I’ve tried to have an open mind about music. I could never really get into country music, although some Southern rock/blues/country blends will hold my interest. Early influences came from listening to the radio on vacations early in the 70s, and my teen and college years spanned from the late 70s thorough mid-80s, not exactly a hotbed of classic music. But I listened to a variety of music, from KISS to Devo to disco, to classical and jazz fusion. It wasn’t until I started listening to the blues that I found a particular genre that really spoke to me. That led to building a music library that covered early Delta Blues to Chicago Blues to blues-influenced rock, like Led Zeppelin, Eric Clapton and the Allman Brothers. I still have some quirky favorites.
I have a bit of an obsession with one-hit wonders, particularly from the early 70s. There’s some disco that I enjoy listening to and even get up and move to (but only when I’m sure I’m completely alone in the house). There are some current artists and bands I will listen to, mostly on recommendations from nephews and nieces who understand my tastes. I have included commentary on my essential artists, along with others that have been influences throughout my listening life. For others, I have included my favorite tracks. I have included a few of my varied playlists, and info on the blues pioneers whose music I follow, and who have influenced other of my favorite artists.
There is a variety of music represented in this list of my all-time favorites, but the top three represent my true love for the blues. Eric Clapton, Led Zeppelin and the Allman Brothers would provide everything I need musically if I'm stranded on that desert island. The brilliance of Bob Marley influenced both Clapton and the Police. Depeche Mode just has a sound like none other. And if I'm not alone on that island, there's the Rev. Al Green to provide a special mood.
The is a lot of memory in music. Over the years, all of us remember songs or artists that seemed to speak to us at a particular moment. Music takes us to that place or time, and can evoke an emotion. It might not be the greatest music ever made, but there was a time when it was important to us. Maybe there's just great music or legendary musicians that deserve a special place in our regular rotation of music we listen to.
As I've mentioned, I'm a bit of a fan of one-hit wonders. There are quite a few in this list. But mostly, these are just individual songs that have stuck with me over the years. Some are from legendary artists, while others came and went. There are maybe even some you've never heard of before. You'll find Elvis and Ray Charles. Disco and hip-hop. Flock of Seagulls and the Byrds. And many versions of "All Along the Watchtower."
We all make playlists. We have playlists for when we’re sitting on the beach or for a long road trip. We have a playlist for parties. There are those songs we listen to when we’re happy, sad, or want to dance around the house in our underwear.
I’ve read a number of books on the blues, and listened to hours and hours of the music, going back to the early recordings of Robert Johnson and Big Bill Broonzy, through to the Great Migration north from the fields of Mississippi to Chicago, where Muddy Waters played those traditional blues on an electric guitar and changed everything.