Music to Soothe the Savage Beast: Stan's 7 Top Musical Acts | Eastern North Carolina Now

Yes, I have my top ten grouping of musicians from my past and present that I like to play just because of my purely visceral connection to their creativity; but, that list is ever changing, so, let's take a culled snapshot of who makes my well considered and ever fluid best ever.

    As I grow older, as we all must, I am reverting back to my years of listening to music, the created sounds that captured my spirit: for pleasure; to cut the boredom; for inspiration; or, just to find a new song that I might want to endeavor to sync my poor guitar playing into, and with. Here in the age of technology, one need only to own a relatively large (40" and up) smart or Roku compatible television, and there you have it: Apps galore platforming tens of thousands of songs from thousands of musicians; with the amperage power, and decent enough speakers to round out a fairly robust sound where you live.

    Hey, the common home television works well enough for me, and today, I am compiling my lists of favorite musical act, in groupings of 7, that I consistently like to play. Of course, my musical tastes are well varied, so this is just a sampling of my favorites ... but, one must start and stop somewhere.

    For me, my initial music listening elongated trend began in late 1963, when I started hearing about this young "combo" from England named "The Beatles." From that inspirational point - just a few months later - I discovered Bob Dylan in his Folk oriented phase, and by the mid 1964, I was hooked ... still am here in mid 2022s.

    Without belaboring the history of my 1960s and my 1970s, and the great melodic lull until recent times, I shall instead move to the meat of this discussion: The moving pieces on my board of favorite musicians active in my fulsome lifetime; a short list of ten that should, and will be extended to the many more that I cherish for all the aforementioned purposes, and in no strict order within this purely subjective grouping I might add.

Stan's 7 Top Musical Acts

          in a very nonspecific order

     1. Van Morrison    "Van the Man," the diminutive Irishman with the big voice, wrote and performed "Brown Eyed Girl" in 1967, then the classic disc "Astral Weeks" in 1968, and after dozens of substantive albums in his many subsequent musical years, is still performing to this day, and performing quite well as the creative influence of every great melody he has ever made. Van plays multiple instruments, creatively performs outstanding music from nearly every genre, and sings in a personally eclectic pattern that is not only captivating for the listener, but almost entirely impossible to duplicate when one attempts to cover his melodies ... I know, I have tried, thus elevating my already high opinion of his musical genius.

Van Morrison (left) wailing "Caravan," one of my favorites, while performing with The Band at the "THe Last Waltz" farewell concert (screenshot). The Band's Robbie Roberson (center-left), Richard Manuel (center) on the piano, Rick Danko (right): Above.

"Van the Man" performing "Caravan" from The Band's last concert, "The Last Waltz" in 1978: Below.


     2. The Beatles    John Lennon wanted to grow up to be England's version of Elvis Pressley, and then met Paul McCartney in 1957, and as the it is oft mentioned, the rest is Beatle's history, and what a big history it is. To put a finer point on this mention of big history: No musical ensemble, or individual, has had more influence as a creative force, during their 10 year span of music making, than The Beatles had, and it will be a long time before any other musical act ever accomplishes the same success.

     From pounding out their version of American Rock and Roll to some of the most exquisite ballads, mixed with an eclectic progressive musical composite of what was new and incredibly unique, The Beatles were a creative force that was real, and undeniably distinctive in texture and tone.

     Sadly, John Lennon was murdered in front of his home, The Dakota, and George Harrison died of Cancer 20 years later in 2001. Ringo Starr, the oldest Beatle, and Paul McCartney are still with us.

The Beatles performing "The Long and Winding Road": Below.

     3. Led Zeppelin    Beginning as a blues based rock and roll band, the creative impetus of Led Zeppelin never stayed too far from their mandate to be uniquely different, while remaining outstanding as one of the greatest rock and roll bands of all time, and they did it with just 4 members of the band with a Lead Singer, Robert Plant, that played no musical instruments; he just sang, and yes, he was phenomenal, and remains one of the greatest singers of his era.

