These Dudes Rock My World

There are few things in life that get people more fired up than politics, religion, and the Kardashians. Music is one of them. We passionately defend our musical tastes because they’re incredibly personal. Songs have the power to reawaken faded memories or elevate your soul until you feel the divine. When I was ten years old and first heard The Beatles, I felt closer to God.

down-the-abbey-road-the-beatles-25438292-1600-1200
And if you listen to “Here Comes the Sun” backwards, you’ll hear, “It’s fun to smoke the ganja”. Also? Paul is barefoot and therefore, obviously dead. Duh.

My husband has a different taste in music. He doesn’t like the Beatles. He thinks Tom Petty sounds like a warbling old man with a bad head cold. It’s a wonder we’re still together, but we make it work—by never listening to each other’s music.

A few artists will forever remain deeply rooted in my soul. Maybe because I grew up listening to them, so they generate cherished memories of childhood.

Then there are other singers, popular artists considered legends, that I hate the sound of their voice so much, the second one of their songs comes on the radio, I scream “NOOOO!” and switch it off.  Here are some of my favorite and not-so favorite male artists.

My Favorite Male Singers

John Lennon 

I first fell in love with him back in 1980 while listening to the Help! album on our scratchy old turntable.  I would sit in my gram’s rocking chair, holding the record sleeve in my little hands and gaze at his picture for hours. When he sang, “Help me if you can I’m feeling doooooown” I’d think, Oh, John, I will help you! Don’t feel down! Never feel down! That soulful voice! That moppy hair! I love you! It will be all right! Just don’t make an album with Yoko! I’m begging you, don’t do it!

I recently downloaded “Tomorrow Never Knows” and listened to it about a dozen times in a row. Pure perfection. Back when John went solo, I loved him even more. Every song he cranked out was my new favorite. “Watching the Wheels”, “Imagine”, “Mind Games”, I loved it all. He poured his entire soul into every note. He could be brutally raw and honest (“Mother”, “Cold Turkey”) and at the same time loving and sensitive (“Real Love”, “Beautiful Boy”, “Woman”). He was fearless.

Kurt Cobain 

Kurt was a singer you either loved or hated. My mother hated his voice*. I remember cranking up one of the more intense songs, “Stay Away” and my mom poking her head into my room.

“Turn that down! What in the world are you listening to?! You can’t even understand a word he’s saying! It doesn’t make any sense! He’s just screaming!”

“But Mom!” I protested. “He’s a genius!”

“WHAT? I CAN’T HEAR YOU! MY EARS ARE BLEEDING!”

With every wretched note he was laying it all out there–his seemingly tortured existence, his sensitivity to the unfairness of life, his open, grueling pain–things a lot of us could relate to in those early grunge days (I know I did, I wore fuzzy sweaters and didn’t wash my hair for days to prove my angst). Kurt’s voice was very melodic and sweet at times, and vocal-chord-shredding powerful when it needed to be.  His voice blew my socks off. Hemp socks, natch.

Dave Grohl

Image result for dave grohl mtv unpluggedOnce upon a time, he was the turtlenecked drummer lurking in Cobain’s shadow.  Over the years he transformed into a guitar-shredding, lyric-raging, righteous dude that once finished out a concert with a freshly broken leg while sitting in a chair. 

Foo Fighters frontman Dave Grohl sprang from the D.C. punk scene to become a member of Nirvana, a producer extraordinaire and a generally well-respected guy in the music business. Here, Grohl performs at RFK Stadium in Washington on July 4, 2015. The cast is for a broken leg caused by falling off a stage. Click through to see more from Grohl's career.
That’s commitment, dude.

Most days I’m in a Foo Fighters type of mood. Something about cranking “These Days”, “Walk” or “Rope” on your daily commute makes those soul-sucking days at the office more bearable. 

My husband and I both love his raging, head-banging lyrics and music. (The only artist besides the Beastie Boys and Childish Gambino we completely agree on.) 

Lenny Kravitz

Lenny came into my life at a magical, innocent time.

I was in college out west, busy doing things like lying on the grass, chugging mocha lattes, and watching stoners play Hacky Sack. Life was free and easy and reeked of patchouli. My roommates and I would listen to his music and weave daisies in each others’ hair.  I listened to his Mama Said album from start to finish nearly every day. He’s had a few hits and misses over the years, but nothing compares to songs like “Are You Gonna Go My Way?” and “It Ain’t Over Till It’s Over”. In TV interviews he always strikes me as a loving, positive, extremely intelligent man. And he can rock the shit out of a song. I want to marry him and have his baby. Let Love Rule indeed.

Tom Petty

Oh, Tommy. Wow. Legend. Aside from his incredible knack for vivid concise lyrics,

The red-winged hawk is circling
the black top stretches out for days

…and ability to cut straight to the bone with pure emotion,

And for one desperate moment
there
he crept back in her memory
God it’s so painful when something that’s so close
is still so far out of reach

— this man has A Voice. Some may even say a horrible voice (my husband). I will admit he’s unique. When I hear him sing, I feel like an old friend has sat down with me to share a beer and tell me his troubles. And he’s cool. Beyond cool. I grew up listening to Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. I’ve loved every single album with them and every solo album. He can power through anthem hits like “Breakdown” and “American Girl”, but I truly love to hear his voice on more sweet, melancholy songs like “Wildflowers”
or “Woman In Love (It’s Not Me)”He breaks my heart. And I love him for it.

