Greatest Singer/Songwriter
Posted by Danny T (+54) 15 years ago
Who are your favorite songwriters, and what is your decision based on? (good melodies good lyrics, being prolific, influential, experimental..)
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Posted by Kyle L. Varnell (+3747) 15 years ago
Freddie Mercury of Queen.

Bob Dylan

Eric Clapton

Michael Jackson (Jackson's sexual predilections aside he's written/sung some great music over the years)

Paul McCartney/John Lennon

Nigel Tufnel/David St. Hubbins/Derek Smalls (Let's see if anyone can guess who these guys are. They go up to 11!)

James Taylor

Elton John

Should I go on or explain my reasons behind my choices?

[This message has been edited by Kyle L. Varnell (edited 7/27/2007).]
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Posted by MilesCity.com Webmaster (+10022) 15 years ago
1. Roger Waters (Pink Floyd)
http://en.wikipedia.org/w...ger_Waters

- As for what the decision is based upon... well, just take a listen to "The Final Cut", "Dark Side of the Moon", and "The Wall". They will provide the answer.

2. Eric Clapton
http://en.wikipedia.org/w...ic_Clapton

- One of the greatest guitar players, and musical artists, ever.

That's my very short and obvious list. To make it longer, I would have to think about it more. The first two were easy.

Regards, Larry
MilesCity.com Webmaster
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Posted by Bob L. (+5096) 15 years ago
Nigel Tufnel/David St. Hubbins/Derek Smalls (Let's see if anyone can guess who these guys are. They go up to 11!)

------------------------------

Spinal Tap. Nice.

Let's see what great lyrics I can pull from the memory bank...

Livin' on a sex farm
Plowin' through your bean fields
Pickin' up my pitch fork
Pokin' your hay


Ah, that's great writing there!
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Or Hell Hole...

The windows dirty, the mattress stinks
This ain't no place to be a man
I ain't got no future, ain't got no past
And I don't think I ever can

The floor is filthy, the walls are thin
The wind is howling in my face
The rats are peeling, I'm losing ground
Can't seem to join the human race.

I'm living in a hell hole!!!!!
Don't want to stay in this hell hole!!!!
Don't want to die in this hell hole!!!!!
Girl, get me out of this hell hole!!!!!

I rode the jetstream, I hit the top
I'm eating steak and lobster tails
The sauna's drafty, the pools too hot
The kitchen stinks of boiling snails.

The taxman's coming, the butler quit
This ain't no way to be a man
I'm going back to, where I started
I'm flashing back into my pan.

It's better in a hell hole!!!!!!!!!!
You know where you stand in a hell hole!!!!!!!!!!
Folks lend a hand in a hell hole!!!!!!!
Girl get me back to my hell hole!!!!!!!!!
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Posted by Stone (+1598) 14 years ago
Rafe Stewart- ? Black cadillac song
Steve Earle
Townes Van Zandt
Justin Townes Earle
Billy Joe Shaver- a giant among song writers.
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Posted by Bob Netherton (+1883) 14 years ago
Bob Dylan - Too many great songs to count, many of them covered by other artists.

Lennon/McCartney - same as above.

Spinal Tap - "Sex Farm Woman" and "Big Bottom" (the tighter the waste band the deeper the quicksand or so I have heard)

Page/Plant/Bonham/Jones - tons of great music

Lou Reed - "Sweet Jane", "White Light, White Heat", "Heroin", "Street Hassle" and others.

David Bowie - esp from the Ziggy Stardust, Hunky Dory, Man Who Sold the World era.

Larry - Have you ever heard "Meddle" by Pink Floyd. I think it came out right before Dark Side of the Moon. Great, and weird, album. I also think its the first with David Gilmore.

Neil Young - Writes everything from ballads to rock to political stuff.

[This message has been edited by Bob Netherton (edited 12/8/2008).]
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Posted by TALBOT (+253) 14 years ago
Paul Simon. From the early 1960's to the 21st Century, the man can craft a song.
(Excerpt from The Boxer)
In the clearing stands a Boxer
and a fighter by his trade
and he carries the reminders
of every glove that laid him down
or cut him 'till he cried out
in his anger and his shame
I am leaving, I am leaving
but a fighter still remains.
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Posted by Chad (+1765) 14 years ago
Sting.

Garth Brooks.

Sheryl Crow.

Curt Cobain.

Hank Williams (Sr.)

Willie Nelson.

Last, but not least, Eric Idle.......
BARBER:
I wanted to be... a lumberjack!

Leaping from tree to tree, as they float down the mighty rivers of British Columbia. The Giant Redwood. The Larch. The Fir! The mighty Scots Pine! The lofty flowering Cherry! The plucky little Apsen! The limping Roo tree of Nigeria. The towering Wattle of Aldershot! The Maidenhead Weeping Water Plant! The naughty Leicestershire Flashing Oak! The flatulent Elm of West Ruislip! The Quercus Maximus Bamber Gascoigni! The Epigillus! The Barter Hughius Greenus!

With my best buddy by my side, we'd sing! Sing! Sing!

[singing]
I'm a lumberjack, and I'm okay.
I sleep all night and I work all day.

MOUNTIES:
He's a lumberjack, and he's okay.
He sleeps all night and he works all day.

BARBER:
I cut down trees. I eat my lunch.
I go to the lavatory.
On Wednesdays I go shoppin'
And have buttered scones for tea.

MOUNTIES:
He cuts down trees. He eats his lunch.
He goes to the lavatory.
On Wednesdays he goes shopping
And has buttered scones for tea.

He's a lumberjack, and he's okay.
He sleeps all night and he works all day.

BARBER:
I cut down trees. I skip and jump.
I like to press wild flowers.
I put on women's clothing
And hang around in bars.

MOUNTIES:
He cuts down trees. He skips and jumps.
He likes to press wild flowers.
He puts on women's clothing
And hangs around in bars?!

He's a lumberjack, and he's okay.
He sleeps all night and he works all day.

BARBER:
I cut down trees. I wear high heels,
Suspendies, and a bra.
I wish I'd been a girlie,
Just like my dear Papa.

MOUNTIES:
He cuts down trees. He wears high heels,
Suspendies, and a bra?!

[talking]
What's this? Wants to be a girlie?! Oh, My!
And I thought you were so rugged! Poofter!...

[singing]
He's a lumberjack, and he's okay.
He sleeps all night and he works all day.

He's a lumberjack, and he's okaaaaay.
He sleeps all night and he works all day.
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Posted by Gunnar Emilsson (+18269) 14 years ago
Ummm....the category looks to be singer/songwriter. So, that to me means who's the best of both worlds. While Bob Dylan and Neil Young are terrific songwriters, their singing leaves a little to be desired. Bob's a better songwriter (maybe the best ever), but Neil's a better singer. And, Roger Waters? Undeniably a great songwriter, but man, a guy in his own band (Gilmour) is a better singer.

The two Beatles mentioned are good choices, as well as Paul Simon. For consistent product delivered over a span of years, I would toss in Jackson Browne and Bob Seger.

But when it comes to the best singer/songwriter, someone who's been doing it for over 40 years, who sings circles around the others while continuing to write great songs at a terrific pace, there really is only one choice:

Van the Man.

I would give Paul McCartney second place, as Paul is a great singer, but has really delivered some clunkers for songs.

As a final, obscure choice, I submit to you: Fats Domino.
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Posted by Bob L. (+5096) 14 years ago
Gunnar:

Would have to agree on Van.

Quick story:

I was trying to impress a new g/f and scored 2nd row tix for a Van concert at the Target Center (John Lee Hooker opened, which was nice). Paid three times face for ducets from "Hans the Scalper" (another story for another day).

Van was on stage for 65 minutes. No encores. Crappy stage presence. Asshole. (The music was great, though).
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Posted by Gunnar Emilsson (+18269) 14 years ago
Agreed, Bob. If this were a thread about Best Entertainer, Van would not even be on the list.
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Posted by Brian A. Reed (+6121) 14 years ago
Maynard James Keenan of Tool/A Perfect Circle. "Forty-Six & 2," "Lateralus," "The Grudge" and "Judith" are all particularly inspirational to me.

Freddie Mercury, of course (given the circumstances of his life during the time Queen was recording Innuendo, the album is a crowing achievement at the end of an all-too-short career).

Peter Gabriel (especially for Big Time).

Ryan Adams (especially for Come Pick Me Up).

Lindsay Buckingham (for the ability to write, compose, sing and play, particularly for Big Love).

[This message has been edited by Brian A. Reed (edited 12/9/2008).]
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Posted by Dona Stebbins (+821) 14 years ago
Joni Mitchell.
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Posted by Tucker Bolton (+3857) 14 years ago
For urban flavor, Tom Waits, hands down.
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Posted by Slosh (+703) 14 years ago
I'm listening to Vitalogy by Pearl Jam, one of the great records produced in my opinion. And I have to say Eddie Vedder for sure.

"Are you woman enough to be my man" from Hail, Hail off of No Code.

It's been awhile since I've listened to Vitalogy, and holy cow it's awesome.


How could I forget this, from my favorite song.

"I know some day you'll have a beautiful life, I know you'll be a star. In somebody elses sky, but why, why, whyyyyyy, can't it be, oh can't it be miiiiiine." Black from Ten.

[This message has been edited by Slosh (edited 12/9/2008).]
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Posted by Major Pain (+203) 14 years ago
My pick for #1 singer/songwriter: Tom Lehrer

o Brilliant
o Insightful
o Tuneful
o Extremely funny
o Socially relevant for his time, somewhat still so
o No angst

You know what's funny? My top two picks for the worst, most overplayed, incredibly irritating writers/performers ever are both already in this thread as someone's "favorite."

Oh, well.

[This message has been edited by Major Pain (edited 12/10/2008).]
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Posted by Levi Forman (+3714) 14 years ago
"Black" is definitely my favorite Pearl Jam song.
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Posted by Bob L. (+5096) 14 years ago
Major Pain:

Please share with the group!
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Posted by Levi Forman (+3714) 14 years ago
I bet one of them is Eddie Vedder .

I am a big fan of MJK as well but I knew Brian would cover that one .
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Posted by Mike Zier (+134) 14 years ago
Two Words:

Neil Diamond
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Posted by Slosh (+703) 14 years ago
Of course Eddie Vedder is one of them.
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Posted by Major Pain (+203) 14 years ago
You really want to know... silly you.

o Tom Waits - Can't sing, can't write, can't play. The man is like a cancer on the face of music. He outright sucks. And I only say these things because I don't want to be straight-up mean. He's really far, far worse than I make him out to be.

o Bob Dylan - Can't sing. The man sounds like a canary is stuck in his nose, claws-first. To which he happens to be allergic. He writes ok, though sometimes I perceive the seeds of today's last couple of angst-ridden generations in some of his more inadequate pissing and moaning. His playing is no more than middle of the road; folk sports quite a few artists who can play rings around him technically and melodically (Leo Kottke comes to mind), and rock - where he should *never* show up, but does anyway - is so blessed with melodically and technically superior artists that he isn't fit to appear on the same *planet* with them.

My feelings about these two are strong because they both tend to be played (mistakenly, in my opinion) within genres I otherwise enjoy, and also play (I'm a musician) so I keep getting blindsided by them both. Dylan in particular. I can't tell you how many times I've been listening to a rock station and Dylan drips nasally into the playlist like an incursion from a leaky sewer pipe. Dylan also shows up (of course) in folk playlists, and there, I admit he's topical, if still manifestly unpleasant.

Waits often shows up when I'm listening to blues, and it's like reaching into a drawer for a warm, fuzzy sock and finding a venomous, fanged reptile instead. I *leap* for the channel selector. Did I mention this man sucks?

Of course, there are many singers/songwriters I think are terrible that haunt genres I avoid - within rap and country, for example - but they're not irritating to me because I'm simply unlikely to have to suffer through them. Though of late, rap has been poisoning the metal end of rock as well. Sigh. Oh, well, there's always the CD player or iPod when the DJ's fail me.

[This message has been edited by Major Pain (edited 12/10/2008).]
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Posted by Brian A. Reed (+6121) 14 years ago
I agree with Levi and Slosh - Black is the best PJ song in my book.

Since we've shifted to singer/songwriters we can't stand, I nominate Joe Walsh. I frakking hate Joe Walsh.
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Posted by Chad (+1765) 14 years ago
I'm surprised, where's Bruce Springsteen? Gordon Lightfoot? Billy Joel? Jackson Brown? I think they qualify for this list.

I'm curious if longevity should be factored in to this list? Are one hit/few hit wonders being included; I'd think "not" would be the right answer.
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Posted by Gunnar Emilsson (+18269) 14 years ago
Bruce falls into the same category as Dylan....excellent songwriter, not so good a singer. Bruce falls more into the category of great songwriters/guitar players/band leaders with marginal singing abilities. In that, he would fall in line with the likes of Keith Richards, Pete Townshend, and the late Lowell George.
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Posted by Bob L. (+5096) 14 years ago
Major:

Agree with you on Waite and Leo Kottke (who is absolutely awesome). Not so much on Dylan.

Oh well - I guess you can't account for taste!
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Posted by Bill Gierke (+81) 14 years ago
John Fogerty - The more I listen, the more I am amazed.
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Posted by TALBOT (+253) 14 years ago
Major Pain,
The topic of this tread is "Greatest Singer/Songwriter". Not "Greatest Musician That Sings and Writes Songs" Since when do you have to be a good musician to write songs? I think one mark of a good singer/songwriter is wether or not other people want to perform their songs. Many, many people have recored Bob Dylan and Tom Waits songs. I don't believe I have ever heard of anyone recording "Vatican Rag" or "Poisoning Pigeons in the Park" other than Tom Lehrer. As for your position that Dylan shouldn't be played on rock stations.......If some of his songs aren't rock songs, why would somebody like Jimi Hendrix cover "All Along the Watchtower"? Or many other rock bands cover "Knockin' on Heavens Door"?
Tom Waits and Bob Dylan are, IMO, two of the greatest singer/songwriters ever.
Talbot
P.S. Who else besides Tom Lehrer do you consider to be a Great Singer/Songwriter????
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Posted by Gunnar Emilsson (+18269) 14 years ago
Talbot seems to be one of the few to understand this thread....some of the choices posted here are ludicrous....I mean, Eric Clapton??? A great guitar player, yes...but as a songwriter? Fair to middlin'. As a singer? The same.
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Posted by Stone (+1598) 14 years ago
James McMurtry-earthy funny and just fun to listen.
John Hiatt- Talk about other people recording his music.
Ryan Adams- The best young song writer out there. He is the best!
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Posted by JCF (+395) 14 years ago
Willie Nelson. wrote Patsy Cline's "Crazy" didn't he? and if anybody has ever wanted to get over some woman, just listen to "Bloody Mary Morning"
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Posted by Stone (+1598) 14 years ago
Gunnar, I would disagree with you on Clapton being a not so good song writer. Yes playing the guitar is his first love and his gift but he is a good writer and I personally think a great singer. I like his slow and easy verbal dilievery. He does not have allot of range vocally but niether do Willie Nelson or Johnny Cash. As for his song writing it did not progress untill Derick and the Dominoes and beyound. The confusion about his song writing, I believe, lies in the fact that he has done more covers than most. Usually his covers are better than the originals which is another sign of his genius.

"During the early years of his career, Eric Clapton contributed very few songs to the various bands he played with. He preferred to fill his albums with cover songs because, as he says today, he was unwilling to reveal himself beyond what could be determined from the music and his guitar playing. Over the years, he evolved into a master songwriter and has been inducted into the Songwriters Hall Of Fame."

Tears In Heaven
My Father's Eyes
Lonely Stranger
Layla- Eric Clapton, Jim Gordon
Lay Down Sally- Eric Clapton, George Terry
I Can't Stand It
Back Home
Heaven Is One Step Away

CLAPTON IS GOD
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Posted by Chad (+1765) 14 years ago
I think the consensus is there is no single "Greatest Singer/Songwriter", there's a fairly diverse group listed here. I'll add one that should absolutely be on the list:

Frank Sinatra.

I'd also add Tom Jones to the list......What's new catcat!
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Posted by Dan (+465) 14 years ago
Beck, not Jeff Beck, just Beck
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Posted by Chad (+1765) 14 years ago
Whoa! I'm sure my fingers were working just fine, so I re-typed the Tom jones lyric only to be automatically edited by our host site! Well, anyone that's heard Tom Jones or knows his music knows the song I was trying to put up. I'll leave it at that. FYI- the Tom Jones/Art of Noise mixes are very cool.
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Posted by TALBOT (+253) 14 years ago
Chad,
Frank Sinatra was a great singer but he only added his input to 5 or 6 songs in his career. He never wrote a song by himself, never. As for Tom Jones, he NEVER wrote a song, period. Don't you have any real singer/songwriters that you can come up with? This is getting awfully frustrating.........
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Posted by Gunnar Emilsson (+18269) 14 years ago
Just because Clapton is in the Songwriter's Hall of Fame does not make him a great songwriter, Stone. By that logic, Rush and AC/DC, who are not in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, must suck. None of those Clapton-penned songs you list are all that good (and one of them, "Tears in Heaven", is pure dreck.

I agree with Talbot...it is frustrating who people list in this thread as singer/songwriters for the most part, on or the other, or just a part. Artists like Steve Winwood and Elton John should be excluded, as they have lyricists pen the words for their songs.

Even some of the more nauseating purveyors of schlock listed in this thread, like Neil Diamond, rate higher in the singer/songwriter category than Eric Clapton or Frank Sinatra.
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Posted by Dave Roberts (+1507) 14 years ago
>1. Roger Waters (Pink Floyd)

>David Gilmore

I like their solo stuff and the original group but I think that the best lungs in the bunch belonged to Rachel Fury.
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Posted by Brian A. Reed (+6121) 14 years ago
I cannot stand post-Cream Eric Clapton. With Jack Bruce and Ginger Baker, Clapton WAS god. After Cream said "Goodbye," Clapton began his lonnnnnnnnnnnnnnng downward spiral.

That said, his guitar solo with Duane Allman at the end of Layla was superb. Probably because his mouth was closed.

If I could cha-ayy-aynge the world
I'd be the guitarist that I used to be
And I would no longer shun e-lec-tricity
Oh, oh, if I could cha-ayy-aynge the world ...
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Posted by Chad (+1765) 14 years ago
Christ sake your a tough bunch. Chill out a bit. I've listed some great song writers, I've listed some great singers. As for a great Singer-Songwriter some them fall into that category. Just because some of you don't like the sound of their voices or the style of music they play doesn't mean you need to crap on their careers. A good portion of the people listed above have very little to show for commercial success- is that a surprise? No, commercial success is not always synonymous with true talent. However, a few of the people thrown in above have no mass following, are fairly obscure among the general public, have little to show for their talent except a narrow following and the praise of their peers and a few fans. As for some of them not writing their own songs, and merely singing other peoples work, I would bet that everyone of the people in the lists above have done that at some point. Now, I'd like to add another person to the list, you might not like his form of singing:

Marshall Bruce Mathers III, aka, Eminem.
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Posted by Stone (+1598) 14 years ago
OK, Eric Clapton sucks. I made my point no one followed. Time to move on, by the way I did not orginally post him and he was not on my radar. However, some of the individuals I did post are, in my mind, extremly good song writers. Her is another.


Woody Guthrie
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Posted by ike eichler (+1228) 14 years ago
None of the nominations could touch Hoagy Carmichael for greatness in his time.
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Posted by Chad (+1765) 14 years ago
Didn't get to see Woodie before he died, I was only 4 at that time. I have seen Arlo and recently Sarah Lee Guthrie. Arlo was entertaining. Sarah Lee is an angel and plum gorgeous, Johnny Irion you lucky dog, you. They (Sarah & Johnny) played together in Minneapolis last Spring. We took the CCDHS Art Club kids to see them. Nice show and some great music. They've got a sweetheart of a kid, too. The kid could belt out a song just like mom and dad. Quite a talented musical family.
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Posted by Brian A. Reed (+6121) 14 years ago
Chad - I agree with you when it comes to Eminem. He is an immensely talented individual, even if he's not everyone's cup o' tea.

For an equally-eclectic selection (say eclectic selection 10 times fast), I submit the following:

Rob Zombie

I saw him when he came to Billings last year with Ozzy. Ozzy is great, but Rob blew him off the stage.
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Posted by hilinetransplant (+131) 14 years ago
heres one. TINY TIM. LOL
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Posted by Buck Showalter (+4463) 14 years ago
Stevie Wonder
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Posted by Bob Netherton (+1883) 14 years ago
Tom Lehrer sucks. He's the worst singer and writes the most stupid songs I've ever heard. Weak voice and even weaker lyrics. His voice sounds like fingernails on a chalkboard and his lyrics are pretentious and inane. His piano playing is pretty good.....for someone without any fingers. Every time he comes on the radio, which is rarely, I want to puke my guts out. He writes dumber songs than Gene Simmons. He makes Britney Spears look like Ella Fitzgerald. He makes the Osmonds look like The Who. His influence on modern culture.....zilch, nada, zip, zero. Even his album covers are boring. Wanna wreck a party? Break out the Tom Lehrer records.

Just sayin'.
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