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The Best Living Songwriters List


Leave it to the kids at Paste Magazine to come up with a great List idea that will get you excited and/or irritated. I love all the lists that magazines and online music sites come up with. From Rolling Stone, to Blender, to this very blog, we all do ‘best of” lists. Best 100 albums of all time, Top 50 artists, Top Ten albums of the year and so on. Most of them are frustrating in what they include and don’t include, and the facts upon which the lists are based are almost always just the writers or editors whim.


Paste is doing a 100 Best Living Songwriters list via an online poll in which you can vote. They ask you to pick your top 20 favorite “living” songwriters from a list that they provide but fortunately you’re not just limited to their choices because they offer you a chance at the end to write in your picks. Which brings me to the point of this post…not only did they forget some of the greatest living songwriters; they neglected to list my top two! But hey, that’s what makes these lists fun. I need your help! Go on there and vote, but please write-in at least two of the greatest living songwriters that they forgot: Terry Scott Taylor (Lost Dogs, Daniel Amos, etc.) and Jeff Lynne (ELO, The Move). I’m sure they would say that Terry is too obscure so they didn’t include him, but he’s no more obscure than William Cullen Hart or Rennie Sparks, which are included. There is absolutely no excuse for Jeff Lynne not being there. If ELO’s Mr. Blue Sky had been the only song he’d ever written it would have been more of a songwriting achievement than half of those listed have ever managed, but of course he’s written dozens of songs that are considered brilliant by millions. I was really surprised by all of the great songwriters they left off their list of choices and how many average to poor songwriters they included, of course it’s all subjective. Check out my list below, then click on the link at the end of this post and check out the Paste list and vote for you favorites. It’s amazing how many in my top 20 are not on their list of choices.


Here’s my current Top 20 Greatest Living Songwriters list:

  1. Terry Scott Taylor (DA, Lost Dogs, Swirling Eddies)
  2. Jeff Lynne (Electric Light Orchestra)
  3. Paul McCartney
  4. Brian Wilson
  5. Chris Collingwood & Adam Schlesinger (Fountains of Wayne)
  6. Bruce Cockburn
  7. Daniel Johns & Paul Mac (Dissociatives)
  8. Michael Been (The Call)
  9. Roger Waters
  10. Sufjan Stevens
  11. Jon Anderson (Yes)
  12. Andy Sturmer (Jellyfish)
  13. Andy Partridge (XTC)
  14. Tim & Neil Finn
  15. Matt Mahaffey (Self)
  16. Mike Doughty
  17. John Flansburgh & John Linnell (They Might Be Giants)
  18. Ben Eshbach (Sugarplastic)
  19. John Davis
  20. Aaron Sprinkle (Fair)

Now click the icon below to go to the Paste Magazine site to vote on your top 20 (and once you’re done you can also post them here if you want by clicking the comments at the end of this post)!

*Special 'Thanks and Cheese' to artist Kurt Lightner for the great guitar man illustration. Visit Kurt's site here:  &

HUGE MUSIC NEWS! – Andy Sturmer, Bleu, Self and ELO!

Leocover Are you sitting down? I almost soiled myself when I read the MySpace page for the new band L.E.O. If I could have put together the ultimate dream band for a dream project, it probably would have been close to this but maybe not as good.


Here’s the brief band bio from their MySpace page:

L.E.O. is a power-pop-collective... a recording project that began as a tribute to the idiosyncratic genius of Jeff Lynne and the Electric Light Orchestra it has become a Traveling Wilburys-esque creative outlet for a gang of like-minded musician/producers... it was originally conceived by Bleu and includes the diverse talents of Andy Sturmer (Jellyfish), Mike Viola (The Candy Butchers), Jason Scheff (Chicago), Steve Gorman (The Black Crowes), Matt Mahaffey (Self), John Fields (big-time pop-producer), Tony Goddess (pApAs fritAs), Hanson, Eric Barao (The Cautions), Scott Simon (The Argument), and Paula Kelley, among others…

Their debut CD, Alpacas Orgling is due out sometime this year. Normally the rule for this kind of heavyweight super group is that the sum is never as good as its parts, but the tracks on their MySpace page are fantastic.

Check it out:


Jellyfish News!


There's an avalanche of news and new music from Roger Joseph Manning Jr. of Jellyfish fame... He has a new album coming out in the fall on Warner Music Groups new "e-label" Cordless Recordings. There will be a 3 song preview EP available for download on May 2nd. In the meantime you can go to his site and download Sandman on MP3 for free when you sign up for Manning's email list.

Also available is a Japanese only CD release of Roger's solo project Solid State Warrior which was previously only available as a download. As if that weren't enough, there's a new Moog Cookbook release called Bartel of unreleased tracks and rarities. The cover art alone is worth it! For all that and more info go to his website:

Download Cool Music Now!

I'm a strong proponent of keeping the album format over the single, and purchasing a CD over downloading. There are many reasons for this…the lyrics, the liner notes, the artwork and the packaging, the tangible item that you can hold in your hand. But I'm also not opposed to downloading, especially as a tool to get turned onto new music or checking out classics you may have missed. So here I go, jumping on that bandwagon with my own download store. That's right, now you can download great music at the ObviousPop-BurnLounge Store. Even more exciting, you can set up your own store. Just click on the "Become a Retailer" link at the bottom of my stores homepage...

Click this image to go there now:

GMA Week in Nashvegas

I was in Nashville last week for the big Gospel Music convention. The people you might run into at that event can be quite interesting… Among those milling about the event I saw the comedian Gallagher and actor Judge Reinhold. Not together mind you, and they weren’t performing… Can you imagine that act?

I enjoy my trips to Nashvegas because I have a lot of friends there. One of the highlights this trip was seeing the guys in Jars of Clay and seeing Leigh and Mark Nash, as many of you know Leigh was the singer with Sixpence None The Richer. She was playing a showcase to promote her upcoming solo release on Nettwork. What I’ve heard of it is VERY good.

I saw a number of showcases while I was there. The best one was Phil Keaggy on Monday night at the Global Café. That guy can play the guitar. He does the most amazing things. He is without a doubt the most underrated guitarist there is and he gets better every time I see him. You’ve got to see him live to really appreciate what he does. For tour dates and more info check out

The other truly great show of the week was The Choir on Tuesday night. That band is incredible and if you haven’t heard their new record you’re missing out! Check it out:

Oh yeah, I almost forgot to mention this; I had my picture taken with President Bush. I tried to joke with him about Vice President Darth Cheney and ask him what in the world was going on in Iraq but he just shrugged. Oh well! I also got some great pics of industry veteran Rob Woolsey of Woolsey CDR waiving a baseball bat around for no apparent reason. CLICK HERE to go to the GMA Photo Page

The Progressive Rock Fan

Is there anyone that gets mocked, spoofed and made fun of more than the progressive rock fan? Probably not. I know what it's like because as much as I hate to admit it, I am one. Yes is one of my all-time favorite bands. There, I've said it! Admitting it feels both good and bad. I'm not saying that prog-rock fans don't deserve to be mocked. Many fit the stereotype all too-well. There's a hilarious article from McSweeney's that sheds a little light into the mind of a hard-core prog fan. It's called: THE INTERNAL MONOLOGUE OF A PROGRESSIVE-ROCK FAN CHOOSING HIS WEDDING SONG.

As if the title alone wasn't already funny enough you've got to read the article...Check it out here: