Yesterday, I put Aretha on blast, playing every song Spotify has in its library that she’s recorded. I also watched gifs and YouTube clips, singing along when I could but mostly listening in awe to depth of emotion she can convey with a pause or a single note. She really can fill a person’s soul, and my day was richer and softer than a Thursday usually is.
Why do we wait until our heroes die to spend time rediscovering their art?
I decided last night that I should dedicate each day to a single artist, listening to their catalog, so that each day could feel as full of beauty as yesterday did. I put out a request for suggestions and got dozens. Here are the artists that I thought of, and friends suggested, categorized in a few different ways. I will probably prioritize living artists who are nearing, shall we say, the end of their careers, with occasional forays into catalogs of those who have passed. I am going to listen to artists who I know I like at least one song by already. Sorry Laurie Anderson. But I’ve made a list of those artists, so you can decide for yourself what you might want to spend a day listening to. These lists are in order of likelihood I will spend a day listening to their work.
Living Artists Who I Like
Stevie Wonder: Four people suggested him, obviously worried that he’s the next to go. Don’t worry, folks, he’s only 68 years old and he’s vegan. He got remarried in 2017 and has a 4-year-old, so I feel like we’ll have him for a little while. Still, I’m putting him on today.
Each of these folks got two votes each (among the living and liked): Anita Baker, Bruce Springsteen and Elvis Costello
The rest, in no particular order: Smokey Robinson, Carole King, Dolly Parton, Jimmy Cliff, Joan Baez, Eric Clapton, Tony Bennett, Patti LaBelle, Gladys Knight, Gloria Estefan, Chrissy Hynde, The Temptations, The Band, Sergio Mendes, Dionne Warwick, The Beach Boys, The Cure, Paul Simon, Joni Mitchell, The Talking Heads, The Kinks, Van Morrison, The Everly Brothers, Jill Scott, and Peter Gabriel.
Deceased Artists Who I Like
Top vote-getters in this category: Prince, David Bowie, Billie Holliday, and Lou Reed.
To this list, I’ll add: Johnny Cash, Janis Joplin, Phil Ochs, Antonio Carlos Jobim, Bob Marley, Roger Miller, Nina Simone, George Michael, Otis Redding, Ray Charles, Curtis Mayfield, Dave Brubeck, Ella Fitzgerald, Patsy Cline, Roy Orbison, Tom Petty, Fela Kuti, and Fats Domino.
Artists Whose Work I Don’t Know
These are the top artists whose names I know but I can’t really identify their music. Richard Thompson and Leonard Cohen each got two votes. I know, it’s a little embarassing.
Here are the other names that popped up whose music I can’t really identify but will look for: Sandy Denny, Abby Lincoln, Flor de Toloache, Brandi Carlile, Jorge Ben, Leela James, Chris Stapleton, Texas, Joan Armatrading, King Sunny Ade and Warren Zevon.
Artists (Living and Dead) I Don’t Yet Appreciate
I decided this title was better than saying I don’t like them (even though I don’t) because I recognize it’s possible that I just don’t appreciate them yet. Here they are: Elvis, Edith Piaf, The Doors, Led Zeppelin, The Beatles, Tom Waits, Roxy Music, Kate, Bush, Jonathan Richman, Depeche Mode, Oingo Boingo, Neil Young, Bob Dylan and Warren Zevon.
Special thanks to all my friends who shared their ideas and to Stevie Wonder, who is powering me through this day so well. Okay, who did I miss?