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Ten Top Great Singers Who Can't Sing

GUEST,Mike of Hessle 26 Nov 09 - 08:23 AM
GUEST,Ed 26 Nov 09 - 08:31 AM
Murray MacLeod 26 Nov 09 - 08:31 AM
theleveller 26 Nov 09 - 08:32 AM
GREEN WELLIES 26 Nov 09 - 08:36 AM
Smedley 26 Nov 09 - 08:37 AM
kendall 26 Nov 09 - 08:41 AM
kendall 26 Nov 09 - 08:43 AM
Bettynh 26 Nov 09 - 08:52 AM
Marc Bernier 26 Nov 09 - 08:56 AM
alex s 26 Nov 09 - 08:57 AM
Hamish 26 Nov 09 - 08:58 AM
Young Buchan 26 Nov 09 - 09:04 AM
Jack Blandiver 26 Nov 09 - 09:07 AM
Little Hawk 26 Nov 09 - 09:13 AM
MGM·Lion 26 Nov 09 - 09:30 AM
MGM·Lion 26 Nov 09 - 09:34 AM
Fidjit 26 Nov 09 - 09:48 AM
GUEST,Mike of Hessle 26 Nov 09 - 10:33 AM
EBarnacle 26 Nov 09 - 10:53 AM
Little Hawk 26 Nov 09 - 10:56 AM
GUEST,Ray 26 Nov 09 - 10:56 AM
Little Hawk 26 Nov 09 - 11:11 AM
Big Tim 26 Nov 09 - 11:16 AM
Little Hawk 26 Nov 09 - 11:21 AM
oldhippie 26 Nov 09 - 11:22 AM
pdq 26 Nov 09 - 11:27 AM
beeliner 26 Nov 09 - 11:30 AM
GUEST,Bobert in Charlotte 26 Nov 09 - 11:34 AM
pdq 26 Nov 09 - 11:38 AM
michaelr 26 Nov 09 - 11:50 AM
GUEST,Mike of Hessle 26 Nov 09 - 11:51 AM
Joe Offer 26 Nov 09 - 11:53 AM
Lizzie Cornish 1 26 Nov 09 - 12:02 PM
beeliner 26 Nov 09 - 12:19 PM
GUEST,Steamin' Willie 26 Nov 09 - 12:28 PM
GUEST 26 Nov 09 - 12:29 PM
MGM·Lion 26 Nov 09 - 12:40 PM
frogprince 26 Nov 09 - 12:55 PM
Ron Davies 26 Nov 09 - 01:02 PM
GUEST,Ian Gill 26 Nov 09 - 01:06 PM
Don Firth 26 Nov 09 - 01:51 PM
Young Buchan 26 Nov 09 - 01:56 PM
McGrath of Harlow 26 Nov 09 - 02:05 PM
GUEST,Chris Murray 26 Nov 09 - 02:19 PM
Suegorgeous 26 Nov 09 - 02:28 PM
David C. Carter 26 Nov 09 - 02:29 PM
pdq 26 Nov 09 - 02:55 PM
Mavis Enderby 26 Nov 09 - 03:05 PM
olddude 26 Nov 09 - 03:20 PM
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Little Hawk 26 Nov 09 - 06:47 PM
Jack Campin 26 Nov 09 - 06:49 PM
Nick E 26 Nov 09 - 07:43 PM
olddude 26 Nov 09 - 08:08 PM
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GUEST,999 26 Nov 09 - 10:54 PM
GUEST 27 Nov 09 - 07:08 AM
Tug the Cox 27 Nov 09 - 07:50 AM
Stringsinger 27 Nov 09 - 02:04 PM
Desert Dancer 27 Nov 09 - 02:35 PM
GUEST,Steamin' Willie 27 Nov 09 - 02:42 PM
The Sandman 27 Nov 09 - 06:16 PM
Callie 27 Nov 09 - 07:02 PM
Genie 27 Nov 09 - 07:07 PM
Tug the Cox 27 Nov 09 - 07:21 PM
GUEST,999 28 Nov 09 - 02:48 AM
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MikeofNorthumbria 28 Nov 09 - 06:54 AM
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Bernard 29 Nov 09 - 06:06 AM
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Helen Jocys 30 Nov 09 - 02:29 AM
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rich-joy 30 Nov 09 - 02:42 AM
Dave Hanson 30 Nov 09 - 02:48 AM
MGM·Lion 30 Nov 09 - 03:25 AM
Brakn 30 Nov 09 - 05:52 AM
GUEST 30 Nov 09 - 07:01 AM
Helen Jocys 30 Nov 09 - 09:52 AM
quokka 30 Nov 09 - 10:33 AM
GUEST,Dobbins 30 Nov 09 - 11:03 AM
Little Hawk 30 Nov 09 - 11:56 AM
robomatic 30 Nov 09 - 09:49 PM
GUEST,M.Ted 01 Dec 09 - 12:37 AM
GUEST,Guest from Sanity 01 Dec 09 - 12:58 AM
GUEST,Ralphie 01 Dec 09 - 01:05 AM
Little Hawk 01 Dec 09 - 02:10 AM
Helen Jocys 01 Dec 09 - 02:26 AM
Mavis Enderby 01 Dec 09 - 02:41 AM
GUEST,TJ in San Diego 01 Dec 09 - 01:37 PM
Dave Roberts 01 Dec 09 - 01:47 PM
Bobert 01 Dec 09 - 04:29 PM
RTim 01 Dec 09 - 04:41 PM
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GUEST 01 Dec 09 - 10:57 PM
GUEST,Neil D 02 Dec 09 - 08:56 PM
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Tattie Bogle 03 Dec 09 - 07:45 PM
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Dick The Box 04 Dec 09 - 03:11 AM
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Little Hawk 04 Dec 09 - 03:53 PM
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GUEST,Seth from Olympia 06 Dec 09 - 01:33 PM
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Subject: Ten Top Great Singers Who Can't Sing
From: GUEST,Mike of Hessle
Date: 26 Nov 09 - 08:23 AM

I have just been reading the below article in the Daily Telegraph and thought why do they pick Dylan to be Top of their List.

Any thoughts from other Mudcatters on who are the worst singers they know. I have heard a few floor-singers in my time who would qualify but won't name them to save their floods of tears.

TOP TEN GREAT SINGERS WHO CAN'T SING.

They are celebrated as great vocalists, but can the likes of Bob Dylan and Tom Waits really sing?

Bob Dylan: "A voice like sand and glue" in Bowie's memorable phrase. Contrary to what many of his critics would assert, Dylan actually sings in tune but his harsh, barbed-wire timbre & attacking delivery has been inspiration for every tone deaf poet with a guitar. But with songs like these, who cares whether he can really sing or not?

Lou Reed: His half talking, half singing drawl with the Velvet Underground created a new rock template

Tom Waits: Started out gruff and soulful but deliberately ravaged his vocal chords with whiskey & cigarettes to sound older & more lived in. In the history of vocals, I am not sure anyone has ever done more with less.

Johnny Cash: Even as a youngster, his voice was shaky & low, but he sang in time and in tune and like he had lived every word.

John Lydon: His ranting style, high and tuneless, led the attack of the Sex Pistols then took us on dub metal journeys with PIL

Ian Dury: Unrepentantly cockney speak-singing, frequently completely flat but utterly alive in the playful lyrics.

Leonard Cohen: A low, shaky monotone that has, somehow, grown in authority even as it reduces in range

Nick Cave: A stiff baritone beset by tuning problems, Cave invests his apocalyptic blues with spine chilling conviction

Siouxsie Sioux: A lone female entrant on our chart of errant singing stars, Siouxsie's limited range and gravelly tone only added to her lustre as the grand dame of punk & goth

Jarvis Cocker: OK when he keeps it to a whisper but as soon as he sings out he turns into some tuneless geek in a karaoke bar. Which perfectly suits his vignettes of ordinary life.


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Subject: RE: Ten Top Great Singers Who Can't Sing
From: GUEST,Ed
Date: 26 Nov 09 - 08:31 AM

Why have you started this thread?


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Subject: RE: Ten Top Great Singers Who Can't Sing
From: Murray MacLeod
Date: 26 Nov 09 - 08:31 AM

your post reads like an application for a job at the NME


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Subject: RE: Ten Top Great Singers Who Can't Sing
From: theleveller
Date: 26 Nov 09 - 08:32 AM

I can't STAND Frank Sinatra - he always seems to be half a tone off-key.


