18. The Kinks [UPDATE: moved to number 13.]
The Kinks were an unstoppable force during the British Invasion of America in the mid-60s, popping out hits like ‘You Really Got Me‘, ‘All Day and All of the Night‘, ‘Tired of Waiting for You‘, etc. While these are surely classic tunes, their excessive familiarity to me (through being forced to listen to oldies radio stations as a child) gave me a great aversion to The Kinks. But like my aversion to The Beatles and The Beach Boys, I have grown out of this distaste for The Kinks (thanks to initial interest years ago via Rushmore and the watering of the seed by the Greg, the Band Evangelist) – and I even love their hits now too! It’s probably a shame to some people that The Kinks are down here at number 18 in my top 20, but I’m not especially familiar with their work after 1970’s Lola Versus Powerman and the Moneygoround, Part One and I’ve only been really listening them for some four years now. Give me more time to wise up. Their album The Village Green Preservation Society (1968) can be found among my Top 50 Albums.
‘Sunny Afternoon’ single promo, later included 1966’s Face to Face:
‘Apeman’, featuring a creepy and massive-haired Ray Davies, from 1970’s Lola Versus Powerman and the Moneygoround:
17. Danielson/Daniel Smith
Whether it is through a band consisting primarily of his siblings (Danielson Famile), through a solo project consisting of the man in a gigantic tree costume (Brother Danielson) or his most recent incarnation as just plain Danielson, Daniel Smith has been consistently producing honest, unusual and compelling art over the last two decades. Danielson appeared on my radar soon after my conversion to Christianity in the beginning of high school and I have grown more in love with them/him ever since. Interesting note: Through his association with Danielson I first gave Sufjan Stevens a shot. Read more about Daniel in this post. His/their second record, Tell Another Joke at the Ol’ Choppin’ Block (1997), is featured on my Top 50 Albums list.
‘Things Against Stuff’, live from 2004’s Brother Is to Son from Brother Danielson:
‘Did I Step on Your Trumpet?’ from 2006’s Ships by Danielson (one of the best music videos of all time):
In my lifetime I have been blessed with the opportunity to know or at least to be exposed to various people that have a magic in them that necessitate a portion of my devotion – my heroes. Among them are people like my father, who taught me the meaning of selflessness, hard work, and patience, my grandfather, who taught me what it truly means to be a servant of God, Greg, who has impacted the way I relate to God, myself, others and to art more than any other single person, and people that I don’t know personally – people like Bob Dylan, John Gardner and Elliott Smith. Among those people at the top of my list of heroes, Daniel Smith stands out as the most inspiring and influential.
Daniel Smith is truly a unique character. It’s difficult to be indifferent toward him, that is to say he is a polarizing person. There’s a quality to his personality and the way he expresses himself that will either turn you on or turn you off, but will never leave you indifferent. The process and product of his imagination are not something I can easily express in one post. In 2006 a documentary was released, ‘Danielson, a Family Movie (or, Make a Joyful Noise Here)‘ documenting the progress of Daniel Smith’s artistic expression since the founding of the “Danielson Famile,” a band literally consisting of Daniel and his siblings. Daniel was an art student at Rutgers and his professors insisted that the visual and performing arts were to be kept in their respective galleries and conservatories. Daniel wouldn’t have it, and since 1994 he hasn’t had it. He’s continued to press forward even after fifteen years of mediocre (at best) success. The sincerity and devotion with which he creates is what captures me most.
I could go on and on about Daniel and the opportunities I’ve had to meet him/see him perform, but I’d rather introduce you to the man. And if you’ve already been introduced you ought to watch anyway. This video, which was posted on the Danielson site yesterday, is a great summation of much of what Daniel Smith stands for. Take a look: