The Canon

Just to follow up a bit on the rock canon concept, Rolling Stone magazine recently published their 100 Greatest Guitar Songs of All Time (June 12, 2008, pp. 41-69). The selections heavily favor the late 1960s and 1970s, but the list also includes numerous selections from later decades. For anyone who listened to the radio growing up, this is like the soundtrack of your life. But after the first nostalgic sweep of emotions, I immediately thought, “but what about…and what about…?” The reader comments on the website vividly portray this emotion. My favorite (and the one I think is more critical) was the response included in the print version the following issue. She said, “Apparently you need a p***s to be a guitar hero.” And I thought, “Yeah, sister, testify!”

Multitasking woman

Multitasking woman

And then I stopped to think, could we come up with a list of 100 great songs where women were playing the guitar? While I might want to argue against such an impulse, it’s still an interesting exercise. I’ll start with anything (almost) that Heart did. Nancy Wilson was an inspiration to a lot girls to pick up an axe and let her rip. And then there’s Joan Jett, Bonnie Raitt, Melissa Etheridge, Sheryl Crow and the Indigo Girls. That’s just off the top of my head. There have to be more so send me your suggestions. I know the list won’t be excessively long (see Helen Brown’s article on this), but it won’t be as short as some would think.

Another list that would be interesting is the most memorable voices in rock. Most of the ladies above certainly would be on my list (don’t we all imitate Ann Wilson every time we say “Barracuda”?). Stevie Wonder, Ray Charles, Bob Dylan, Mick Jagger would make the list and they would probably make Rolling Stone‘s list, too. I would add to that John Mayer, James Taylor, Stevie Nicks, Dave Matthews, Grace Slick, Elton John, Billy Joel, Sting, Joan Baez, Joni Mitchell, Peter Gabriel, and others that might be too pop or too soft for the RS crowd.

So I’m not in sync (or ‘NSync) with the canon. But then I’m not really sure there is a canon anymore. iTunes and friends changed that notion completely.

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