degrees of separation from my life and my self. I mean..where's my song about the dozen or so years taking care of my mom? It was one of the most affecting, meaningful things I've ever done--and yet I can't find a way to put it into words.

And so with that preamble I mean to say that I might put a greater value on the singer-songwriters who have guts and do find ways to consistently write personal things and things drawn from their life and experience. So for that reason, no Lennon/McCartney, no Tom Waits, no Randy Newman. Great story-tellers and I love 'em, but I just can't feel close to them, cuz to me, they seem to put up a bit of a barrier with the lyrics they choose to write.

But this is a democratic process, so for what it's worth:

Joni Mitchell
Janis Ian
Leonard Cohen
Tori Amos
Townes Van Zandt

There are many others, but I feel real close to these folks. They invite me into their lives in a very intimate way, and that's something I need and have always needed from the "singer-songwriters" I listen to.

Mike





Tori Amos is a great addition to these various lists and is on my list already as well!


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#1122860 - 01/20/17 04:26 AM Re: JPF list of best ever singer songwriters [Re: Michael Zaneski]  
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Originally Posted by Michael Zaneski
It's interesting that when I'm actually thinking about Townes Van Zandt's songs, I realize that most of them aren't very personal, but perhaps fanciful in a personal sounding way (if that makes any sense), like much of John Prine's work. But feeling close to these guys was made easy by their easy going, rambly stage presences.

I see Paul Simon on many lists, but listening to his music (for me) is tarnished by the fact that he's made some really bad decisions by not given others credit on his albums. For instance, all the New Orleans Zydeco and African musicians involved in the making of Graceland that got no credit. Them and East LA band Los Lobos.

He also stole Martin Carthy's arrangement of Scarborough Fair, note-for-note, and did not even say "thanks."

Simon's response to David Hidalgo of Los Lobos, after stealing what would become "The Myth of Fingerprints" on Simon's "Graceland" was "sue me..see what happens.."

It's been said that many psychics and fortune tellers with a real "gift" still cheat to get an edge (insecure lot that they are), and that great artists "steal." Still..

http://ultimateclassicrock.com/los-...aul-simon-a-jerk-alleges-graceland-snub/

http://dangerousminds.net/comments/disgraceland_steven_van_zandt_rips_on_paul_simon



I couldn't agree more... Paul Simon is a thieving punk! He makes me sick!


Brian Austin Whitney
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Skype: Brian Austin Whitney
Facebook: www.facebook.com/justplainfolks

"Don't sit around and wait for success to come to you... it doesn't know the way." -Brian Austin Whitney

"It's easier to be the bigger man when you actually are..."

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#1122861 - 01/20/17 04:38 AM Re: JPF list of best ever singer songwriters [Re: Brian Austin Whitney]  
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MidniteBob Offline
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Raleigh, ya'll
Awe, man...It breaks my heart to have learned that...Scratch him off my list:-(

Midnite


Satchel was right. Something is gaining on me.

The Shoebox & Dinner at Eight trailers available at:

http://www.twometer.com/Two_Meter_Studios/HOME.html
#1122862 - 01/20/17 04:40 AM Re: JPF list of best ever singer songwriters [Re: John Voorpostel]  
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I'll fess to liking these songs, I like them quite a bit actually, but most people don't know that I do

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kOnde5c7OG8

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-qH4CT4f7fk

Still chokes me up
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BbYj3tJRSO8

Just moves me
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wa2nLEhUcZ0





#1122863 - 01/20/17 04:45 AM Re: JPF list of best ever singer songwriters [Re: John Voorpostel]  
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It's funny, I am finalizing the singer songwriter categories here towards the end of the nominations process... so of these talents are jaw dropping... the writing, playing and singing are world class... we have over 50 artists in male and female s/s (we divide them up so we can recognize more talent) in each category deserving of nominations with only 10-12 slots for albums. I could take the 50th place album in each gender and most would be impressed by their talent and puzzled how they didn't make the cut...

(Just added because it is very important!: I should have said "of the thousands of just singer/songwriter albums ALONE that were entered from over 17K overall albums this year" as I didn't mean for it to imply only 50 albums were entered...)

Anyone who has spotify or similar all access sites, check out Gretchen Peters or Lena Anderssen or Jennie Devoe, all VERY different stylistically, but all amazing Singer Songwriters... stay tuned, lots of talented folks are about to get some deserved attention in our nominations... and some other just can't fit into the limited slots....

Last edited by Brian Austin Whitney; 01/21/17 06:03 AM. Reason: Added important comment

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#1122864 - 01/20/17 04:47 AM Re: JPF list of best ever singer songwriters [Re: Michael Zaneski]  
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MidniteBob Offline
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MidniteBob  Offline
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Posts: 2,707
Raleigh, ya'll
[quote=Michael Zaneski)
Mike

PS..this is happily starting to feel like a "Monty Python" sketch, haha..it's all good.. smile [/quote]

Like a Monty Python sketch?

No it's not.
Yes it is.
No it's not.
Yes it is.
Look, I paid my money so that we could have a debate. An exchange of opinions, and all you're doing is disagreeing with everything I say.
No I'm not.
Yes you are.....

I don't care if that shows my age or not. It's still a classic:-)
It's not a classic.
Yes it is.
No it's not.......

Midnite


Satchel was right. Something is gaining on me.