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Subject: RE: Ten Top Great Singers Who Can't Sing
From: GREEN WELLIES
Date: 26 Nov 09 - 08:36 AM

I think Shirley Bassey still has a fab voice at the age of 72. Saw her live at the elec proms, and she's still belting them out. (apparently she hates that expression)

But thats not what this thread is about.

Great singers who can't sing - well, me for one !!


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Subject: RE: Ten Top Great Singers Who Can't Sing
From: Smedley
Date: 26 Nov 09 - 08:37 AM

If nothing else, the list shows that being able to communicate expressively through vocal noise is often not the same as technical proficiency in singing.


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Subject: RE: Ten Top Great Singers Who Can't Sing
From: kendall
Date: 26 Nov 09 - 08:41 AM

Louis Armstrong


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Subject: RE: Ten Top Great Singers Who Can't Sing
From: kendall
Date: 26 Nov 09 - 08:43 AM

Rod McKuen


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Subject: RE: Ten Top Great Singers Who Can't Sing
From: Bettynh
Date: 26 Nov 09 - 08:52 AM

Every time I listen to Janis Joplin, I think "in ten years this person won't be able to so much as whisper."


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Subject: RE: Ten Top Great Singers Who Can't Sing
From: Marc Bernier
Date: 26 Nov 09 - 08:56 AM

me


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Subject: RE: Ten Top Great Singers Who Can't Sing
From: alex s
Date: 26 Nov 09 - 08:57 AM

Sting


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Subject: RE: Ten Top Great Singers Who Can't Sing
From: Hamish
Date: 26 Nov 09 - 08:58 AM

And you were right, Betty. :-/


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Subject: RE: Ten Top Great Singers Who Can't Sing
From: Young Buchan
Date: 26 Nov 09 - 09:04 AM

I'm not wholly sure I understand what this is about but I'll make a suggestion.

Listen to the Leader recordings of Charlie Wills made when he was into his nineties compared to earlier recordings when he was just a yound stripling of seventy something. By a lot of standards his voice was finally shot. Certainly his breathing was up to five times a line. But I'd still give my right vocal chord to sing like him then. Because he'd never stopped singing in public, he'd adapted his style to suit what was left of his voice, and I don't have the slightest hesitation in saying he was still a great singer.


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Subject: RE: Ten Top Great Singers Who Can't Sing
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 26 Nov 09 - 09:07 AM

Hey - they've got some of my favourite singers up there: Cash, Drury, Lydon, & Siouxie. In the same spirit we could add Bernard Sumner, Ian Curtis, Shirley Collins, Jim Eldon, Daevid Allen, Michael Hurley - some of the greatest voices ever in fact. But then again 'Sailor Ron' Baxter is one of my favourite folk singers of all time.

According to legend, Peter Bellamy once called Janis Joplin the worst blues singer he'd ever heard - to her face. Legend doesn't record her reaction however...


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Subject: RE: Ten Top Great Singers Who Can't Sing
From: Little Hawk
Date: 26 Nov 09 - 09:13 AM

Yes, I thought the same thing about Janis Joplin. Horrifying abuse of the vocal chords! I actually know a local female singer who wrecked her own voice by trying to sound like Janis Joplin, and I would not recommend that anyone do that...if they want to keep singing for very long.

Leonard Cohen's an interesting case, though. I was just listening to his great concert at Isle of Wight in 1970. It's true that his voice quavers off pitch quite a bit....so in a strictly technical sense he's not a very good singer. However, he is a superb singer in an emotional and theatrical and communicative sense! And that's what really counts. That's what makes a singer memorable and makes the songs they do timeless. That's the foundation of a great career.

And the same is true of Bob Dylan (who is technically a better singer than Cohen). He always sang to tremendous effect in terms of powerful emotion and powerful communication. That's what I call GOOD singing...regardless of whether it meets some technical evaluation at the Royal Conservatory.

The world is full of technically very adept singers who are not terribly exciting to listen to and who don't have bloody much to communicate to anyone either....but they're quite allright if you want pleasant background music or something to fall asleep to. ;-)

Then, of course, you sometimes get someone who's a strong singer in every sense...technical, emotional, communicative, etc. And that's a real treat. Joni Mitchell would qualify for that, I think, and some others who come to mind are Stan Rogers and Jackson Browne and Mary Chapin Carpenter and Emmie Lou Harris. There are a good many of them in the music business. If they're famous, though, it's because they have something in addition to the mere ability to sing well in a technical sense. You have to have soul to really reach people. Leonard Cohen and Bob Dylan have a whole lot of soul. Janis Joplin had a fair bit too, I think, although in that case it was a terribly tortured soul. What people related to in her was her pain. She was very good at communicating that.


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Subject: RE: Ten Top Great Singers Who Can't Sing
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 26 Nov 09 - 09:30 AM

Trouble with Dylan was that his diction was sometimes very dodgy. At his best [see all the Hattie Carroll threads] he could have a powerful effect; but once he slipped into his all-too-frequent back-in-the-throat navel-gazing never·mind·if·they·can't·make·out·the·words mode, he could be infuriating.

A strange effect was that Joan Baez, who, apart from all her other excellences, had some of the best articulation of any singer ever, every single word normally crystal-clear, would often turn the lyric hard-to-catch when she was with Dylan & in her phase of singing his songs in imitation of his style.


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Subject: RE: Ten Top Great Singers Who Can't Sing
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 26 Nov 09 - 09:34 AM

Another like this at times was Dick Gaughan. He could be powerfully emotional in a great ballad like Glenlogie; but sometimes he would be over-introspective and the words would get lost — & it wasn't the accent to blame, either; it was the effort he put into the clarity of his words. I told him so more than once, and he agreed that it could be so sometimes.


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Subject: RE: Ten Top Great Singers Who Can't Sing
From: Fidjit
Date: 26 Nov 09 - 09:48 AM

Ella Fitzgerald too. I always though she sounded off.

Chas


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Subject: RE: Ten Top Great Singers Who Can't Sing
From: GUEST,Mike of Hessle
Date: 26 Nov 09 - 10:33 AM

One person I feel should have been included on this list is Rod Stewart


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Subject: RE: Ten Top Great Singers Who Can't Sing
From: EBarnacle
Date: 26 Nov 09 - 10:53 AM

Let me reinforce Kendall's response: Rod McKuen


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Subject: RE: Ten Top Great Singers Who Can't Sing
From: Little Hawk
Date: 26 Nov 09 - 10:56 AM

Dylan was far clearer in diction in the earlier half of his career...and the accompanying music was much less likely to make the words harder to hear at that time also.

One singer who runs her words together and barely seems to bother to pronounce most of the consonants is Stevie Nicks. "Uhh....what was that you said, Stevie???" Other than that, though, she's a fine singer.

Now, getting back to singers with quavery voices that tend to slip off-key.....how about Neil Young! Yessiree, old Neil is the "King of the Quaverers" as far as I can see. ;-) Still he's quite good in his own strange way, so why should we complain?


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Subject: RE: Ten Top Great Singers Who Can't Sing
From: GUEST,Ray
Date: 26 Nov 09 - 10:56 AM

I'm surprised nobody has mentioned Bryan Ferry and, of course Elvis Presley. Mr Zimmerman may not have been able to sing but at least he could write a good song!
Ray


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Subject: RE: Ten Top Great Singers Who Can't Sing
From: Little Hawk
Date: 26 Nov 09 - 11:11 AM

Then there's Tom Waits. He's a great songwriter....and some people like the way he sings too...but I find him very dfficult to listen to, just because of his voice.


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Subject: RE: Ten Top Great Singers Who Can't Sing
From: Big Tim
Date: 26 Nov 09 - 11:16 AM

Leonard Cohen said:

I remember saying to my lawyer who was accompanying me there[NYC]. In a state of panic, I said 'I can't sing [!], and he said, none of you guys can sing. If I want to hear singers, I go the Metropolitan Opera.

I certainly never had any musical standards to tyrannize me.

It was something to do with the truth, that if you told your story, that's what the song was about.


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Subject: RE: Ten Top Great Singers Who Can't Sing
From: Little Hawk
Date: 26 Nov 09 - 11:21 AM

Well put. ;-) I've always liked Cohen's honesty. Sounds like you're on the right track, Big Tim.


