Distinctive Voices.

There are some artists whose voices are immediately recognizable. Artists whose voices you can identify as soon as they open their mouths, whether you are familiar with the song or not.

This post is about those artists.

Here are a few examples from my personal list:

Tom Waits.

Neko Case.

Otis Redding.


Who makes your list of distinctive voices?


74 Responses to Distinctive Voices.

  1. taylor made 4 me says:


    Taylor inspires and has the same intensity as Bono, IMHO. Bono has a developed sense of his message and the power of conviction in his words and in his soul.

    Taylor’s voice is so much like that, and people are starting to see it now as he shines his soul out there. Taylor’s light is his message. He is becoming legendary as he leaves that soul in everyones lap. Who can turn away from true soul?

    I have seen Taylor’s voice (message) becoming highly distinctive lately, and I feel the energy inside of him is there to create a movement of sorts. A musical movement will come of it but a more important movement in a bigger way is foreseen.

  2. taylor made 4 me says:

    That is my poem about war and the men and women who serve our country in Iraq and everywhere overseas.

    The thing that makes Bono distinctive is the way he is really speaking from a political angle. I never knew this until I saw this film. I was overwhelmed by that fact! Every song, every word, everything is about the world, and the problems in it! That’s powerful stuff. He speaks out against oppression, and the evil/terroristic events that occur all over the world. His words and and his message to me attempt to bring awareness to the wrongs in the world. I love to write that way too, and Bono’s lyrics tapped into my spiritual energy.
    I thought about our own troops in Iraq, and the sacrifices they have made, and what for is my question. Too many young men and women have lost their lives, and the last verse sums that up. Many feel we are fighting a war we can’t win over there. It’s truly heartbreaking.
    So, there is my distinctive voice. Hope you enjoy reading.
    Thanks for letting me share.

  3. taylor made 4 me says:

    Hi all…

    Reviving this thread, for the distinctive voices I saw recently.

    Had the opportunity to watch Rattle and Hum U2 DVD, and it moved me. The lyrics are so intense and I really enjoyed the entire film. I watched it three times. Sat down and wrote some things last night. I know this is far down the thread so many of you won’t see this, but that’s ok, I write for love of writing despite what people may think.

    This is the impression I am left with:

    From which direction it came
    No one can say for sure
    It’s ever-present all the same
    Fighting it finds no cure

    It’s useless to claim to understand
    The essential nature found inside
    Like trying to count the grains of sand
    It’s impossible although you tried

    Lately there isn’t an earthly plan
    That can pull the stars into place
    But being woman and forgiving man
    Decreases time and forgets space

    Never claim that you know me
    The things I do mean nothing at all
    What’s true about me lives free
    i’m not defined nor contained by any wall

    The shell outside doesn’t describe me
    I move in circles beyond the senses
    Walk in the day only to fly at night
    What I have seen provides my defenses

    I wish I could tell all I have been told
    Then doubt’s existence would be no more but…
    Departed souls some young some old
    Brought essential light to a darkened core

    Knowledge has a steep price indeed
    Trapped in a soul no man can keep
    Take all the energy grab and feed
    But then return to darkness and weep

    Those who claim to comprehend
    What they cannot describe
    Find pain in why they can’t apprehend
    The soul’s journey to a previous vibe

    Go ahead now with your dreams
    The road is a highway unto
    A place to ponder what it means
    To have had love inside of you

    My road is black as coal
    But I will replenish somehow
    Time in darkness took its toll
    But I leave a light there now

    And for that I am essentially grateful
    For it makes my life worth living
    To have played a hand in what was fateful
    And to you the gift was worth giving

    Escaping is never the same road
    As the one that you took in
    Lighter the night heavier by the load
    Losing what’s finished before we begin

    I guess I find my own voice through the really amazing and talented artists like Bono and now, the newly emerging Taylor.

    Nice to post

  4. patty cee says:

    i’m gonna go with that guy from the flaming lips, is it wayne coyne? love the flips!

  5. Misccoast says:

    My new fave- Joss Stone.

  6. PattyP says:

    Thanks for the explanation — I understood what moderation was, just didn’t realize it could take 24 hours to be approved like that. Next time I’ll put only 1 link in a comment at a time to avoid that problem and keep you from having to log in and approve it. I realize you’re quite busy with the overall Web site and other things in real life, so thanks again for the info.

  7. boogie says:

    Patty: Comments automatically go into moderation when two or more links are posted in a single comment. This moderation feature is used to control spam. The comment then remains in moderation until the blog administrator logs in and marks it “approved”.

    The same goes for new posters. If you have not posted here before, or if you are posting using a new name or e-mail address, your comment immediately goes into moderation. This measure is in place to help keep the activity of trolls as low as possible.

  8. PattyP says:

    I have a question: how come almost 24 hours later, my comment is still “awaiting moderation”? I see plenty of posts with links to YouTube added, so that can’t be it, can it? I only linked to 2 songs. I don’t understand how this “moderation” bit works, I guess.

  9. PattyP says:

    Well, many hours later (like, 18!), my comment says it’s awaiting moderation still, so besides John Fogerty of Creedence Clearwater, I mentioned Ton Johnston, the first lead singer for the Doobie Brothers (before Michael McDonald joined the group). Think “China Grove,” “Jesus Is Just Alright,” or “Listen to the Music,” and you’ll immediately know who I’m talking about.

  10. JiRO says:

    How about Tex Ritter, Conway Twitty, Paul Williams, Andy Williams, Jack Jones, Roger Whitaker, Buddy Holly, Ray Stevens, Travis Tritt, Al Martino, Fats Domino.

  11. Seiruu says:

    Not mentioned and IMO:
    McKinley Morganfield aka Muddy Waters

  12. PattyP says:

    (Whenever my comment shows up after awaiting moderation, I spelled John’s name wrong — I meant John Fogerty, of course, not Fogarty.)

  13. PattyP says:

    I agree with many of these, but 2 distinctive voices I didn’t see mentioned are these:

    John Fogarty (Creedence Clearwater), who was even sued for sounding too much like himself (in a feud with people over rights to Creedence songs). Here he is, in his early days, before things got complicated:


    Tom Johnston (lead vocalist for the Doobie Brothers, original incarnation, before Michael McDonald — they had a whole different sound after MM)

  14. I haven’t read through what I know are thoughtful lists here–and for that I apologize; but time is dear these days. Pardon any redundancies on my list. I’m sure there are many more I haven’t cited:

    Frank Sinatra
    Bill Withers
    Maurice White
    Stevie Wonder
    Rikki Lee Jones
    Bobby Darin (specifically on “Up A Lazy River”)
    Van Morrison
    Huey Lewis
    Edith Piaf
    Elvis Costello
    Joe Jackson
    Joe Strummer
    Ray Charles –of course–
    Tom Jones
    Maurice Chevalier
    Beverly Sills
    Louis Armstrong
    Bessie Smith
    James Taylor
    James Brown—-H–E–EY!!–
    Al Green
    Barry White
    Todd Rundgren
    Pete Townsend
    Eric Clapton
    Doris Day
    Joe Cocker
    John Lee Hooker

  15. Kenzie says:

    I’m gonna say, I’ve never been here before. I’ve heard a lot about it, but I’ve never found the link. So far, I’m really likin’ the place. :]

  16. graciecat says:

    Sam Cooke
    Bill Withers
    Jeffrey Osborne
    Mick Hucknall
    Mary J. Blige
    Christina Aguilera
    Taylor Dayne
    Annie Lennox

  17. bronson says:

    In addition to many of those already mentioned:
    Conor Oberst (Bright Eyes)
    Sinead O’Connor
    Aaron Neville
    Melissa Etheridge
    Isaac Brock (Modest Mouse)

  18. tycleo says:

    I didn’t see him mentioned

    John Hiatt

  19. Lubiana says:

    I think Paul McCartney’s, Neil Finn’s and John Lennon’s voices are very distinctive.

    Hey I’d love to hear your distinctive voice Morewines! 🙂

  20. JiRO says:

    Webb Pierce, Hank Williams Sr., Hank Williams Jr., Vaughn Monroe, Roger Miller, Ray Price, Burl Ives, Kitty Wells, Kay Starr, Loretta Lynn, Anne Murray, Dinah Washington, Slim Whitman, Johnny Ray (Cry).

  21. mojavedesertgirl says:

    A fine compilation of great performers – and very enjoyable youtubing, thanks for that. It’s an hour I won’t get back, but if I gotta spend it – that was a good way to do so!

    Here are two voices that haven’t been mentioned yet…although, neither are singing in this clip: http://youtube.com/watch?v=WBOohuZlAiM

    And here’s two more – and a most appropriate song, to boot!

