Does a particular musician’s songwriting and artistry speak to you above all others?

I’ve enjoyed all forms of music over the 60+ years of music being the one constant in my life. My music tastes have certainly evolved over time.  I’ll cover that in another thread some day. Currently i find myself listening to jazz > 95% of the time. There is one particular artist who really speaks to me and i thoroughly enjoy each of the >270 songs he has written, arranged, recorded, and produced. Every other artist falls far short for me.
Guitarist Chris Standring lays down unique grooves in each song that can inspire (in me) toe tapping, soulful reflection, sensuality, air guitar picking, and other effects depending on the song. 
This is a personal connection I’ve developed with Standring’s music. I’ve had the opportunity to hear him play in an intimate diinner music house in Nashville the past 2 years. My wife loves his music also, which is the cherry on top!

Does anyone else have a musician who speaks to them?


Not for me. There are many who I find deeply touching. I never heard of Chriis Standring before, but I went on youtube just now to hear him, and I think he's very good. A bit "easy listening", but talented.

Songwriting, for me, is words/stories, then combine that with Artistry. So Jazz doesn’t fit for me even though Jazz is my main thing for many years.

Bob Dylan, even if you don’t like his voice, or many times his crappy live performances, has to be the top of my list.

Billy Joel, if you listen to him chronologically, has reflected America’s changes. I didn’t realize that until I saw a Broadway show with Twyla Tharp’s Dance Company with all Billy Joel’s music

we saw the original version, 2002

evidently they have performed it many times over the years

Sometimes I think I should write a song with my friend Joe Cerisano called "Goddammmmmnnn I Miss John Denver".

Ani DiFranco will make you think

Patti Griffin jumps to mind; John Hiatt; Etta James; ... taking more time to think my list would be very long

I’ve had a few favorites over the years, but at this stage in my life Mark Knopfler has earned his way to the top of my playlist, along much respect for collaborating with multiple musicians on multiple styles of music. He’s a great song writer, great vocal story teller, and great musician. So much talent and versatility, and is seriously underrated as a guitar player IMHO.


Even with my favorite artists, I never enjoy all their recordings. 

And no single artist is sufficiently multidimensional to satisfy me all the time.  

I'm much more recording-focused than artist-focused. 

For me, it would be much easier to list recordings by a broad spectrum of artists I come back to over and over than a single artist.  


@roxy54 Yes, Standring is best fit in the smooth jazz genre, but with melodies and artistry. My brain can no longer handle the Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, Yes, Allman Brothers days of my youth. I listen to 60’s and 70’s rock periodically for nostalgia’s sake (I was lucky enough to have been of an age to ride the wave of musical expression and genius of that era). I have fond memories of listening to a AM radio statio out of Hartford CT,in my early teen, who played Stairway to Heaven every night that ended exactly at midnight.
And no, I am definitely not a musician. 

There are many that elicit that reaction for me, but it is usually for only a few years or a number of albums.

For instance,

Elton John from his "Elton John" debut album up to "Captain Fantastic".

Linda Ronstadt "Heart Like a Wheel" until "Simple Dreams"

Joni Mitchell "Ladies of the Canyon" until "Court and Spark"

There are many more examples, but I guess what I am saying is that it is very difficult for any artist to maintain the level of artistic and emotional connection you speak of for an extended period.

Probably the best example would be the Rolling Stones. They killed it up until 1972’s "Exile on Main Street", but haven’t done anything of note in the 50 years since.

It's difficult to choose one.What comes to mind immediately is Bruce Colburn, Neil Young, Leonard Cohen.

>> Songwriting, for me, is words/stories, then combine that with Artistry. So Jazz doesn’t fit for me even though Jazz is my main thing for many years. <<

It seems to me that Abbey Lincoln (definitely a jazz singer) fits your definition VERY well. She’s a favorite of mine, anyway. Try "Abbey Sings Abbey."

Just one example.

My auto-answer is Frank Zappa is an undisputed champion in all musical categories such as songwritting, stage acts and ability to HEAVILY solicit his guitar and orchestral arrangements! He is all in one a complete music warrior!!!

Too many to list. Peter Gabiel, Paul Simon, Early Eric Clapton, Dan Fogelberg...

Kevin Gilbert was the most talented singer-songwriter-musician-vovalist in the last 40 years.




Same here, I am a Mark Knopfler fan! He has aged with me it seems and his music has matured/evolved over the years in a way that suits me. 

Nilsson’s version of Without You.
Elton John’s Tiny Dancer. I knew someone that was a seamstress for the band.

Also Mark Knopfler for me.  I have many variations of his work.  Live and studio versions.  I enjoy listening to the differences of a track from various recordings on the same tour and compared to the album version.  





Second on Bruce Cockburn, adding Gordon Lightfoot, Moody Blues earlier years, Harry Chapin, Jackson Brown, early Neil Diamond, and more but at bedtime all I can think of. 

If we are talking about lyrics then Darrell Scott and Guy Clark come to mind, as does John Prine.