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Subject: RE: Ten Top Great Singers Who Can't Sing
From: oldhippie
Date: 26 Nov 09 - 11:22 AM

Kelly Clarkson tops the current group of singers.


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Subject: RE: Ten Top Great Singers Who Can't Sing
From: pdq
Date: 26 Nov 09 - 11:27 AM

I can't listen to Ernest Tubb or Tony Bennett. Both are slightly out-of-tune most of the time.


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Subject: RE: Ten Top Great Singers Who Can't Sing
From: beeliner
Date: 26 Nov 09 - 11:30 AM

Leo Kottke is about as bad as it gets.

In fairness to Leo, however, I've always had the feeling that he sings only because his record company has told him that all-instrumental collections don't sell well in his genre.

The late music humorist Ed Sherman used to say that Ella Mae Morse sounded as if she were being throttled when she sang.


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Subject: RE: Ten Top Great Singers Who Can't Sing
From: GUEST,Bobert in Charlotte
Date: 26 Nov 09 - 11:34 AM

First of all, anyone who says that Dylan can't sing ain't ever done yoo many of his songs... He ***can*** sing and sing his ass off... Okay, there are nights when the stars might no align properly for him but he ***can*** sing when the stars align fir him...

As fir folks who can't sing??? Kris Kristoferson can't hold a tune in a bucket... Hr ain't never hit a right note in his life... He ain't even in the same league as the blind squirrel who on occasion finds a nut...

Johnny Cash couldn't sing either but he made up for it with soul, grit and a good heart...

Tom Waits??? I don'y think anyone really knows if he can sing or not... I think you'd have to have some pudder program that de-horses him to see what is under the gravel???

Honorable mention goes to: Neil Young but who cares??? Ringo Starr but, hey, it's Ringo...

B~


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Subject: RE: Ten Top Great Singers Who Can't Sing
From: pdq
Date: 26 Nov 09 - 11:38 AM

I all fairness, Leo Kottke described his own voice as sounding like a "bullfrog fart".


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Subject: RE: Ten Top Great Singers Who Can't Sing
From: michaelr
Date: 26 Nov 09 - 11:50 AM

"geese farts on a muggy day" is what he wrote.


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Subject: RE: Ten Top Great Singers Who Can't Sing
From: GUEST,Mike of Hessle
Date: 26 Nov 09 - 11:51 AM

I once took my wife to a Dick Gaughan concert and I found his singing very powerful. I asked my wife if she had enjoyed it and she said that he attacked the songs with such ferocity - like a bulldog.

Her remark really cracked me up - sorry Dick if you are reading this


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Subject: RE: Ten Top Great Singers Who Can't Sing
From: Joe Offer
Date: 26 Nov 09 - 11:53 AM

I suppose one could get into a lot of trouble if one started to list the folk musicians who fall into this category....


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Subject: RE: Ten Top Great Singers Who Can't Sing
From: Lizzie Cornish 1
Date: 26 Nov 09 - 12:02 PM

It's all in the ears.... :0)

I saw Rod McKuen live, at the Royal Albert Hall...and he moved me to tears, for all the *right* reasons, not the wrong.

Yes, Joe....methinks 'one' would. ;0)


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Subject: RE: Ten Top Great Singers Who Can't Sing
From: beeliner
Date: 26 Nov 09 - 12:19 PM

McKuen always claimed that he permanently ruined his voice recording two silly 'twist' singles in the 1960's.

This was a few years before he hit his stride as a poet.


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Subject: RE: Ten Top Great Singers Who Can't Sing
From: GUEST,Steamin' Willie
Date: 26 Nov 09 - 12:28 PM

My top ten?

Take a pen & paper to the next singaround near where I live.

Two points to make;

1. They make up for it with enthusiasm and love for what they are singing.

2. Err.. I tend to be on the list too. I have been asked more than a few times why I use a thumb pick only. It's so I can hear a ruddy pedal note to ensure my voice doesn't do it's normal trick.....


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Subject: RE: Ten Top Great Singers Who Can't Sing
From: GUEST
Date: 26 Nov 09 - 12:29 PM

to balance out a little more with some female singers who can't sing:

Cheryl Crowe
Madonna
Cher


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Subject: RE: Ten Top Great Singers Who Can't Sing
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 26 Nov 09 - 12:40 PM

I shall never swim the Channel or win the 100 metres freestyle in the Olympics — but I have frequently managed in my time 40 lengths of my local pool; so I can swim.

In the same way, Madonna [let's say — one of the names immediately above, so she will do for my example] is never going to be Elizabeth Schwarzkopf; but I call it pretty absurd ∴ to aver that she can't sing. She can at that — and I love to hear her doing so.

Hanky-Panky!!!


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Subject: RE: Ten Top Great Singers Who Can't Sing
From: frogprince
Date: 26 Nov 09 - 12:55 PM

Townes Van Zandt


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Subject: RE: Ten Top Great Singers Who Can't Sing
From: Ron Davies
Date: 26 Nov 09 - 01:02 PM

Who are Nick Cave, Ian Dury and Jarvis Cocker?   I've never heard of any of them.

Johnny Cash, Tom Waits, and Kris Kristofferson are certainly great.   But it's because singing is not the main goal--it's telling the story. And they are masters of this.


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Subject: RE: Ten Top Great Singers Who Can't Sing
From: GUEST,Ian Gill
Date: 26 Nov 09 - 01:06 PM

No one has mentioned Richard Thompson, yet. Or Martin Simpson. Bert Lloyd ? Chris Coe ? I love the singing of all of these and have no problem in thinking of them as great - and influential - singers. However, when I play their work to people unfamiliar with folk music their initial reaction is frequently negative; often with classical or classically trained ears used to a heavy vibrato. The same thing happens with 'violin' players listening to 'folk fiddlers' - after a while the penny drops.


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Subject: RE: Ten Top Great Singers Who Can't Sing
From: Don Firth
Date: 26 Nov 09 - 01:51 PM

What do you mean by "sing?" Some of the people mentioned sing right on pitch and some sing with clear diction, and some do both. Many of them don't have very good voices, but that doesn't mean they can't sing.

Dave Van Ronk's voice was full of phlegm and he sounded like a rusty hinge, but man! could that sucker SING!

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Ten Top Great Singers Who Can't Sing
From: Young Buchan
Date: 26 Nov 09 - 01:56 PM

"Who are Nick Cave, Ian Dury and Jarvis Cocker?   I've never heard of any of them."

Neither had I. But I've looked them up. FYI it would appear that:

Nick Cave (born in the late 1950s in central Missouri, USA) is an American fabric sculptor, dancer, and performance artist. He is best known for his Soundsuits: wearable fabric sculptures that are bright, whimsical, and other-worldly.

Ian Dury is a Computer Software Professional in Milton Keynes, United Kingdom

Jarvis Cocker is an English musician and former frontman for a popular beat combo.


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Subject: RE: Ten Top Great Singers Who Can't Sing
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 26 Nov 09 - 02:05 PM

No one has mentioned Shane MacGowan


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Subject: RE: Ten Top Great Singers Who Can't Sing
From: GUEST,Chris Murray
Date: 26 Nov 09 - 02:19 PM

http://www.iandury.co.uk/


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Subject: RE: Ten Top Great Singers Who Can't Sing
From: Suegorgeous
Date: 26 Nov 09 - 02:28 PM

Really HOPE YB is tongue-in-cheek.... particularly re NC :)

Mmmm, so there's hope for me yet... I'm starting to realise I'll need to focus more on passion and communication... *sigh*-


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Subject: RE: Ten Top Great Singers Who Can't Sing
From: David C. Carter
Date: 26 Nov 09 - 02:29 PM

Nick Cave,the singer and writer was born in Victoria,Australia.

Guess there must be at least two,or maybe more wandering about out there.                                                                                                                                          Cheers                                                                                                                                          David


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Subject: RE: Ten Top Great Singers Who Can't Sing
From: pdq
Date: 26 Nov 09 - 02:55 PM

Add to the list of "great communicators" who couldn't exactly sing...

