Thursday, November 20, 2008
ROLLING STONE'S 100 GREATEST SINGERS
Let me be the first, or more likely the 400th if I'm lucky, to say the following:
"How could you put so and so on that list and not so and so?"
"You mean to tell me you think she's a better singer than her?"
"That one couldn't sing her way out of a paper bag, I don't care how popular she is."
You know I am obsessed with the success of Mary J. Blige. I can understand the success of that nitwit Gallagher and Theresa Russell (the world's worst actress) more than I can understand the never-ending praise of a woman who has been flat on every live televised performance I have ever seen. Yes, she made the list. Thankfully, if it's a reason to be thankful, she is number 100. And, she was given the honor of writing about the number one choice for greatest singer, Miss Aretha Franklin. The irony.
In Jonathan Lethem's introduction to the list, he explains:
"Contrary to anything you've heard, the ability to actually carry a tune is in no regard a disability in becoming a rock and roll singer, only a mild disadvantage."
He also says
"that what defines great singing is that some underlying tension exists in the space between singer and song. A bridge is being built across a void, and it's a bridge we're never sure the singer's going to manage to cross."
This is why such non-singers as Lou Reed and Iggy Pop deservedly made the list. These guys start delivering on bikes with flat tires, yet your order always arrives on time. Do you want to hear "Heroin" or "1969" by anyone other than Lou or Iggy, respectively? Of course not.
I know many people who can't listen to a minute of Bob Dylan. "Such a horrible voice," they say. Personally, I love his voice. Many do. Like Lennon & McCartney, Dylan's songs have been covered countless times, yet nothing works like his own versions. (except for maybe, The Byrds) He came in at number 7. I get that. These people serve it up and they convince millions of total strangers to believe in what they are saying. Maybe that's what Mary J. does for people. She makes you believe. But for Pete's sake, can't she make us believe in key?
It's a fine list. Nothing controversial. Ray Charles, John Lennon, Bruce Springsteen, Joe Cocker, Otis Redding. You get the picture.
And may I just say, the two most beautiful voices in the history of the larynx, Emmylou Harris and Harry Nilsson...NOT on the list. For shame, voters.
If Mary J. Blige makes the list, so does Irma Thomas. But she didn't.
If Morrissey makes the list, so does Daryl Hall--
and Todd Rundgren,
but they didn't.
Who belongs and who doesn't? What do you think?