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Female vocals..

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Been busy with rodeo. <grin>

 

Seriously, I've never been a Janis Joplin fan either, and she's from my general "generation."

 

My favorite girl singers have tended to be old enough to be my own Mom, and that dates back to when I was a kid. Swing era girl singers tended to have a lot going for them.

 

Ronstadt is quite a singer. There are plenty others. As I wrote before here, I think a lot of our preferences have to do with the style of music, how the singer treats his or her "instrument" and such factors.

 

And... sometimes a specific piece of music just plain grabs you.

 

I'd also tend to agree that the video "thing" has probably damaged more female vocalists than male because vids tend to be more about appearing sexy than sounding musical.

 

Another thing to watch for is how both top male and top female artists tend to refer more to music "standards" or "standard-types" the older they get, assuming they stay in the biz. That may not always play into the youth market, but tends to do well in the artist's own generation and brings appeal even to the older market.

 

m

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I agree you Milod, I have never been a fan of Joplin, she had one or two good songs, but basically she screamed a lot.

There is a big difference between a true singer, one who can use their voice as a instrument, and a vocal stylist. In rock as well as in blues there are a few stylist who made a name for themselves and made a impact on popular music. Joplin and Cher are good examples of stylist, Willie Nelson is a stylist as is Dylan. Dylan's writing has always IMO been greater then his singing ability, Willie has a style as does Cher, but put them in a duo with great singer and they don't sound so good. Kris Kristofferson is a great example of a stylist, his voice is not that good, he wrote some great stuff, but like Dylan, if he had to make it as a singer on say Broadway with out their own writing ability I doubt they would have made it.

I remember watching the Sonny & Cher show on TV one night when she sang with Linda Ronstadt, the difference was obvious, it was like watching a VW try to keep up with a Porsche, Linda could match her in volume, pitch, note for note and sustain and do it with no effort, Cher was running full out yelling at the top of her lungs and barely hanging in.

The same is true of male singers, compare Bruce Springsteen to Roy Orbison. I really like Bruce his voice is a perfect match for the music he performs and the songs he writes. In a interview about Orbison Bruce talked about working with Roy in a studio and on stage and how in awe he was of his power and fluid style. Bruce said he was standing right next to Roy doing a backup harmony, Bruce says he didn't even see Roy's lips move and he was blowing Bruce out of the room, the engineers had to keep turning Roy's mic down.

When I was a young guy I related more to the angst side of rock, the angry testosterone driven stuff of that time and admittedly male singers do that better. But as I grew older my taste changed. Like Milod I grew up listening to my parents music, swing and big band, and western swing, the music demanded a singer that could hit notes and not just yell & scream into a microphone. The ability to smoothly harmonize and control volume and pitch and sustain and vibrato were more important than the ability to scream into a microphone plugged into a synth/mixer and amplifier.

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...I have never been a fan of Joplin, she had one or two good songs, but basically she screamed a lot...

 

Like Steve and Tman5293, you fail the critics test. [flapper] B)

 

Janis had more expressivity and feeling in her little finger than Ronstadt has in her whole body. Rock and Blues ain't opera.

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Zig...

 

Had you heard Ronstad back in the Stone Ponies era?

 

Joplin had one thing she did fairly well, but one might make a case that she was awfully influenced by earlier singers like Karen Dalton who never cared even to be recorded during the "folk scene" thing in NYC in the '60s, but who did everything Joplin did with a similar-sounding "instrument," but with a lot more class.

 

Holler at me backchannel with your email adx and I'll send an mp3 if you wish. No, she didn't scream as did Joplin after her, but you can hear the stylistic similarities. Or with a lesser choice, try: http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=karen+dalton&aq=f

 

Frankly I tend to consider that there are a lot of good pieces that are pretty much relics of a given time and place that sound pretty good, but essentially are period pieces. That's how I tend to see Joplin. As with Hendrix, there was a lot of potential that got removed by drugs. With all due respect, there were a batch of other girl singers quite similar in style at the time and preceding her. She was at the right place and time, f'r sure. That's largely why folks know of her. Just ask Danville Rob on some other factors, I think.

 

The question should be how much change JJ and such might have managed to survive changing tastes as they aged, as opposed to being "they died young" icons like James Dean in the '50s. Frankly I think their performances are as dated as Ish Kabibble, Spike Jones and others most folks here ain't heard of only two generations "out" from international fame.

 

Artists who transcend pop music fads, Orbison and Bessie Smith and Ronstadt and Clapton and such, are somewhat unique in music. Another perfect example in ways is Frank Sinatra who went from late 30s high-pitched crooner to handling about any singing style from cool-school jazz to bossa nova to pop/rock. Chet Atkins was incredible on stage or producing music for others by not only following changing tastes, but by leading.

 

m

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My point was not really to rate one singer over another. My point is that because a person doesn't like a particular singer, his personal opinion is not relevant to determining the value or "goodness" of that singer or the quality of their music. It serves no useful purpose to debate whether a singer is good or bad based solely on aesthetics.

 

Thanks for the response milod. I'll definitely check into that stuff. As far as the drugs and booze, it is a tragedy that progressive artists are so limited by those factors, but you have to wonder how much the need for those vices shaped their psyche.

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I dunno about the term "progressive artists."

 

I think we all pick up concepts along the way - each in his or her own way.

 

My point on Joplin is that she hit the right time and place. I like a cupla her pieces. Hers, though, was a relatively common sorta style in that era even in country. Wanda Jackson did "Let's have a party" with a similar vocal style and hit the rock charts too. She just was costumed in clean clothes.

 

Having survived that era myself and watched kids I played music with self-destruct, I'm convinced that there was a belief that lifestyle, not just drugs, booze or music style, was all part of the game. That's why so many died young.

 

I could go on and on. But the basic is that the generally rebellious behavior of the era was turned by many into very self destructive habits. That's true regardless of which side of the political spectrum "we" might have been. It's also true regardless of how our rebellious style may have been exhibited in our music - regardless of style.

 

A great book going over such stuff was written by a name you may recognize, actor Peter Coyote, who has also been a good picker. He was a senior my freshman year in the same college, went into the counter culture, then got into gear for quite a successful acting and "voice over" career. He's on a lotta History Channel things with that voice over.

 

The book is "Sleeping where I fall" and some excerpts are on http://www.petercoyote.com/

 

m

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a few of my faves, in no particular order:

 

Sandy Denny

Kate Bush

Mary Black

Cyndi Lauper

Stevie Nicks (before she "blew" her nose out.)

Janis Joplin (earlier stuff better than later stuff.)

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Like Steve and Tman5293, you fail the critics test. [flapper] B)

 

Janis had more expressivity and feeling in her little finger than Ronstadt has in her whole body. Rock and Blues ain't opera.

I know what artistic expression is. I was a teen when Joplin's first appeared on the scene, at the time I was a fan. Over the years of listening to her the expressivity just wears thin. It is easy to disguise the lack of ability under the label of expressivity.. Take away the allure of the "Summer of Love" (I know, I am a survivor of that event)and the mind bending substances that deadened the senses of the fan base (I know, I am a survivor of that too) and what you have is a decent vocalist who had a niche but no versatility... It is one of the oldest tricks in the book to hide the short comings of a vocalist with heavy vibrato and retching.

If you want to hear Janis at her best go to youtube and search for the Typewriter tapes, audition tapes she and Jorma Kaukonen made in 1964 before he joined the Airplane.

Janis had her place in rock history, maybe if she had lived she would have made a wider impact. But honestly, can you see her singing smooth jazz?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ID1rAL6OnqA&feature=related

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Jax...

 

If she could have copied Karen Dalton - who's also long dead, btw - Joplin might have made some "smooth jazz," but I think that sorta thing wasn't in her. Check utube for Karen. She was in the New York "scene" at its peak before the money started and never got any.

 

m

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Jax...

 

If she could have copied Karen Dalton - who's also long dead, btw - Joplin might have made some "smooth jazz," but I think that sorta thing wasn't in her. Check utube for Karen. She was in the New York "scene" at its peak before the money started and never got any.

 

m

I liked Dalton's finger picking approach to the 12 string,

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Jax...

 

Yupper... and there were a lotta folks around at the time doing 12 string ... Fred Neil as I recall among others. So much talent that went away...

 

m

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milod, time and place absolutely are relevant, and I know you've made this point in the past when referring to Hendrix. The value of all artists' works must be viewed within the context of history.

 

jaxson, are you saying Joplin lacked ability? That's your opinion and you're entitled to it. But, again, it's irrelevant. In my opinion, Joplin did what she did, the way she did it, because that's who she was. Part of her problem, and Hendrix's, was that there is only a relatively small body of work that we have years to reflect on and critique and wear out.

