When I did my 2020 Year in Review, I was pleased to see that my Favorite Songs By Favorite Bands series featured highly in the most-read articles on my website in 2020. I enjoyed framing it and writing it, so it was rewarding that readers apparently liked reading it too.
That said, the series always felt a bit incomplete to me. It was based on a piece I first wrote in 2011 called The “Favorite Band” Question. In that piece, and in the series that followed it, I went through my lifetime of listening, and worked to identify a chronological series of bands which would have provided the answers at any time in my sentient life to the “What’s your favorite band?” question, which I’m frequently asked, being such a public music nerd.
There were twelve bands so identified, and it was fun to revisit how I came to love them, along with the highlights of their various and diverse catalogs. But when all was said and done, I felt like I didn’t quite capture the true essence of my listening habits and tastes for two primary reasons, namely:
- I did not include solo artists, however one chooses to define such performers and their catalogs; and
- There are numerous groups that have been hugely significant players in my listening and cultural history, for decades, but who never quite rose to “favorite band” status at any given time.
So using the rubric I’d deployed in framing that series, I didn’t get to discuss (say) Neil Diamond, who has been a regular feature of my listening world since I glommed onto my Dad’s cassette copies of Neil’s more significant works in the early 1970s. I also didn’t get to discuss (again, say) Coil, even though they’re so meaningful to me that I will carry a tattoo on my body to my grave featuring their lyrics. (The quote in question: “Pay your respects to the vultures, for they are your future.”) Those two artists are certainly personal favorites, by any estimation, but I didn’t get to evaluate their catalogs as part of my 2020 series, because they didn’t quite meet the criteria for being judged favorite band at any particular moment in my life.
It seems fitting, then, in 2021 to build on that series by opening the window to solo artists and long-time favorites who may have actually provided more steady-state and lasting pleasure over the years than some of the “favorite bands” who rise and fall more extremely in my estimation. When I look at my entire music catalog, and consider who might be at that “just bubbling under” level in my listening history, I’d say these are the “next two dozen” artists, right now, in no particular order:
- Neil Diamond
- Brian Eno
- Emerson, Lake and Palmer
- David Bowie
- Pere Ubu
- Pink Floyd
- Cat Stevens (Yusuf Islam)
- Todd Rundgren (And Related Bands)
- Tragic Mulatto
- Human Sexual Response
- Captain Beefheart and the Magic Band
- Uriah Heep
- Split Enz (And Related Bands)
- Frank Zappa
So over the course of the next 12 months, I’m going to post articles identifying the 10 songs that most move me by these artists, in the order laid out above. Unless someone pops to mind that I’m forgetting right now, and I elect to edit accordingly. Right so reserved, just for the record. The original “Favorite Songs By Favorite Artists” series was completed in short order via a big burst of writing energy, but I see this one being more of an “any old time” project, a couple or few posts each month, until I get through the complete list. I also see the focus of such posts being more on the featured songs, and not on long essays explaining why I love the artists in question. A few introductory and framing remarks should suffice. The series might get done sooner than year-end, or it might creep into 2022. We’ll see how it feels and how it goes.
At bottom line, I love introducing readers here (thanks to you all, as always) to things that move me, most especially musical things. Hopefully you will enjoy the process. I know I will, because what’s not to love about methodical lists of musical pleasures, and the sharing thereof?