    And finally, I couldn’t find any video that does her justice so here’s a song from my collection: http://www.sendspace.com/file/44dk4n


  22. boogie says:

    Some of these might have been mentioned already:

    Sam Beam ( Iron & Wine)
    Joanna Newsom
    Devendra Banhart
    Colin Meloy (of the Decemberists)
    Elvis Costello
    Beth Ditto (of the Gossip)
    David Berman

  23. Beverly says:

    andi ~ what a coincidence. I was listening to KT Oslin a couple of days ago when I was trying to do some weeding out. She does have a distictive voice, and her lyrics always bring a smile. Where did she go?

  24. morewines says:

    Tiny Tim
    Can we all sing ‘Tip Toe Through The


  25. morewines says:

    Tiny Tim
    Can we all sing ‘Tip Toe Through The

  26. MaryS-NJ says:

    Thanks Little Deb – Kim Carnes

    David Byrne
    Stevie Wonder
    David Gray
    Lionel Richie

  27. morewines says:

    Mine is distinctive. But you wouldn’t want to hear it.

  28. Share_A_Smile says:

    Sorry for the multiple posts. I was in moderation. The link actually works in the first two. LOL


  29. morewines says:

    Tracy Chapman

  30. sarahinwv says:

    Sting…. Seal…. and Lou Rawls…. can’t mistake those pipes !!!!! “You’ll never find….”… oh… Barry White? did someone mention him????

  31. Share_A_Smile says:

    [b]Tom Petty[/b]



  32. morewines says:

    Hicks no doubt has a distinctive voice. When I’m working
    at a winery that I help out on occasion. When his CD “Under The Radar”
    is playing in the tasting room some people coming in recognize his voice.

    Another voice that is destinct is Janis Joplin.

  33. Little Deb says:

    Mary S, it’s Kim Carnes

  34. MaryS-NJ says:

    Bob Seger
    Lyle Lovett
    What’s her name who sang “Bette Davis Eyes”
    Ethel Merman

  35. EJ says:

    Oooh, I LOVE Cat Stevens!

    off the top of my head, not yet mentioned-

    Rod Stewart
    Stevie Nicks

    and (duh!)
    Ella Fitzgerald
    Bing Crosby
    Frank Sinatra

  36. andi says:

    K.T. Oslin – who I’ll have to look up, haven’t heard her in a while. Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson……hmmmm, lots of country…how about Cat Stevens!

  37. andi says:

    has anyone mentioned Cyndi Lauper? Love her! And Taylor’s voice is very distinctive – I CANNOT slip him past my husband – he always knows it’s him.

  38. Littleone says:

    Sorry..first time posting 😦 here is the video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IdeicjnbdDQ

  39. Littleone says:

    I have to say Roy Orbison. Here is my favorite from him! I could listen to him for hours.

    I guess that’s why I enjoy Taylor so much.

  40. SegerHicks says:

    Bryan Adams
    Rod Stewart
    Steve Perry
    Anita Baker
    Luther Vandross
    Tony Bennett
    James Taylor
    Don Henley
    Taylor Hicks

  41. Bob says:

    Johnny Mathis
    Smokey Robinson
    Sammy Davis Jr.
    Al Jurreau
    James Brown
    Mel Torme
    BB King
    Bing Crosby
    Micheal MacDonald
    Jackson Brown
    Neil Sedaka
    Randy Newman

  42. Jules says:

    Lots of great ones already mentioned – I’d add:
    Waylon Jennings
    Elvis Presley
    Nick Cave
    Margo Timmins
    John Lennon
    Hope Sandoval
    Kelly Hogan
    & my personal hero Keith Richards

  43. Jules says:

    Lots of great ones have been mentioned – I’d add Waylon Jennings, Margo Timmins, Hope Sandoval, Kelly Hogan, John Lennon & my personal hero (yes, I did say hero):

    Keith Richards

  44. azure says:

    ash –
    My husband will be thrilled that you included Raul Malo of the Mavericks on your list. He does have a beautiful voice.

  45. MaryS-NJ says:

    Thanks mamaforpeace. I like your list too! These are great!

    Can’t forget:

    Roy Orbison
    Marvin Gaye
    Jimi Hendrix
    Emmy Lou Harris
    Delbert McClinton
    Keb’ Mo’
    Patsy Kline

  46. Share_A_Smile says:

    Tom Petty


  47. DebD says:

    Freddy Mercury (Queen)
    Steve Perry (Journey)
    Mick Jagger
    Gloria Estefan
    Marc Anthony
    Celine Dion
    Barbara Streisand
    Steven Tyler (Aerosmith)
    Ann Wilson (Heart)
    Bette Midler
    Paul McCartney
    Bruce Springsteen

    I think I could go on all day…

  48. staceyz17 says:

    John Mellencamp, too.

