Michael Johns only made it to eighth place in Season 7 of American Idol, but he was adored by countless TV viewers and music fans. During his time on what was then the most-watched show on television, he was one of the few contestants who managed to capture the nation’s attention, all the while still being well liked and uncontroversial.
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I’ve always said
I was gonna leave you …
When all the land is wet …
—“I’m Not Ready Yet”
And remarkably, ridiculously, George Jones recalls Chaucer, whose April showers pierced the March drought, and Eliot, for whom April was the cruelest month.
I know, Jones didn’t write that one (Tom T. Hall did). For that matter, he didn’t write a great many of the songs that made him famous. That’s beside the point, because poetry has always been about sound, about voice, and Jones had a voice as strong as Chaucer’s or Eliot’s.
This Tuesday marks the 72nd anniversary of the birth of one of the most important figures in popular music. John Lennon helped make the Beatles the world’s most successful music group, but also he made quite an impact in a solo career that tragically spanned only two decades.
While everyone can easily name seven John Lennon songs, a list of his singles that did the best on US charts might surprise you. For instance, “Give Peace a Chance” hit No. 2 in the UK, but here in the States it didn’t even crack the top ten. “Happy Christmas (War Is Over)” may be a holiday classic, but it never appeared on our Billboard charts. Keeping this in mind, let’s take a look at John’s biggest hit singles in the US.
Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton and Jimmy Page get the attention as the major guitar gods, as do a plethora of other superb rock musicians, but a humble, blind guitarist from the little town of Deep Gap, North Carolina playing an acoustic guitar in flatpicking style is arguably one of the finest guitarists of the 20th century, right there alongside Django Reinhardt. Not to diminish the abilities of rock’s greatest axes, but as pretty much any guitar player will tell you, electric guitars are easier to play than acoustic ones and the stacks of amps and effects pedals can make a mid-range talent sound far better than they actually are. With an acoustic, there’s no room to hide. It’s just you and the strings and those strings don’t lie.
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