Just a few of my very favorites ....
Before we dive in to the music I love best, you've got to check out the great Pandora ... it lets you create a customized Internet radio station that is ideally suited to your unique tastes. The more data you provide, the more eerily accurate it becomes. It is a joy.
As a writer and a reader, I love good lyrics, so I am going to start with a few think I think are among the best: the amazing Leonard Cohen, Tom Waits (for no man), Dar Williams, Paul Simon, Paul Williams, Randy Newman, Jimmy Buffett, Kristen Hall, Indigo Girls, Harry Chapin, and Johnny Mercer. I know I’m missing far too many, but for what it’s worth, I’d planned to start with only three. Lennon and McCartney and Bob Dylan don’t count, because, you know, that’s just a given.
Speaking of the Beatles, is Paul dead?
I can’t say enough about how much I adore the late, great Stan Rogers, Johnny Cash, Paul Brady, Mac McAnally, John Stewart (late of the Kingston Trio, not The Daily Show), Willie Nelson, the Burns Sisters, Patsy Cline, and Kris Kristofferson.
As you might have guessed from my Blackthorne Faire page, I am especially fond of Renaissance fair music. Once again, there are far too many to mention, but here’s a good start: The Pyrates Royale, Merry Mischief, or The Brobdingnagian Bards. Easier yet, just try the Renaissance Festival Podcast or Ren Radio to hear these and many more. Terrific! On a kind of related note, Blackmore’s Night plays rollicking tunes originally inspired by the musicians’ love of Renaissance fair music.
Radio Rivendell plays great music to read and write fantasy and anything else, by. Recommended! I also adore Folk Alley, which offers folk (you probably guessed that), acoustic, and Celtic music. There’s a lot of good folk and Celtic music out there in Internet radio and Podcast land. Have fun exploring and please be sure to let me know what you find.
I also love REM (I saw them play before they'd settled on that name!), Simon and Garfunkel (I already mentioned the songs of Paul Simon), Bruce Springsteen, Billy Joel, U2, the Clash, XTC, the Beatles (worth mentioning twice), David Wilcox, Annie Lenox, Mike Cross, Cheryl Wheeler, Luka Bloom, 10,000 Maniacs and Natalie Merchant, The Eagles, and the Cranberries.
My friend Bill Shaouy is in a band called Desmond Drive. They are fantastic—think a modern mix of XTC and the Beatles. Also on the local scene, you can’t miss Banks and Shane. You just can’t.
I'm also very fond of Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, Great Big Sea, and Barenaked Ladies. It seems like just yesterday that I discovered Captain Tractor, a band that always makes me smile. Who can resist the amazing Sarah McLachlan?
I've also just learned about the wonderful Jennifer Daniels and the lovely Michaela Foster Marsh. Jennifer has an lovely, powerful voice and is an extraordinary songwriter. The lovely and talented Michaela is a Scottish singer/songwriter. She sings like an angel, and her lyrics, inspired by mythology, love, sex, loss, and spirituality, are truly astonishing. Charles de Lint and MaryAnn Harris turned me on both to Michaela and the incredible Fred Eaglesmith. I also adore the glorious Beth Nielson Chapman. I wish David Franklin and Catbird Seat played around town more often.
Like good, rollicking Celtic music? Here in Atlanta, don't miss The Buddy O'Reilly Band or Emerald Rose. The Tuesday night jam sessions at The Marlay House pub in Decatur are legendary. Legendary.
Here's singer/songwriter Loreena McKennitt's homepage, and here are pages for Altan, De Dannan, The Waifs, Capercallie, The Roundstone Buskers, The Battlefield Band, and The Tannahill Weavers, some special favorites. Clannad has a very nice Web site. Natalie MacMaster is astonishing. Kelly Stewart harps like a goddess. Mary Black!
Robin Williamson is the last Celtic Bard. Well, so far. Archie Fisher belongs on the shelf next to Stan Rogers. Eric Bogle and Tommy Sands have done almost as much for peace as the legendary Pete Seeger himself.
To be honest, I have way too many Celtic favorites to list. But don't worry: this page may well be the ultimate source for Celtic music. This Celtic Podcast is terrific.
On a sort of related note (note... get it? note!), if you've ever wondered just what those cool sounding Latin lyrics in Carl Orff's Carmina Burana are all about, click here. If you don't know the story, the words were found in a Benedictine abbey about sixty miles south of Munich in 1803. Since they were found it an abbey, the discoverers thought the poems, dating back to the 12th Century, must surely be holy. However, they aren't quite as sacred as the finders thought. In fact, they're quite bawdy. And rather witty, too.
In Atlanta, my favorite spots for live music include Eddie's Attic in Decatur and the Variety Playhouse in Little Five Points.
Richard Repp is a good friend and an excellent musician.
What does music look like? The Shape of Song is an attempt to answer this seemingly paradoxical question. The custom software in this work draws musical patterns in the form of translucent arches, allowing viewers to see--literally--the shape of any composition available on the Web. The resulting images reflect the full range of musical forms, from the deep structure of Bach to the crystalline beauty of Philip Glass.
Renaissance Music! In the 15th through the early 17th centuries, music began to be printed and sold. Musical themes spread rapidly throughout Europe, particularly those developed by the troubadours of Provence in earlier centuries. With the coming of the Renaissance, the Church lost some of its power to control ideas. The notion of courtly love, so despised by the clergy, was celebrated once again. Of course it was hardly taken seriously, but its imagery was still powerful and it sounded good. There is a long standing debate over whether England’s King Henry VIII did, in fact, write Greensleeves, one of the most celebrated, and certainly most frequently performed, love songs ever written. It’s doubtful whether we can ever know for sure. This much we do know . . .
For music (and literature, folk roots, art, and more) reviews and news, you can't beat Rambles or The Green Man Review.
The music scholars among you may appreciate this exhaustive Database of Recorded American Music.