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Musical Tastes,
Past and Present

The Best ...
The Beatles, of course!
The Rest ...
Rolling Stones, Allman Brothers Band,
Peter Green, Eric Clapton, Carlos Santana,
Stevie Ray Vaughan, Black Crowes, Free,
Richard Thompson, Three Dog Night,
Dr. Alexey Agranovsky, Erja Lyytinen,
Paul Pena, and Bob Dylan
Off the Top of My Head
Audio Adrenaline, Badfinger, David Bromberg,
Eddie Cochran, Joe Cocker, Shirley Collins,
Kevin Coyne, CCR, CSN&Y, Fairport Convention,
Rory Gallagher, Steeleye Span, ...
Classical Music
Bach, Mozart, Vivaldi, Tchaikovsky, ...
Guitar Links
Tablature, ...
found on the Internet of songs by
Beatles, Rolling Stones,
Peter Green, Band, and Traffic

The Best ...

LET IT BE album cover

I'm an unusual Beatles fan: my favorite album is the "Spectorized" Let It Be. My favorite song is "Dig A Pony"; my second favorite is "Day Tripper" or "Get Back"; my third favorite is ... oh, what the heck - did they have any bad songs?

I'd like to give a big shout-out to Tom Gill (Northwestern Class of 1974), a good friend from high school and college. We used to run into each other every so often at the University of Maryland and talk music. I am very grateful to him for:

What I've got that you may not have:

Throughout this page, the "What I've got that you may not have" sections are lists I compiled for this web page in 1995 of LPs and books, etc. that I got back in the 1970s. The "40-year-old bootlegs?" item below was originally "20-year-old bootlegs?". Nowadays, almost all of the music is available on CD or digitally, but, back then, a lot of it was hard to find.

Also see:


The Rest ...

Paul Pena [Photograph]

For decades, I listened to and loved Steve Miller's "Jet Airliner", never realizing that he didn't write it. Then, in the 2010s, I discovered the author, Paul Pena (Wikipedia), and the original recording which blows away Steve Miller's still-beloved-by-me version. How so? First, the darker side of the lyrics are more apparent in Pena's performance than in Miller's seeming rendition of the song as stadium-rock anthem. Second, Pena's incredible lead guitar which plays throughout the song: verses, choruses, solo, and all. You must listen to it loud and preferably in headphones.

The song appeared on Paul Pena's album, New Train. The producer, Ben Sidran, also played keyboards in the Steve Miller Band and he played the tape for Miller ... and the rest is history. While Pena's album, recorded in 1973, was not released until 27 years later, Miller's 1977 version became a big hit.

I occasionally try to think of (i) what single song epitomizes rock and (ii) what single song would I want to have if I was stranded on a desert island and could only have one song (plus a music player and a magic battery that never loses its charge and a pair of headphones!). Elsewhere on this page, I propose "Honky Tonk Women" and Three Dog Night's "Joy To The World" as exemplars of rock, the latter perhaps because Three Dog Night was really popular in my formative, junior high school years. As for the desert isle, I'm torn between "Jet Airliner" and, since I would eventually be driven crazy by whatever song I pick, something like the Allman Brothers' 19-minute "You Don't Love Me" because it would at least extend the time it took for every single moment of the chosen song to take over my brain!


The Rolling Stones Mick Taylor and Keith

From Beggars' Banquet through Goat's Head Soup. Their earlier albums were, well, early. I gave up on their later albums during the disco craze and I haven't followed them since. My favorite album is Sticky Fingers. My favorite song? Hmmm ... probably "Can't You Hear Me Knocking", but I'll have to say that I consider "Honky Tonk Women" to be the rock song of all rock songs. [Although Three Dog Night's recording of "Joy to the World" (Hoyt Axton) gives it a run for the money.]

What I've got that you may not have:

Also see:


Allman Brothers Band Duane Allman

Wail on, Skydog!

What I've got that you may not have:


Peter Green Fleetwood Mac

Do you believe in miracles (Wayback Machine)? Then believe in Peter Green. Back, mellower perhaps, and as good as ever!

He's possibly my favorite guitarist. If you like Peter Green too, make sure you pick up Gary Moore's Blues for Greeny album, a collection of tastefully done remakes of Peter Green tunes from Green's John Mayall and Fleetwood Mac days. Although Gary Moore is no Peter Green in the vocal department, his guitar playing is beautiful and the songs are played with the dignity they deserve.

What I've got that you may not have:

Playing with the Grateful Dead:

Also see:

Gone, but not forgotten (Wayback Machine):

Cover versions and related music (in addition to my list of covers):


Eric Clapton

[Musician magazine cover]

62 Reasons It's Great To Be Eric Clapton (from the cover of Musician magazine, February 1990):

  1. Only Englishman who can play blues
  2. Doesn't have to do reunion tour
  3. All the Michelob you can drink
  4. Howlin' Wolf likes you more than Ringo
  5. Saw Muddy Waters ride tricycle
  6. No hammer-ons
  7. Had afro in '68
  8. Got caught holding the bag for Buddy Guy
  9. People light matches when you walk out
  10. Pals with George Harrison
  11. Pals with Patti Harrison
  12. Married Patti Harrison
  13. Still pals with George Harrison
  14. Still afraid of Robert Johnson
  15. Used to be God
  16. You don't lie, you don't lie, you don't lie
  17. Hung with Hendrix
  18. Employed Duane Allman
  19. Still alive

I like his work from John Mayall's Bluesbreakers through Derek and the Dominos. Before that, his playing was too raw and, after that, his playing was too polished. (In my humble and not so knowledgeable opinion - I have no post-Dominos albums.)

