Here in alphabetical order are my favorite songwriters (or songwriting teams) and why.Â I'm hoping the rest of you will chime in to challenge or offer votes for your faves.
This is in alphabetical order because I really, really don't want to rank them.
Burton Cummings was the lead singer for the Canadian band The Guess Who.Â Â He wrote the majority of their songs, though sometimes collaborated with guitarist RandyÂ Bachman.Â I'll illustrate my appreciation by way of examples: "Laughing", "No Time", "Share the Land".
Donald Fagan and Walter BeckerÂ were Steely Dan.Â Other membersÂ were more or less hired for short stints by these two andÂ almost every song was cowritten by them.Â You may remember "Reelin' in the Years" or "Do it Again."Â Their songs reflected the hard edges of New York, like "Throw Back the Little Ones."
John Fogerty.Â I've heard it said if you want to be a successful songwriter, write things people can relate to.Â Creedence Clearwater Revival had that in spades.Â Criticized for being "easy" music, it was adopted by almost every garage band in the late 60s.Â It's what peope in the neighborhood wanted to hear.Â Like the songs or not, everyone knew them.Â "Proud Mary" was coverd by both Ike and Tina Turner and Lawrence Welk.Â That's a broad footprint.Â "Put a Candle in the Window".Â "Have You EverÂ Seen the Rain."Â "Who'll Stop the Rain." "Walk on the Water."
Fleetwood Mac had a lot of great songs up to and including the first two albums with Buckingham Nicks.Â I could go on and on about that mind-bogglingÂ bass-drums combination, but for writing,Â I like Christine McVie's love songs.Â "Come aÂ Little Bit Closer".Â "Over My Head."Â "Just Crazy Love." And the wondrous "SpareÂ Me a Little".Â
I have only one Harry Nilsson album, but it has "Driving Along", "Jump Into the Fire" and "The Moonbeam Song."Â Inspired.
I wanna go put on some Zeppelin right now because Jimmy Page and Robert Plant sure wrote some fresh songs.Â Â With a solid footing in acid blues, I really liked it when they gave us their take on other genres: reggae, "Dyer Maker"; disco, "The Crunge"; gospel, "In My Time of Dying".Â "Hot Dog" showed they had zero feelÂ for country, and for that they can be forgiven.Â If you listen to but two Zeppelin tunes, I recommend "Over the Hills and Far Away", and - I defy you to categorize - "Dancing Days".Â This is all to say nothing of their blues, but I'm not sure how much of that was original.
In a previous post IÂ and others have gave our reasons for loving Shel Silverstein's songs.Â My favorite is "The Wonderful Soup Stone".
Sting hasn't done much for me since leaving the Police.Â I can't think of a single tune outside of those early classics.Â "Roxanne".Â "So Lonely."Â "Man in a Suitcase."Â "Hole in My Life."
Hank Williams wrote from a depth of dispair and chemical dependency that's right up there with Janis Joplin.Â Yes, in a lot of instances he added a 4th chord to the usual country 3-chord pattern, but it was the melodies, and that haunting grief that came from the juke box that hooked those millions of lonely, beer drinking fans.Â Write music people can relate to . . .
Neil Young provided me with one of my most cherished memories.Â When public TV first came to town, Austin City Limits caught my Dad's attention.Â Hal Hall, born 1911, had some pretty conservative tastes when it came to music, H. Carmichael and polka for the most part.Â One day I came up the stairs, and he said, "Hey, this guy is pretty good."Â I looked to where he was pointing and there was Neil in all his stringy, longhaired splendor.Â I was impressed.
"Okay, well how about" I can hear you say.Â There were another 10 that didn't make the list but easily could have.Â Here they are:
Joan Armatrading writes super songs, but her soulful delivery and prowess with a guitar make them sound fantastic.Â If someone else - say Lawrence Welk or Ike Turner - tried them out, I don't thing the songs would hold up near as well.
David Bromberg is the same situation.Â With fantastic licks and a voice that sounds like it's always on a rant you completely agree with, you're tempted to say he writes great songs.Â But he doesn't quite make the list for songwriting alone.
I have a lot of Dylan records, but my favoriteÂ - Self Portrait - is one that's almost all covers of other people's work.Â Desire was a great album, but I just don't listen to him with the same glee I do my real favorites.
Danny Elfman is a great arranger and performer.Â As much as I'd like to have included the author of "Nasty Habits" in my 10, it's great fun, but not great art.
Mick Jagger and Keith Richards co-wrote mind blowingly beautiful songs, but in my little world they're a little too popular.Â I'm not going to say they're music won't stand up though the centuries.Â It will.
Jehn Lennon and Paul McCarnteyÂ co-wrote mind blowingly beautiful songs, but in my little world they're a little too popular.Â I'm not going to say they're music won't stand up though the centuries.Â It will.
Annie Lennox and David Stewart, as the Eurythmics, put together one of the most captivating albums of all time, entitled "Be Yourself Tonight."Â But much of the appeal is production and technical musical prowess.Â I've bought other records by them and without exception have been disappointed.
Freddie Mercury has the same pitfall for me as Danny Elfman.Â I love the music, but it's the showmanship (and the in your face gay celebration), more than the writing.Â Don't get me wrong.Â I love the music.
Van Dyke Parks is a genius.Â Brilliant arrangements, and such attention to detail.Â But like that other genious Frank Zappa, I have to try hard to hum even one of the tunes.
Paul Simon was as good as any Beatle.Â Like Steely Dan, he seems to have looked around at the competition in New York and said, "Okay, my work has to stick out.Â Here."Â After the Simon and Garfunkel years he seems to have shown a certain talent for chanelling other people's grooves, and I can't help but feel there were more of his early songs that, like "American Tune", were borrowed.Â Again, I love his music, but I have to wonder where it came from.
So.Â Still awake?Â What do you think?Â I know I've left out a lot of greats.Â It's a big wonderful world.