The Shoebox & Dinner at Eight trailers available at:

http://www.twometer.com/Two_Meter_Studios/HOME.html
#1122868 - 01/20/17 11:03 AM Re: JPF list of best ever singer songwriters [Re: MidniteBob]  
Joined: May 2001
Posts: 5,575
Little_stevie_b Offline
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Little_stevie_b  Offline
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Joined: May 2001
Posts: 5,575
Hickory, North Carolina USA
Originally Posted by MidniteBob
[quote=Michael Zaneski)
Mike

PS..this is happily starting to feel like a "Monty Python" sketch, haha..it's all good.. smile


Like a Monty Python sketch?

No it's not.
Yes it is.
No it's not.
Yes it is.
Look, I paid my money so that we could have a debate. An exchange of opinions, and all you're doing is disagreeing with everything I say.
No I'm not.
Yes you are.....

I don't care if that shows my age or not. It's still a classic:-)
It's not a classic.
Yes it is.
No it's not.......

Midnite
[/quote]

Ni

Stevie

#1122869 - 01/20/17 11:05 AM Re: JPF list of best ever singer songwriters [Re: Little_stevie_b]  
Joined: May 2001
Posts: 5,575
Little_stevie_b Offline
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Little_stevie_b  Offline
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Joined: May 2001
Posts: 5,575
Hickory, North Carolina USA
Nancy Griffith
Lyle Lovett
Robert Earl Keen

3 not mentioned yet.

Stevie

#1122871 - 01/20/17 01:46 PM Re: JPF list of best ever singer songwriters [Re: John Voorpostel]  
Joined: Dec 2000
Posts: 10,383
John Voorpostel Offline
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John Voorpostel  Offline
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Posts: 10,383
Like I said, love the discussion around this!

For "no rules" except the have to write and perform their own material, this is getting pretty good.

I freely admit to personal biases in my choices and also "ageism" as I was simply not exposed to the great writers who were active before the sixties and I have not really leaned towards "pure country"

I also freely admit to insularism, so I cannot say I intentionally sought out other genres in my life beyond what "I liked"

Finally, in listing my 5, I admit to going for "establishment" and "long term visibility and success" in choices and in doing so ommitted two of my favourites...Dar Williams---wonderfully quirky AND deep, and Chris deBurgh, a consumate storyteller. Both have had long careers, but lack the top of mind the others ace.

In the end, it will be a list and only that...I'm finding the journey here far more enlightening than the final product ...and that was not intent when I started this...so for me a bonus.

Keep em coming




If writing ever becomes work I think I'm going to have to stop

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#1122874 - 01/20/17 02:18 PM Re: JPF list of best ever singer songwriters [Re: John Voorpostel]  
Joined: Dec 2000
Posts: 10,383
John Voorpostel Offline
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John Voorpostel  Offline
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Tally so far 46 different names. Mentions means they were on a list. Controversy around Paul Simon and credits etc was ignored

Paul Simon 6 mentions
Neil Young 4 mentions
Leonard Cohen, Hank Williams sr, Joni Mitchell, Carole King 3 mentions
The rest with one or two mentions


If writing ever becomes work I think I'm going to have to stop

iAccountant --- Info L inc --- Taxboard
#1122875 - 01/20/17 03:43 PM Re: JPF list of best ever singer songwriters [Re: John Voorpostel]  
Joined: Dec 2016
Posts: 122
BenJones Offline
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BenJones  Offline
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Joined: Dec 2016
Posts: 122
Originally Posted by John Voorpostel
Tally so far 46 different names. Mentions means they were on a list. Controversy around Paul Simon and credits etc was ignored

Paul Simon 6 mentions
Neil Young 4 mentions
Leonard Cohen, Hank Williams sr, Joni Mitchell, Carole King 3 mentions
The rest with one or two mentions


@ Paul Simon, It doesn't change whether or not he's a great songwriter. it's like saying OJ wasn't a great football player because he killed two people. If Dylan shot somebody, he would still be one of the best songwriters of all time.

Alot of people were mad at Bob Seger for the like a rock commercial, he did donate but he also made 5 million on that ad, I believe.

#1122876 - 01/20/17 03:49 PM Re: JPF list of best ever singer songwriters [Re: John Voorpostel]  
Joined: Dec 2016
Posts: 122
BenJones Offline
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BenJones  Offline
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Joined: Dec 2016
Posts: 122
In all honesty, most of the images I get of the classic singer songwriter, are artists who have not been mentioned at all.

I dont think James Taylor was mentioned, maybe one person mentioned him before.

But the golden era of singer songwriters was the early 70's

No mention of Cat Stevens, Gordon Lightfoot, John Denver, Al Stewart, James Taylor, Maybe Harry Chapin was mentioned once. those are the quintessential singer-songwriters that i think fit the actual definition, but just another opinion


Last edited by BenJones; 01/20/17 04:07 PM.
#1122877 - 01/20/17 03:55 PM Re: JPF list of best ever singer songwriters [Re: John Voorpostel]  
Joined: Dec 2016
Posts: 122
BenJones Offline
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BenJones  Offline
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Joined: Dec 2016
Posts: 122
I'll throw another one into the mix.

If your criteria is making you want to cry, not sure I have, but i could understand if you did... Christopher Cross

He's from that era,lots of hits. And if you listen to this song, you might lose your man card

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=02-CvtmRz6M

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