       Frank Zappa
      
       Jerry Garcia

       Tom T. Hall

       Shel Silverstein


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Subject: RE: Ten Top Great Singers Who Can't Sing
From: Mavis Enderby
Date: 26 Nov 09 - 03:05 PM

Ian Dury is a Computer Software Professional in Milton Keynes, United Kingdom

He's found some time for Sex and Drugs and Rock and Roll too...

Pete


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Subject: RE: Ten Top Great Singers Who Can't Sing
From: olddude
Date: 26 Nov 09 - 03:20 PM

Heck I heard the same things about John Prine after his surgeries.
I can listen to him all day and night.

Amazing isn't it. some of the great crooner with perfect tone, I can't take more than a song or two. Cause for me it is all about the emotion in the performance.

Our Jeri once said, "when you listen with your heart you tend to hear it with your heart".   

That is a beautiful saying Jeri cause that is what music to me is about.


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Subject: RE: Ten Top Great Singers Who Can't Sing
From: Joe Offer
Date: 26 Nov 09 - 05:35 PM

I have to say that I find I get annoyed listening to folk music, unless I can pay total attention to it. I like the singing of Dick Gaughan or Ewan MacColl because they really tell the story of the song well - but I can't stand them if I'm trying to pay attention to something else. Musicality is of secondary importance in folk music, where the primary emphasis is conveying the meaning of the lyrics. And it you don't have time to listen to the lyrics, perhaps another genre of music would suit you better.

Now, if I were to choose musicians for their musicianship, among my top choices would be Peggy Lee and Dinah Shore and Jo Stafford. I could listen to them all day without paying attention to them, and I'd really enjoy it. Oh, and I wouldn't mind listening to Susan Boyle without paying attention to her, too.

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: Ten Top Great Singers Who Can't Sing
From: GUEST,bankley
Date: 26 Nov 09 - 06:42 PM

what about Tiny Tim ?

there's no accounting for taste...


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Subject: RE: Ten Top Great Singers Who Can't Sing
From: Little Hawk
Date: 26 Nov 09 - 06:47 PM

Tiny Tim was an incredible singer. The man's range was simply phenomenal. I think he was a very fine musician.


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Subject: RE: Ten Top Great Singers Who Can't Sing
From: Jack Campin
Date: 26 Nov 09 - 06:49 PM

And from other nationalities and genres:

Vladimir Vyssotsky
Asik Veysel
Maria Callas
Cameron de la Isla


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Subject: RE: Ten Top Great Singers Who Can't Sing
From: Nick E
Date: 26 Nov 09 - 07:43 PM

Since When do you have to sing well to be a good singer?


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Subject: RE: Ten Top Great Singers Who Can't Sing
From: olddude
Date: 26 Nov 09 - 08:08 PM

nope Joe, now Pasty Cline, oh yes


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Subject: RE: Ten Top Great Singers Who Can't Sing
From: Effsee
Date: 26 Nov 09 - 10:54 PM

As Ronnie Drew used to say..."I've got a terrible voice, but I'm a good singer"...or words to that effect!


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Subject: RE: Ten Top Great Singers Who Can't Sing
From: GUEST,999
Date: 26 Nov 09 - 10:54 PM

Has anyone noted that there IS (imo) a difference between vocalizing and singing?


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Subject: RE: Ten Top Great Singers Who Can't Sing
From: GUEST
Date: 27 Nov 09 - 07:08 AM

Tiny Tim gave me a headache once.... maybe it was the coat...

One thing for sure, none of the aforementioned, alive or dead, are sitting around talking about us


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Subject: RE: Ten Top Great Singers Who Can't Sing
From: Tug the Cox
Date: 27 Nov 09 - 07:50 AM

has everyone forgotten Lee Marvin's 'wandering star', just too awful to be called singing I suppose. Clint eastwood on the 'b'side ( I talk to the trees, wasn't much better.


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Subject: RE: Ten Top Great Singers Who Can't Sing
From: Stringsinger
Date: 27 Nov 09 - 02:04 PM

There are many components to singing. Phrasing and emphasis is one. Vocal production is another. Vowel sounds. Breathing spaces. Dramatic sense. Diction. Musicianship (ie: staying on the beat or relating to the accompaniment)

In the final sense, if it moves you, it's good singing (for you). If you don't like it, it's bound to be "bad" singing.

So much subjectivity is here.

Gershwin admonished Ethel Merman not to go to a vocal teacher.


A lot depends upon whether you think Merman could sing. One thing for sure,
she could be heard over the orchestra.

A Bulgarian singer differs from an Operatic "bel canto" singer.

One thing about vocal training. It can help you keep your voice. There is such a thing
as vocal health.

There is such a thing as musicianship. The voice is after all an instrument. It can be played many different ways. If you study musicianship then perhaps you will be less
enthusiastic about the ways some people use their voices.

Then again, if you study singing you might be irritated with the sound of some voices.
l
A great voice can be misused in improper styles. Eileen Farrell may not have the "Right To Sing The Blues". The lovely Renee Fleming landed a jazz album with a dull thud.

Subjectivity creeps in here too. Was Richard Dyer-Bennet's "John Henry" a joke?

The (who can't sing) part of this thread has to do with whether the singer has had
"legitimate" training such as bel canto.

The bottom line: You have to put on different ears to evaluate every singer you hear.


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Subject: RE: Ten Top Great Singers Who Can't Sing
From: Desert Dancer
Date: 27 Nov 09 - 02:35 PM

I agree, Joe.

~ Becky in Tucson


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Subject: RE: Ten Top Great Singers Who Can't Sing
From: GUEST,Steamin' Willie
Date: 27 Nov 09 - 02:42 PM

I suppose it is a folk forum so there are bound to be people who have never heard of some of the best musicians and singers this old world has produced.

I take issue with Nick Cave's inclusion. His rendition of "Into My Arms" was played as we signed the registry book at our wedding last year. Haunting song, wonderful crooning voice.

Ian Dury fronted possibly the tightest rock jazz bands I have ever heard. the Blockheads are still, after his sad demise, touring and I aim to get to see them.

Jarvis Cocker is a local lad done well, and he can hold a note better than I can as well as tell the tale as it were.

Richard Thompson can sing, full stop. I always enjoy the bass pedal notes he used to harmonise with when Linda was singing, (Down where the drunkards roll being an excellent example.)

Shane McGowan and Billy Bragg?

They are far more interesting. If singing means holding a note then they are somewhat challenged, but if singing is anything to do with expression, then they express the words better than most.

Being in tune without singing is something I leave to some classical singers. I suggest you listen to, (but don't hit the buy button), Andres Scholl's album of English Folk (or at least the Vaughan Williams end of it) to hear what I mean about being in tune is not necessarily singing. Ok, he is, I think, German so singing by rote rather than joy of the language. Pure classical interpretation may be singingin tune but lacks the passion.

And... passion is every bit as important as pitch - Bragg, McGowan et al...


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Subject: RE: Ten Top Great Singers Who Can't Sing
From: The Sandman
Date: 27 Nov 09 - 06:16 PM

Paul Robeson, Tony Rose, Peter Bellamy, Sandy Denny, Walter Pardon, Harry Cox, Phil Tanner, Sara Carter, Jeannie Robertson, Roy Orbison.
RIP, all fine singers who are sadly missed


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Subject: RE: Ten Top Great Singers Who Can't Sing
From: Callie
Date: 27 Nov 09 - 07:02 PM

Norma Waterson
Van Morrison

brilliant brilliant singers who can't hold a note. who cares?! they move us, their love and respect for music shines through. can't live without 'em!


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Subject: RE: Ten Top Great Singers Who Can't Sing
From: Genie
Date: 27 Nov 09 - 07:07 PM

Funny that people so often think of Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen when listing "singers who can't sing." I've heard people say that about Willie Nelson too. But I hear that Joan Baez once (not too long ago) remarked about Dylan that one thing about him was "he can really sing!"   And when it comes to carrying a tune, I'd say that's true of Bob (or at least was during his first 3 decades of performing and recording), and it's also true of Willie. Leonard Cohen wasn't that good a singer in his early days, even if he had more range, but I love the sound of his later voice (the last 2 or 3 decades) -- not just his "storytelling," but the deep, gravelly sound of his low baritone.   

Now, Kristofferson is a different story. I've heard him go way off key or lose the tune in live performance, and I'd say he definitely is a much better songwriter and storyteller than singer.

Speaking of great songwriter/storytellers who can't sing all that well, how come nobody's mentioned Steve Earle?


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Subject: RE: Ten Top Great Singers Who Can't Sing
From: Tug the Cox
Date: 27 Nov 09 - 07:21 PM

Speaking of great songwriter/storytellers who can't sing all that well, how come nobody's mentioned Steve Earle?

Kaiser Chiefs.....I predict a riot.


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Subject: RE: Ten Top Great Singers Who Can't Sing
From: GUEST,999
Date: 28 Nov 09 - 02:48 AM

Luciano Pavarotti.


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Subject: RE: Ten Top Great Singers Who Can't Sing
From: Genie
Date: 28 Nov 09 - 06:33 AM

FWIW, I've heard that when Janis Joplin died, her autopsy revealed that she had no nodes on her vocal folds.   Perhaps had she lived long enough to subject her vocal apparatus to decades of the kind of belting she did, she would have ruined her voice before age 50, but it doesn't seem she had done so by her twenties.

And whether you like the style or not, Janis could do things with her "instrument" that not only suited her type of music perfectly (e.g., "Piece of My Heart") but that most "good singers" can't begin to do.


Oh, and I can't believe I'm seeing singers like Sinatra, Ella, and Pavarotti "nominated" as singers who can't sing!    Even when I don't immediately recognize who it is, every time I hear an Ella Fitzgerald recording on radio, I find myself marveling at the voice and stopping to pay full attention.

And I agree with Don (and others) that saying someone whose pitch is spot on "can't sing" just because you don't like the timbre of their voice or their style is a bit like saying that an accordion or banjo is "less musical" than a piano or a violin because you don't care for its sound.









Oh, wait ... maybe I should have used better examples than banjos and accordions. ; D


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Subject: RE: Ten Top Great Singers Who Can't Sing
From: MikeofNorthumbria
Date: 28 Nov 09 - 06:54 AM

IMHO a really great singer needs four things. These are: Technique - Ideas - Taste - Charisma
        
Technique alone – however excellent – is not sufficient. Without a modicum of taste, an idea or two and a dash of charisma, technical perfection quickly becomes boring.

Technically sound performers who are blessed with good taste but bereft of original thoughts may still build long-lasting careers - provided they (or their management) have the wit to borrow good ideas from more creative artists. But without charisma they will never become superstars.

Whereas once-great artists who retain their charisma can still pull in big audiences, long after they have run out of ideas, technique and taste. It's not fair, but that's show business, folks.

Wassail!


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Subject: RE: Ten Top Great Singers Who Can't Sing
From: GUEST,Guest from Sanity
Date: 29 Nov 09 - 05:57 AM

Women:In a few studios in Hollywood, Stevie Nicks was dubbed 'Four Note Stevie'..not much range there, but she HAD a 'cutish' voice in her youth, that people liked. Now she sounds like an old bag lady..Same with Britney Spears.. except she never sounded good.Terrible voice! Cher..so overrated, sometimes she sounds like an old man with laryngitis. Carol King, I guess she wrote better songs than sang them, very little emotion, too generic.(I've played her piano)

Men: Eddie Vedder, (Pearl Jam). Tommy James..can't tell if its his voice, or just the stupid songs he sings! Elton John, sounds like he's singing with a mouthful of mashed potatoes. Frankie Valli, enough with the falsetto! James Taylor, so pansy-ass, he was unbelievable. Stevie Wonder, Better when he was younger, Heard him recently? Bruce Springsteen, shouting and grunting in short phrases, sounds like he's shitting a giant brick. Jim Morrison(who I knew), wasn't really known for his singing ability, but his timbre and expression got him through.. and well too!

Great singers: Lisa Kelly, Andrea Bocelli, Josh Groban,(if he doesn't over due his vibrato. Marlena Fontanay, most expressive, and totally believable! Linda Ronstadt, heard her live from about six feet away, she could fill a room with her voice. Giorgio Tozzi, world renown for his 'Faust'(they used to set his mic 22 feet away!!)

Sorry to those I may have left out...in either category!


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Subject: RE: Ten Top Great Singers Who Can't Sing
From: Bernard
Date: 29 Nov 09 - 06:06 AM

How about Florence Foster Jenkins?!!


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Subject: RE: Ten Top Great Singers Who Can't Sing
From: Genie
Date: 29 Nov 09 - 08:16 PM

[[IMHO a really great singer needs four things. These are: Technique - Ideas - Taste - Charisma]]

I'd say those 4 are needed to be a great performer but not necessarily to be a great singer (e.g., for recording).

Plus, there's a vast chasm between "not a great singer" and "can't sing."

In fact "great singer who can't sing" is an oxymoron.   

But there have been many great vocal/music entertainers who didn't have great voices and/or whose pitch left something to be desired.

Some of those mentioned here (Tom Waits, Louis Armstrong, Kris Kristofferson, etc.) and others (e.g., Jimmy Durante) could be counted in that category.


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Subject: RE: Ten Top Great Singers Who Can't Sing
From: GUEST,Guest from Sanity
Date: 29 Nov 09 - 09:55 PM

Wow Bernard, she IS TERRIBLE!

Just saw the new Celtic Woman concert,'Songs from The Heart'. Chloe Agnew,(the plump one), got a little heavier, but Jeez-Louise!, can she blow your socks off!!! She is great!~ Add her to my 'great' bunch, next to Lisa Kelly!!!


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Subject: RE: Ten Top Great Singers Who Can't Sing
From: Helen Jocys
Date: 30 Nov 09 - 02:29 AM

Why has nobody mentioned that 'great' American hopeless coloratura Florence Foster Jenkins? She hired the Carnegie Hall to perform. Sold out to an audience who came to laugh. Check her out on Google and don't forget to turn the sound up. She honestly believed she could sing while (quote) murdering Mozart. My favourite is The Laughing Song from Die Fledermaus. Talk about a massacre! Poor thing.

HelenJ


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Subject: RE: Ten Top Great Singers Who Can't Sing
From: GUEST,Guest from Sanity
Date: 30 Nov 09 - 02:37 AM

Bernard already did, Helen.


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Subject: RE: Ten Top Great Singers Who Can't Sing
From: rich-joy
Date: 30 Nov 09 - 02:42 AM

WOW! What an amazing collection of opinions!!!
A far more "subjective subject" than I thought it would be!

R-J
Down Under
(and, an Ella fan from way back :~)


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Subject: RE: Ten Top Great Singers Who Can't Sing
From: Dave Hanson
Date: 30 Nov 09 - 02:48 AM

Joe Cocker and Ivan [ Van ] Morrison, two of the worlds worst, not a single redeeming defect.

Dave H


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Subject: RE: Ten Top Great Singers Who Can't Sing
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 30 Nov 09 - 03:25 AM

Florence Foster Jenkins not really eligible for this thread as nobody, apart from herself, ever thought her a 'great singer' — as distinct from a great self-deluding object of ridicule. One thing not clear — did she issue her own gramophone records at own expense, or did some record company cash in on the 'ridicule factor' to sell records? Anyone know?


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Subject: RE: Ten Top Great Singers Who Can't Sing
From: Brakn
Date: 30 Nov 09 - 05:52 AM

Elvis used vibrato to disguise the fact that he couldn't hold a note. I can't listen to him at all.

Also that bloke from duran duran.


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Subject: RE: Ten Top Great Singers Who Can't Sing
From: GUEST
Date: 30 Nov 09 - 07:01 AM

"Joe Cocker and Ivan [ Van ] Morrison, two of the worlds worst, not a single redeeming defect.

Dave H"

Other than a) being distinctive in a field of mediocrity and b) writing brilliant songs.

Oh, and neither are, as it were, flat as a fart. I leave that to the likes of myself if I don't concentrate. I can't sing, they both can.


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Subject: RE: Ten Top Great Singers Who Can't Sing
From: Helen Jocys
Date: 30 Nov 09 - 09:52 AM

I'm pretty sure F.F. Jenkins financed her own records. She wasn't without the 'readies'.

HelenJ


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Subject: RE: Ten Top Great Singers Who Can't Sing
From: quokka
Date: 30 Nov 09 - 10:33 AM

Is it just me - opinions here seem to be more about personal taste rather than people who can't sing. There are a lot of singers whose style doesn't appeal to me, but I wouldn't go as far as to say they can't sing - obviously they can or they wouldn't be "famous" singers. If you want technical brilliance go to the opera. If you want to feel an emotional connection with the singer, the song, the lyrics, the music, the personality, then most of the singers listed above qualify as "great". Just my opinion...


