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add Randy Newman, Gordon Lightfoot, Joni Mitchell, Neil Young

springsteen and I beat Ed Lada to it.   i'm an americana guy so: john prine steve earle jason isbell patterson hood  

Mark Knopfler

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Chuck Berry and Buddy Holly are top rock and roll song writers.

Lyrists is a different catagory. Dylan is a folk song writer gone electric. Springsteens greatest moments in rock and roll are when he played as a backupband for Chuck Berry - or so he said.

 

Cole Porter should be considered as one of the greatest lyrists. Rolling Stone forgets and ignores those who do not fall into thier leader box. 

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Rogers and Hart/Hammerstein.... Anders Osborne, George Harrison, Warren Zevon...... There are so many, that it's like counting grains of sand.

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... David Bowie...

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Bruce Springsteen!

Jungleland:

"Beneath the city, two hearts beat
Soul engines running through a night so tender
In a bedroom locked in whispers
Of soft refusal and then surrender
In the tunnels uptown, the Rat's own dream guns him down
As shots echo down them hallways in the night
No one watches when the ambulance pulls away
Or as the girl shuts out the bedroom light"

Soul engines!!!!

Or these lines from Backstreets

"Some hurt bad some really dying
At night sometimes it seemed
You could hear the whole damn city crying"

From Youngstown, the Rust Belt anthem:

"Once I made you rich enough,

Rich enough to forget my name"

The River:

"Is a dream a lie if it don't come true,

Or is it something worse"

Hate on the Boss all you want, everybody likes what they like, but there is no denying his genius.

 

Jim Steinman has written some of the most witty, clever lyrics in all of rock and roll.

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I know you folks are talking about the words, but for music I have to nominate Neil Finn (Crowded House, etc.)  Of course there's a long list, who's near the top just depends on my mood.

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1 hour ago, Grande Mastere Dreade said:

Paul Simon

Jim Morrison

Jim Croce

Van Morrison

Brian Wilson

JMO

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17 minutes ago, Mid said:

Lennon & McCartney

The Glimmer Twins

McCartney certainly thinks he's the best song writer, but..... Meh.

 Don't get me wrong, I like a lot of his stuff, but a lot of it is pablum.

 Holland, Dozier, and Holland, was another powerhouse song writing team.

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4 hours ago, quod umbra said:

Rock and Roll

As a lyrists who comes after Robert Zimmerman?

(Please don't say Springsteen!)

Our you a 'Hashere' socke?  Haive you reade the Ginsberg autobiographey yette?  I thick notte, you wointe licke that Dylan wannabe afterwads.               :)

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George Harrison is way up there, way up there.
Van Morrison, hell even Bruce Springsteen thinks it is Van Morrison.
Roger Waters wrote some great songs but tumbled into some narcissistic downward spiral that culminated with The Wall. That said, writing Wish You Were Here as a follow-up to Dark Side of the Moon certainly puts him in the conversation.
Bowie is or was an enigma.

What, no love for Marty Balin? He wrote some great songs in his time. And his bandmate, Paul Kantner? I mean 'The garbage truck song' alone puts them in the conversation as it so captured the moment.
Steve Winwood?
Eric Clapton?
Reverend Gary Davis? (I know, I know)
And while I see John Lennon coupled with Paul McCartney..... does Lennon not rate his own billing? I would think he does.
How about Robbie Robertson? Wrote some epic songs in his time.
Sure, Niel Young, what about the rest of CSN?
Dickie Betts and Greg Allman.


 

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7 minutes ago, Snaggletooth said:

Our you a 'Hashere' socke?  Haive you reade the Ginsberg autobiographey yette?  I thick notte, you wointe licke that Dylan wannabe afterwads.               :)

Yes, that's it, I am Hasher's sock. Can't pull the woolies over your eyes Roy.

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1 hour ago, Al Paca said:

Robert Hunter: 

“Living On Reds, vitamin C and Cocaine” 

If Robert Hunter is in the conversation, and I agree he is in there somewhere.... I think the remarkable part is he wrote To Lay Me Down, Ripple and Brokedown Palace in one sitting. 
And I have to say, having seen Hunter preform the complete Terrapin Station suite at The Bottom Line many years back, it is a masterpiece in storytelling.

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5 hours ago, chester said:

springsteen and I beat Ed Lada to it.

