Monday, July 19, 2004

We are the champions, my friend

A Google search led me to this list of "The Best Artists of the 20th Century"--a deliriously eclectic collection of 466 musicians. A few usual suspects, but mostly some totally off-the-wall choices (random examples of both: Outkast @ 466, Cream @ 420, Squarepusher @374, Slayer @379, Bruce Springsteen @ 311, Roy Acuff @ 221, Fats Waller @ 117, Mongo Santamaria @ 90, Hoagy Carmichael @ 43, Lee "Scratch" Perry @ 7), all presented as if these judgements were handed down from on high. Any slice of the list reveals a crazed poetry of chance juxtaposition:

30. Curtis Mayfield
31. Can
32. Toots & the Maytals
33. Billie Holiday
34. Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan
35. The Fall
36. Sonny Rollins
37. Ella Fitzgerald
38. Bob Wils & His Texas Playboys

The compiler notes that his--excuse me, THE-- top ten (peaking with Sun Ra, Coltrane, Fela, Tito Puente, and Duke Ellington) consists entirely of men of color, then chastises the ladies for not rising to the occasion during the last hundred years. ("Let's hope that the 21st century will be a different story." And how!) A tip of the hat to Aretha (#25)--better luck next time.

For those tuning in for my main theme here, the Brazilians I've spotted are Tom Ze @ 58, Caetano @ 66 (damn you, Van Morrisson, for being just a hair better!), Vinicius Cantuaria @ 386 (eat dust, Son House and Cat Power). No luck for anyone with "Gilberto" as a first or last name, and no room for Gal C, Milton N, or Tom Jobim. (Beach Boys? Sorry, but a group I've never heard of called Run Westy Run @ 463 is evidently a little more important than you guys. The only Wilsons on this list are Jackie @ 265 and Pickett @ 199.)

If you think I'm gonna make some crack about the compiler having too much time on his hands, guess again. After all, I just spent half an hour checking this out, and another 15 minutes telling yo about it. The ball's in your court now. Surf ... if you dare.

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