Folk Women

Given my love affair with Joni Mitchell, you might think I’d be a big fan of these other women folkies. On the contrary … Judy Collins takes interesting songs and turns them into boring mush, Joan Baez seems famous mostly for once being involved with Neil Young, and Melanie makes me want to stab myself in the ears. Buffy Saint-Marie I can’t take seriously because her name sounds like a character on Dynasty. Odetta gets a pass, mostly because with song titles like “God’s Gonna Cut You Down,” I’m afraid of making her mad at me.

Buffy Saint-Marie AllMusic page

Joan Baez AllMusic page

Judy Collins AllMusic page

Melanie AllMusic page

Odetta AllMusic page

Fleetwood Mac

The best part about Fleetwood Mac is that the two members the group is named for are the ones nobody’s ever heard of. Which goes to show that if you want hits, having a borderline genius/coke fiend, a pretty blonde, and a witch in your lineup beats two old guys with beards any day. On the other hand, Fleetwood and Mac (Mc?) are pretty smart: “You guys do all the work—we still split the money five ways!”

Fleetwood Mac AllMusic page

Fela Kuti

When the kids, the uncles, and I saw the musical Fela, I was completely blown away by the music—and hated the script. Based on the monologue, Kuti’s life was 90% weed, 5% women, and 5% music/politics/protest/ everything else. Then I found out that Will Smith and Jay-Z were the executive producers, and it all made sense.

Fela Kuti AllMusic page

Fats Waller

I’ve got nothing for Fats Waller, except to point out that at some point in our history, being called “fat” was apparently not an insult.

Fats Waller AllMusic page

Fats Domino

Proof that 50s music was more subversive than you might think, part 3: When Fats Domino found his thrill on Blueberry Hill, I’ll bet it had nothing to do with pie. Not to mention all that bad grammar. Just saying.

Fats Domino AllMusic page

Everly Brothers

Proof that 50s music was more subversive than you might think, part 2: Despite their wholesome image, when Phil or Don (or both? the plot thickens) fell asleep in the car with little Susie, I’ll bet they weren’t discussing the impending Soviet threat. Just saying.

Everly Brothers AllMusic page

Etta James

Proof that 50s music was more subversive than you might think, part 1: When Etta James was telling Henry to roll with her, I don’t think she meant playing Jack & Jill (unless that’s a metaphor). “Wallflower,” my butt.

Etta James AllMusic page

Eric Clapton/Derek & the Dominos /Cream/Yardbirds

AKA, the guy who was in a lot of bands. There are a lot of easy (and accurate) jokes to make about how the more sober and responsible Eric Clapton became in his personal life, the more boring his music got. I can’t even imagine losing a kid, so I’m giving him a pass. As long as I never have to hear “Wonderful Tonight” again.

Eric Clapton AllMusic page

Derek & the Dominos AllMusic page

Cream AllMusic page

Yardbirds AllMusic page

Eric B. & Rakim

How awesome are Eric B. & Rakim? They are so awesome that even my friend Leigh likes them. If I were to rank everyone I know based on their interest in rap, Leigh would come in pretty far down near the bottom—probably just ahead of my mother and Fr. Kowalewski, my high school freshman religion teacher.

Eric B. & Rakim AllMusic page

Emmylou Harris

During the early/mid 90s, about once a year a female artist released an album that completely blew me away: Shawn Colvin’s Fat City (her one happy album—short marriage), Cassandra Wilson’s Blue Light Til Dawn (before she started repeating herself and got boring), and my favorite of all, Wrecking Ball by Emmylou Harris. Not sure who decided to team the country darling up with moody electronics, but I’m awfully glad they did. Of course, she also recorded a trio album with Linda Ronstadt and Dolly Parton—nobody’s perfect.

Emmylou Harris AllMusic page