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10 Musicians Your Parents Loved That Are Nonetheless Awesome

Bruce Springsteen

Known for his songs about the American working class, Bruce Springsteen has managed to maintain his image as a man of the people, in spite of his massive success. His music has been well-received by both critics and fans, almost without exception. Even as he approaches 70, Springsteen is known for his high-energy concerts and his ability to connect with his audience, regardless of age. His work has become a trademark of American culture.

Recommended Album: Born to Run (1975)

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Stevie Wonder

From a young age, it was clear that Stevie Wonder had extraordinary talent—he signed his first recording contract at the age of 11. His intricate, soulful compositions have earned him critical and commercial acclaim, as well as more Grammy awards than any other male solo artist. Much of his appeal is tied to the emotional connections he forms within his music, with songs fitting for just about any mood. After a few tracks, you will see why he's sold over 100 million records.

Recommended Album: Talking Book (1972)

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The Velvet Underground

With proto-punk songs about excessive drug use and promiscuity, The Velvet Underground became the experimental rock band that all other experimental rock bands wanted to imitate. After briefly serving as the house band for Andy Warhol’s Silver Factory, the group forged their own path and turned heads by adding melancholy lyrics and strange instrumentation to the world of rock and roll. It can be difficult to quantify their influence, but they no doubt inspired countless artists for generations to come.

Recommended Album: The Velvet Underground & Nico (1967)

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Van Morrison

Following the breakup of Them, Van Morrison quickly made a name for himself as a solo artist. His soulful, stream-of-consciousness songs cover a variety of topics, from the disillusionment that comes with adulthood, to fleeting spirituality. In his music, Morrison has found a way to combine American R&B with the folk music of his native Northern Ireland in a way that is both cohesive and innovative. Morrison was and is a prolific songwriter, steadily creating albums throughout his long career.

Recommended Album: Moondance (1970)

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Talking Heads

They may have been born out of American punk rock, but Talking Heads achieved a peculiar sound that would lead the world into New Wave. With off-kilter melodies and avant-garde experimentation, their music can take some getting used to, but once you give them a shot, you will see that they were far ahead of the curve.

Recommended Album: Talking Heads: 77 (1977)

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Bob Dylan

Bob Dylan has constantly found fresh ways to reinvent his career, which spans nearly 60 years and hundreds of original compositions. Dylan’s songs showcase his outspoken political sentiments, including themes surrounding violence, civil rights, and the counterculture movement. In 2008, he was awarded a Pulitzer Prize special citation for "his profound impact on popular music and American culture, marked by lyrical compositions of extraordinary poetic power."

Recommended Album: Bringing It All Back Home (1965)

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The Zombies

It's nearly impossible to talk about the music of the 1960s without mentioning the incredible influence of The Zombies. Though they were only together for a few years, they ran the gamut of the decade’s musical highlights, from the bubblegum pop feel of “She’s Not There” to the psychedelic vibes of “Time of the Season.” It was this range that allowed them to touch such a wide variety of listeners.

Recommended Album: Odessey and Oracle (1968)

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Joe Cocker

Once you're able to get past his spastic stage movements and growling bravado, you will quickly realize how Joe Cocker was able to make such a lasting impression on the music industry with a career founded largely on cover songs. With his renditions of songs by artists such as Ray Charles and The Beatles, Cocker was able to make each track his own, adding soulful prowess to classic lyrics. After his groundbreaking sets at festivals, such as Isle of Wright and Woodstock, Cocker would become the voice of a generation.

Recommended Album: With a Little Help From My Friends (1969)

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The Kinks

Overshadowed by the boom of other English rock groups in the 1960s, The Kinks took on the role of the quirky band who never took themselves too seriously. Their inclusion of R&B and twangy folk music in recordings helped them encapsulate the most appealing aspects of The Beatles and The Rolling Stones. You could hear a song like “Lola” and write The Kinks off as a silly, novelty band, but they remain one of the most influential acts of all time.

Recommended Album: Something Else by The Kinks (1967)

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Simon & Garfunkel

The folk-rock stylings of Simon & Garfunkel may seem odd to our 21st century musical sensibilities, but they were among the groups to move the Greenwich Village sound into mainstream culture. Paul Simon’s somber lyrics and Art Garfunkel’s angelic harmonies blend together to form an aesthetic that is both haunting and soothing. Give them a shot, especially if you're into bands like Mumford & Sons and Fleet Foxes.

Recommended Album: Bookends (1968)

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