Also see:


Santana Woodstock 1969

Does the phrase "liquid gold" capture the essence of his guitar playing?

What I've got that you may not have:

Also see:


Stevie Ray Vaughan Stevie Ray Vaughan

Eric Clapton is undoubtedly rock's greatest guitarist, but SRV was as one with his instrument. I first heard/saw him on what must have been a rerun of his 1983 performance on Austin City Limits and I was immediately hooked. I just got the video of the Austin City Limits performances and relived the magic all over again. I could give or take the later performances, but 1983's was just incredible.

And, yes, that was SRV playing "Pipeline" with Dick Dale in Back to the Beach!

Also see:


Jeff Healey Jeff Healey

I first heard and saw Jeff Healey performing on a TV talk show; the song was "Confidence Man" and, needless to say, I went out and bought the cassette, See the Light. I would give the album a mixed review. His second album (not including the Road House soundtrack), Hell to Pay, was better, with cuts like "Full Circle", "I Can't Get My Hands on You", and "Hell to Pay". Still, I don't listen to either album very often. I love the faster high-energy songs like the tracks mentioned above. The slower and mellower songs generally leave me cold - either the material just isn't that good or his voice just doesn't fit these types of songs.

The third album, Feel This, struck me as kind of disco-y at first. However, I recorded it on one side of a cassette and Dan Baird's Love Songs for the Hearing Impaired on the other and the cassette soon became one of my favorites, albeit a little bit loud!

Cover to Cover, of course, is great - although I just discovered that the British version has 4 extra songs! I would love to hear some of the bootleg albums formerly listed on Karen West's (Wayback Machine) discography page: Cream, Hendrix, and Santana songs, and performing with Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble.

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Black Crowes Black Crowes

Their first album, Shake Your Money Maker, made me think, "Hey, a new, late 60's, early 70's Rolling Stones!" Their second album, The Southern Harmony and Musical Companion, was a seamless progression of good songs; it reminded me of Abbey Road.

Their next two albums, Amorica (with the expurgated cover) and Three Snakes and One Charm, never seemed to get the adrenalin going and a number of the songs seemed to be recycling melodies and riffs I'd heard elsewhere ... fast-forward several years into the future ... Hmmm ... the albums grow on you after repeated listenings - the songs are actually pretty good!

And then, By Your Side. Now we're talking. This is the Black Crowes we all know and love.


Rank Strangers Rank Strangers


Free Paul Kossoff

Paul Rodgers and Paul Kossoff - need I say more?

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Richard and Linda Thompson Richard Thompson Linda Thompson

"They say running into you is like running into trouble; bend my ear and I see double. You're everybody's idea of a waste of time!"

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Three Dog Night

"Joy to the World", "Never Been to Spain", "Shambala", "Celebrate", "Mama Told Me Not To Come", ... Unbelievable!

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Dr. Alexey Agranovsky Alexey Agranovsky

Biochemist by day and Russia's greatest blues musician by night! Quite some years ago, I saw him performing live on some foreign-language cable channel. Via the Internet, I was able to find the cable station's schedule, find out his name, and locate his web site, which was and is chock full of music and videos freely available for download. (More detailed account of my search.) I downloaded the music and listened to it for hours on end; the 2001 video of "Crossroads" (AVI) is superb. Very highly recommended! (Links to English/Russian versions of his web site.) (Also see the Dr. Agranovsky videos at YouTube.)


Erja Lyytinen [Album cover]

I heard one of the tracks off of Erja Lyytinen's The Sky Is Crying album on the radio, liked it, and picked up the CD. It is a fantastic tribute to Elmore James, not too slavish to the originals, but also not too far out to lose the tribute part. I love the album and have listened to it many times. I haven't gotten any of her other CDs yet, but there are a number of great live performances on YouTube.

Also see "Early Blues Interview: Erja Lyytinen, singer/guitarist/songwriter".


Bob Dylan [Album cover]

I graduated from high school in June 1974 and immediately began working as a student employee in the University of Maryland's McKeldin Library Serials Department. I loved books and I loved working in the library. I also loved talking with Myra Katz (who might have been my supervisor, but I'm not sure after all these years). Now Myra had seen the Beatles at Shea Stadium, so she was up on a pedestal as far as I, a big Beatles fan, was concerned. Myra and I did have two bones of contention, however, only tangentially related to each other. I'll try to quote approximately what I said that made her almost fall out of her chair twice.

"I think Gregg Allman is a better songwriter than Bob Dylan."

