That discussion, along with comments in this Justin Roberts Pop Fly review about how people have "linked" me with Justin Roberts, made me think about musical antecedents and current influences. Who would be the most important musicians (of any genre) throughout your entire life -- the ones, even if you don't listen to them on a regular basis now, who profoundly affect who you listen to now and, heck, who you are, period? And who are the kids' musicians who have done the same?
My answers are after the jump -- hopefully yours will be in the comments.
I'm going to limit myself to just 3 artists in each category, though of course that means leaving some off the list. But I'm looking for the touchpoints here.
All musicians (note: these aren't ranked)
1. Ludwig van Beethoven: OK, my first artist, and I'm already breaking the rules, but it's fair to say that there is no person who has written more music than I've actually played than Mr. Beethoven. Aside perhaps from my organ-playing days (in which J. S. Bach naturally played the primary role), Beethoven was always central. You can't play a stringed instrument, either in a symphonic or chamber setting, without playing Beethoven. If you think his stuff is great to listen to (and it is, I've got a whole bunch of CDs), it's just as great to play. Central to my love of making music.
2. They Might Be Giants: There have been relatively few points in my life where I would describe the band as being my favorite, but I doubt they've ever been out of my top five, certainly the top ten. Discovering Lincoln on cassette was my first entree into finding music that wasn't played on the radio. Their music always struck me as incredibly catchy and brainy simultaneously, a heady combination for a geek like me.
3. Spoon: I could probably have picked another half-dozen artists to represent my musical influences of today, but Spoon is the one I'm enjoying the most right now. I've really only been listening to them for maybe 4 years, but nobody has put together a stronger set of albums over the past 7 or 8 years. Their focus on crafting a song, then figuring out what they can strip away (rather than layer on), is what makes them likely to be a band that everybody in a band 15 years from now cites as a major influence on their musical development.
1. Justin Roberts: I'm not quite sure how I've become "linked" with Roberts, but I think he's a fabulous songwriter, and I don't think anybody touches him in his ability to write songs about kids' subjects in a way that parents will relate to as well. His songs have touched me (not talking about my family here, just me) more than any other kids' artist. The rest of the family listens, too...
2. Elizabeth Mitchell: If I hadn't heard You Are My Flower lo these many years ago, and realized that kids' music didn't have to be crappily electronic and noisy, you probably wouldn't be reading me writing all these words about this genre today. Our family has listened to her CDs so many times. This could be taken as a slam (though it shouldn't, it's a compliment), but her CDs are perfect for long, lazy drives in the car when you want the kids to nap.
3. Kenneth Guilmartin: Who? If I had to guess which musician we have listened to more in our family, I'd say him. He was one of the co-creators of Music Together, which is a franchised early childhood music program we've participated in multiple times with both Miss Mary Mack and Little Boy Blue. I can't comment on how it compares to Gymboree or those other music programs, all I know is that we have the CDs and the sheet music and we listen to (and occasionally play) All. The. Time. The CDs are cleanly produced and I've discovered more great traditional songs through that program than through any other source. And the opportunity to sing in a group (something I don't get to do since I don't have time for choir at church or elsewhere) is great for me.
So... what about you?