Sunday, May 15, 2011
Top 10 Deceased Musicians
This has been the hardest list I've had to write so far, and you may be thinking "oh, come on, you've only written five", but the truth is that actually, I write these lists in my head, all the time. I'll be walking down the street, and think, 'top five songs that I heard from Scrubs!' 'Top five songs that I've heard in the last 3 months!' 'Top five songs starting with the letter S!' But only sometimes do I write them up. But, this has been the first time that I've had options leftover, so for this reason, I've made my first Top 10.
10. BRADLEY NOWELL
It is very difficult not to fall in love with Bradley Nowell. I've been doing it whenever I hear Sublime for 10 years. The musically talented stoner is kind of a unicorn in my eyes, I guess.
What I love most about Nowell is that his voice is effortless. He's just chillin', just singin', just doing whatever the fuck he wants, and he's still got sex appeal oozing from every note he jams. He knows how to work a crowd, and it's unbelievable.
9. JOHN LENNON
It's the voice and the poetry that does it for me with this dude. He is melodic and powerful in his lyrics, and, you know, he was one of The Beatles. That's kind of tough to beat.
I quite like this song. Not only are the lyrics sweet and emotional - they have love behind them - but also, his voice sings in a truthful way that allows anyone listening to completely believe what he is singing, and that he must be singing to me.
8. KURT COBAIN
The day this dude was killed - and I say killed, please note - was a sad day for grunge music. And for the 90s. It was a generally sad day, is what I'm saying.
This is my favourite Nirvana song. I think it best suits Cobain's voice - pained, gruff, yet also easy and calming. And singing about being locked in a heart-shaped box (fun fact, originally heart-shaped coffin) is the perfect subject matter for such a voice. It's a sound to fall asleep or fall in love to, whichever floats your boat.
7. SYD BARRETT
His was a tough road to follow, but my god, some great music came out of it. And not just the songs he helped to create, but the ones he inspired afterwards as well are some of the greatest songs known to man.
The Piper at the Gates of Dawn is whimsical and psychedelic and amazing. The lyrics, though drug-addled, give the songs an innocence that aren't matched again, while at the same time there is a sinisterness (it is a word, I googled it) behind them as well. Not an obvious one, that's what makes it so sinister. They're sweetly creepy.
6. BOB MARLEY
I challenge anyone to listen to Bob Marley and not want to dance a little bit. Dance, sing along, have a smoke - I promise you, no one can resist.
There is always a beauty behind Bob Marley. The music is hard to interpret the way that I usually do, because, being honest, there is nothing - NOTHING - to reggae music. It's all in the message and the voice, and this voice? This voice just sings beauty.
5. JIM MORRISON
This guy... this guy. This guy has more sex appeal than any other man that ever existed. I'm pretty sure anyway.
There is no innocence, no beauty about Jim Morrison's voice. His voice is raw, it's power and it's passionate and it's edgy. He creates a trail of lust in every word he speaks. He's magnetic. He's magnificent.
4. JOHNNY CASH
I grew up listening to Johnny Cash; he's my dad's favourite artist and slowly became a personal favourite of mine as well.
This might be an interesting song to pick as the tribute on this list, since it's more recent, not really one of his classics and it's a cover, but it's my favourite Cash song. It's actually a traditional folk song, usually performed more upbeat than this version, and it sings as a warning to sinners that God will ultimately judge them. That's why I love this version - it's a warning that sounds like a warning. It's dark, it's vicious but it's also lyrical and melodic - despite it being the same tune over and over. Never gets old, though. Love it.
3. JIMI HENDRIX
Hendrix. HENDRIX. No real need to say more.
This is yet another cover, but again, my favourite Hendrix song. A beautiful story about a man fleeing the country because he's killed his wife. And yes, I mean beautiful. Jimi's voice and the music behind it is so melodic that even a tale about adultery and murder is intricately pleasing. That is an unbelievable understatement, but those are the best words I could think of to describe him. Intricately pleasing.
2. JEFF BUCKLEY
We all know how I love and feel about Jeff Buckley. His voice is the perfection that his genre needs. And he's just so damn good looking.
This song is so melancholic, so debilitatingly sad and heart-wrenching, but oh, how beautiful his voice is. Every word he sings, he sings with exactly the emotion that you know he must have felt when he wrote the song, and his performances portray those same feelings, which is so important for someone to be as great an artist as he was.
1. LAYNE STALEY
Layne. Fucking. Staley. There is no secret to my love of Alice in Chains, so I may just be biased here but I will always and forever proclaim that Layne Staley is the best male vocalist in alt rock.
What I love most about his songs is the use of his voice, and how perfectly it suits the music behind it. Couldn't imagine his genre without it. This song is about a friend of Staley and guitarist Jerry Cantrell, who had recently died of a heroin overdose. The way Staley sings, you can hear his anger and sadness at the loss of his friend. It's a powerful and touching tribute, I guess, and fantastic to listen to while smoking in the middle of the day.