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Subject: RE: Ten Top Great Singers Who Can't Sing
From: GUEST,Dobbins
Date: 30 Nov 09 - 11:03 AM

Tom Waits is certainly an acquired taste but just check out his lyrics like "his wife was a spent piece of used jet trash". Genius. And he's done instrumentals like Dave The Butcher.


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Subject: RE: Ten Top Great Singers Who Can't Sing
From: Little Hawk
Date: 30 Nov 09 - 11:56 AM

Listening to Florence Foster Jenkins has been a whole new experience! I'm sorry I wasn't alive to go to her concerts back when she was doing them. ;-)

In the case of Springsteen...I can understand the criticism of his technique that was offered here...however, I'd say that it works well for him. And he puts on a terrific show.


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Subject: RE: Ten Top Great Singers Who Can't Sing
From: robomatic
Date: 30 Nov 09 - 09:49 PM

those girl singers of whom christina aguelera is a shining example, unable to hold a note so they 'average' over and call it a tremolo "hey it's not a bug, it's a feature!" with no interior talent they have to have an album cover to expose their exterior attributes, the aforesaid aguelera once posing in shaded leather lace-up pants that left nothing to the imagination.

I have one other pet hate, a folksy old fogey who tries to sound late nineteenth century, a crooner before amplification. I will frnakly say I hate him so much I am incapable of judging his quality. I hate him so much I can't remember his name, but the crackling twanginess of his delivery has my dorsals in tension just writing this. must.....control......keyboard...of...flame



oh, yeah. . . Leon Redbone


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Subject: RE: Ten Top Great Singers Who Can't Sing
From: GUEST,M.Ted
Date: 01 Dec 09 - 12:37 AM

Florence Foster Jenkins had an amazing sense about where to be "off". Bad singers don't usually understand the music that well.


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Subject: RE: Ten Top Great Singers Who Can't Sing
From: GUEST,Guest from Sanity
Date: 01 Dec 09 - 12:58 AM

L.H.(yo-ho): "...I can understand the criticism of his technique that was offered here...however, I'd say that it works well for him. And he puts on a terrific show."

Went to one in the eighties. Tremendous energy!
I was mostly speaking on his technical abilities. Yes, what he does, certainly works for him.......not that I'd go again...

A very well known vocal coach, who is also a basso baritone, and performs opera, and revered internationally for his work, had a great phrase to describe the music of the sixties, which also fits Bruce's voice....."...When Mediocrity was chic "
GfS


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Subject: RE: Ten Top Great Singers Who Can't Sing
From: GUEST,Ralphie
Date: 01 Dec 09 - 01:05 AM

Talking of "Off Key" singing. Alongside the redoubtable FF Jenkins, you could line up Mrs Miller (Who's eponymous 2nd LP "Will success spoil Mrs Miller?" rarely leaves my turntable.)
Travelling into Europe, who could ever forget MA Numminem, whose rock opera on the subject of the philosopher Wittgenstein, "The Tractatus Suite" is a joy and a wonder.

We could always add at this juncture, those 2 celebrated doyens of Mudcat threads over the years, William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy.
And Jo Staffords benighted alter ego. Darlene Edwards!
Linda McCartney anyone?

Seriously. I think the original post was basically correct. The likes of Dylan, Waits etc. all have something to say. A case of the message not the messenger. But it's a fun thread nonetheless.

And the thought of Ian Dury as a computer software expert in Milton Keynes cracks me up!!

Nowadays I just wish I was the MD of Antares corp. (For those who don't know..It's a digital pitch shifter!) He must be making a fortune!!


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Subject: RE: Ten Top Great Singers Who Can't Sing
From: Little Hawk
Date: 01 Dec 09 - 02:10 AM

Hey, GfS...there is a well-known music teacher and band conductor in Orillia, Ted Duff, who also works with a 4-person jazz vocal group called "Jazzamatazz". It happened one year that Jazzmatazz had lost their tenor, and they were taking auditions. I wanted to see if I could try out something really different for a change, so I auditioned...and I passed! So I got to sing the tenor part in Jazzmatazz for about a year.

After I passed the audition, Ted said to me, "I thought that none of you folksingers could actually sing! I'm pleasantly surprised to find out that there is one who can."

That made me feel pretty good, but I have to say that I think Ted is unreasonably prejudiced against folk and rock music in a general sense... ;-) There are lots of folksingers who can really sing.

I did shows with Jazzmatazz for about a year, then I decided to move on, because although it was darned good music, I could never really get that interested in it. I respect it, mind you...it just isn't the kind of music I have much of a yen for normally, so after a year my curiosity about it was fully satisfied, and I quit the group (on good terms, I might add).

Ted Duff was great to work with. He is one hell of a fine musician, and he loves the music...if it's jazz or show tunes, that is. He has brought a lot of fine music to Orillia.


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Subject: RE: Ten Top Great Singers Who Can't Sing
From: Helen Jocys
Date: 01 Dec 09 - 02:26 AM

Sorry Bernard. Missed your entry Must have been asleep!


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Subject: RE: Ten Top Great Singers Who Can't Sing
From: Mavis Enderby
Date: 01 Dec 09 - 02:41 AM

If only Florence Foster Jenkins could have been accompanied by Les Dawson

Pete


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Subject: RE: Ten Top Great Singers Who Can't Sing
From: GUEST,TJ in San Diego
Date: 01 Dec 09 - 01:37 PM

Joe Valachi - he sang like a canary, but couldn't carry a tune in a lunchpail.

Poor Tom Waits, trying still to sing after having his vocal cords surgically mutilated - and laughing all the way to the bank, I'm sure.


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Subject: RE: Ten Top Great Singers Who Can't Sing
From: Dave Roberts
Date: 01 Dec 09 - 01:47 PM

I think Elvis Presley was great.


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Subject: RE: Ten Top Great Singers Who Can't Sing
From: Bobert
Date: 01 Dec 09 - 04:29 PM

LH & GfS,

When I booked Steelmill back in '69 and '70 in Richmond, Springsteen was the lead singer... But he also did, ahhhh, some fine folk music which was acoustic and very pretty stuff... It's a voice that most folks who think they know what Springsteen sounds like would never imagine...

If you get out the "Welcome to Asbury Park" LP and listen to "Mary, Queen of Arkansas" you'll hear Springsteen as close to pure as anything that he has recorded... But lotta folks, myself included, got to hear several "coffeehouse style" pefrormances by Bruce back then and the boy can flat out carry a tune...

B~


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Subject: RE: Ten Top Great Singers Who Can't Sing
From: RTim
Date: 01 Dec 09 - 04:41 PM

Someone says:

"Elvis used vibrato to disguise the fact that he couldn't hold a note."

That is WHY you use Vibrato!

Tim Radford


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Subject: RE: Ten Top Great Singers Who Can't Sing
From: Dave Roberts
Date: 01 Dec 09 - 05:53 PM

Tim,

Quite.

To put Elvis in a list of people who 'can't sing' is patently absurd.


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Subject: RE: Ten Top Great Singers Who Can't Sing
From: Bobert
Date: 01 Dec 09 - 06:13 PM

Correction: "Greetings from Asbury Park"...

As fir Elvis??? Hey, look... Tyhis ain't no opera website, is it??? He sang great!!!

B~


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Subject: RE: Ten Top Great Singers Who Can't Sing
From: Dave Roberts
Date: 01 Dec 09 - 06:28 PM

Bobert,

Sure did!


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Subject: RE: Ten Top Great Singers Who Can't Sing
From: GUEST
Date: 01 Dec 09 - 10:57 PM

Shiz - this is easy.

