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.
Ray Charles, one of our FUV Essentials, was not only a virtuosic musician and song interpreter, but a man who founded a genre, intuitively merging various elements of bebop, gospel, blues, jazz, swing and country. He laid the cornerstone to what became modern soul, R&B and early rock 'n' roll.
Ray Charles (illustration by Andy Friedman)
When the days of the Brill Building evolved into the days of Bob Dylan, music fans came to expect that songs be borne of personal expression by the
Lucinda Williams (illustration by Andy Friedman)
The Replacements were the essence of rock 'n' roll — self-destructive, badly behaved, and exhilarating. Although their tenure was short-lived when compared to fifty years of the comparatively mild-mannered Rolling Stones, the 'Mats influence was arguably as mighty as those wiry British icons. Celebrating an American supernova, the Replacements are this week's FUV Essentials.
The Replacements (illustration by Andy Friedman)
Garrett Borns, who records as BØRNS, has covered David Bowie's "Moonage Daydream" extensively in his live sets—a supple, tender take on that song from The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars. So when we asked BØRNS if he'd compile his Five Essential David Bowie Albums for us, we weren't too surprised to find that album in his top five picks.
BØRNS, aka Garrett Borns (photo by Lauren Dukoff, PR)
Esperanza Spalding's shapeshifting and erudite command of the many fusions between jazz, soul, rock, pop and gospel is a reminder of the versatility of one of her favorite musicians, Aretha Franklin. And as Esperanza Spalding enthuses in her observant and ebullient "Five Essential Aretha Franklin Songs" for FUV Essentials, "[Aretha's] whole musical spirit speaks to me."
Esperanza Spalding (photo by Holly Andres, PR)
When we asked Guster's kinetic drummer (and bongo sensei) Brian Rosenworcel to write about his Five Essential R.E.M. Albums, he turned in this terrific, thoughtful list that gives special insight into fellow man-with-sticks Bill Berry's contributions too.
Guster with drummer Brian Rosenworcel to the far left (photo by Zoe-Ruth Erwin, PR, Nettwerk)
As a longtime solo artist and as one half of a duo with Iron and Wine's Sam Beam, Jesca Hoop has always been a fearless, insightful lyricist, so it's not surprising that Hoop found an early kinship with our FUV Essentials artist Patti Smith. Like Smith, Hoop confronts hard truths with empathy and strength—and in her perceptive picks for "Five Essential Patti Smith Songs," it's clear that the Smith was an early guide for a young Hoop, finding her way and her words in California.
Jesca Hoop (photo by Josh Wool, PR)
Britt Daniel, the lead singer and guitarist of Spoon, is a longtime admirer of Paul Simon's songwriting. When FUV asked Daniel if he could find the time to write about Simon for FUV Essentials, he swiftly sent on this wonderful assessment of his favorite Simon songs.
Britt Daniel and his Spoon bandmates (photo by Tom Hines, PR)