I have a lot of "favorites" when it comes to music. I don't think I've ever just targeted one band or one person as the tip-top, but Paul Westerberg is about as close to the top as you can get with me without seeing much competition.
He came out of Minneapolis with his post-punk/pre-grunge, highly influential alternative (when it really was alternative) college rock band The Replacements in the early 80's. Westerberg rapidly grew into an outstanding songwriter and a pretty damned good guitarist. When The Replacements broke down (definitely not "up") he was already well on his way to doing his own thing and continued to write great songs and wear his heart on his sleeve.
He never became a big commercial success by today's standards, but his influence is felt through a thousand bands and he is well respected in rock circles among other musicians and critics. His 53rd birthday is today and I felt like writing a little bit about him in celebration. His influence on my musical tastes can't be measured. Opening my mind up to The Replacements allowed me to drive myself to all sorts of music I may not have otherwise heard. It was like "Freddy, there's a lot of music out there, don't miss it!" The years wear on and Paul isn't releasing as much music to the public as he did in years past, but that's OK. Like The Band, Waylon Jennings, Beastie Boys, The Beatles, and Roger Waters, their music that is already out there is more than enough to satisfy me for the rest of my life. The music is not to be disregarded after a listen. It's timeless for me. I just go back to my LP's or IPod and visit my friends when I'm lonely for one of their songs.
Happy Birthday Paul!
"First Glimmer" on MTV!
"I'll Be You" by The Replacements
"Dyslexic Heart" from the Singles soundtrack
"Love Untold" on Letterman! (Tommy Keene on guitar!)