News From The Woods - October 23, 2009


By Bob Ketchum

Originally Published February 7, 2010

"My Favorite Artists, A-Z"

Recently on Facebook, some friend posted the question of "what is your favorite artist?" Well, asking someone like me that question is like opening up a can of worms or Pandora's Box. There are simply too many great musicians, bands, artists, and songwriters in this world for me to zoom in to just one or two. So that got me to thinking, could I at least narrow it down to one "favorite" per letter in the alphabet? And do this without researching it. In other words, just off the top of my head. If I have to research it then they weren't important enough in my mind to remember.

This would be my list. Now remember, this is MY list so go make your own:

Beatles, The Creedence Clearwater Revival
Deep Purple
Eagles, The
Fleetwood Mac
Guess Who, The
Hughes, Glenn
King Crimson
Led Zeppelin
McCartney, Paul
Nelson, Sandy
Orbison, Roy
Pink Floyd
Rolling Stones
Simon, Paul
Van Halen
Walsh, Joe
Young Rascals, The
Z Z Top

And while I am on the subject of Facebook, the other day I was reading some entries by various "friends". Someone recited some lyric lines from the Eagles "Desperado", which started a thread on The Eagles. I got about halfway through the thread of replies and ran across one guy's comments. He stated "The Eagles suck. They are overplayed and mediocre at best". I had to read it again just to be sure I was reading right. Now, I know personal opinions are at the heart of why there is so much different music out there, but this statement took me by surprise. I assumed this guy wasn't a musician or even a lover of well-crafted popular music for that matter. Just out of curiosity I went to his facebook page as I wanted to know what kind of music he DID listen to. Although he didn't name anyone specifically he did report that he liked Rock and Roll. Fair enough. He's probably an AC/DC fan or perhaps a follower of one of the thousand newer groups out there. I guess it was just a shock to me to read that someone not only did not appreciate The Eagles but thought their music "sucked".

You see, therein lies my problem. Being a musician, I always seem to assume that everyone else has a musical background, or at least they have developed a well rounded sense of quality of music. I keep forgetting that I have been extremely fortunate to have grown up with a mother who was an entertainer and musician from "the old days". By the time I was in High School I was intimately familiar with torch singers from the 30's, the Big Band Era, blues and boogie-woogie legends of the 40's, and the giants of the rockabilly and rock and roll era. I knew the soundtracks from West Side Story, The Sound of Music, and many other Cinemascope pictures of the day. I knew who Enrico Caruso was and had a 5-record set of his greatest masterpieces. When rock and roll popped up on my radar in 1955 it overshadowed everything else, but I still had a varied background in music culture. What I am getting at here is that I have developed an understanding of all types of music, and I sometimes take that for granted.

I keep forgetting that we all have our personal tastes. It doesn't make it right or wrong, it's just what the individual prefers. There are certain operas I can do without, and I hardly like ANY country music recorded before 1980. So… even with my "discerning tastes" I must admit that there are some types of music (rap comes to mind) that I simply do not listen to. So why can't some guy who has a passionate dislike for The Eagles express himself? Why not, indeed…..

As a professional audio engineer I have been taught to appreciate all forms of music, so whenever I have a session that explores distasteful (to me) music I bury myself in the technological aspects of the session. That makes it easier for me to concentrate on the "making of" the music instead of the "listening of" the music. In simpler terms, "my ears switch gears". So now I can hone in on microphone placement, types of reverb to use, and how things sit in the mix without passing judgment on the artist (who is paying for the session). Still, it always amazes me at how music affects people differently. And I am more than ever convinced that without music, mankind would have no soul.


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