David Brooks, a thoughtful, conservative columnist with The New York Times, wrote an excellent piece today called "The Other Education."
In it, he discusses emotional education, specifically the emotional education he received by listening to Bruce Springsteen. His thoughtful column made me wonder about my emotional education through music and which musicians and artists have influenced all of us through our lives. For me, the following have had a huge impact:
Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band - his songs are real and to the point. They show a depth and feeling most artists cannot begin to reach.
Van Morrison - whether his songs discuss relationships, god, or the trial and tribulations of life, his voice traces each subject and emotion with delicacy, allowing one to truly see and feel each word of the song
Charlie Robison - Texas country boy who has a ton of whimsical songs but also has an extremely deep, spiritual side to many songs. Very Springsteen like in the latter type of song.
Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes - grew up playing the same clubs as Springsteen, the same Jersey Shore sound, a rough voice that emits emotion and understanding of diverse matters.
Arlo Guthrie - whether talking about the Alice's Restaurant Massacre (great song!) or being out on the highway in the wind, his lyrics show great depth
The Smothers Brothers - seriously! The Smothers Brothers helped me learn that you have to be able to laugh at yourself, ridicule the absurdities in life, and stand up for what you think is right.
Bob Seger - Seger's songs simply resonate with me more than any other artist has been able to. Whether going through the tough choices and escapism of "Roll Me Away," the heartache of "We've Got Tonight," standing up against war and lies in "No More," or singing to his young son on the track "In Your Time," Seger always hits the right chord and is able to express the emotions of desperation, fear, wanting, hope, nervousness, and others in an extremely poignant manner.
Beethoven - I grew up listening to classical music, and the way that Beethoven, Mozart, Vivaldi, Mahler, and others are able to conjure specific images and emotions in your head using only instruments simply amazes me.
There are others in there too, but this list is a good start. How about y'all?