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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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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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