I probably said this in 1975, by which time I was an ardent Duane Allman/Allman Brothers Band fan. I was thinking in particular of Gregg's "Ain't Wastin' Time No More" song off of the Eat a Peach album, a song that has always appealed to me. My only knowledge of Dylan at that time was whatever singles of his I overheard on AM radio.

Myra, a big Dylan fan who'd probably seen him multiple times live in concert, couldn't believe what I'd just said. She broke out laughing and rushed over to the neighboring cataloging department to tell a friend of hers that I thought Gregg Allman was a better songwriter than Dylan. They both rolled on the floor laughing! Embarrassing to say the least for the young 18- or 19-year-old me!

In the late 1970s, I did gradually collect and listen to all of Dylan's early acoustic and electric albums up through Blonde on Blonde, the latter being my favorite Dylan album and "Stuck Inside Of Mobile With The Memphis Blues Again" being my favorite Dylan song. I haven't seriously listened to any of his music beyond those early albums, my only exposure to his post-Blonde on Blonde work mainly consisting of his appearances in George Harrison's The Concert for Bangladesh and the Band's The Last Waltz.

To tell the truth, I still stand by the gist of what I said all those years ago; to whit, Bob Dylan was a prolific songwriter and a clever wordsmith, but there were many others who wrote better songs than him. There's a certain sameness to Dylan's melodies and music. I listened to "4th Time Around" recently, having read that it was a response to John Lennon's "Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown)". Okay, I get the lyrics, but the vocal, melody, and backing music are the same old, same old. Dylan couldn't compete with Lennon and McCartney (and George Martin) when it came to creating distinctive, memorable, finely crafted, richly textured songs. (And "Norwegian Wood" isn't even high on my list of favorite Beatles' songs.)

Other examples abound of great songs, equal to or better than any of Dylan's, by other musicians. Lest I sound too harsh on Dylan's oeuvre, I enjoyed his early albums and I definitely think a number of his songs belong in a "top N rock songs of all time" list. And groups like Fairport Convention recorded/performed excellent covers of some of Dylan's songs. I'll simply finish up by retelling a possibly apocryphal story about Bob Dylan telling Mick Jagger that he, Dylan, could have written "Honky Tonk Women". Jagger responded, "Yeah, but you couldn't sing it!"

Wouldn't you know it? A month after I wrote the preceding paragraphs, Bob Dylan was awarded the 2016 Nobel Prize in Literature! I discovered I was not alone in my opinion of Dylan. For example, see the Language Log's post, "Bob Dylan's poetry and the Nobel Prize"; readers are directed to an earlier post to add comments, "Look out kid". The discussion is very interesting and gets into the topics of:

Of course, the biggest takeaway from the whole shebang is that how different people react to different music, songs, poems, and literature is all a matter of personal taste.

"I'm not really interested in traveling because people are the same all over the world."


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Off the Top of My Head

Rory Gallagher  

Classical Music

I played violin for 5 or 6 years when I was young and Little Richard was right: "The same beat you find in rock, you find in Bach!" Or to paraphrase him with regard to violins and guitars, "The same lead you find in rock, you find in Bach." Listen to Itzhak Perlman perform Tchaikovsky's Violin Concerto in D and you'll know what I mean. I also like Bach, Mozart, Vivaldi—pretty much any violin music in their styles.

My violin teacher was Laura McKinnon at Dale Music (which sadly closed its doors in 2014) in Silver Spring, MD. One Christmas, my brother Pete gave me the classical guitar that our parents had given him, but that he had never played! Miss McKinnon recommended Tony Norris, also at Dale, as a guitar teacher. So, for three months, I took classical guitar and violin lessons simultaneously. I had seen Mr. Norris in the hallway and he had a bulldog kind of face—the kind of face that made a young kid want to blend into the wall whenever Mr. Norris passed by. After my first guitar lesson, however, I reported to Miss McKinnon that, despite his mean look, Mr. Norris was actually a very nice man! She got a big laugh out of that. A short time later they announced their engagement. No, I can take no credit for unveiling the nice guy underneath the tough exterior—I believe they already knew each other! Two wonderful teachers.

Mr. and Mrs. Norris are the owners (since 1972) of Bertha's Restaurant in Baltimore, MD. You might have seen their "EAT BERTHA'S MUSSELS" bumper stickers out on the road. Here's a little history of the place, along with a recipe and directions. The Food Channel had a show about them some years ago; unfortunately, I just happened to catch the tail-end of the show as I was channel surfing and I just caught a brief glimpse of Mr. and Mrs. Norris being interviewed. (Sadly, Bertha's closed in 2023 after a 51-year run.)

Mrs. Norris (Concertmistress!) and Mr. Norris (guitar) are members of the Baltimore Mandolin Orchestra (players) and the Baltimore Mandolin Quartet (Wayback Machine).


Musical Links



Brands, Vendors


Tablature Editors

Some years ago, the threat of legal action from the music industry over tabs of copyrighted music caused a number of tablature sites to take down copyrighted songs or to even go off-line altogether. Fortunately, some new tablature sites have cropped up.



Other Software

Alex Measday  /  E-mail