Cat Stevens: Out of nowhere I became obsessed with "Wild World," and I tried to learn it on guitar. It turns out those little flourishes he does that sound simple enough are frigging hard to learn; He's a real good guitar player. I then figured out that he wrote "The First Cut is the Deepest," a song I never liked until I heard his original version. It's so true that in many ways it's hard to match that feeling of the first time one falls in love, but who would really say to his/her lover, "If you want I'll try to love again. I'll try to love again, but I know the first cut is the deepest?" He's just admitting to her that it isn't likely he'll be able to love her like he loved his first, and that's just amazing songwriting.
The Bee Gees
: Growing up I was led to believe that disco sucked and was the true enemy of rock and everything it stood for. A lot of it probably did blow, but the Saturday Night Fever
soundtrack has like nine songs written and/or performed by the Bee Gees, and they're all classics. The line "you belong to you and me" from "How Deep Is Your Love" is one of those lines so wonderfully simple that many may have mocked it, but a lot of songwriters were likely wishing they had thought of it first.
: This guy drove me nuts when I was a kid. I heard "Like a Rock" in those Ford commercials, and I just cringed. Then one day I felt myself completely moved by "Turn the Page" off the Live Bullet record. What a great storyteller and an enigmatic performer! I turned a page of my own that day and started warming up to "Night Moves," "Main Street," "Against the Wind," "Hollywood Nights," and "You'll Accomp'ny Me," but I think I'll never like "Katmandu" or "Old Time Rock and Roll." Well, maybe I like those both. A little. I just have to be in the right mood or in a Ford Truck or something.
: I had a Barnes & Nobles gift certificate burning a hole in my pocket, and I came across The Stranger
in the bargain bin. Something made me buy that and the latest Black Crowes
release. I haven't been able to get through the Crowes disc all the way through (it's pretty bad), but I've listened to the Joel one about four times already. I'll never like a song like "We Didn't Start the Fire," but in the last few years I've come around on songs I used to not like too much like "You May Be Right," "She's Always a Woman to Me," and "I Love You Just the Way You Are." At the time, critics usually didn't like what he was doing, but now critics hark back to his records, calling them classics. He's a guy everyone has to warm up to a little, evidently.
: Of everyone on this list, this is the guy where I think there was a time when I would have actually been embarrassed to display his discs in my CD case. Now I don't care because his songs are a lot of fun and really take you back. I don't think I've ever turned off "Against All Odds" or "In the Air Tonight," and I have even been guilty of singing along to "Sussidio," despite not knowing what the hell it means. That last one is still a little dorky, but these days I just don't care.
Story by Matthew J. Swanson
Starpulse contributing writer