Born in the U.S.A: rating this country’s top artists Jul 24, 2020 6:03:58 GMT -5
Post by AeroCooper on Jul 24, 2020 6:03:58 GMT -5
Born in the U.S.A: rating this country’s top artists
By Jon PompiaEducation, health, Colorado State Fair
Posted Jul 23, 2020 at 3:01 PM
“When Jon first proposed the idea of the top American artists, I was excited to write about it,” writes Mark “Boz” Bosley from Trinidad.
“However, it did not take long to realize it was beyond an overwhelming task. It was not so much who would I choose, but who would I leave out.”
From Elvis Presley to Madonna, Hank Williams to Smokey Robinson, Les Paul/Mary Ford to KISS, this great country has produced an abundance of top-flight music-, and quite often, history-makers.
“I knew I was going to have to leave out a lot,” Bosley assessed. “So I compiled my list as a fan, not a critic.”
In descending order, here are Boz’s top 10 red, white and blue-bred artists.
As usual, comments from the peanut gallery are courtesy of yours truly. And as a bonus, Trinidad disc jockey Eli “Boda” DeBono weighs in with his picks as a coda.
10. Van Halen: Technically, the Van Halen brothers were born in the Netherlands, but moved to Pasadena in their early teens. My son Ty and I have talked for hours about guitarists and the conclusion is Eddie Van Halen is out of this world good. And not many groups could lose David Lee Roth and survive, but Van Halen thrived.
Jon: If Van Halen is going to make the list -- and they probably should --then so too must Motley Crue, who single handedly resurrected glam metal and hard rock, and the mighty Metallica, who to this day manage to cram more riffs, and dare I say it, melody, into a single tune than most bands do in a career.
9. Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons. “The Jersey Boys” play is awesome, much better than the movie, and it does a good job of capturing what it takes to be around for a long time in the music business. There were changes along the way, with the most significant being Bob Gaudio joining in 1959: a great writer, producer and arranger. The ground breaker “Sherry,” was followed by a ton of hits and Valli’s revival through “Grease.”
Jon: Ten spots isn’t much to encapsulate the cream of the crop, so there’s no way I can give my blessing to this niche act at exclusion of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. Consistently prolific as both the leader of the band and a solo artist, Petty left the world an unrivaled legacy of epochal rock tunes that eloquently capture the highs, lows and in-betweens of life itself. “American Girl” is the obvious choice as a signature song, but “I Won’t Back Down” personifies the gutty resilience of its composer and the country itself.
8. Bruce Springsteen: The Boss really talked to blue collar America, and it does not get any more American than “Born in the U.S.A.” Springsteen lets you know he is one of us, with all of the pains and sorrows. So many great songs, but three of my favorites are “Born to Run,” “Hungry Heart” and “Glory Days.” Just songs about an ordinary life that we all have lived, and so did Springsteen.
Jon: The only question is where Springsteen belongs on this list. If one has to name an artist who personifies this country and the everyday men and women who make it what it is, the only obvious choice is New Jersey’s finest, and for that reason, I submit that a number eight ranking is much too low for an artist of this magnitude. A street poet with a soul, a conscience and a seemingly bottomless well of inspiration.
7. Bob Seger. What Springsteen was to the East Coast, Seger was for mid-America. With great rockers and wonderful ballads, he moved us on every level. He ran “Against the Wind” alongside us and worked those “Night Moves” on “Main Street” just like you. He went introspective on “Turn the Page” but still loved that “Old Time Rock and Roll.” And even if many things appear to change, most people are “Still the Same.”
Jon: No argument here, as Seger, like Springsteen and Bob Dylan -- and maybe John Mellencamp -- are the only suitable answers to the question, “What singer/songwriter best sums up what America has to offer?” Personally, I don’t think Seger ever topped 1978′s “Stranger in Town,” a delicious mix of real life grit (“Hollywood Nights,” “Feel Like a Number”) and seductive balladry (“We’ve Got Tonight”) that put him on the map to stay.
6. Aerosmith. My wife Gloria and I saw these guys In Vegas in 2019 and they surpassed our greatest expectations. Aerosmith is as great today as they were in 1973, because they are entertainers and deep down, that is what the masses want. They have had breakups and sputters along the way but they just keep on cranking. Reunited in 1984, they had a whole new start and made the best of it. The hits are numerous, but two of my favorites are “Walk This Way” and “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing.”
Jon: My love of early Aerosmith is well-known to readers of this space, as is my distaste for all that followed, starting in the mid-80s. With that said, I consider it a toss-up between Aerosmith, Cheap Trick and KISS as to who should occupy a spot on a “best of” roster. All three are most deserving, but as the underdog, it’s Cheap Trick by a nose: simply because the band never got the due, or record sales, it deserved.
5. Michael Jackson. The “King of Pop” lived music all of his life, from the Jackson Five to his way too early death. Michael Jackson was beyond innovative: a stunningly brilliant groundbreaker. He got in our heads, he got in our soul and he made us wonder, “Where does all of that talent come from?” Michael was always on to the next mountain, and he gave us great songs like “Got to be There” and “Rock My World,” which are not among his number ones.
Jon: Fun fact: What do “Thriller,” “Rock With You,” “I’ll Be There,” “Man in the Mirror,” “Human Nature,” “Off the Wall,” “Girlfriend,” “Ben,” “She’s Out of My Life” and “ABC,” have in common? None of them were written by Michael Jackson. As a performer and fashion plate, MJ was untouchable, and his status as an American icon is without question. But so was Prince, a consummate musician, songwriter and vocalist. That trifecta, and the fact that he self-produced his work, merits Prince this slot over Jackson.
4. Elvis Presley. I like “The King” all the way from pre-“Heartbreak Hotel” to “My Way.” His catalog is massive and covers so many genres. Elvis could flat sing and had a delivery like no one else. He reached into your heart on his wonderful ballads and made you want to get up and dance on his rockers. Elvis was simply Elvis, a one-of-a-kind for all ages.
Jon: There’s no argument that Presley’s charisma, stage presence and way with a song have no equal. From a musical standpoint, however, he wrote none of his own music, and in his hands, a guitar was just a prop. Contrarily, Paul Simon, as both as solo artist and the foundation of Simon and Garfunkel, is as stellar a songwriter and vocalist as this country has ever produced. And as anyone with a modicum of experience in music will tell you: it’s one thing to be able to sing a song well, but an entirely different thing altogether to be able to conjure that song out of thin air. In that regard, Simon is a wizard worthy of reverence and perhaps envy.
3.The Beach Boys. Brian Wilson, the genius, and his brothers Carl and Dennis, along with cousin Mike Love and friend Al Jardine, gave us songs we just could not get enough of. So many of those songs were about our America, particularly the West Coast of the ’60s. But The Beach Boys were far more than that. The all inclusive “California Girls” and the cutting-edge “Good Vibrations” were but the tip of the iceberg for a vast collection of tunes and riffs that will live on in us for decades.
Jon: There’s little argument that as a songwriter, Brian Wilson, on many levels, is the equal of McCartney and Lennon. From the simplest surf and car tunes to the wondrous complexity of “God Only Knows” and “Sloop John B,” Wilson’s songwriting and arrangements, most notably those lush, divine harmonies, are the stuff that dreams are made of. I would be remiss, however, not to mention the other, darker side of the ’60s’ Southern California coin: the equally influential and far more death-obsessed Jim Morrison and The Doors. This once-in-a-generation quartet’s contribution to music and pop culture is equal to The Beach Boys, albeit on a far deeper and shamanistic level.
2. Billy Joel. One of the greatest songwriters and composers of the rock-pop era. Even today, Joel’s music is a staple of many stations. For over 20 years, there was always the “next Billy Joel song:” the output was that consistent. A tough guy with a soft heart, Joel gave all of us endless hours of pleasure and contemplation. I first heard “Piano Man” in 1973, and I still ponder the lyrics to “You May Be Right” or “I Go to Extremes” often. A poet in the truest since of the word.
Jon: “There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.” And only the rare chosen few are granted access to the consecrated hallows of the ether where the soul-touching, stardust-infused elixir of the gods is so stringently hoarded. Billy Joel, you got more than your fair share, my friend. Thanks for sharing.
1. The Eagles. I know, you are thinking, “Of all of the bands...The Eagles!” When “Hell Froze Over,” I saw The Eagles at the old Fiddler’s Green in one of their first comeback concerts. As the sun set in the west, chords could be heard, and although the band was obscured by the setting sun, everyone knew the tune: “Hotel California.” In my opinion, the greatest rock song ever written. The song, just like The Eagles, is so blunt yet so ironic. They couldn’t keep it together at times, they changed members, kicked out longtime bandmates, and fought amongst themselves. Yet, still they managed to write some of the most iconic songs of their time that painted vivid pictures of our lives, from “Take It Easy” to “The Last Resort.” The Eagles played by their own terms and if you didn’t like them or what they stood for, they simply replied, “Get Over It.”
Jon: I reckon I will never be able to understand the loathing and disdain this exemplary band seems to evoke in so many. I suspect it’s jealousy, because “The Eagles Greatest Hits” is the greatest selling album of all time. (And that record doesn’t even have “Hotel California,” “Life in the Fast Line,” “New Kid in Town” and “I Can’t Tell You Why” on it.) Rock-solid songwriting -- even minor cuts like “Disco Strangler” and “James Dean” are legendary -- multi-part harmonies to die for, a social conscience and the genius to come up with a couplet like, “Her mind is Tiffany twisted; she’s got the Mercedes bends.” Seriously: what’s to hate?
Eli “Boda” DeBono’s top 10 American artists: 10) Bon Jovi; 9) Billy Joel; 8) The Beach Boys; 7) Aerosmith; 6) Tom Petty; 5) The Doors; 4) Bruce Springsteen; 3) Michael Jackson; 2) Elvis Presley; 1) The Eagles