 

i'm an americana guy so:

john prine

steve earle

jason isbell

patterson hood

 

No argument from me. These are great. But I’d add Mike Cooley, too. He doesn’t write many songs, but every one he does write is perfect.  
 

and Lyle Lovett...  (not rock, but who gives a shit when we’re talking about greatness.)

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3 minutes ago, MisterMoon said:

No argument from me. These are great. But I’d add Mike Cooley, too. He doesn’t write many songs, but every one he does write is perfect.  
 

and Lyle Lovett...  (not rock, but who gives a shit when we’re talking about greatness.)

Some songs transcend a single genre. 
Johnny Cash comes to mind as well.

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Last night we were listening to some playlist on Spotify and my wife heard the third different cover of Harvest Moon she’d heard in a week and she said “I really love this song”.  Neil Young can really write. 

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8 minutes ago, quod umbra said:

I find it equally interesting that Led Zeppelin, Rolling Stones and The Who have not been mentioned..........

Mid menchinned the Glimmere Twins an houre aggo.............               troubelleng..........              :)

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1 hour ago, quod umbra said:

Led Zeppelin,

biggest bunch of thieves known .

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In addition to some of the genius songwriters already mentioned...

J.J. Cale, Bruce Cockburn, Kris Kristofferson...

more recently, a couple of acts come to mind...Ray LaMontagne, John McCauley of the band DeerTick has written some killer tunes...there are so many. As for Zappa, my favourite album of his is Guitar, which is entirely instrumental...

...say what you want but as far as straight ahead rock hooks and lyrics, Sheryl Crow has come up with some great hooks...when you see her sit in with all the bigs at Clapton's Crossroads festival and its the legendary greats that are actually getting the chills, you know she's got it...

Here's a song that I just can't shake. When I listen to it, I imagine the greatest songwriters of all time actually tipping their hat to it. Its just a basic rocknbluesncountrysong, nothing special, but a couple of the lyric hooks are just genius...

Bonnie Raitt's 'Blue for No Reason'

 

 

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2 hours ago, MisterMoon said:

No argument from me. These are great. But I’d add Mike Cooley, too. He doesn’t write many songs, but every one he does write is perfect.  
 

and Lyle Lovett...  (not rock, but who gives a shit when we’re talking about greatness.)

the Drive-by Truckers are  literally the BEST american rock band of trhe last 20 years. In the last 10 days i have put DBT albums on repeat, album after album. my "country gold" play list is LACED with their songs.

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11 minutes ago, chester said:

the Drive-by Truckers are  literally the BEST american rock band of trhe last 20 years. In the last 10 days i have put DBT albums on repeat, album after album. my "country gold" play list is LACED with their songs.

Saw them backing Booker T Jones at Coachella. 2009 ?

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2 hours ago, Al Paca said:

All right all you (self Proclaimed) music experts. Where does Frank Zappa fit in in all of this?

Way more music composition than song lyrics.

 Don't get me wrong, I love(d) Frank.... But he's more a composer than a song writer.

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24 minutes ago, Al Paca said:

How about the Bottle Rockets?

Bottle Rockets, Jay Hawks, Uncle Tupelo, Wilco, Son Volt, Blue Rodeo, and on and on.  Frankly Robert Zimmerman can stick his toungue in my starfish.

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Levon Helm/Robbie Robertson.... (That was at least as ugly as Lennon /McCartney)

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7 hours ago, Chris in Santa Cruz, CA said:

add Randy Newman, Gordon Lightfoot, Joni Mitchell, Neil Young

Neil Young and Crazy Horse recorded the greatest "alt rock" of all time

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I thought the OP said Rock and Roll songwriters?  Many of the above can only be considered occasional cross-over artists in the Rock genre.

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26 minutes ago, Rain Man said:

I thought the OP said Rock and Roll songwriters?  Many of the above can only be considered occasional cross-over artists in the Rock genre.

the drtive-by truckers are a rock and roll band...sorry if your definition requires big hair.

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There are so many amazing talents listed here, I say Bravo to all!

May I ad a talent from more recent times:

"Turkey for the girls and turkey for the boys
My favorite kind of pants are corduroys
Gobble gobble goo and gobble gobble gickel
I wish turkey only cost a nickel" - Adam Sandler

 

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When I met my current wife in 1974 she was managing a record store. She turned me on to Bonnie Raitt, and John Prine. I would add to that Bob Dylan, Mark Knopfler, Marvin Gaye, Joni Mitchell. 

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For lyrics, Joe Strummer. He would write the words then Mick Jones would figure out the tune. 
 

Now every cheap hood strikes a bargain with the world
And ends up making payments on a sofa or a girl
"Love and hate" tattooed across the knuckles of his hands
Hands that slap his kids around 'cause they don't understand how....

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Currently the most successful (not, perhaps, best)  song writers are Beyonce/Jay Z, Taylor Smith, Katy Perry, Adele and Billie Eilish & her brother. 

So the girls are taking over? 

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1 hour ago, chester said:

Bottle Rockets, Jay Hawks, Uncle Tupelo, Wilco, Son Volt, Blue Rodeo, and on and on.  Frankly Robert Zimmerman can stick his toungue in my starfish.

Well, aren't you special.

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12 minutes ago, Left Shift said:

Well, aren't you special.

whatever but if you  think a great song writer has to be looking at his/her 75th birthday in the rear view mirror, that's more than a little sad.

 

Lucinda Williams, she's only 65

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5 minutes ago, chester said:

whatever but if you  think a great song writer has to be looking at his/her 75th birthday in the rear view mirror, that's more than a little sad.

 

Lucinda Williams 

Well, aren't you a little confused about the time/space continuum.  And about what I think.  And about when a great songwriter deserves recognition.  

But for the record, I'd say Bod Dylan reached legendary status over 50 years ago when he was barely 20.  And most would agree, I suspect.  You may sit in your corner and disagree.

I can guarantee you that you didn't start an international debate when you picked up an electric guitar, or have your face on the cover of Time when you were in your 20's or get a nobel prize or turn out new songs for 60 years. 

But, you do you. 

 

Listen...Ain't it just like the night time to play tricks when you're trying to be so quiet....

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John Hiatt.  So many of his songs recorded by others AND an outstanding artist himself. 
 

Bruce Cockburn.  Gifted storyteller - even referenced in U2’s “God Part 2”. 
 

Neal Peart.  An amazing lyricist and one of (if not the) greatest drummers ever. Huge loss when he passed. His talent may be more even appreciated as time goes by.  

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Carol King, Tom Waits, jackson Brown

 

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Bertolde Brecht.

 

 

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6 hours ago, chester said:

the Drive-by Truckers are  literally the BEST american rock band of trhe last 20 years. In the last 10 days i have put DBT albums on repeat, album after album. my "country gold" play list is LACED with their songs.

DBT have to be the best band that many people have never heard of.  They've have never gotten the recognition that they deserve.

I raised my daughter on classic rock.  She returned the favor by turning me on to DBT.  Bless her little heart.

 

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2 hours ago, Ed Lada said:

DBT have to be the best band that many people have never heard of.  They've have never gotten the recognition that they deserve.

I raised my daughter on classic rock.  She returned the favor by turning me on to DBT.  Bless her little heart.

 

That’s a Jason Isbell song. He was in DBT for a while, now solo. And still writing GREAT songs. 

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8 hours ago, Left Shift said:

Well, aren't you special.

 

8 hours ago, Left Shift said:

Currently the most successful (not, perhaps, best)  song writers are Beyonce/Jay Z, Taylor Smith, Katy Perry, Adele and Billie Eilish & her brother. 

So the girls are taking over? 

Listen, there are no right answers here.... although Beyonce, Jay Z, Katie Perry and  Billie Eyelash should be avoided at all costs!
This is purely personal preferences.
Now wonder on back to PA and get in fights over there.

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10 hours ago, chester said:

what can you say?  after the beatles, berinie taupin and Sir Elton have sold the most songs ever.

I, ummm, I, ummmm.
No disrespect to Sir Elton but after Madman and Tumbleweed it was all down hill.

Kris Kristofferson?

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13 hours ago, Al Paca said:

All right all you (self Proclaimed) music experts. Where does Frank Zappa fit in in all of this?

I may be totally wrong but I.......

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2 hours ago, quod umbra said:

I, ummm, I, ummmm.
No disrespect to Sir Elton but after Madman and Tumbleweed it was all down hill.

Kris Kristofferson?

Yeah most people only know him for 'Me and Bobby McGee'...and acting alongside Barbara Streisand. 

He actually won numerous songwriting awards before ever recording his own stuff and had some greats record his songs...Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, Bobby Bare, Gladys Knight, Jerry Lee Lewis and many more before Janis came along and brought Me and Bobby McGee mainstream. Wille Nelson did a whole album of his songs that went platinum.

By the time he formed The Highwaymen with Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings and Johnny Cash he'd had more gold and platinum singles recorded by him and others than you can count and had won every songwriting award Nashville could come up with. He was already a certified legend among legends while the general public still knew him more for his acting(skills?) than his songwriting. 

If you haven't listened to much of his stuff, maybe start with the album Silver Tongued Devil.

Yeah maybe not strictly rock n roll, at least until The Full Tilt Boogie Band got a hold of Me and Bobby McGee...

https://www.songfacts.com/facts/janis-joplin/me-and-bobby-mcgee

 

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...I was kind of thinking that if we're talking greatest Rock n Roll songwriters...gotta include Ray Davies.

Celluloid Heroes off of 'One For the Road', live 1980 should get him a vote on that song alone.

https://www.bbcamerica.com/anglophenia/2014/06/five-reasons-ray-davies-deserves-songwriters-awards

 

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 Smokey Robinson.

He's in both the Songwriters Hall of Fame and The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, so I guess he clears those hurdles... 

over a 1000 songwriting credits.

I once went to an open air show of his--packed--and one song after another I was asking myself, 'Wait...you mean he wrote that one too?'

Aside from the usual suspects that he either wrote for, collaborated with or produced, the likes of The Supremes, The Temptations, Marvin Gaye, The Jackson Five, The Four Tops, Bobby Darin, his own band The Miracles...a lot of acts have covered his stuff that would surprise you...

...'Going to a Go Go' by the Stones? Smokey Robinson. 'Don't Look Back' by Peter Tosh? Smokey Robinson... 

Among the many others to cover his stuff and top charts with...Diana Ross(Supremes), A Taste of Honey, Eddie Money, Rita Coolidge, Hall and Oates, Sister Sledge, Otis Redding, Eddie Floyd, Linda Ronstadt, Johnny Rivers, Aretha Franklin, Luther Vandross, The Staple Singers, Elvis Costello(he should be on the list!), King Curtis, Rare Earth, Grace Jones, Kim Carnes, The Beat, Michael Jackson,  and many more.

...these names culled from this partial list of chart toppers, including such classics as 'Get Ready', 'My Girl'...

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_songs_written_by_Smokey_Robinson 

Oh yeah, and if anyone has any problems bridging the gap from Motown to Rock and Roll, don't worry there's no gap. 

Here's Rare Earth doing Get Ready. I think I heard somewhere the 20 minute version on the album was Smokey's favourite.

 

 

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5 hours ago, quod umbra said:

 

Listen, there are no right answers here.... although Beyonce, Jay Z, Katie Perry and  Billie Eyelash should be avoided at all costs!
This is purely personal preferences.
Now wonder on back to PA and get in fights over there.

Who's wondering and who's fighting?  

 

It seems odd that no one has mentioned Prince, Bob Seger, Big Momma Thornton, Jerry Lee Lewis, Fats Domino, Tom Petty, Michael Jackson, Nancy Wilson or Stevie Nicks. 

(Is Stevie Nicks too cute to get the credit for all the songs she wrote?)

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Taylor Swift has been a roll. She is piling on more hits with her songs than nearly any one else that is alive and without a pace maker. She makes pale anyone else in this modern era. She has amassed 129 chart entries on the US Billboard Hot 100—the most entries for a female artist—including seven number ones and 29 top tens. Wife can not get enough of this chick. 

 

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49 minutes ago, fufkin said:

 

 

 

the long version of this is my all time top most played song on my iPod and I bet I wore out 3 chunks of vinyl, 2 8 tracks and a handful of cassettes 

 

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16 hours ago, Left Shift said:

Currently the most successful (not, perhaps, best)  song writers are Beyonce/Jay Z, Taylor Smith, Katy Perry, Adele and Billie Eilish & her brother. 

So the girls are taking over? 

Quote

On Beyoncé’s new album Lemonade, already a religious work for its legion of worshippers, that village is populated by dozens of the industry’s most in-demand producers and no less than 72 writers, including James Blake, The Weeknd, Jack White, and, um, Led Zeppelin.

 

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1 hour ago, Black Jack said:

Taylor Swift has been a roll. She is piling on more hits with her songs than nearly any one else that is alive and without a pace maker. She makes pale anyone else in this modern era. She has amassed 129 chart entries on the US Billboard Hot 100—the most entries for a female artist—including seven number ones and 29 top tens. Wife can not get enough of this chick. 

