My Favorite Songwriters of the Rock, Folk and Blues Era (Final of 3)

Part 1 of this series is here:

I met him on a Monday and my heart stood still
Da do ron-ron-ron, da do ron-ron
Somebody told me that his name was Bill
Da do ron-ron-ron, da do ron-ron
—Da Doo Ron Ron, Ellie Greenwich, Jeff Barry, Phil Spector

Well, hell, yeah it’s not Shakespeare. Does it have to be? “I met him and my heart stood still.” What more do you need to know? The last of three posts on great songwriters of the rock, folk and blues era:

Holland/Dozier/Holland – (pictured above). If you liked Motown, you were probably hearing a song by these guys.
Greenwich/Barry – Ellie Greenwich and Jeff Barry were from the same Tin Pan Alley generation as King/Goffin. “Da Doo Ron Ron,” “Then He Kissed Me,” “Be My Baby,” “River Deep, Mountain High.”
U2 – I think that Bono and The Edge are the primary songwriters. But they all get credit.
James Taylor – Still a great writer and love his voice and guitar playing
Prince –  What can’t he do?
Lieber/Stoller – “Hound Dog,” “Jailhouse Rock,” “Kansas City.” Are you KIDDING me?
Doc Pomus/Mort Shuman – Brill Building songwriters of the early ’60’s. “Teenager in Love,” “Save the Last Dance for Me,” “This Magic Moment,” “Little Sister,” “Suspicion,” among others.
Stevie Wonder – Don’t know where to begin. Start with “Fingertips Part 2,” through “For Once in My Life,” all the way through (at least) “Songs in the Key of Life.” Magnificent.
Ray Davies – I spent many an hour listening to The Kinks. So did Pete Townshend. I believe the Brits would refer to him as the guv’nor.
David Bowie – I’ve loved his stuff for a long time. I didn’t realize the breadth of good stuff he had till after his death when satellite Radio played it all weekend.
Brian May, Freddie Mercury – They didn’t really write together but independently wrote classics like “Bohemian Rhapsody,” “We Will Rock You,” “We Are The Champions,” “Keep Yourself Alive,” “Killer Queen.”
Randy Newman – “Political Science,” “Sail Away,” “You Can Leave Your Hat On,”
Robbie Robertson – “The Weight,” “Night They Drove Old Dixie Down,” “Cripple Creek.” The Band will get their due on these pages, trust me on that one.
Robert Johnson – Has any artist with such a finite number of songs had more impact?
Elvis Costello – If I could narrow it down to a Top Ten, he’d be on it.
Bruce Springsteen – Oh Thunder Road, Oh Thunder Road
Sam Cooke – “If you ever, change your mind, about leavin’, leavin’ me behind, oo-whoa bring it, bring your sweet lovin’, bring it on home to me, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.”
Pete Townshend – None of the above songwriters – as good as they may be – has written rock operas. Pete has written “A Quick One While He’s Away,” “Tommy,” “Quadrophenia,” “Who’s Next (the aborted Lifehouse),” not to mention a million great songs.

4 thoughts on “My Favorite Songwriters of the Rock, Folk and Blues Era (Final of 3)

  1. Girl groups. Yes. I’m reading a book about the early years of The Beatles. (More on that later). It’s abundantly clear how strongly they were impacted by the early rockers like LIttle Richard, Eddie Cochrane and especially, Elvis. “No Elvis, no Beatles,” John is reported to have said. But they were also influenced by the girl groups, even recording “Please Mr. PosItman.” And they loved Smokey Robinson.

    But I can’t find any evidence that they were influenced by or even heard any doo-wop. So I’m thinking of songs like “Blue Moon,” “In the Still of the Night,” “You Belong to Me.” (The soundtrack to the movie “American Graffiti” has a fair amount of doo-wop and is a pretty good representation of pre-Beatles music in America.) Since they frequented Brian Epstein’s shop, if he had that stuff, they would have heard it. So I’m puzzled as to whether or not doo-wop was an American phenomenon or if it traveled around the world. And was it ever popular in England? Maybe a rhetorical question but it puzzles me.

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