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FUV Essentials

There are many variables that determine what makes an artist or band “essential” — longevity, impact, influence, history, discography — and WFUV takes a deeper look with FUV Essentials. On-air and online, we celebrate musicians who have shaped our cultural soundtrack. Let’s love these artists while they’re here, and honor those who have departed too soon.

Chris Robinson: Five Essential Chuck Berry Songs

Longtime fans of the Chris Robinson Brotherhood and his former band, the Black Crowes, know that Chuck Berry, this week's FUV Essentials artist, looms large in Robinson's wheelhouse of beloved influences. For FUV Essentials, Robinson wrote up his "Five Essential Chuck Berry Songs" — or as he says, "the stuff of rock 'n' roll dreams!"

Chuck Berry

"If you tried to give rock and roll another name, you might call it Chuck Berry." John Lennon read those words from a cue card on "The Mike Douglas Show" in 1972 when he introduced his idol. Berry's songs trained you to expect the unexpected, no matter how familiar the package; his prerogative has always been theft, even from himself. His enduring legacy is that everyone stole from him in turn. The enduring charm of the man is that he did it with a wink and singularity that literally changed the world — and it's why Chuck Berry is an FUV Essentials artist.

FUV Essentials: Vin Scelsa on the Summer of Love

It's been two years since Vin Scelsa, FUV's beloved host of "Idiot's Delight," retired from the airwaves (although he still records the occasional podcast with his daughter Kate). But as the 50th anniversary of the Summer of Love and the Monterey International Pop Festival approached, FUV asked him if he might like to write about that halcyon time, which also marked the beginning of his life in radio.

Summer of Love

What was the gateway to 1967's Summer of Love? The very phrase conjures a psychedelic idyll of the Sixties: blissed-out hippies splayed on the grass, hazily wreathed in the smoke of Acapulco Gold and campfires. On the 50th anniversary of the Monterey International Pop Festival and the Summer of Love, that era and its music is this week's FUV Essentials.

The Black Keys

Over a 16-year span of eight albums and a handful of EPs, the Black Keys' Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney evolved from two scrappy guys playing local bar-and-garage blues in Akron, Ohio, to platinum-selling, Grammy-winning music industry heavyweights. And they're FUV Essentials.

Shovels and Rope: Five Essential Brandi Carlile Songs

Shovels & Rope, the husband-and-wife duo of Cary Ann Hearst and Michael Trent, not only have an arresting new album of their own, the evocative and heartfelt Little Seeds, but the couple is also found on Brandi Carlile's just-released charity album, Cover Stories. Shovels & Rope's fondness for Carlile's work and that of Phil and Tim Hanseroth, her songwriting partners, is evident in Hearst and Trent's thoughtful and very descriptive explanations of their "Five Essential Brandi Carlile Songs."

Brandi Carlile

With a voice that rings to the heavens like a deep, clear bell, Brandi Carlile is a longtime friend of FUV, ever since she released her breakthrough album, The Story, in 2007. With the release of the charity album Cover Stories, which celebrates the songs of that very album to benefit War Child UK, Carlile, the artist and the activist, is this week's FUV Essentials artist.

Nada Surf's Matthew Caws: Five Essential Pixies Songs

Remember hearing the band that changed your life for the first time? Nada Surf's singer and guitarist Matthew Caws does. For his "Five Essential Pixies Songs," Caws not only cobbled together a list of the Pixies songs he loves, but the B-sides, live shows, and bonus tracks that that rocked his world. After reading Caws' eloquent dissection of Pixies' "Bone Machine," you'll never hear the song in the same way again.


Talk to a musician who caught a Pixies gig back in the late Eighties or at the cusp of the Nineties and it's likely that they were compelled to start a band. Over the past three decades, Radiohead, Nirvana, Weezer and Blur have all cited Pixies as a point of departure. The import and influence of Pixies is undeniable and this beloved, challenging, and unconventional band is one of our FUV Essentials.

FUV Essentials: Greg Graffin on Pearl Jam

As frontman for Bad Religion, Greg Graffin and his bandmates have toured with Pearl Jam since the early '90s, notably when Bad Religion supported the Seattle rockers for 1995's Vitalogy tour (which was cut short due to conflicts with Ticketmaster) and more recently in 2009. Graffin, who has a brand new solo album out, Millport, wrote a personal recollection of his friendship with Vedder and Pearl Jam  for FUV Essentials: