Friday, November 21, 2008

Singer not the song

Jonathan Lethem on what makes great rock singers great. (Rolling Stone)

Singers are tricksters. Sometimes we'll wonder if they're more like movie actors than musicians per se — we'll decide that the "real" R.E.M. are embodied by Buck, Berry and Mills, not that kooky frontman Stipe, or the "real" Rolling Stones are Richards-Wood-Watts-Wyman, rather than that irritating capitalist Jagger. But beware — go down this route and soon you'll find yourself wondering how the Doors sound sans "Mr. Mojo Risin' " or imagining someone can better put across Dylan's gnarled syllables than Dylan himself.

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