More than anyone
else, Tom Petty had the ability to
repackage all the music I love and play it back as something brand new.
While unique and
original, each song arrived like an old friend you had somehow forgotten
about.Simple yet profound, each song
delivered a straight up truth:this is
me; this is us; this is rock and roll.
Tom Petty gave us
40 years of honesty, hope, joy and comfort.
been wondering why I don’t write as much about acoustic guitarists as their
plugged-in friends, because the music I listen to probably contains as many
acoustic guitars as electric.
Maybe it’s the
wow factor of the electric guitar.I
I don’t even have
a Top Ten list.Maybe it’s just too
I mean, where do
you start?You could fill the list with
the influential blues cats like Robert Johnson, Big Bill Broonzy, Son House or
John Lee Hooker.You could fill it with
acoustic specialists like James Taylor, Bruce Cockburn, Cat Stevens, Harry
Manx, Paul Simon or Donovan.You could
easily fill it with players who also play a mean electric guitar, like Clapton,
Page, Knopfler, Bonamassa, Neil Young or Colin James.
Hmmm.Plenty of wow factor in all those names.
I guess there’s
the “defined the instrument/broke new ground” thing that gets applied to musicians
on other instruments.In that case, I
suppose my list would be: Leadbelly, Johnson, Broonzy, Taylor, Simon, Donovan,
Stevens, Cockburn, Young and Page.
But then I’d be
omitting artist I listen to – and wonder, “how did he/she do that?” – a lot.People like Clapton, Harry Manx, Arlo Guthrie and Bonnie Raitt.
To hell with
lists.I revere all the guitarists
mentioned – them, and a lot more.
Have your favourite cocktail, enjoy your favourite meal and bottle of
wine (if that's your pleasure), smoke ‘em if ya got ‘em, savour your favourite
after dinner drink. Listen to Hellbound Train by Savoy Brown.
Some bands grab
you right away, and never let go.The
Others are hard
to ignore but take a little longer for you to appreciate.For me, bands like CCR and The Band fall into
that category.They were there, in your
face, all the time.I just took a long
time for me to realize how much I dug them.
though, barley registered in my consciousness, and they sort of slipped on by
while I was busy enjoying the music I was already committed to.After all, you can only buy so much music,
once in a while, I go back and explore bands that I had been vaguely aware of,
but never really paid attention to.Often, the rewards have been richly rewarding.
These days, I’m
just as likely to put on Savoy Brown as Led Zeppelin.And when I do, I always ask myself how did I
miss these guys the first time around?Humble Pie, Spooky Tooth and Status Quo are other bands I really enjoy now
but more or less ignored until they were all but gone from the scene.
Your list will
differ, but exploration definitely has its rewards.
Yes, it’s a political song, but when I hear John screaming
“alright!” at the end of Revolution, I hear him saying: we already showed you we could do everything
else. Did you think we couldn’t handle
hard rock? We’re still punks, you know.
When you’re huge,
you’re huge, and after you’ve been around a while, your entire body of work
tends to morph into one, uh, huge, thing.
So it begs the
question, who would we still view – years later - as huge if they had
stopped after only one album?Hendrix,
Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin, The Cars, Buddy Holly …
After that, I
dunno.Adele?The Band?The Byrds?Crosby Stills and
Nash?Dire Straits?Eagles?Elvis?Jeff Beck?Steely Dan?Maybe.
There are a lot
of names from the rock pantheon missing, a lot of acts that took a couple or
three albums to really establish a place in music history.The Beatles, The Stones, The Who, U2, Pink
Floyd, Chuck Berry, AC/DC …
remember them all, but more as flashes in the pan than big influencers.But not many artists nailed it the first time
Elvis, Little Richard, Buddy Holly, the Everlys - played by punks, punks who
grew up listening to show tunes, folk songs, sing-alongs, music hall numbers, cowboy
movies, and Granny’s weekly performance at the pub.
By the time they
had emerged from Hamburg and those 6 hour sets, The Beatles had developed their
own unique sound, a sound which incorporated that early rockabilly, 50’s
R&B, and yes, their childhood influences. They had become adept at absorbing other
styles and transforming them into their own brand of rock and roll.
Then there was soul
music, and the pixie dust of Motown, which had, in its own way, done the same
classical, Eastern, psychedelic, singer/songwriter, hard rock, each one studied,
re-imagined and grafted on to that ever-expanding base. Each new experiment set someone else off on
another new idea, which looped right back to The Beatles for them to start all
over again.Getting so much better all
There is no
scientific way to explain the influence of The Beatles, because it magic.
To which I would say this:At
every step of their career, The Beatles absorbed the music around them,
assimilating each style, giving it new life from the raw force of pure rock and
roll. Each addition created new opportunities for other artists, which The
Beatles then heard and absorbed in turn. And on and on it went. That’s
what you call music evolution.
Computer analysis is irrelevant.The
record shows that all the major artists over that half century have
acknowledged the influence The Beatles had on them, and The Beatles freely and
frequently acknowledged who they were listening to and learning from.
And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make.
thing about Live Aid - apart from the
awesome performances (okay, not all of it aged well, but some of the
performances are immortal) - was: after your hope being dormant for a while,
you believed that music might change the world after all.
Buzz Hummer is a singer/songwriter living in Niagara, Canada.
This blog is about music: music that inspires me, music that makes me think, that turns me on (or ticks me off).
Music from the 60's, 70's, 50's, 80's... New music, old music, rock music, pop music.
Music, friends, family ... nothing else matters.