My Life In Music
The legendary singer-songwriter on his all-time favourites – includes records by his “old lady” and a former stalker
JONI MITCHELL Blue 1971
This is one of the best records I ever heard. I think I did hear it before people heard it, but it’s just one of the best records anybody ever made. The songs… it’s Joni at the absolute peak of her powers. She was my old lady and I did produce her first record, so I was very close with her, but that doesn’t change the fact that she’s probably the best singer-songwriter of our time, I don’t think there’s any question. This is probably the best collection of songs anybody ever put on a record.
THE BEATLES Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band 1967
This was big for me because I was there in London when they were recording it, and I went several times to the studio. I was the first person they played “A Day In The Life” for. I absolutely couldn’t believe it – it got to that huge chord at the end and I went, “You can’t do that! What? How?” I was just stunned. But what really impressed me was the writing – the songs were stunningly good. “A Day In The Life” is an unbelievable piece of work. I don’t know if anybody had done anything that they were doing before.
WEATHER REPORT Heavy Weather 1977
I loved Weather Report and this one had some songs on it, particularly “A Remark You Made” [sings melody]… just a stunningly beautiful piece of music. Joe Zawinul was a beautiful player. He’s underrated? Well, not with jazz players. Every jazz player knows about him, that’s for sure. I listen to a lot of jazz still – my current favourite is Snarky Puppy, I listen to them a lot.
ENSEMBLE OF THE BULGARIAN REPUBLIC with PHILIP KOUTEV Music Of Bulgaria 1966
This is probably one of the greatest vocal records ever made. It’s the first one of these records and it’s absolutely stunning. It changed my life. They do a lot of stuff with vocals which nobody else does – it’s traditional folk music for them, but it’s so advanced choral music that no-one else in the world can sing it. They’re very, very advanced singers. They did things I’d never heard before – and that, of course, was absolutely wonderful to me. A lot of stuff I’ve done sort of came from there.
MILES DAVIS Sketches Of Spain 1960
Why this one? Because I’ve listened to it so many times. It just entranced me [sings melody]. It’s brilliant, man. It’s really [Rodrigo’s] Concerto Di Aranjuez, written for guitar, but it got revoiced by Gil Evans to be for modern orchestra and Miles played that guitar part on trumpet. It’s a stunning piece of music. Mind you, Miles has got a dozen great records – Porgy & Bess, Kind Of Blue, endless great records – but this one is the one I listen to the most.
JAMES TAYLOR Gorilla 1975
This is the one that “Mexico” and “Lighthouse” are on, and Nash and I sing on both of them. We loved it. James is a wonderful guy, one of my real heroes. A gentleman, an absolutely fantastic singer, writer and guitar player. A wonderful cat. I first met James a long, long time ago, probably back when I was in The Byrds or something. Way back! He’s one of the best cats I know in the business – his last album was an absolute stunner of a record, too.
MICHAEL HEDGES Aerial Boundaries 1984
He was probably the best acoustic guitar player of our times, and an utterly brilliant composer. I learned probably as much about tunings from him as I did from Joni, which is really saying quite a bit. We knew each other very well, we wrote together. He saw me in Mill Valley and he followed me to the 7-11. When I came out, he was on the edge of the doorway of his Volkswagen bus playing “Aerial Boundaries”, and I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. It stopped me in my tracks – I went over and said, “Who the fuck are you?”
BONNIE RAITT Nick Of Time 1989
Some of the people at Capitol were saying, “Get rid of her, she’s a drunk and she isn’t ever gonna be worth anything.” And then she straightened herself out and she got four Grammys in one night for Nick Of Time. All of us who’d always loved her were standing and cheering. She’s one of the greatest singers that ever lived, maybe my favourite. A fantastic guitar player. I like all of her records, but this one had a great bunch of songs on there, and I’m all about the songs. They’re more important than anything.