wolff

Greatest songwriter in last 50 years?

80 posts in this topic

Having this discussion on another board I visit.

The division between greatest and most popular seems to be fuzzy.

I voted for:

1. Cole Porter

2. Dylan

3. Duke Ellington

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Burt Bachrach belongs on that list too, AFAIC.

Maybe Stevie Wonder & Elvis Costello too.

Who else?

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I'll SHOCK everybody (that knows me) and say Antonio Carlos Brasileiro de Almeida Jobim.

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Sammy Cahn is definitely worthy of consideration and, as far as rock music is concerned, so is Bruce Springsteen. If I could choose only three, though, my list would mirror wolff's.

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Cole Porter? If we're talking about the past 50 years, that would take us back to 1954. Porter was almost completely done by then.

It even seems a little odd to include Ellington using this cutoff date, but I know he wrote some great things post-'54 too.

I should have mentioned this in my previous post, but "greatest" is not going to make any sense here, especially with the wide-open scope of the question. Comparing Jobim and Bruce Springsteen is kind of pointless, isn't it? Maybe it's just me...

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Cole Porter?  If we're talking about the past 50 years, that would take us back to 1954.  Porter was almost completely done by then.

It even seems a little odd to include Ellington using this cutoff date, but I know he wrote some great things post-'54 too.

I should have mentioned this in my previous post, but "greatest" is not going to make any sense here, especially with the wide-open scope of the question.  Comparing Jobim and Bruce Springsteen is kind of pointless, isn't it?  Maybe it's just me...

Pretty much a stupid topic, I admit, but the wide range of choices is interesting.

I figured since Porter died in '64 he could be included. Sorry, I screwed up. :(

Here is an interesting choice:

OK, shoot me now...I know you are going to after you read this. But, I have to put a vote in for....ready...

The Bee Gees (Barry Gibb).

OK I know, disco and all that, but disco was only a small part of what they did. Now to tell the truth, I don't own a single Bee Gees album, but never the less, these guys were prolific and down right good.

Here is some of what the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame says about them (they were inducted in May 1997):

OK, shoot me now...I know you are going to after you read this. But, I have to put a vote in for....ready...

The Bee Gees (Barry Gibb).

OK I know, disco and all that, but disco was only a small part of what they did. Now to tell the truth, I don't own a single Bee Gees album, but never the less, these guys were prolific and down right good.

Here is some of what the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame says about them (they were inducted in May 1997):

Barry, Maurice and Robin Gibb-better known as the Bee Gees-are among the most successful vocal groups in rock and roll history. They rank sixth on the all-time top-sellers list, having sold 64 million albums to date. Only Elvis Presley, the Beatles, Michael Jackson, Garth Brooks and Paul McCartney have outsold the Bee Gees. The trio's contributions to 1977's Saturday Night Fever pushed that soundtrack album past the 40 million mark. It reigned as the top-selling album in history until Michael Jackson's Thriller-an album that Jackson has acknowledged was inspired by Saturday Night Fever-surpassed it in the Eighties. Saturday Night Fever and 1979's Spirits Having Flown combined to yield six #1 hits, making the Bee Gees the only group in pop history to write, produce and record that many consecutive chart-topping singles.

The Bee Gees' success hasn't been limited to recordings issued under their own name. Individually and together they've written and produced major hits for such artists as Barbra Streisand (""Woman in Love," Guilty," "What Kind of Fool"), Diana Ross ("Chain Reaction"), Dionne Warwick ("Heartbreaker"), Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers ("Islands in the Stream"), Frankie Valli ("Grease"), Yvonne Elliman ("If I Can't Have You") and their younger brother, the late Andy Gibb ("I Just Want to Be Your Everything," "[Love Is] Thicker Than Water," "Shadow Dancing"). In 1977, they became the first and only songwriters to place five songs in the Top Ten at the same time.

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Joni Mitchell, Elliott Smith, Laura Nyro, Wayne Shorter. In no particular order.

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Another vote for Bob Dylan and for you-know-who... ^_^

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Robert Pollard of Guided By Voices

Pete Townshend

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Pretty much a stupid topic, I admit, but the wide range of choices is interesting.

I figured since Porter died in '64 he could be included. Sorry, I screwed up. :(

No biggie. ;)

How about:

Henry Mancini

Michel Legrand

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How about:

Henry Mancini

AMEN! You beat me to it.....

While I won't profess to say who the "greatest" songwriters are (and I classify songwriter as music w/lyrics...vs...composer), I can mention people whose songs have meant alot to me personally.

A few so far not mentioned:

Neil Young

Stephen Stills

Jimi Hendrix

Donald Fagen/Walter Becker

Bill Withers

Robert Plant/Jimmy Page

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I will second Jim R's nomination of Jobim...I've been on a major Brazilian music kick and I have to say what he accomplished seems more and more staggering over time.

Sticking to jazz oriented stuff, I'd definitely also include Wayne Shorter. And hey, what about Ornette Coleman?

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Is it a song if it doesn't have lyrics? The inclusion of Ornette makes me ask -- maybe I'm just ignorant of this area of his work. Certainly a lot of his tunes are in song form, but...

Like Cole Porter, his major work may have been more than 50 years ago, but if we're talking last century, Willie Dixon gets one of my votes.

I'll second lots of the names already mentioned, including the Brothers Gibb (just realized a few weeks ago that that catchy Fugees tune "Ghetto Superstar" is actually the BeeGees "Islands in the Stream").

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Here is an interesting choice:

OK, shoot me now...I know you are going to after you read this. But, I have to put a vote in for....ready...

The Bee Gees (Barry Gibb).

I would have to agree, they wrote some good stuff.

I can't say the greatest in the past 50 years, but definitely up there.

Edited by catesta

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I'll second (fifth?) Dylan.

To add to those aleady mentioned: Lieber/Stoller, Van Morrison, Ray Davies

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For rock songwriting, I'll take Lennon/McCartney, Dylan, and Ray Davies. (No individual contemporary of Ray Davies comes close, imho.) Maybe put Elvis Costello on that list.

In jazz, I'll take Ornette Coleman.

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For the last 50 years of composition, you can't just call Lennon/McCartney Rock writers. That was their form, but their music has obviously transcended the boundaries of just Rock. Look at the huge numbers of great jazz versions of Beatles tunes out there. And, Robert Walter's live version of Instant Karma is pretty damn well bad ass as well.

Stevie Wonder's only gotten one mention. That's downright sad. Sangry once again proves his wisdom on this board. Stevie's use of harmony is at least as complex as about 95% of the jazzers of the world. And his songs are just downright excellent.

While we're speaking of modern funk and R&B guys, how about Prince? Another monster songwriter, and most certainly deserving of more nod's than just mine.

Wayne Shorter would get a definite nod. His string of Blue Note albums in the 60's produced nothing but future standards. Gotta love me some Wayne.

Becker/Fagen? Absolutely great. Their worst songs trump most other songwriters' best works, and their best stuff deserves to be listed along with the absolute best of the best, no matter the time period.

Paul Simon is another one. Just try naming one Paul Simon song that you can't hum.

Radiohead, too. If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then lately, at least in the jazz world, these guys are getting flattered (lol) left and right. Mehldau is certainly no slouch as a player and his choice of songs usually borders on the sublime. So seeing him record 3 or 4 radiohead tunes throughout his recorded career should say quite a bit.

Okay, that's my $0.02...

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I forgot about Neil Young, and Marvin Gaye. Both geniuses IMHO.

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Dylan & Davies tie for my vote. Others I really enjoy from the Pop/Rock tradition...

Graham Parker

Lowell George

Paul Westerberg

Todd Rundgren

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[...] Marvin Gaye.

:tup:tup:tup:tup

I'll add James Taylor. Might not fit some of the ones mentioned so far, but hey, start yelling if you don't like my choice. ;)

Cheers!

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Did anyone say Carol King, or Townes Van Zandt, or Nick Drake?

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