So many variables determine what makes an artist or band “essential” — longevity, impact, influence, history. On-air and online, we celebrate the musicians who have shaped our cultural soundtrack for the past fifty years. Let’s love these FUV Essential artists while they’re here, and honor those who have departed too soon.
Deep in heart of Sylvan Esso's "Radio" lurks a clue to one of Amelia Meath's favorite David Bowie songs, "Blue Jean." Since Meath has already confessed to one of her most beloved Bowie tracks, FUV wondered if she had four others she might want to write about for "Five Essential David Bowie Songs" for FUV Essentials. She most certainly did!
Sylvan Esso (photo courtesy of Loma Vista, PR)
''Johnny Cash was the champion of the voiceless, the underdogs and the downtrodden. He was also something of a holy terror, like Abraham Lincoln with a wild side,'' said his friend Kris Kristofferson, at Cash's 2003 funeral. ''He represented the best of America.''
Johnny Cash (1969 Look Magazine photo by Joel Baldwin, public domain)
NPR Slingshot artist Jade Bird dazzled with her confident 2017 debut EP, Something American. Her boisterous cover of Johnny Cash's "I've Been Everywhere" is a joy, and for #FUVEssentials, she rounded up her "Five Essential Johnny Cash Songs."
Jade Bird (photo by Francesca Allen, PR)
Brittany Howard, the dynamic singer and guitarist of Alabama Shakes, Thunderbitch and Bermuda Triangle, finds solace in the music of one of her most beloved influences, Nina Simone. Howard's "Five Essential Nina Simone Songs" includes striking covers of tracks by Bob Dylan and Janis Ian.
Brittany Howard (photo by Eric Ryan Anderson, PR)
Nina Simone made us weep, articulated our rage, turned a mirror to our hate and prejudice, and inspired a generation in the throes of resistance. She still does so, nearly 15 years since her passing. She is not only one of our most vivid #FUVEssentials, she's essential to who we are as Americans.
Nina Simone (1969 photo by Gerrit de Bruin, photo illustration by Laura Fedele)
For FUV Dance Floor Essentials, Django Django's Dave Maclean offers up a DJ's perspective on what works in a set, and what first catapulted him into his love of dance music in his "Five Essential Dance Songs."
Left to right, Django Django's Vincent Neff, Tommy Grace, Dave Maclean and Jimmy Dixon (photo by Fiona Garden, PR)