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Stephen Mejias
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5 Great Art Songs of the Rock Age

The winners of John Marks' "5 Great Art Songs of the Rock Age" competition, introduced in the February 2008 installment of JM's "The Fifth Element" column, have been announced.

Elk
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Re: 5 Great Art Songs of the Rock Age

Excellent Stuff.

Best line:

"Blowin' In the Wind is . . . a bumper sticker, set to borrowed music".

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Re: 5 Great Art Songs of the Rock Age

Great lists. Now with the benefit of the results, I'll pile on with:
"1952 Vincent Black Lightning," Richard Thompson (1991). What a song! Everytime I play it for someone it knocks them over.

Dave

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Re: 5 Great Art Songs of the Rock Age

I, too, am a Richard Thompson fan. A great song.

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Re: 5 Great Art Songs of the Rock Age

All great stuff..but...

...How could someone miss John Martyn's 'Bless the Weather?'

"Time after time I held it just to watch it die
Line after line I loved it just to watch it cry

Bless the weather that brought you to me
Curse the storm that takes you away
Bless the weather that brought you to me
Curse the storm that takes you home

Wave after wave I washed it just to watch it turn
Day after day I cooled it just to watch it burn

Pain after pain I stood it just to see how it feels
Rain after rain I stood it just to make it real

Bless the weather that brought you to me
Curse the day you go away
Bless the weather that brought you to me
Curse the storm that takes you away"

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Re: 5 Great Art Songs of the Rock Age

>>TWELVE (special mention for just what the hobby needs): Sarah Witkowski

1. "Gimme Shelter," Mick Jagger and Keith Richards. From The Rolling Stones, Let it Bleed (1969).

2. "Behind Blue Eyes," Pete Townshend. From The Who, Who's Next (1971).

3. "Crystal Ship," Jim Morrison. From The Doors, The Doors (1967).

4. "Heroin," Lou Reed. From The Velvet Underground, The Velvet Underground and Nico (1967).

5. "Here Comes the Sun," George Harrison. From The Beatles, Abbey Road (1969).<<

Her list is by far the best one. Very direct, straight ahead and unsoiled by many years of living. Sometimes youth has it's virtues.

Only one Robbie Robertson and one Elvis Costello song made it to the finals - very surprising.

Edit:

Also Marks wrote:

Quote:
I was a lot more receptive to a well-chosen list of one-hit wonders or obscure artists than I was to a list that starts from the (arguable at best) premise that Bob Dylan was the "best" songwriter of the Rock Age, and therefore a list "had to" include a Bob Dylan song,

What is he smoking? I'm in the Netherlands and I haven't been able to find anything nearly as strong/good. Steven, can you please find out and let me know.

Thanks, Jazzfan

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Re: 5 Great Art Songs of the Rock Age


Quote:
I, too, am a Richard Thompson fan. A great song.

Somehow I'm not surprised...

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Re: 5 Great Art Songs of the Rock Age

Two great songwriters of the "Rock Age" MIA in the submitted entries:

Suzanne Vega - check out "Penitent" from "Songs In Red And Grey" for Vega at her "art song" best.

Tom Waits (WTF!!!) - check out "Sins Of My Father" from "Real Gone" for Waits at his "art song" best.

johnmarks
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Tom Waits

Hi-

I agree that Tom Waits is a great artist--I cited his live "Tom Traubert's Blues" as a high point of the original BBC "Old Grey Whistle Test" DVD.

That none of his work made the final cut means nothing other than by luck of the draw and my personal judgments, none of the top 12 lists included one of his songs. Truth be told, I can't recall any entries with his work, but the same can be said for Greg Brown and Bruce Cockburn, to the bafflement of certain folks over at AA.

Someone has written in questioning my decision to bounce out a list for one song I thought lame. But I could not give 38 honorable mentions, I had to pick 12 winners.

As far as your post above re: my estimation of Mr. Dylan, we'll just have to agree to disagree.

I know one academic sort who I can safely predict would be jumping out of his shoes to scream at me that it I can't "impose" the Eurocentric standards of lieder and chanson to rock, blah blah blah, to which the only rational response is, I just did. And I can note that Leonard Cohen seems cool with the idea. If he doesn't like it, he can get his own readership.

Cheers,

JM

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Re: Tom Waits

John, I understand you would want to encourage young Sarah, but "Crystal Ship" should have never sailed.

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Crystal Ship

Deep sigh. I hear what you are saying; however, in all honesty, that is not the one song on the winning lists I had the most trouble with. "Big Yellow Taxi" and "Sail Away" and "Alfie" were all a lot closer to dropping off the edge. Even "Sounds of Silence" gave me a qualm--had it not been a hit, would people think it was all that great a song?

Had someone else judged the contest, the results would have been different. Some people might think that my bad-song-o-meter needs to go back to the maker for recalibration, but that's OK.

NONE of the lists strike me as having no arguable songs, especially my own. "If You Could Read My Mind" is about as finely a crafted a song as I know. But, looking at the whole gestalt, if someone wants to say ugh, passive-aggressive male laying guilt trip on woman he's trying to control, I see some validity in that! "Dr. Wu" is probably the better song, "Aja" the better music.

What I was hoping for was interesting entries that could make us all think more deeply about music we know, and introduce us to music we don't, and I am very pleased with the results, "Crystal Ship," "Big Yellow Taxi," and all.

Cheerio,

JM

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Re: Crystal Ship

yeah, popularity (as assessment of an artist's talent) has never been a big one for me.

One of my maxims: "Normal is for Average."

Some songs may be far better..but just off the 'popular' beaten path.

rvance
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Re: Crystal Ship

Hi John, Fair enough. And the fact that you didn't pick my list had NOTHING to do with my comment!

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