uhhh.....Lennon & McCartney......enough said
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I'll come back to this in a week, if it's still around, but some unmentioned names spring to mind, Merle Travis (yeah, his best work was pre-1950, but he was still doing stuff afterward), Lefty Frizzell, Buddy Holly, Bo Diddley, Chuck Berry along with Hank Williams in the 50's. Merle Haggard. Barbara Keith in the early 70's and lately. David Hidalgo for the last 25 years. John Hiatt even longer. Kate and Anna McGarrigle for 30 years. Recently, in addition to Lucinda Williams, Gillian Welch (with David Rawlings) and Iris Dement. Not counting anyone who writes good songs but can't sing.
Current best maybe David Gray I know that is 26
Tweak...Jagger and RIchards...68-72...cmon bro...dont make me come over and slap ya!(ha!) Great list...with some unheralded choices...such as Weller...who was on fire with the JAM...and since I am on the duo trip...jones & strummer,davies and davies, and young and young(ad/dc)...but more in your purist indivdual songwriter vain...Neil Young and Prince (Purple pride baby)
C'mon! Not even a single mention of Elton John or Billy Joel? What, do you guys hate piano players or something?
I wouldn't put them at #1 necessarily, but they belong on the list.
Also, you have to put Burt Bacharach on there, because while he mostly wrote songs, he did make a couple albums of his own.
Carole Bayer Sager mostly for songwriting.
I'd also nominate Steve Earle for his most awesomely "Confederate sounding" songs.
Didn't want to duplicate any of the previously mentioned ones to save space.
Love your threads, mister. Thanks for including our man, George J (even if he qualifies only as a singer), not to mention Beck, Cobain, Richard Thompson, and Lucinda Williams.
El Duce and Neil Diamond? You scamp, you. Too bad they never collaborated.
Among the giants not yet mentioned, I nominate Joni Mitchell, Randy Newman, and Chuck Berry.
Among the unheralded, how about Walter Salas-Humara of the Silos? I love this guy's work so much I "borrowed" his name as my moniker. Really, a great songwriter.
Two other unheraldeds knocking on the door: Brian Henneman of the Bottlerockets and Freedy Johnston.
Why they didn’t make the cut:
Jagger/Richards, Lennon /McCartney, and Elton John /Bernie Taupin are songwriting teams. They do not properly belong on a list of individual singer/songwriters. Moreover, the solo careers of these guys are not up to the standards of my top 25. Or is there some punter out there that is willing to argue that the auteur of “Silly Love Songs” is more deserving than Gram Parsons?
Otis Redding wrote some of his best material, including the remarkable “My Lover’s Prayer”, but he was probably more famous for his outstanding interpretations of the songs of others. It is a tough call, but I have to conclude that Otis Redding wasn’t a pure singer/songwriter in the same sense as say, Townes Van Zandt.
Aretha Franklin wrote some good songs, but most of her best songs were written by other very talented people.
As for the one glaring omission for which I will plead guilty, all I’ve got to say is, I’m sorry Mr. Brown. Tell ya what James; next time we meet in the joint, you can borrow my prag for the night.
What I will not apologize for is the fact that Prince is not on the list. Prince made his career selling dumbed-down funk and ersatz soul to gullible white people. I know. I went to a big 10 University in the 80’s, and got to see white people thinking they were so hip whilst “dancing” to Prince records. Another black man fronting a party band for the rhythmically challenged ofay: Prince and the Revolution were the Hootie and the Blowfish of the 80’s.
So, Ben Campbell; I await your angry, totally wrongheaded, yet typically brilliant and well argued retort.
Tweak...I was testing your boundaries with "Prince"...and I seem to have induced a reaction...maybe even "allergic"...at any rate...Price has a handful of good songs in my view...we will leave it at that...and yes...the omission of the GOdfather of soul was an oversight...but you have made amends...in honour of this... you will kinged "brother for a day"...
And yes...The author of Hey Jude, Yesterday, Ticket To Ride, Michelle, Paperback Writer, Eleanor Rigby, Penny Lane, All You Need Is Love, The Fool On The Hill, Lady Madonna, Let It Be, The Long And Winding Road, Band On The Run, My Love, and....Silly Love Songs deserves to be ahead of Parsons....don't you think? Perhaps Im just a "punter" though.
Paul McCartney’s solo career, taken as a whole, has served mostly to severely diminish, not enhance, his overall reputation as a songwriter. Both John Lennon’s and, for that matter, George Harrison’s, solo efforts were, in most cases, much better than Paul’s. In short, Paul McCartney’s solo career has been a terrific waste and misdirection of an unbelievable talent.
The lack of appreciation for Curtis Mayfield in his native country is appalling. Though it is silly to speak of any individual having “invented” any particular genre of music, many credit The Impressions with “inventing“ soul. Yeah, I know, Jellyroll Morton claimed to have invented jazz. Though the claim is patently false, no one is going to argue that Jellyroll wasn’t a critical figure in the early development of the music. To cite an analogous example, though there was plenty of rock and roll in the 1940’s, Ike Turner’s 1951 “Rocket 88” (Ike wrote it, but was denied credit) is, to my ears, the first song that doesn’t sound like a “missing link.” Rather, it is the earliest bang on, fully and 100 % recognizable as such, hard rock song. What Rocket 88 is to rock and roll, The Impressions “For Your Precious Love” (I know, Curtis didn’t get songwriting credit) is to soul.
Not only was Curtis Mayfield one of the originators of soul, he is also acclaimed, in Jamaica and England at least, as The Godfather of Reggae. Listen to a classic “roots” track like Junior Murvin’s “Police and Thieves.” The sweet falsetto vocals over the urgent staccato guitar chords are straight-up Curtis Mayfield. No lesser man than that great reggae synecdoche Bob Marley frequently cited Curtis as his most important influence. Indeed, you will not find a single Jamaican vocal group from the 1960’s that did not include at least one Curtis Mayfield composition in their repertoire.
So I ask you, what other individual in the last century was a seminal figure in the development of two (somewhat) different important musical genres? Not Bob Dylan: the both the folk and rock idioms were well established before he began to reshape both of them. That Curtis Mayfield would have such a critical influence on the development of both reggae and soul is both astonishing and unprecedented. It is analogous to having one individual who simultaneously embodies the talent and creative energy of both Jimmie Rodgers and James Brown.
Are the defenders of Paul McCartney’s solo career willing to argue that the man who gave us such gems as “Coming Up,” “With a Little Luck,” “Silly Love Songs,” “No More Lonely Nights,” “Ebony and Ivory,” and “Temporary Secretary” is more deserving of a place on a list of great singer/songwriters than the author of “Minstrel and Queen,” “It’s All Right,” “People Get Ready,” Check Out Your Mind,” “Move on Up,” “Superfly,” and “Pusherman”?
Further whinging on behalf of McCartney’s place in the songwriter’s pantheon should take a hiatus pending the forthcoming posting of my list of the greatest songwriting teams.
McCartney wrote Ticket To Ride, Yesterday, Michelle, Paperback Writer, Eleanor Rigby, Penny Lane, All You Need Is Love, The Fool On The Hill, Lady Madonna, Hey Jude, Get Back, Let It Be, The Long And Winding Road, Band On The Run, My Love.....These were written by McCartney alone. Lennon wrote Norwegian Wood, In My Life, Strawberry Fields Forever, I Am The Walrus, Revolution, The Ballad Of John And Yoko, Imagine, Whatever Gets You Through The Night, #9 Dream, Mind Games, Give Peace A Chance.....Your attempt to ignore these facts suggest an agenda, or more likely an ego. Best of luck with that.
How in the world can you consider Ian Curtis a singer songwriter and not Paul McCartney? To assume that Bernard Sumner(albrecht, whatever he was going by at the time), Peter Hook, and Stephen Morris did not have as much to do with Joy Divisions music is just plain wrong.
Peter Hook's bass and Stephen Morris' drums were just as much a signature of the Joy Division sound as Ian's haunting voice and words. Bernard's guitars and keyboards set just as bleak a picture as any other part of the songwriting. These four men, and later 3 men and a woman were the epitome of a songwriting collective. All songs written by Joy Division. Not Curtis/Albrecht or Curtis/Hook.
All of their later side projects just went to prove that the whole was greater than the sum of their parts.
1.) If, 100 years from now, any 20th Century pop lyricist is to be recognized as a great poet, it will be Ian Curtis.
2.) The jarring contrast between the sterile, unimaginative recordings of New Order, and the profundity of the extant Joy Division recordings, only serves to heighten my esteem for Ian Curtis. Maybe Ian doesn't deserve all the credit for all the the songs attributed to Joy Divison, but the other three sure the hell couldn't write a decent song without him.
3.) No matter how crappy New Order were, they never ever released a song that was half as lame as "Silly Love Songs" or "Coming Up." The fact that these two songs came from someone as undeniably talented as McCartney makes them all the more inexcusable.
9.Kieth & Mick
10.Townes Van Zandt
20 Al green
25. I will probably have a different list tomarrow
I rate Paul McCartney, not solely on the basis of his best work, and not solely on the basis of his worst. Paul McCartney: when he was good, he was really good, when he was bad, we was really, really bad. McCartney is going to need far more than one mulligan for his mostly lamentable solo career.
To further torture your quarterback analogy, with The Beatles, Paul McCartney may well have been the Joe Montana of pop songwriters, but since The Beatles disintegrated, he has become Ryan Leaf.
Tweakgeek-I wouldn't argue too much with your list actually however I think you really need Lennon and McCartney in there basically because they really did write most of their best stuff as individuals-it's well documented from '65 onwards they seldom wrote together .
I'd much prefer a Todd Rundgren to a Marc Bolan,or a Kate Bush to a Lucinda Williams but it's really down to individual taste.
Mark Eitzel,Peter Gabriel,Paul Simon would also be on my list......oh and just to make you happy I find it laughable you rate Weller above Bowie.
Just a few final points to what has become a silly discussion. In keeping with the quarterback analogy....I don't agree with the Montana-Leaf comparison. More like Montana-Peyton Manning. Either way, it doesn't take away from his achievements as "Montana". A point you seem to be blithely dancing around. A feat even Baryshnikov could not do. I am left wondering if he refused you an autograph, or cut you off in traffic....or perhaps shot your dog. As art is subjective, you are entitled to your opinion, but by all objective standards....McCartney belongs on ANY list of great singer-songwriters. One final point....McCartney's "Silly Love Songs" , based on sales and radio play, has touched far more lives , and brought more smiles to people, than Geeks Tweaking could ever hope to. Put that into your tube amp & smoke it.