Ray Charles
Aretha Franklin
Frank Sinatra
Tony Bennett
Ed Trickett
Carmen McRae
Ella Fitzgerald
Richard Hidalgo
Roy Orbison
Tony Williams of the Platters
Lyle Lovett
Teddy Thompson
Bob Shane
Joan Baez
Waylon Jennings
Marty Robbins
Emmy Lou Harris
Patty Lovelace
Herb Pedersen
Gordon Lightfoot


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Subject: RE: Ten Top Great Singers Who Can't Sing
From: GUEST,Neil D
Date: 02 Dec 09 - 08:56 PM

Mick Jagger
John Fogerty


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Subject: RE: Ten Top Great Singers Who Can't Sing
From: Joe Nicholson
Date: 03 Dec 09 - 07:36 PM

They used to call Bing Crosby The Old Groaner he could groan for me anytime
Joe Nicholson


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Subject: RE: Ten Top Great Singers Who Can't Sing
From: Tattie Bogle
Date: 03 Dec 09 - 07:45 PM

A bit unkind this thread, or what?
So I won't name any names, tho' I can think of a few whose songs are spell-binding, great lyrics, even if they haven't got the greatest voices.
But I saw one last week, who writes great songs, sings in tune BUT has a horrible rasp in his voice that turns me right off: makes me want to clear his throat for him or tell him that as he's using a mike, he doesn't have to shout down it.
And just another (sexist?) observation: it's easier for men with not very good voices to get away with it than it is for women (being one myself)!


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Subject: RE: Ten Top Great Singers Who Can't Sing
From: Peter T.
Date: 03 Dec 09 - 08:34 PM

Janis Joplin was one of the great singers of the last 50 years. She was like Garland or Pavarotti or Edith Piaf -- when she sang it was with her entire being, and after she was done there was nothing left.   If you don't understand that, there is really no help for you.

yours,

Peter T.


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Subject: RE: Ten Top Great Singers Who Can't Sing
From: GUEST,Sheridan
Date: 03 Dec 09 - 10:32 PM

If you believe the entries in this thread, apparently nobody can sing.


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Subject: RE: Ten Top Great Singers Who Can't Sing
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 04 Dec 09 - 01:21 AM

Am I alone in having always found Joni Mitchell much overrated? — diction dodgy so that one longed for subtitles or a cribsheet of the words [interesting that the BigYellowTaxi version I have just played on YouTube, to check I wasn't being unfair posting this, has the words printed alongside]; sentiments not all that original or profound; tunes not particularly interesting or catchy. I have long felt she was one of those most fortunate in having made the impact which she did.


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Subject: RE: Ten Top Great Singers Who Can't Sing
From: Dick The Box
Date: 04 Dec 09 - 03:11 AM

My sewing machine is a great singer but it can't sing.......


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Subject: RE: Ten Top Great Singers Who Can't Sing
From: GUEST
Date: 04 Dec 09 - 05:56 AM

Here's a sweeping generalisation regarding male singers but I think there is some of truth in it. Folk singers tend to sing slightly flat (Leonard Cohen, Dubliners) and country singers slightly sharp (George Jones, Dwight Yoakam).

OK, I can think of one exception straight away. Johnny Cash. Maybe that's why he has more "street cred" among folkies (in the UK anyway).

Feel free to tear my hypothesis to shreds (as if you needed an invitation).


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Subject: RE: Ten Top Great Singers Who Can't Sing
From: Peter T.
Date: 04 Dec 09 - 03:40 PM

You know, there are few finer things in life than getting the opportunity to tell someone that if they don't get Janis Joplin, they need to rethink. One of those finer things is to tell someone who thinks that Joni Mitchell is overrated that they themselves are overrated as human beings, and should perhaps turn in their "Human Here" badge.

yours,

Peter T.


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Subject: RE: Ten Top Great Singers Who Can't Sing
From: Little Hawk
Date: 04 Dec 09 - 03:53 PM

LOL! I tend to agree, Peter.

However, you also said: "Janis Joplin was one of the great singers of the last 50 years. She was like Garland or Pavarotti or Edith Piaf -- when she sang it was with her entire being, and after she was done there was nothing left.   If you don't understand that, there is really no help for you."

Fine, Peter.

Fine.

I am going to go out right now into the backyard and blow my worthless brains out with this little peashooter I have here. ;-)

I hope you will be wracked with guilt over what you have done this day...


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Subject: RE: Ten Top Great Singers Who Can't Sing
From: Little Hawk
Date: 04 Dec 09 - 03:56 PM

I tend to sing sharp...if I sing unaccompanied by an instrument. I slowly go sharper and sharper. Boy, is it ever annoying. I think it's an after-effect of my years in school choruses. Almost everyone else tended to sing flat...so I kept singing sharp to try and pull them up. It became an unconscious reflex after that.


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Subject: RE: Ten Top Great Singers Who Can't Sing
From: GUEST,TJ in San Diego
Date: 04 Dec 09 - 05:49 PM

Reading all (or mostly all) of this, I go back to a basic truth. We sometimes accuse people of not being able to sing because the vocal quality doesn't agree; i.e., it's rough or sandpapery, reedy or nasal or like gargling marbles (Waits). But, what you find is that nearly all who have become famous, whether you like them or not, do have basic musicality and can carry a tune.

Go back as far as Louis Armstrong or Jack Teagarden; even Jimmy Durante. None were noted for clarity or beautiful tone, but all could carry a song with great feeling and style. People loved their singing. Rod Stewart and Dylan have both been excoriated for their vocalizing by some. Maybe it's an acquired taste, but SOMETHING made them hugely popular.


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Subject: RE: Ten Top Great Singers Who Can't Sing
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 04 Dec 09 - 09:30 PM

PeterT & LittleHawk: could you please tell me what you so admire about Joni Mitchell which will contradict what I wrote above? I am not meaning to be contentious here, just genuinely curious to know what I am missing. I mean, the 'tree museum - dollar & a half' bit amuses, sure; but the actual dystopic sentiments of BYT [which I think will be accepted as one of her 'signature' compositions] are surely quite banal & oft-expressed; & the tune is nothing-xtra, is it?


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Subject: RE: Ten Top Great Singers Who Can't Sing
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 04 Dec 09 - 10:18 PM

I mean, I know comparisons are odious & all that: but J Mitchell seems to me to be up there in public regard with the likes of the really important singer-songwriters [Paxton, Bogle, et al]: & I really cannot see why. Their messages, re personal relationships & FX of war respectively, genuinely make a contribution to important public attitudes. What was Joni's contribution?


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Subject: RE: Ten Top Great Singers Who Can't Sing
From: GUEST,seth in Olympia
Date: 04 Dec 09 - 11:15 PM

Most of the non-singin' artists here mentioned are much loved by me, and have been for a long time. What grates on my ears are the singers with huge voices whose singing is terrible, particularly evident in any mall, drugstore, supermarket in the U.S. at this time of year. Frank, Bing, Johnny M. had the chops and the even the artistic sensibility to do anything they wanted, why they would whore themselves out to do awful Christmas songs is beyond me. I've found that not so many agree with me on this, I guess hearing Bing bleat out "Let it Snow" one more time is essential to the warp and weft of the Christmas season for a lot of folks. However, if once, while walking through the local Safeway, I heard "Christmas Card from a Hooker in Minneapolis", that would make my afternoon for sure.
seth


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Subject: RE: Ten Top Great Singers Who Can't Sing
From: Little Hawk
Date: 05 Dec 09 - 12:06 AM

MtheGM - Well, I was never much impressed by that song Joni Mitchell did about the parking lot either...although it's got a catchy and enjoyable tune. It's a very lighthearted song, seems to me, nothing that ever pretended to be very deep. I think she was mainly just having fun with the vocals on that one.

However, if you look through the whole catalog of all the work she's done, aside from the odd radio hit she's had here and there, it's quite remarkable in both its musicality, its variety, its intelligence, and its lyrical content. She's one hell of a fine musician, and an extremely capable singer too, plus a great songwriter. I think most in the folk field would agree with me on that. She's also very unique. No one else sounds like Joni Mitchell, but I know more than a few female singers who have tried to.

I personally never liked her material as much as I did that of Buffy Sainte-Marie and Joan Baez, but that's just my personal taste. It's not my evaluation of Joni's talents and abilities. I have a thing for intense female singers with dark hair who sing about social causes...and Joan and Buffy were of that type. Joni Mitchell was a different type. She's more eclectic or something...very artsy...off on her own creative trip...sort of like a latter day jazz beatnik combination. She looks like she should be wearing a black beret and painting impressionist oils between gigs. (and she does paint) ;-) That style of hers didn't interest me as much as Baez and Buffy's did, but I sure respect her musical ability.