     The three remaining members of Zeppelin: Jimmy Page is considered one of the most innovative guitarist of his generation; John Bonham is considered one of the strongest drummers to ever play rock and roll; and John Paul Jones did whatever was asked of him - played bass guitar, keyboards, whatever.

     John Bonham is the only deceased member of Led Zeppelin dying in 1980 of alcohol poisoning, which pretty much finished Led Zeppelin; however, the legend lives on.

Led Zeppelin performing "Stairway to Heaven" live in 1975: Below.


     4. Simon and Garfunkel /Paul Simon    Simon and Garfunkel was a very young folk duo from the early 1960s that took their act quickly to the next level, with Paul Simon working hard to solidify his message as a powerful singer /songwriter, which did rightly occur, while the leader of Simon and Garfunkel, and continuing throughout Paul Simon's extremely successful solo career.

The front cover of the melodically immortal "Bookends": Below. Click image to expand.

     I was a big, but quiet fan of Simon and Garfunkel since their first hit record "Sounds of Silence" in 1965, believing that Paul Simon was truly a fine poet /storyteller, with a good voice, and an outstanding sense for innovative melody. His partner Arthur Garfunkel has tremendous range in his voice, but Paul Simon was the heart of this duo. After "Bookends" was released in 1968, I stayed close to whatever Paul Simon created, including all of of his solo albums, which are greatly varied in style, and to date, are his greatest creations - for example "Graceland" - one of the top albums ever made in the last eight decades.

     If I find the time to work on a song, I truly enjoy it being a Paul Simon tune.

Paul Simon performing "Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes" live in South Africa, shortly after the release of "Graceland": Below.

     5. Dire Straits /Mark Knopfler    This group of musicians, Dire Straits, with its creative leader Mark Knopfler, is a visceral favorite for this music aficionado for a bunch or reasons. First, I credit Dire Straits, along with ZZ Top, Eagles, Eric Clapton, Paul Simon, Fleetwood Mac and Steely Dan for getting me through the Disco Devolution, which was every bit as atrocious as the Rap Revulsive Rave of today. Second, Dire Straits only made 6 albums of music, but every one of them was excellent to pure classics. Dire Straits is certainly an ensemble of serious musicians, and while I was sad to see them break-up, there was an upside ...


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( August 25th, 2022 @ 12:04 am )
This I promise Charles, there will not be much of a drop off between my second seven after my first seven; 8. will be Eric Clapton /Cream /Derek and the Dominos; 9. The Band.

Picking, while knowing it is a throw of the Dice, is an interesting proposition because it forces you to justify ones choices.

I will slowly do a few more of these, who else do I have to choose from after the first Top 7, and then The Band, then Eric Clapton. Was there anyone else decent to good enough to make any list? Anyone? Bueller?

If I can recollect correctly, there is /was: Bob Dylan, Eagles, Jimi Hendrix, Pink Floyd, James Taylor, Rolling Stones; Joni Mitchell; Elton John; Allman Brothers, Fleetwood Mac, The Byrds, Steely Dan, James Brown, Queen, The Doors, David Bowie, ZZ Top, Bruce Springsteen, Beach Boys, Jewel, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Aretha Franklin, Tom Petty, The Who, Ray Charles, Peter Gabriel /Genesis, Little Feat, Yes, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Moody Blues, Stevie Ray Vaughn and Double Trouble, Guess Who, Doobie Brothers, Linda Ronstadt, Sting /Police, Tom Waits, Cat Stevens, Warren Zevon, Grateful Dead, Gordon Lightfoot, and too many more to mention.

I will come up with more as I showcase more of this type of content.
( August 23rd, 2022 @ 9:36 am )
This is kind of tough. Who to leave in, who to leave out. I might be able to whittle it down to five, but it's not like I wouldn't go hear the other two. I also suspect my rankings might change from one day to the next. Good is good, and that's a pretty excellent seven.

Beaufort County Commissioners' August, 2022 General Meeting Broadcast on BCN Worth Playing, Local News & Expression, For What it's Worth, Best Music Ever, Music through the Ages, Music Reviews, Music, The Arts Free Online Tax Classes for Small Business Owners


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