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Ben Picks Ten: Music March 28, 2008

Posted by ourfriendben in Uncategorized, wit and wisdom.
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From American Idol to the Mouse & Trowels, it seems like everyone loves a competition. Our friend Ben is no exception. Unfortunately, I’m too new to the garden blogosphere to feel comfortable nominating best garden blogs in various categories, since it seems like every day I discover several wonderful gardening blogs that are truly humbling to one of our friend Ben’s writerly nature. However, as friends of our friend Ben are all too aware (shut up, Silence), humility is not a hallmark of our friend Ben’s character. Plus, to be frank, all this nominating is making me feel a bit left out. 

So our friend Ben has decided to write a series of themed posts featuring my own nominations for One-Ben Awards in various categories. This not only has the advantage of letting me nominate people for awards, it also dispenses with even the slightest pretence of a need for consensus. However, you can comment and let our friend Ben know if you agree or disagree in increasingly violent increments. As long as you remain civil, our friend Ben promises to post your remarks.

Without more ado, our friend Ben presents the One-Ben Awards for Music:

1. Favorite Musician: Mark Knopfler, hands down. Our friend Ben even owns one of Martin Guitars’ custom Mark Knopfler acoustic guitars. (And no, I’m not giving out my address, so don’t even think about it!) Did you know that a dinosaur was named after Mark Knopfler? (Our friend Ben is a fossil-lover from way back; see my earlier post, “Treasures in the earth,” if you are, too.) Great music and dinosaurs? All right!!!

2. Favorite Feel-Good Music: Bob Marley, who else? Jimmy Buffett gets honorable mention. 

3. Favorite Rock Guitarists: (Our friend Ben isn’t educated enough to judge Classical guitar. Sorry!) Steve Vai first, then Jimmy Page, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Eric Johnson, Yngwie Malmsteen, and George Harrison. Alex DiGrassi is marvelous, too, if you can find him. Mark Knopfler gets his own category (see above).

4. Favorite Celtic Music: Dougie Maclean. Oh, yeah! The one and only musician our friend Ben has ever heard who sounds exactly the same live as recorded. Wow.

5. Favorite Nostalgia Rock:  Jethro Tull and Alice Cooper have to split this one. If you’ve never heard Tull, our friend Ben suggests that you start with “Songs from the Wood;” for Alice, try “Trash.”

6. Favorite Songs That Make You Drive Too Fast: Knopfler’s “Speedway at Nazareth;” Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Sweet Home Alabama;” and the whole Waterbone “Tibet” CD, except for the last awful song.

7. Favorite Song: Led Zep’s “Stairway to Heaven,” greatest of all time. Honorable mention to Kansas’s “Dust in the Wind,” Bob Marley’s “Redemption Song,” Jim Croce’s “Time in a Bottle,” and Crash Test Dummies’ “The Superman Song.” Our friend Ben has a sort of romantic nostalgia for Jefferson Airplane’s “White Rabbit,” too, but could not take repeated hearings.

8. Weirdest Enjoyable Voice: Boy, there are some close candidates for this one! Our friend Ben loves Tony Bird, Brad Roberts of the Crash Test Dummies, Joan Armatrading, and The Roches, among others. But in this category, Kurt Elling, jazz vocalist extraordinaire, ultimately gets top honors from our friend Ben.

9. Best Native American Music: Bill Miller is our friend Ben’s all-time fave. Start with his “Ghostdance” CD if you don’t already know him. (The guy can paint, too!) Our friend Ben loves “Ghost Dance” and “Skinwalker” on the “Music for The Native Americans” CD by Robbie Robertson and The Red Road Ensemble, too.

10. Best Beautiful Music That You May Find Depressing: This is a crowded category, stretching from Joni Mitchell, Judy Collins, and Sting through Mary Chapin Carpenter and Shawn Colvin to Loreena McKennitt and Al Stewart. Our friend Ben loves all of these, and many more in this category, including previous category winners Bill Miller and Dougie Maclean. Hard to choose a winner, but our One-Ben Award in this category ultimately goes to  Al Stewart in a very hotly contested contest, because he’s the only musician our friend Ben knows who consistently blends history and music. Fascinating and fantastic!

Naturally, our friend Ben can’t stop at just ten. So here’s the bonus:

11. Greatest Composer of All Time: Johann Sebastian Bach. It would have been, could have been, should have been Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, but Wolfie died way too soon for his full and fulsome genius to have been fully expressed. Our friend Ben feels an enduring connection to Mozart, though, since he apparently heard his music in his head before committing it to paper, and that’s just the way our friend Ben receives novels, essays, and poems. It’s too easy to be talent, so our friend Ben recognizes it for the gift it is and can take no credit; I’d bet any number of One-Ben Awards that Mozart felt the same way.   



1. Cinj - March 29, 2008

Sounds like a good idea. I too am not up to nominating, but I like it! I have had a similar debate about Mozart and Bach as well. I’m not sure that I know enough about the other categories to comment on them. Food for though!

Thanks, Cinj! Let me know when you have your own list posted! And watch for tomorrow’s fantasy list–there’ll be some good reading on there!

2. Jodi - March 29, 2008

What fun! I’m especially with Our Friend Ben on Bach–I often go to sleep either to the Goldberg Variations or the English Suites (played by Glenn Gould, of course). The most lovely description of the English Suites I’ve ever heard was in a novel I reviewed recently by Anne Simpson, a Nova Scotian writer, who described the music as ““clear and concise, yet sprightly too, like a curled fiddlehead.”
I don’t know all the others, but I like the eclecticism; my tastes run from Queen to Within Temptation to James Blunt to Stan Rogers to Pink Floyd, so there’s always something tasty playing when I’m writing.

Thanks, Jodi! Queen almost made my list, too. And I love the Goldberg variations–right up there with the Well-Tempered Clavier. I think a bio of Glenn Gould just came out; hoping my library gets a copy!

3. Alicia - March 29, 2008

Mark Knopfler is one of the best singers for me, and without doubt, for a lot of other people. I fall in love with this singer’s music this is a long time and his style affects me so deeply. I attended many of his concerts and it’s there where I realized that I’m not the only who loves this awesome singer, and I notices that his music has great effects on people. This popularity causes trouble for his lovers, including me; because in each concert it becomes so hard to find a ticket then the ticket brokers find the opportunity to sky rock prices. A friend of mine recommended me website where to compare ticket prices before booking. And I think it may be useful for you. Here it is:

I agree, Alicia; MK’s songwriting, storytelling, and performing abilities are so strong that he does seem to bring out a lot of devotion and loyalty in his fans, including me.

4. Jean Ann - March 29, 2008

I am wondering if you are deliberately slighting AC/DC in fave nostalgai rock? Come on…Back in Black? Pretty great stuff…and SRV rocks…such a sad, untimely end…

Yikes, sorry, Jean Ann! I’m not deliberately slighting AC/DC, I just never listened to them. Now I guess I’ll have to check ’em out!

5. Native American researcher - April 1, 2008

I couldn’t agree more, great list. Also, Bill Miller is a great Native American musician – glad to see him on the list.

Thanks!!! And indeed he is. What a talent!

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