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Subject: RE: Ten Top Great Singers Who Can't Sing
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 05 Dec 09 - 12:15 AM

Fair enough, Little Hawk. Thank you for your thoughtful analysis. I still can't, however, rate her diction highly; which matters a great deal, particularly in singing songs of 'significant' content. Nor do I agree about the tune of BYT, which I find uninspired and uninspiring.

I think Baez who, tho she sang other 'contemp' writers' work, didn't, I believe, write much of her own material, and started out, unlike Mitchell & Ste-Marie, as traditional, is not in quite the same category - would you agree?


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Subject: RE: Ten Top Great Singers Who Can't Sing
From: Peter T.
Date: 05 Dec 09 - 08:02 AM

Little Hawk said a few good things. The two finest things about Mitchell were (1) that she expressed in a powerful way a whole range of female emotion that essentially captured (and helped shape) a whole generation -- from her first album to "Blue" -- "Blue" is a masterpiece of mood and experience (I would say that it is not just my opinion) and after ("Hejira" is where I get to in this line -- "Amelia" is an astonishing poetic work); and (2) she is one of the great experimenters -- her open tunings and playing and jazz -- not all of which I go for -- are so far beyond what other singer-songwriters do that she is in a category by herself. And she started out, really, when there was nothing like it in women in popular music. (Now Jonis are everywhere).

I don't really understand the diction issue. Vowels, consonants, all there in the right order. She sings clearly enough for me.

yours,

Peter T.


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Subject: RE: Ten Top Great Singers Who Can't Sing
From: GUEST
Date: 05 Dec 09 - 10:34 AM

"I'm surprised nobody has mentioned Bryan Ferry and, of course Elvis Presley."

Holy cow! How can you possibly say Elvis couldn't sing? What planet are you on? What made him so great was that he combined an extraordinarily beautiful, flexible and powerful voice with an unmatched ability to read a song and move the listener.


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Subject: RE: Ten Top Great Singers Who Can't Sing
From: GUEST,Molly
Date: 05 Dec 09 - 11:03 AM

Johnny Cash certainly but my alltime un-favourite is Roy flaming Orbison! Talk about wobble!!!
But, as summed up beautifully in a previous comment technical ability is irrelevant if you can't "put a song across".


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Subject: RE: Ten Top Great Singers Who Can't Sing
From: Little Hawk
Date: 05 Dec 09 - 12:17 PM

MtheGM - As Peter says, Joni Mitchell's early albums through to the album "Blue" were absolutely classic, and "Blue" is a masterpiece. She was also, as he says, a great innovator.

In Joan Baez's case, well, she was just untouchable when she first appeared on the scene...she was the Queen...the Madonna...she was it. And everything (in female folksingers) that followed after for quite some time would be compared to Joan Baez. But she didn't write songs at all when she started out. She did write some poetry, but was under the impression she could not write songs. Bob Dylan advised her one day (over a coffee) that anyone could write songs. By the late 60s she was writing some songs. At first I would say they were...interesting...but a bit stilted. She hit her stride, however, in the mid-70s and began writing some very good material. The standout is the song "Diamonds and Rust", which I think is a masterpiece.

Now, in Buffy's case...she did actually do some trad songs on her early albums, but for the most part she was writing her own songs about personal viewpoints and/or social issues, and they were very good. I think Buffy Sainte-Marie is one of the finest songwriters, composers, and performers that I have ever seen.

As for Janis Joplin, I agree with Peter's remarks that she gave herself entirely over to the performance...yes...but I can barely stand to listen to how she sings, and I DO know someone who ruined her own voice and permanently damaged it by trying to sound just like Janis Joplin (God knows why anyone would do that...). One Joplin song I do thoroughly enjoy, though, is "Take a Piece of my Heart", backed by Big Brother and the Holding Company. That one was darned good.


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Subject: RE: Ten Top Great Singers Who Can't Sing
From: frogprince
Date: 05 Dec 09 - 02:05 PM

For my two cents worth, I think "The Circle Game" has it all: melody, imagery, universality. Love it.
                     Dean


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Subject: RE: Ten Top Great Singers Who Can't Sing
From: Little Hawk
Date: 05 Dec 09 - 11:30 PM

Me too.


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Subject: RE: Ten Top Great Singers Who Can't Sing
From: GUEST,Guest from Sanity
Date: 05 Dec 09 - 11:45 PM

Little Hawk(yo-ho):"...I tend to sing sharp...if I sing unaccompanied by an instrument. I slowly go sharper and sharper...."

Don't B flat, B sharp, but B natural!


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Subject: RE: Ten Top Great Singers Who Can't Sing
From: GUEST,specs7
Date: 05 Dec 09 - 11:58 PM

I remember many years ago some critic saying about Johnny Cash that he sure made a lot of money for someone who sang like a bullfrog.


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Subject: RE: Ten Top Great Singers Who Can't Sing
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 06 Dec 09 - 12:11 AM

Definitions matter of course — so let's get back to basics on this thread:—

Someone please define 'Top'
Ditto 'Great'
Ditto 'Singers'
Ditto 'Can't'
Dito 'Sing'

I think we might all just agree as to meaning of number, 'ten' [tho nobody seems to be considering selves in any way confined by that figure], & of relative pronoun 'who' — but even there I am not too sure!


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Subject: RE: Ten Top Great Singers Who Can't Sing
From: Little Hawk
Date: 06 Dec 09 - 03:17 AM

Heh!

top - a T-shirt or blouse, etc.
great - large
singers - sewing machines
who - sound made by an owl
can't - worthless propagandizing
sing - a Chinese name (should be capitalized)

Now, where were we?


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Subject: RE: Ten Top Great Singers Who Can't Sing
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 06 Dec 09 - 03:25 AM

"Singers" shd be capitalised too, if y're going 2B picky, Hawky.


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Subject: RE: Ten Top Great Singers Who Can't Sing
From: Little Hawk
Date: 06 Dec 09 - 03:46 AM

You are so right. ;-)


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Subject: RE: Ten Top Great Singers Who Can't Sing
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 06 Dec 09 - 06:10 AM

Gee,Thanks, daddy-o - ;~)§

[This merely shameless ploy to publicise my new emoticon with my new beard!!!]


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Subject: RE: Ten Top Great Singers Who Can't Sing
From: GUEST,Seth from Olympia
Date: 06 Dec 09 - 01:33 PM

If I hear "river" by Joni at a certain time and when I'm in a particular frame of mind ( not too often) my eyes just water up >
One of the stories that I read about her was that her first manager was blown away by how many songs she had that were written and ready to go at such a young age. I don't think " Big Yellow Taxi" her finest work, but if she wrote it when she was seventeen.... Don't I ( and you) wish we had one like that in the bin at such a young age. a lot of stuff on her early albums is hard to listen to now because I got old....
A singer who could sing was Nat Cole, with whatever he touched, jazz, blues, pop, Christmas, even gospel.
seth


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Subject: RE: Ten Top Great Singers Who Can't Sing
From: GUEST,Elmore
Date: 07 Dec 09 - 08:22 AM

Randy Newman


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Subject: RE: Ten Top Great Singers Who Can't Sing
From: Smedley
Date: 07 Dec 09 - 08:43 AM

If you want to hear Joni M singing clear as a bell, with melodies to die for and lyrics that are genuinely poetic, ignore Big Yellow T (juvenilia by her standards) and seek out 'Free Man In Paris', 'Edith and the Kingpin', 'Coyote' or 'In France They Kiss on Main Street'.

And while you're at it, listen to some Laura Nyro too - though she doesn't belong in this thread at ALL.


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Subject: RE: Ten Top Great Singers Who Can't Sing
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 07 Dec 09 - 08:48 AM

No mention of Neil Diamond? His stuff may not be to everyones taste but a mighty fine voice and some material that could well be described as folky. (But let's not get into that:-) )

Another belter - Judith Durham, and seeing as her surname reminded me of a song, what about Roger Whittaker?

DeG


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Subject: RE: Ten Top Great Singers Who Can't Sing
From: Genie
Date: 09 Dec 09 - 02:23 AM

Elmore, I'd say Randy Newman is the epitome of what this thread is about.

BRILLIANT musician, songwriter, humorist!   Wonderful entertainer!   But a "singer" he ain't.
(And I doubt you'd get any argument from him. He doesn't need to be.)


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