So many variables determine what makes an artist or band “essential” — longevity, impact, influence, history. On-air and online, we celebrate the musicians who have shaped our cultural soundtrack for the past fifty years. Let’s love these FUV Essential artists while they’re here, and honor those who have departed too soon.
It's fair to say that Scott Devendorf, of The National and LNZNDRF has been living and breathing the music of the Grateful Dead for a lifetime. The bassist, who wrote about his "Five Essential Grateful Dead Songs" for FUV, worked with his bandmates from the National on the epic, five-hour, 59-track Day of the Dead covers compilation which came out in the spring of 2016.
The National (courtesy of the band, Facebook.com, PR)
Leave it to a mostly Canadian band — with the most basic, universal moniker — to lay down one of the most influential and sophisticated cornerstones in American folk, blues, and roots rock 'n' roll. The Band, a group that strove to embrace freedom, empathy, human rights activism and inclusiveness, is one of our FUV Essentials.
FUV Essentials: The Band (illustration by Andy Friedman)
From his early years in Whiskeytown to his work with Cardinals to his many solo releases, Ryan Adams has a proclivity for both unpredictability and uplifting musical grace.
Ryan Adams (illustration by Andy Friedman)
The spring of 2017 will mark the 40th anniversary of the release of Elvis Costello's "Less Than Zero," his first single for Stiff Records. Nearly 25 albums later (not counting his collaborative releases with The Roots, Burt Bacharach, Allen Toussaint and others), Costello's cerebral, crafty lyrics, whiplashed pop rage, acerbic humor, reedy croon and ferocious bark have traveled a full spectrum of love and life conflicts.
Elvis Costello (illustration by Andy Friedman)
For her irresistible sing-along voice, for her lyrical prowess, and for her natural independence, Natalie Merchant is an FUV Essentials artist.
Natalie Merchant (illustration by Andy Friedman)
In 1972, when Steely Dan released its debut, Can't Buy a Thrill, Walter Becker and Donald Fagen's dark and literate fusio
FUV Essentials: Steely Dan (illustration by Andy Friedman)