 

agreed.  I actually don't listen to her BUT i bought the Ryan Adams album where he covers HER entire album 1989...holy shit!

 

Oh and I think Ryan Adams is a good songwriter too 

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1 hour ago, Black Jack said:

Taylor Swift has been a roll. She is piling on more hits with her songs than nearly any one else that is alive and without a pace maker. She makes pale anyone else in this modern era. She has amassed 129 chart entries on the US Billboard Hot 100—the most entries for a female artist—including seven number ones and 29 top tens. Wife can not get enough of this chick. 

 

several years ago I took my daughter to see TS in Denver, I'm not particularly a fan of hers, and I doubt I'll ever by any of her music, however, I was very impressed with her performance. While not particularly a genre that floats my boat, her musicianship, and the production quality within that venue was on par with any of the big classic rock bands that I am a fan of. so yeah, I'd have to put her pretty high up on this list. 

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On 3/17/2021 at 1:25 PM, Ed Lada said:

Bruce Springsteen!

Jungleland:

"Beneath the city, two hearts beat
Soul engines running through a night so tender
In a bedroom locked in whispers
Of soft refusal and then surrender
In the tunnels uptown, the Rat's own dream guns him down
As shots echo down them hallways in the night
No one watches when the ambulance pulls away
Or as the girl shuts out the bedroom light"

Soul engines!!!!

Or these lines from Backstreets

"Some hurt bad some really dying
At night sometimes it seemed
You could hear the whole damn city crying"

From Youngstown, the Rust Belt anthem:

"Once I made you rich enough,

Rich enough to forget my name"

The River:

"Is a dream a lie if it don't come true,

Or is it something worse"

Hate on the Boss all you want, everybody likes what they like, but there is no denying his genius.

 

Jim Steinman has written some of the most witty, clever lyrics in all of rock and roll.

and he could play the hell out of his guitar. youtube up some of his live stuff from the 70s..........

 

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11 minutes ago, basketcase said:

and he could play the hell out of his guitar. youtube up some of his live stuff from the 70s..........

 

Oh yeah, Bruce is no Clapton but he's no slouch either.  He kicked some serious ass when he was young. Of course he has Little Steven and Nils to help too.

I saw him twice in his later career live, in 2003 in Ludwigshafen Germany in a small stadium, only about 25,000 people for the Rising Tour and we weren't too far away from the stage.  Tickets were about $65.00.  I'm glad I got to see Clarence, he was totally cool of course.  Then I paid about $300.00 a ticket to stand almost in front of the stage to see him at the Olympia Stadion in Berlin for the Rising 2016 Tour in 2016.  The Olympia Stadion is huge, it can hold up to 80,000 people for a concert but they only sold 65,000 seats because Bruce didn't want anybody to have seats behind the big stage that couldn't see.  But I didn't want to see little stick figures from the cheap seats, so I splurged and it was worth every euro cent.  He was getting older, it took his voice some time to warm up, but they still kicked ass.  Both concerts were amazing.  

Photos from the Berlin show.

bruce 1.jpg

Bruce 2.jpg

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5 hours ago, Left Shift said:

Who's wondering and who's fighting?  

 

It seems odd that no one has mentioned Prince, Bob Seger, Big Momma Thornton, Jerry Lee Lewis, Fats Domino, Tom Petty, Michael Jackson, Nancy Wilson or Stevie Nicks. 

(Is Stevie Nicks too cute to get the credit for all the songs she wrote?)

I had thought of Nicks and Christie McVie and Buckingham...... but I think they are fairly a long way down the list in many ways.
Rumors certainly puts them in the conversation.
Bob Seger is alright. I find Prince annoying. Tom Petty wrote some interesting songs. Jerry Lee and Fats a bit before the tidal wave.
I always thought Michael Jackson was a joke and "The King of Pop" moniker fits him well...... because pop music, pretty much by definition, is not enduring. Now that doesn't mean all pop music is flash in the pan, it just takes a lot for most of it to span the test of time.

And you were fighting, you do that. You get into it with people. This isn't the thread for that unless of course you are telling Ed Lada to fuk off on the Springsteen nonsense. (Disclosure, seen Bruce, Bruce, Bruce a number of times.... half of which were in the swamps of Jersey before Born To Run came out. Frankly I am surprised he survived Rorers and The Stone Pony.)

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