 

Guys, it is hard to say where an artist will "progress" after they're gone. Many would say that smooth jazz was not in Hendrix either, but apparently it was his desire to move into a jazz direction. (What is "jazz," anyway?) And btw, I can imagine Joplin doing smooth jazz, and doing it with class (her version of "Summertime" is classic- smooth and intense and original). There is no doubt in my mind that both performers were artists who would have progressed had they not been consumed with drugs and booze.

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Having survived that era myself and watched kids I played music with self-destruct, I'm convinced that there was a belief that lifestyle, not just drugs, booze or music style, was all part of the game. That's why so many died young.

 

 

I couldn't agree more. This same dynamic repeated itself in the early 90's.

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Having survived that era myself and watched kids I played music with self-destruct, I'm convinced that there was a belief that lifestyle, not just drugs, booze or music style, was all part of the game. That's why so many died young.

 

This is not just an era. This behavior is typical of the avant-garde artist who has existed since before Michelangelo. I would contend that many artists are predisposed to this behavior due to their psychological make-up and chemistry, and being prone to addiction and self destruction can be a trait that goes with creativity and the need for self expression.

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RE: "progressive artists" and self-destructive lifestyles.

 

Yeah, Thomas Mann got into that sorta thing as apparently did Nietzsche.

 

I always questioned, though, the degree to which one is initially ill and takes on the otherwise destructive lifestyle and the degree to which a destructive lifestyle is perceived as necessary to being the artist and is reinforced by one's company.

 

m

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I heard Gretchen Wilson on Nashville Star, or something like it. She is beginning to sound like Janis Joplin. Too many Marlboro Lights I suspect.

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milod, time and place absolutely are relevant, and I know you've made this point in the past when referring to Hendrix. The value of all artists' works must be viewed within the context of history.

 

jaxson, are you saying Joplin lacked ability? That's your opinion and you're entitled to it. But, again, it's irrelevant. In my opinion, Joplin did what she did, the way she did it, because that's who she was. Part of her problem, and Hendrix's, was that there is only a relatively small body of work that we have years to reflect on and critique and wear out.

 

Guys, it is hard to say where an artist will "progress" after they're gone. Many would say that smooth jazz was not in Hendrix either, but apparently it was his desire to move into a jazz direction. (What is "jazz," anyway?) And btw, I can imagine Joplin doing smooth jazz, and doing it with class (her version of "Summertime" is classic- smooth and intense and original). There is no doubt in my mind that both performers were artists who would have progressed had they not been consumed with drugs and booze.

 

I'm saying she was what I would call a "vocal stylist" which is not the same as being a singer. A vocal stylist may have great passion and a distinct style, many are also writers. Dylan is a writer and a darn good one, he has a distinct vocal style. Is he as good a singer as James Taylor who is also a darn good writer? Not IMO.

Willie Nelson and Kris Kristofferson are great writers and are good vocal stylist. Neither of them IMO could sing as well as John Denver or Art Garfunkle.

Janis had style, and a good ear for finding the right tune and arrangement for herself, from the volume of work she left us IMO she had a limited range and relied heavily on dynamic expression within that limited range, much like Kristofferson or Nelson...

As for you're question "what is jazz anyway?", I think that has nothing to do with the post other then to say there are many singers who have greater range, dynamics, technique and control then Janis showed us, maybe given time she would have, but as you say, she did what she did.

She was an artist and art is subjective. Yoko Ono is a artist, do you consider her a great singer or a vocalist?

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RE: "progressive artists" and self-destructive lifestyles.

 

Yeah, Thomas Mann got into that sorta thing as apparently did Nietzsche.

 

I always questioned, though, the degree to which one is initially ill and takes on the otherwise destructive lifestyle and the degree to which a destructive lifestyle is perceived as necessary to being the artist and is reinforced by one's company.

 

m

 

Milod:

 

I spent most of my musical "career" as a studio engineer, and a dead straight one except for the occasional bottle of brown ale. I did find that I frequently saw a correlation between the level of talent and the tendency towards self-distructive behevior. In my observation, the sense of freedom or the lack of limitation that made the musical talent possible played over into other fields of life. The more talented the musican, the more likey he/she was to show up late, use stimulants and narcotics, have tempesetous and destructive relations with the other sex, etc, etc. I always assumed the talent and the behevior came from the same root.

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