(Honorable Mentions: Robert Plant, Eddie Vedder, Anthony Kiedis, Chris Cornell…I could write entire posts devoted to each one of these guys…)

Male Singers I Can’t Bear to Listen to for Even One Second:

(Note: I purposefully chose artists that have been around awhile. If I had to pick from today’s artists, we’d be here all day.)

  1. Elton John  “I guess that’s why they call it the blues…”And I guess that’s why your songs make me want to plunge my hand into a pirannha-infested aquarium and then cram the fish into my ears so they can devour any trace of any of your songs.
  2. Bob Dylan  “…la-lady lay…lay across my big brass bed…” Whoa, whoa, whoa. Hold up. I can’t take this. Stop, Bob! Stop with the brass beds and the laying and the singing before I start to weep. I know you’re a legend. I can’t take your voice. I’m sorry, man. It’s true. Don’t hate me.
  3. Billy Joel “…bottle of red…bottle of white…”  Hey, Billy? Can you give me a bottle of each so I can smash them both over my head and end this misery?
  4. Bruce Springsteen “born…in the USA..I was born…in the USA…I was…” I know everyone loves you, Bruce. I know. I’m sure you’re a swell guy. But you sound like a dying grizzly bear with a two-pack-a-day habit. No doubt I’m the only soul in the world that feels this way.

Which artists do you love? Which ones sound like nails on a chalkboard to you?

C’mon, you can tell me, I won’t judge. After all, I like Tom Petty and Kurt Cobain, remember? Oh, you hate them? Fine! I’m not mad, I swear. (But we can never be friends now.)

Images: dailymail.co.uk,  biography.com, rollingstone

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P.S. This post was rescued from my “Where Posts Go to Die” draft folder and was written in 2012. Tom Petty’s death? I’m still not over it yet.

*To give my mom credit, she loves good music. Some of the groups she used to blast from her stereo include The Doors, The Beatles, Fleetwood Mac, Queen, Kiss, etc…

16 thoughts on “These Dudes Rock My World

  1. I was raised on the Beatles and The Beach Boys. There’s honestly not much music I don’t like except rap and the old twangy country. I do love Elton John and Billy Joel, but missed grunge altogether. I think when it was big I was working on boats listening to Jimmy Buffet, Bob Marley, and Whitney Houston. Being raised by a mother who would only listen to classical music, and because I played classical violin, I also love me some Bach, Vivaldi, Mozart, and other classics.

  2. What You Are Is Where You Were When – right!? Fleetwood Mac, Hall & Oates, Robert Plant/Alison Krauss, The Proclaimers, Gordon Lightfoot, Corb Lund, Prairie Oyster, The Piano Guys. Don’t like – most of the old old country music that my husband likes…

  3. Oh man, it’s a good thing you’re not from New Jersey – that ‘never ever’ list would have been sure to get you kicked out! Right now I’m enjoying an Ed Sheeran and Maggie Rogers obsession.

  4. Sorry, but we may need to do battle over who is doing the marrying and babying with Mr. Kravitz. Once he became Cinna for HUNGER GAMES, our fates were sealed.

    I’m a lover of music, as well, with eclectic tastes spanning from my parent’s favs (50’s-60’s) to current picks (Leon Bridges Bad, Bad News for example) — listening or singing to whatever my family will tolerate. I can have most Counting Crows albums on repeat. Ditto Disney’s High School Musical movie soundtracks. Don’t judge.

    1. Ha! Too funny…they were showing the Hunger Games movies last night and I was tuning in thinking…is this the one with Lenny Kravitz?!

      Oh, and I LOVE LOVE LOVE Leon Bridges!! Counting Crows I used to listen to waaay back in the day… and speaking of musical soundtracks, my 12-year-old daughter and I love the movie The Greatest Showman and we both, of course, belt out all the songs and know them by heart. 🙂 (Hugh Jackman is incredible)

  5. Glad you resurrected this post from the draft bin. I think John Lennon is truly one of the most underrated singers in rock music. He never gets enough due accorded to him, in my humble opinion. Every time I hear “Instant Karma” I get chills; and no one has ever done a better version of “Twist and Shout” (with apologies to the Isleys).

    I still mourn Tom Petty’s passing. It remains tragic.

    My favorite singers are Peter Gabriel and Greg Lake. I also love Joni Mitchell’s jazzy period when her voice got lower (probably from the smoking, which didn’t do her health any good, but it sure made for incredible vocals). – Marty

    1. Agreed–Instant Karma is one of my all-time favorites. His song, Love, also gives me chills every time I hear it. I am definitely more of a John fan than a Paul fan. And yes, I am still not believing Tom Petty died even now. So sad. Peter Gabriel is incredible too. We have a lot in common with music!

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