If we are talking about the melody then Miles Davis.

OUAT.....there were daze like this...    with the opener ’...cocaine and bottle of gin...’, only one of which I like....can’t say I wasted my previous era in That Exact fashion...

...but saw enough of it to avoid like the Covid Demon Days.....

But....the lyrics kinda brought back some of the flavors of boring thru it....

and one of the reasons I bailed on L.A.

With each decade someone new floats to the top of my list. The days of Zeppelin, Grateful Dead, ABB etc are past, though I still listen to them. I spend most of my time searching for music from my youth I missed out on. Most of it is Fusion Jazz but there is some new music I love and at the top of that list right now is Chris Stapleton and a guy named Ryan Bingham. I always look for music that moves me to dance or otherwise react physically to it. Little Feat fits that bill to a tea. Qobuz has allowed me to expand my musical horizons and believe it is the best $150 I ever spent on music in any given year.

edit: Forgot to mention, to this day I still listen to Zappa and Bowie religiously

@uncledemp @bremner1

Any of you Knopfler fans venture into the Notting Hillbillies or Knopfler with Chet Atkins or Emmy Lou Harris yet? 😎


Since I keep up with new music all the time, I have different favorite musicians who speak to me every other month. For real.

A lot of what has already been mentioned for me (Dylan stands out), but I'm partial to Elvis Costello.  A lot of songs he's written, I can't imagine how someone can think up lyrics like that.

"Wish that i could push a button, and talk in the past and not the present tense.
  And watch this hurtin' feeling, disappear like it was common sense.
  I was a fine idea at the time, now I'm a brilliant mistake".

Lyrics like that......come from an amazing place.


Roxy Music

Chris Isaak

October Project


Moody Blues

Jimi Hendrix

Warren Zevon

Luka Bloom

David Bowie

Elton John

Alice in Chains

Joni Mitchell

Spandau Ballet

Level 42

Stan Getz

Plenty of others that aren’t coming to mind...

I agree that Mark Knopfler is always tasteful, reserved, and thoughtful in his playing. His lyrics maybe not so much.

There are too many good musicians to list; but, what I listen for is either an instantly identifiable style or tone. Examples would run the gamut from JJ Cale to Jaco Pastorius.

Picking a great lyricist is much easier. Below are a few that I think can turn a great and/or memorable - quotable phrase:

Billy Bragg

Leonard Cohen

Lloyd Cole

Elvis Costello

Ray Davies

Bob Dylan

Paddy McAloon (Prefab Sprout)

Joni Mitchell


Richard Thompson

Paul Westerberg



The Atkins/ Knopfler album is wonderful.


Try Silver Eagle on Tracker album. This album has many strong stories/lyrics.


Yes to James Taylor also

Kristeen Young is my undisputed numero uno - 11 self-released albums since 1997, over 120 songs, and every single one of them is among the best I've ever heard; music I needed to hear but didn't know existed until 2018 when I read about her in a David Bowie discography (David duetted with her on a song from 2003).... She's on all the streaming platforms, but physical media, not so much.... 

David Bowie deserves more respect IMHO.  LVB for all his shorter "songs".  

Putting "I Just Called to Say I Love You" (makes me want to hurl) aside, I have to go with Stevie Wonder. If there is a Mt. Rushmore of individual acts, I think two spots are already taken by Elton and Stevie. The rest are debatable.

So, so many, in several different genres and subgenres.

Defends on my mood, for sure.

Robert Fripp - While King Crimson is usually known for their somewhat angular, intense music, Fripp could compose some achingly beautiful songs, too. The Night Watch, Book of Saturday, I Talk to the Wind, I'm walking on Air are a few.

Yes - Close to the Edge - From the chaotic intro, to the quiet passages, to the intense passages, this takes the listener on a real journey through various moods.

Mahavishnu Orchestra - Eternity's Breath, Meeting of the Spirits, Vision Is a Naked Sword are examples of music with great melodies, coupled with insane levels of musicianship, that puts a huge grin on my face, and leads me to lose track of time.

Elliott Carter - Concerto for Orchestra, Three Occasions for Orchestra, Three Illusions for Orchestra (and others). While some may consider Carter's music to be a bit of a challenge, those things that people consider challenging, are the very things that sweep me up, and mentally transport me. 

John Coltrane - A Love Supreme. Nothing needs to be said...

PFM - Per un Amico, Storia di un Minuto. While the U.K. was much better known for prog, Italy had many bands that were the equal of those U.K. bands. PFM is the best known. Great musicianship, high levels of complexity, and tons of beautiful melodies.  

Allan Holdsworth - his unique approach, and vocabulary was really unprecedented. He really did not have any musical predecessors. And his chops were monstrous. Even his unique chords, were otherworldly.

I could seriously go on for pages...



Anton Bruckner / Franz Schubert / Carl Maria von Weber

Carlo Maria Giulini / Sergiu Celibidache / Daniel Barenboim / Carlos Kleiber

Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau / Christa Ludwig / Jacqueline du Pré / James Ehnes