  49. azure says:

    Kris Kristofferson
    Dean Martin
    Michael Crawford

  50. Beverly says:

    Some of mine have been mentioned so won’t repeat except for:

    Sweet Baby James Taylor!
    Joe Cocker
    Elton John

    JAG ~ We had six in common but you got there first. Hmmm.

  51. juliegr says:

    Pat Boone
    James Brown
    Whitney Houston
    Mariah Carey – don’t care for the vocal runs, etc., but it is distinctive

  52. Little Deb says:

    The “unforgettable” Nat King Cole.

  53. taylor made 4 me says:

    One name
    Her debut album demonstrated her inherited talent for song. Her star rose as if she owned the galaxy. Her fall was heartbreaking. Lyrics, melody, arrangement, soul, and THAT voice distinguished this beautful young girl.
    Her life was not lived to bring about the full bloom of the natural gifts she possessed.
    Very sad story, breaks my heart no end to think of her journey. I loved this talented artist, still do, always will.
    Thank you for the board and for this means of expression.

  54. Mos Eisley says:

    Fred Schneider (B-52’s)

  55. Mos Eisley says:

    Patsy Cline
    Mick Jagger
    Pete Townshend
    Steven Tyler
    Elton John
    Tiny Tim

  56. JiRO says:

    Louis Prima
    George Jones
    Don Gibson
    Roy Orbison
    Dolly Parton
    Chet Baker (when he wasn’t playing trumpet)
    Kenny Rogers
    Tammy Wynette

  57. Phile says:

    Besides those already mentioned?
    Janis Joplin
    kd lang
    David Bowie
    Elvis Costello
    That other Elvis guy
    Warren Zevon

    Non music (bonus points for Harvey!):
    James Earl Jones
    Carl Kassel (NPR)

  58. rubyred says:

    JT, hands down. And I don’t mean Timberflake.

    And now, back to your regularly scheduled Boogie.

  59. mamaforpeace says:

    Ray Charles
    Nina Simone
    Eric Clapton
    Van Morrison
    and Mary S, I like your lists!

  60. Linda T says:

    Ray Charles
    Neil Young
    Van Morrison
    Robert Plant
    Shemeika Copeland
    Alberta Hunter
    Aretha Franklin
    Dave Matthews
    Bruce Cockburn

  61. datilpepper says:

    Peter Cetera
    Mike Mcdonald
    Sarah Mclachlan
    Rod Stewart

  62. MaryS-NJ says:

    oh! Forget these:

    Joanie Mitchell
    Bonnie Raitt
    Randy Newman
    Chris Isaak
    Dolly Parton

  63. MaryS-NJ says:

    Some great distinctive voices already mentioned. Here’s some that haven’t been (I don’t think) yet:

    Edith Piaf
    Amy Winehouse
    Paolo Nutini
    Judy Garland
    Bruce Springsteen
    Billie Holiday
    Louis Armstrong
    James Brown
    Tina Turner
    Marc Knopfler
    Taylor Hicks

  64. Alison B. says:

    Laura Nyro

  65. MK says:

    Macy gray

  66. flowersKY says:

    Jimmie Dale Gilmore

  67. flowersKY says:

    John Prine

    Roy Orbison

  68. JAG says:

    How about……..

    Billy Joel
    Frank Sinatra
    Barry Manilow
    Bobby Darren
    Neil Diamond
    Josh Grobin
    Diana Ross
    Barry White
    Steve Perry
    Andrea Bocelli

  69. simplycarol says:

    Oh, if it doesn’t have to be a singer you HAVE to say Harvey Fierstein! Love him!

  70. simplycarol says:

    Here’s another one, imho.

  71. boogie says:

    A more extended list:

    Jeff Buckley
    Johnny Cash
    Antony (of Antony & The Johnsons)
    Cat Power (Chan Marshall)
    Jim James (of My Morning Jacket)
    Bob Dylan
    Will Oldham
    Willie Nelson
    Lucinda Williams
    Phil Collins (Genesis, etc). I’m not a fan, but I can pick his voice up anywhere.
    Dwight Yoakam
    Bill Monroe
    Raul Malo (of the Mavericks)
    Perry Ferrel (sp?) (of Porno for Pyros, Jane’s Addiction, & now Satellite Party)

    The music geek in me is definitely showing. I could go on for a while.

  72. boogie says:

    Agreed, double d!
    He makes my extended list, of course. No one else like him, ever.

  73. flowersKY says:

    Tom Waits, who always breaks my heart.

  74. double d says:

    The most distinctive, no Ash?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: