As promised in yesterday’s King Crimson installment of the Favorite Songs by Favorite Bands series, I close the project today with a little summary wrap-up and clean-up for posterity’s sake, and also to satisfy my obsessive sense of order and tidiness when it comes to my website and its contents.
When I first thought and wrote about The “Favorite Band” Question in 2011, I didn’t necessarily envision revisiting it in any meaningful fashion. But then at some point I realized that my reigning champion had shifted, so I did an update to the article in March 2019. After returning from our March 2020 trip to Florida, where we watched everything falling apart in a viral fog, I found myself looking for interesting writing projects to fill dramatically increased time at home, and this further, deeper revisiting of the The “Favorite Band” Question seemed like a winner.
Having finished it now, I do indeed feel like it was a gratifying, worthwhile undertaking. It forced me to really think about the hows, whens and whys of my evolving musical interests, and it was gratifying that my quick gut sense original estimations of my lifelong musical timeline were pretty spot on, with only some small tweaks required to the beginning and ending years for a couple of artists. It was also enjoyable to revisit all of these catalogs and to consider which works move me the most, right here, right now. In many cases, those lists are dramatically different than they would have been had I created them during the full fervor of my fandom in real time.
When I created the original list in 2011, I made a conscious decision to actively embrace that it was about bands, in the normal usage of that word within the generally-understood rock music idiom, so I did not consider solo artists. (I suppose Simon and Garfunkel were a marginal call in terms of being a “band,” but they were so seminal to my early listening that it was hard to exclude them and start instead with their successors, Steppenwolf). I may, at some point, do a similar project for the singer-songwriter soloist types who have most moved me throughout my life. Off the cuff, though, I think it may be harder to specifically identify any one leading individual artist over some long spans in my listening career, and it also may be a judgment call on who qualifies, e.g. Nick Cave was a deep favorite for a long, long time, but because he was recording and performing as “Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds” (who were, and are, definitely a cohesive, definable band), would he qualify? Hmmm.
That soloist project would, I think, rectify one thing that I didn’t really like about the original band listing: it’s much more of a white person sausage party than has been reflective of my real-time listening habits over the years. Only six of the twelve bands dissected included strong contributions from women, and people of color are scarce among the final written roster’s membership. That monochrome palette has never been typical of the overall musical environment which I have created around myself, because I am always listening to a variety of music by a diverse and global array of artists, and not just obsessing about and only spinning my then-favorite bands. So while I do feel like my listing is an honest and accurate assessment of the top of my pile over time, I suppose I would have liked it a bit more had the actual final favorites list reflected my overall listening diversity a bit more. I know that the solo artist list would do so.
It’s also interesting to me to reflect on when and how this list will shift forward again with a new titlist atop the pile. I suppose that if/when King Crimson went back into an inactive phase, my brain would probably shift gears toward a new favorite band. It’s fairly important to me to not be in a static look-backward mode, because anticipation of new work from a favorite artist is a key part of the experience. I suppose it’s also possible that we could have a Grover Cleveland experience with a second non-consecutive term by a former favorite band. A few of them are still going concerns, and a couple of them could conceivably re-emerge into activity after long fallow spells. I noted in one of the introductory articles to this series that Favorite Bands may be akin to economic recessions, in that you can’t know for sure that you are into them until well after they have begun. So who knows. Maybe something’s bubbling to the top of the pile right now, but I just haven’t gained clarity on its emergence yet. Stay tuned, as presumably at some point, I’ll add another chapter to this piece.
For those readers who discover this thing in the years ahead, rather than in real time, I’ve assembled all of the links related to it in one convenient place, below. Feel free to trawl to your hearts’ content. Or feel free to consider your own lifetime of listening, maybe developing your own favorite band (and/or soloist) chronologies, and writing up your thoughts about them. I’d love to read your report, so shout my way if/when you get on it!
BANDS EVALUATED AND FAVORITE SONG LISTS
Note: For those who stream your music, Marcia has created a Spotify playlist with all of the songs discussed in this series. Note that the browser embed link below is limited to 100 preview songs. We have confirmed that all 120 songs included in the series are available when you open the playlist in the Spotify app.