Pick Ten

By | September 08, 2011

I was thinking the other day about music, musicians, and the ones I keep listening to over and over. It got me thinking about a hypothetical situation: if I had to choose ten artists/bands to listen to for the rest of my life, and I couldn’t listen to anyone else, who would I choose and why? I thought it would be fun to put it down in writing and then invite others to do the same.

The criteria for a list like this are a little different than just “ten favorite artists/bands,” I think. For me, the considerations are a combination of “how much do I like the music?” and “how many songs do they have that I like?” So for example, 1990s country band BlackHawk had some great songs, including one of my favorite songs of all time, but they just don’t have enough music that I love to make it worth putting them on the list. And then there’s someone like Michael Jackson, who had a ton of music and I like quite a bit of it, but I don’t LOVE much of it.

So anyway, here are my ten, in no particular order except alphabetical:

Barry Manilow

I’m not afraid to admit it: I am a Fanilow. Barry is my second favorite singer, and he happens to also have a huge catalog of music. He is pretty much perfect for a list like this: hundreds of songs that I like, dozens of which I love. It also helps that he has two or three Christmas albums, and I love Christmas music.


Another huge catalog, and a lot of music that I really like. I don’t think of myself as a huge Beatles fan, until I listen to their music and remember how much I like it. If I could include “covers of Beatles songs” in this category, it would be awesome.

Ben Folds

Ben Folds is just an amazing man. If I could choose any single human being whose repertoire of skills and talents I could add to my own, Ben Folds would be my third choice. Who would be the first two choices? Keep reading to find out!

Collin Raye

My favorite singer of all time. My favorite song of all time (“All My Roads,” the song Beth and I danced to at our wedding reception). A Christmas album or two. Collin Raye is the most indispensable person on this list.

Diamond Rio

My favorite country band ever, they have a huge catalog and I like pretty much everything they ever did. But if I decided one of my honorable mentions below needed to be on the list, Diamond Rio would probably be my first cut.

Dr. Hook

If you’ve never listened to Dr. Hook, you need to do it now. They were semi-big in the 1970s, and they sing about things you would expect a semi-big 1970s band to sing about: sex, drugs, and rock & roll. I’m not really into any of those three things the way they sing about them (although I do like my wife, NyQuil, and Elvis), but I love the way they sing about them. And they have hundreds of songs, which is a huge bonus.

George Strait

My second-favorite country singer of all time, behind Collin Raye. He also has the advantage of having an absolutely enormous catalog of music. Having George Strait on the list (along with Barry Manilow and Dr. Hook) means never getting tired of listening to the same songs over and over.

Indigo Girls

I can’t really explain this one. I love them. Their harmonies make me wish I could sing. The thought of never listening to them again makes me sad, so I put them on the list so I don’t have to think about it.

Joshua Kadison

Okay, remember earlier when I was talking about if I could have the talents and skills of one other human being added to my own? Well, my first choice would be someone like Nolan Ryan or Sandy Koufax or Pedro Martinez in their primes. But my second choice? Joshua Kadison. Dude can play the piano like nobody’s business, he has an amazing singing voice, and his songwriting skills blow me away. Seriously, if I had Joshua Kadison’s skills, I might never go to sleep again — I’d just sit at the piano singing to myself and writing new amazing songs about all sorts of ridiculous stuff.

They Might Be Giants

I need some fun music. There are elements of fun in some of the other artists, but I need someone JUST for fun. TMBG is the choice.

HONORABLE MENTIONS (again, in alphabetical order):

Billy Joel

Big catalog, lots of songs I like, but just not enough that I love.

Billy Ray Cyrus

Several songs that I love, big catalog, but too many songs that I don’t care one way or the other about.

Bryan White

I love everything by him, but the catalog just isn’t big enough.

Dan Seals

When I think of heaven, I think of Dan Seals singing in the background. On any given day, I would be just as likely to put him in the top ten as to leave him out.

Elton John

Elton John is actually who got me thinking about this idea, and I assumed he would be on the list. I just can’t bring myself to bump any of the ten for him.

Elvis Presley

This is another one that might be different on a different day. Elvis one day, the Beatles the next. Today it’s the Beatles, but it could just as easily have been Elvis.

Old 97’s

Just not quite enough songs. I love these guys.


If I put Phish on the list, I could go the rest of my life without ever hearing the same song twice. Heck, I might go the rest of my life without ever finishing a song. I REALLY like Phish, but I have to be in the right mood, and I can’t justify putting them on the list when I’d only listen to them once every six months or so.

Snow Patrol

They have a huge catalog, but I’m only familiar with a small percentage of it. I love most of what I have heard, but I don’t know enough to lock myself in.

Tim McGraw

Each of Tim McGraw’s first five or six albums was, at some point, my “current favorite CD.” If the list expanded to 15, he’d probably make it.

Weird Al Yankovic

This is like the Beatles/Elvis thing — Weird Al could easily replace TMBG on any given day.


Anyway, that was a fun waste of time. I’d love to hear other people’s lists.

2 thoughts on “Pick Ten

  1. Amy

    Cool thought experiment. I’d second you on The Beatles, Ben Folds, and Indigo Girls. Can’t stand most country, so that’s out. I just checked out my most-played songs on iTunes for some help. I’d go with Elizabeth Mitchell (supposed to be kid music, but I love her), Chopin because he writes ridiculously hard music that rocks my emotions, Lenny Kravitz because he’s hot, the Cambridge singers because they make the best sacred choral music in the world (lots of Christmas too), and I’ve got three slots left, but my children are screaming, and I should probably go intervene.

  2. Momma Snider

    How did I not know you were writing this particular blog?
    As you know, I’m not so much a country fan, so I could lose a few of those, even though I like George Strait and Collin Raye. I would definitely have the Beatles, of course, and also Joshua Kadison. I would also have Art Garfunkel and James Taylor, and maybe Carole King. For Christmas music I prefer collections, but I do love George Strait’s.

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