Thursday, November 13, 2008

Rolling Stone list: the 100 greatest singers of all time

Both Paul and John are in the list's top twenty, with Paul at #11 and John near the crown (worn by Aretha Franklin) at #5. I'm not sure that Macca deserves a placement above the likes of Al Green, Freddie Mercury, and Roy Orbison. Seriously? How can R.S. justify excluding Orbison, with his effortless and piercing three-octave tenor, from among the ten best. But I won't at all quibble with John's top five ranking. He has one of pop's most natural, vivid, and mysterious voices. Jackson Browne, who penned the commentary on John for this feature, serves his subject dutifully by highlighting the inspired versatility across such songs as "Girl," "I'm Only Sleeping," and "A Day in the Life." Browne also makes mention of another classic vocal from John, on "I'm So Tired," which is easily among my favorite Beatles songs. Off The White Album, "I'm So Tired" finds John switching from playful ("I haven't slept a wink") to desperate ("You know I'd give you everything I got/ For a little peace of mind") to thoroughly aggravated ("And curse Sir Walter Raleigh/ He was such a stupid git"). It's a performance that caresses and crackles, soothes and snarls.

Browne obviously could have continued at length about the many memorable and moving vocals from John. Included on my own list would be such widely beloved songs as "Twist and Shout," "In My Life," and "All You Need is Love" along with less ubiquitous ones like "Run for Your Life," "Happiness is a Warm Gun," and "Real Love." Also, I'm not too well-versed in his post-Beatles work beyond John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band and various singles ("Imagine," etc.), but I do know how in-the-moment and defiantly alive he sounds on "Instant Karma," especially during its soaring chorus. What a burning spirit he possessed.

(I'm not trying to snub Paul, but his treatment will have to wait.)

No comments: