by on December 16, 2016 at 12:59 pm in History, Music, Uncategorized | Permalink

Stephen Stills is underrated.

He was the driving force behind three of the best (non-Beatles) songs of the 1960s/early 1970s: Bluebird, Wooden Ships, and Suite: Judy Blue Eyes; in the process he anchored two of the major super-groups of that era.  “For What It’s Worth” is one of the most recognizable and oft-used iconic songs of the 1960s.  “Helplessly Hoping” is good too.  He was an underrated guitarist, try Super Session, with Michael Bloomfield and Al Kooper.

One of his problems may be that his underlying personal aesthetic is often corny and unappealing (“Love the One You’re With,” “Change Partners”), and that comes out all too strongly when he is removed from monitoring collaborators of equal or greater stature.

On satellite radio the other day I heard the acoustic solo demo version of Suite: Judy Blues Eyes (try “Stephen Stills Suite Judy Blue Eyes” on Spotify) and thought “People don’t praise this guy enough!”  In general, artists should be judged by their best work, and his is very good indeed.  I’d rather hear one of those Stills songs than anything by the Rolling Stones.

1 Sam Haysom December 16, 2016 at 1:04 pm

Boomers care and talk way to much about music. Perhaps if they weren’t always talking about the music from the era when the had hair and could maintain an erection it wouldn’t be so noticeable.

2 Taxes Can Be a Worthwhile Investment in Our Future December 16, 2016 at 1:22 pm

LOL. It’s good that those who are young now will never grow old, so you won’t ever have to worry about people saying insulting things to you, like you just said to boomers.

It’s amazing how ageist our society is. Supposedly Silicon Valley is the worst, where males in their 30s get face lifts because they feel pressure to look like they are in their 20s for job interviews and work appearance.

3 msgkings December 16, 2016 at 1:29 pm

“Hope I die before I get old….”

4 Brian Donohue December 16, 2016 at 4:44 pm

“Don’t trust anyone over 30” was a far-sighted policy.

5 Dain December 16, 2016 at 8:00 pm

Interesting phenomenon, isn’t it? In So Cal they prize youth for obvious reasons, but the Nor Cal way is to valorize youth for their more nimble brains. Either way, facelifts help secure a positive first impression.

6 Rich Berger December 16, 2016 at 1:27 pm

Professor Cowen (b. 1962) is only a BB by the skin of his teeth. When these records were coming out, he was less than 10. There was so much talent in Buffalo Springfield and the sum effect of all the pieces was beyond the parts.

The outpouring of music from the early 60’s to the early 70’s was incredibly varied and creative. Everybody is partial to their own era, however, and disputes are pointless. I listen to new stuff when I become aware of it, although that becomes harder the older I get. Sometimes I hear it at the gym, sometimes setting up an artist station on Pandora will introduce me to stuff I did not know. The explosion in genres and subgenres is very hard to keep track of.

Unfortunately, ars long, vita brevis. Or as Ray would prefer- Ὁ βίος βραχύς,
ἡ δὲ τέχνη μακρή, if my ancient Greek is right.

7 msgkings December 16, 2016 at 1:32 pm

The scientists say that whatever music you listen to from around age 12 to age 20 is what you will always love most, you’ll never like things as deeply after that. Not that the music has to be created when you are that age, just whatever you happen to get into then. So Cowen probably got into Stills as a teenager even if the music had been made a few years before.

8 Thor December 16, 2016 at 2:49 pm

Well, that’s it then, the kids’ radios will be confiscated immediately. And they will listen to Classic Rock until they are 20.

9 msgkings December 16, 2016 at 2:56 pm

Way to miss the point.

10 a Fred December 16, 2016 at 3:47 pm


I noticed this in myself and in others long ago. It applies to many things besides taste in music. (Styles in clothes and consumer goods, appropriate prices for common items) Think of it as imprinting; as in ducklings.

Broadly stated: fogyism starts very early.

11 anon December 16, 2016 at 6:42 pm

Morning Becomes Eclectic works for me because it is not daily repetition.

Never stand still.

12 Art Deco December 16, 2016 at 3:00 pm

Both moderators were born after 1957. Crosby, Stills, and Nash were mildly retro in 1981. Nostalgia for their era would be for Bob Marley or Charlie Daniels or Genesis.

13 Steve Sailer December 16, 2016 at 9:41 pm

The electric guitar was a major innovation in the history of musical instruments, probably as big as, say, the piano was to Romantic classical music. Baby Boomer rock is largely the exploration of what could be done with an electric guitar. After several decades there wasn’t much more left to do.

14 Steve Sailer December 16, 2016 at 9:44 pm

I hear new songs on the radio fairly often that would have been classics if they had come out in 1967.

But they didn’t.

The main problem contemporary pop music has is that it usually sounds fine too old geezers like me, whereas “For What It’s Worth” was unsettling to people who were my age now back in 1967.

We Baby Boomers remain too dominant in pop music for it to be a golden age.

15 msgkings December 17, 2016 at 12:15 am

LOL, dude you don’t even hear yourself. To the younger folks today nothing you said is true. The analog to the ‘unsettling’ music of Boomer youth is not Taylor Swift. It’s NWA, or more recently Kanye West and Kendrick Lamar. It’s hardcore rap. Most Boomers hate it.

16 Larry Siegel December 17, 2016 at 4:18 am

In my spare time, I’m a musician (yes recorded), and I studied Stephen Stills’ guitar style very intensively from about 1970 to 1972, so I hope you don’t mind if I talk about it.

17 WC Varones December 16, 2016 at 1:05 pm

Will Ferrell sucks.

18 Jeff R. December 16, 2016 at 1:45 pm

I’d call him vastly overrated.

19 James H December 16, 2016 at 1:09 pm

(Manassas was an excellent album.)

20 ant1900 December 16, 2016 at 2:29 pm

Stills is massively underrated. Look at the star power that played on his solo albums and in Manassas. Bill Wyman almost quit the Stones to join Manassas in the early 70s, which is peak Stones!

The facts that all these other superstars wanted to play with SS tells me he was a rare talent. We’re talking Clapton, Hendrix, Garcia and then all of the monsters in Manassas (Perkins, Hillman, etc)

Check out “Go Back Home” and “Colorado,” two of my favorites.

21 carlospln December 16, 2016 at 3:10 pm

He not only played with Hendrix, Jimi wanted him to join Band of Gypsies


I saw him 1971 [!] when he was touring to promote his 1st record [the white one], with the Memphis Horns.

He, & his band, were excellent.

22 caravan70 December 16, 2016 at 4:41 pm

Love it as well. There’s a great video around (I think it’s still available commercially) of that band on the German TV show Beat Club in ’72 which is a must-watch for any fan of the band and Stills in particular.

23 Brett December 16, 2016 at 1:11 pm

Crime procedurals are morally repellent, beyond just propagating bad ideas about how crime investigations occur.

24 Taxes Can Be a Worthwhile Investment in Our Future December 16, 2016 at 1:19 pm

Music has never yet again been as creative as in that era. I wonder if it ever will be again. I wonder what it was. Do musicians take fewer drugs now? Or a different kind of drugs that don’t increase creativity so much? Was it the greater stability of those times socially– at least for the classes of people from whom most musicians came?

I have to agree that Stills is very underrated.

25 Troll me December 16, 2016 at 6:57 pm

There’s a huge amount of creative music going on. But the industry doesn’t want to take risks, so it produces formulaic songs for the lowest common denominator.

If you want to find creative music, as opposed to stuff practically scientifically calculated to ring just the right bells in just the right way, I suggest staying away from any music label that more than a few percent of the population has ever heard of.

26 Curt Doolittle December 16, 2016 at 9:57 pm

1) That era was one of low hanging fruit because of (a) automobiles with radios, (b) many young boomers with access to consumer goods (c) cheap radio stations, (d) the invention of ‘low investment dancing’. So in retrospect, what we see was that technology of distribution was available for a new range of folk music.

2) The Stones / Zeppelin axis moved from folk music to a mix of editorial and opera, transforming the big venue into a cathedral event.

3) We saw improvements in Mixing (Fleetword Mac / Boston / Kansas) – especally mixing loud. We saw punk (Loud-soft-loud-soft) innovate on top of the rock anthem. We’ve seen specializations in just about every social class, age group, education level, tonal sensitivity, …. We’ve had technical innovations that compensate for relatively untrained or less-than-stellar voices.

3) All music, like all art, can be explained by the evolution of technological innovation and economics to create innovations. It’s quite hard to innovate in painting. It is quite hard to innovate in sculpture. lts turned out to be fairly hard to innovate in architecture (durably). Except for that one woman whose name escapes me, we haven’t seen any substantive aesthetic improvement since Falling Water. We still see a lot of innovation in the movies and in serials but it’s getting harder for them too.

27 Demosthenes December 16, 2016 at 1:19 pm

Season 2 is the best season of the Wire.

New America is Bad Religion’s best album.

Stranger Things was very very mediocre and screenplay was poor.

28 Demosthenes December 16, 2016 at 1:21 pm

Oh, and: Nobody said it because it took 12 years, but Boyhood is totally forgettable and lacks a single non-trite line of dialogue or remarkable scene.

29 Jeff R. December 16, 2016 at 1:47 pm

Agree on The Wire and Boyhood.

30 rayward December 16, 2016 at 1:22 pm

Absolutely agree about Stills, and CS&N. When my brother would come home from college, he would play their album (Crosby, Stills & Nash) over and over. It was innovative for the time. And the harmony of those three was beautiful. Today, people think of Neil Young and CSN&Y. And many fans of the band believe it was better when it became dominated by Young. Maybe. But Young can’t sing, which I suppose was his appeal. Anyway, when the band split, I followed Stills and purchased his solo album. It was a very good album.

31 Larry Siegel December 17, 2016 at 4:11 pm

Young can indeed sing, but his singing is not compatible with the three-part harmony style of CSN. The merger of CSN and Y was one of those rare instances where the whole was less than the sum of the parts.

32 Arnold Kling December 16, 2016 at 1:28 pm

I agree, especially with the choice of representative cuts. But by about 1971 he was burned out, which may be why he is hard to appreciate. And isn’t Spotify an amazing resource?

33 ant1900 December 16, 2016 at 2:34 pm

Stephen Stills 2 and Manassas both come after 1970 and they are excellent, especially Manassas. Post-73 burnout, I could buy into.

34 msgkings December 16, 2016 at 1:28 pm

Genesis (the band) was/is very underrated.

Game of Thrones is boring/overrated.

LeBron James is underrated.

Facebook is a total waste of time.

35 too hot for MR December 16, 2016 at 1:36 pm

(3) was pretty much put to bed in 2016; only a buffoon would say otherwise. (4) Single best life-improving link: https://www.facebook.com/help/delete_account

36 msgkings December 16, 2016 at 1:47 pm

Still plenty out there who don’t realize he’s easily the best player in NBA history except for Michael Jordan.

37 too hot for MR December 16, 2016 at 1:56 pm

well there you go underrating him…

38 Turkey Vulture December 16, 2016 at 1:43 pm

(1) and (4) I definitely agree with, though I don’t know that (4) is necessarily an unpopular opinion

(2) I have never seen but I hear it has boobs.

(3) I don’t watch much basketball but I could believe this. His block in the Finals this year is one of the few things I can actually remember happening in a basketball game, and I suspect that will be true for awhile.

39 Scott Mauldin December 16, 2016 at 1:30 pm

Most orchestral music, and especially modern orchestral music, is rather bad, written by orchestral music majors who have inflated senses of their own musical self-worth, and the narrative that if you don’t like it you don’t “get it” is the height of arrogance (though that part holds for any piece of art). (Nevertheless the truly excellent pieces of orchestral music are still sufficient to elevate orchestral music as my favorite genre.)

40 N.K Anton December 16, 2016 at 1:36 pm

I’d even go further and say that most classical music is in this catergory, even by composers I adore.
Most classical music, because of the focus on telling epic stories, will go from a beautiful and sombre section representing a a tragic death or a very triumphant motif that symbolizes a heroic battle to suddenly weird major key section that sounds like its from a Disney movie.

41 Sam Haysom December 16, 2016 at 2:33 pm

Puccini does a pretty good job of avoiding this although I’ve never heard Turandot all the way through which would likely because of its subject matter have the most propensity for this jarring change.

42 too hot for MR December 16, 2016 at 1:32 pm

Americans vastly undervalue the happy ending.

43 msgkings December 16, 2016 at 1:33 pm

Not at the massage parlor we don’t.

44 too hot for MR December 16, 2016 at 1:43 pm

This is exactly my point! In Asia it’s standard practice; here we send out vice cops to squash a completely clinical and safe exchange. My retired-FBI pal would accompany the sheriff on massage parlor busts, for the purpose of investigating human trafficking. His report: 100% of the time, the girls were happy to be in the U.S. and making $$$.

45 msgkings December 16, 2016 at 1:46 pm

LOL I was trying to be snarky, thought you meant happy endings in movies.

46 Lord Action December 16, 2016 at 1:45 pm

Until I read your comment, it didn’t occur to me that he meant anything other than “at the massage parlor.”

47 Turkey Vulture December 16, 2016 at 1:50 pm

A massage parlor on every corner and a happy ending for every customer. Crime plummets; a new Golden Age begins.

Turkey Vulture 2020.

48 Thor December 16, 2016 at 2:51 pm

Make Happy Endings Happy Again!

49 Sam Haysom December 16, 2016 at 2:33 pm

The sitcom Happy Ending was terribly underrated.

50 Dave Tufte December 16, 2016 at 1:33 pm

Interesting choice.

I don’t think Stills was underrated back in the day. But I do think his star has faded with the passage of time. But you are right: if we judge someone by their very best, he is way up the Pareto distribution for contributions to music over our lifetimes.

Crosby … definitely overrated. I’m inclined to think the same thing about Nash, but over the years I keep hearing these tidbits about how important he was to this artist or another.

P.S. If you have never heard the story of Neil Young’s first trip to L.A. and how he got hooked up with Stephen Stills, you should check it out. The world was different then. Unfortunately, I could not find a link in may seconds of looking; perhaps someone else can.

BTW: I almost never hit Marginal Revolution comment threads early on. Now that I do I can see why … trolls.

51 prognostication December 16, 2016 at 2:32 pm

Disagree that Crosby is overrated. Crosby’s contributions to the groups he was in are like Harrison’s to the Beatles: fewer but almost uniformly excellent.

52 Sam Haysom December 16, 2016 at 2:38 pm

George Harrison might be the most overrated artist of his era: My Sweet Lord, Transcendental Meditation, the Travelling Wilburies what time-bound dreck.

53 rayward December 16, 2016 at 1:37 pm

Of course, Judy Blue Eyes is Judy Collins, another underrated musician. Good grief, the woman is 77 years old!

54 Sam Haysom December 16, 2016 at 2:43 pm

Judy Collins was basically a cover artist with a worse voice than her closet competitor Linda ronstadt. But Linda ronstadt is seven years younger so of course this aging boomer fixated on Judy Collins. It’s almost like boomer musical taste are entirely formed by what they heard during their teen years.

55 msgkings December 16, 2016 at 2:58 pm

So are millennials’ music tastes. And Gen Xers’.

56 Sam Haysom December 16, 2016 at 3:07 pm

This is true but I don’t pretend that Smashmouth is deserving of still being played on radio stations forty years from now.

57 msgkings December 16, 2016 at 3:12 pm

The thing is, there’s great music in all eras, and teenagers usually learn about and get into the best music from the years made before them. The best stuff abides. So plenty of teenagers today get into the Beatles, and the Stones, and Led Zeppelin, and whatever. And they will always love that music more than the stuff they get into in their 30s. I’m Gen X and some of the music of the 80s is my favorite but I would say most of my favorite pop music comes from the 60s, 70s and early 90s. Today when I hear something good I say “oh, good song” but at 16 I would obsess over every note of a band I liked.

58 Turkey Vulture December 16, 2016 at 3:17 pm

I hope to play King Missile’s “Detachable Penis” at my grandson’s wedding.

59 msgkings December 16, 2016 at 3:24 pm

I’m gonna spin Kanye’s “Gold Digger” ’cause we’re gonna be so rich!

60 Corey December 19, 2016 at 1:00 pm

No, but Ben Folds and Dave Matthews? I think they will survive 40 years.

61 Larry Siegel December 17, 2016 at 4:15 pm

Having started her career very early in the sixties as a purist folk singer, Judy Collins’ main competitor was Joan Baez. Linda Ronstadt positioned herself as a rocker, not a folkie, and – along with the Eagles and Jackson Browne, created a new kind of music, California country rock.

That said, Judy Collins recorded one of the greatest rock albums of all time, Who Knows Where the Time Goes, with guitar playing by guess who, Stephen Stills.

62 Dave Tufte December 16, 2016 at 1:38 pm

msgkings: I agree with 3 of the 4 things you wrote.

(I am biased by a huge and old love of Genesis) but yes they are still underrated.

I have felt that way about GoT for a few years. It’s a tough opinion to express in polite company these days. And I just. do. not. get. how it keeps winning so many awards.

LeBron. I hate basketball. But I watched a bit last spring because the Warriors were one of the best teams ever. And then LeBron showed me a three game stretch more powerful than Michael Jordan with the flu.

63 Turkey Vulture December 16, 2016 at 1:40 pm

(1) I think masculine men can enjoy The Decemberists.

(2) I like Bob Dylan’s voice, at least as it existed in the 60s and 70s.

(3) There is actually a wide variety of good music produced these days.

64 too hot for MR December 16, 2016 at 1:50 pm

“I like Bob Dylan” and “I don’t like Bob Dylan” are both valid opinions. “Bob Dylan is overrated” is a common but fantastically bad opinion.

65 Sam Haysom December 16, 2016 at 2:46 pm

Except that it is one hundred percent true. Bob Dylan is entirely overrated. Once Elvis figured out rock music literally everything after it (except rap) was going to happen inevitably. The fact that Bob Dylan and The Beatles had the first mover advantage is really that worthwhile.

66 too hot for MR December 16, 2016 at 3:00 pm

It’s just that the influence and consequence of Dylan still ripples outward in ways that his detractors are oblivious to. Massive, massive numbers of musicians across all forms would cite Dylan as a key influence. It is difficult to overrate that.

67 dan1111 December 16, 2016 at 6:20 pm

Dylan is very, very good, and influential as you say.

Still, when the dude has a Nobel prize in not-quite-what-he-actually-does, I think you have to admit that it is at least possible that he’s overrated.

68 Troll me December 16, 2016 at 7:07 pm

The Beatles might be a more commonly stated influence, therefore Dylan’s influence on musicians around the world is nil.

Actually, I’d say that Dylan’s influence tends to be on “singer songwriters”, which, for example, are basically never the bassist in the group unless it was harder to find a bass player than other members and so they happened to pick up the bass.

69 msgkings December 16, 2016 at 7:43 pm

Nathan, don’t be stupid. Bassist singer-songwriters include Paul McCartney and Sting and Geddy Lee, just off the top of my head. And Dylan definitely influenced the Beatles, so therefore he influenced everyone they did.

70 Anonymous December 16, 2016 at 9:21 pm

Sure, Dylan was an excellent and influential songwriter, and is probably appropriately rated as such. As a performer, however? Ick.

71 Larry Siegel December 17, 2016 at 4:17 am

Seriously? Chuck Berry and Buddy Holly were the real pioneers of rock; they actually wrote music. Elvis was a moderately good cover artist. Once the rock rocket was launched, somebody truly excellent was bound to come along, but saying that Bob Dylan and the Beatles don’t deserve credit because they were in some sense derivative is bizarre. They are the greatest artists of the last half century.

72 Ricardo December 17, 2016 at 12:51 pm

Elvis didn’t write his own songs and was promoted by the recording industry in part because he was a white man who could imitate what black musicians were already doing.

73 rayward December 16, 2016 at 1:47 pm

As Joan Baez was more famous than her boyfriend Bob Dylan, Judy Collins was more famous than her boyfriend Stephen Stills.

74 msgkings December 16, 2016 at 1:52 pm

Only for a brief moment for both.

75 rayward December 16, 2016 at 1:57 pm

Does Bob Dylan owe his fame to Joan Baez? Did he break from traditional folk as a way of distinguishing himself from Baez and her contribution to his fame as a folk musician? Men have such fragile egos. Male artists and the president-elect, for sure.

76 Taxes Can Be a Worthwhile Investment in Our Future December 16, 2016 at 6:30 pm

Well, the PEOTUS wins the award, for sure.

77 Jeff R. December 16, 2016 at 1:53 pm

In the hierarchy of Italian cheeses, mozzarella is overrated, ricotta is underrated.

U2 had like four good songs, ever. How did they remain so popular for so long?

Qdoba was better than Chipotle for a long time, but then Qdoba started putting that queso slop on everything on the menu and Chipotle started poisoning their patrons, so now I don’t go to either one.

Despite the gaudy numbers, Tom Brady is not a top five QB of all time. He played in an era of ever-tightening pass interference rules and his team cheated for years.

Glass-top coffee tables are the pet rocks of the furniture world.

78 too hot for MR December 16, 2016 at 2:01 pm

Totally tangential but I always laughed at Sheldon Adelson funding right-wing politicians while providing mirror-top side tables in his hotel suites.

79 Larry Siegel December 17, 2016 at 4:30 pm

in today’s topsy-turvy world, rightism is erotic and leftism is puritanical.

80 Turkey Vulture December 16, 2016 at 2:10 pm

I think rating QBs is incredibly difficult, as evidenced by the limited ability of even those who do it for a living to do so successfully, but I am still going to disagree on Brady. His continued high-level performance with age has won me over. And I am a Bills fan (though arguably the Bills’ playoff drought approaching the age of majority seems somewhat less terrible if the division was controlled by the best coach and QB combo ever for almost that entire span).

81 too hot for MR December 16, 2016 at 2:20 pm

Agree. The ability to win with complete indifference to the surrounding cast of characters cannot speak more favorably to Belichick/Brady.

82 Jeff R. December 16, 2016 at 3:08 pm

Superior skill at cheating.

83 Turkey Vulture December 16, 2016 at 3:12 pm

Gaining more from the cheating than the punishment for detected cheating. Certainly an important skill in determining who is a good lineman or corner.

84 too hot for MR December 16, 2016 at 3:17 pm

I have no particular affinity for the Pats, but to a passive observer the cheating cries seem about as substantial as the Russian hacker cries. Goodell came out of Deflate-gate looking like Joe McCarthy.

85 Turkey Vulture December 16, 2016 at 3:20 pm

I suspect the Pats have infiltrated the Bills organization, particularly Scouting. Little else can explain what I’ve seen since 2000.

86 Slocum December 16, 2016 at 3:30 pm

Yep. The importance of cheating in Brady’s success has been clearly demonstrated by the steep falloff in his performance since the ‘deflategate’ game two years ago.

87 Bob from Ohio December 16, 2016 at 2:25 pm

My problem with rating QBs [or sports figures in general] is the “prisoner of the moment” where only recent players make the discussion. No one has any sports memory. Its like Unitas or Otto Graham never existed.

Brady has far better stats than Bart Starr but Starr was an even better champion level QB. 5-1 including 3 in a row. He was the most accurate QB of his era and the most successful of all time.

88 too hot for MR December 16, 2016 at 2:35 pm

I’m sorry to say it but pointing out Starr’s dominance is like pointing out Ronda Rousey’s dominance or UConn women’s dominance and saying “greatest athletes of all time!” The talent required to rise above today’s general talent pool in NFL/NBA is just in another class. We can’t know how Starr would fare.

89 Lord Action December 16, 2016 at 2:46 pm

Here’s an unpopular opinion:

We have no idea how historical athletes would fare in a modern game soaked in test and GH. And without PED technology today, it would be a completely different set of guys on top.

90 too hot for MR December 16, 2016 at 3:25 pm

@Lord Action: clearly correct. This is a weird one because at the same time as I feel bad watching Griffey Jr. get outshone by the inferior talents of McGwire/Canseco/Sosa, I also can’t entirely condemn someone like Lance Armstrong, who saw the game for what it was and decided to beat it. Set aside the subsequent nastiness and betrayals, is it his moral duty to not dope and live his life as a Costco clerk?

91 Bob from Ohio December 16, 2016 at 3:30 pm

“The talent required to rise above today’s general talent pool in NFL/NBA is just in another class. ”

And my point is made.

Modern players are bigger and faster but many lack skill in basic fundamentals. So we do not how they would perform in a more demanding era.

QB is not a position where size or speed makes that much of a difference anyways. Brady and Peyton Manning are slow with no apparent athletic skills other than the ability to throw very well.

92 chuck martel December 16, 2016 at 2:37 pm

NFL football in particular has a memory problem, much worse than baseball. Superstars of not long ago are unknown to the current generation of fans. Hugh McIlhenny, Ollie Matson, Hopalong Cassidy, even Jim Brown, have been forgotten by a sport with institutional amnesia. Chances are most DC residents under the age of 35 think that John Riggins was once secretary of the interior.

93 Bob from Ohio December 16, 2016 at 3:36 pm

“much worse than baseball”

Yes, Babe Ruth is still considered by many to be the greatest player of all time though he last played in 1935. Most everyone would rank him in the top 5.

Sammy Baugh is no where in the best QB talk.

94 Turkey Vulture December 16, 2016 at 3:10 pm

I’m not big on looking specifically at Championship/Super Bowl records. I think performance in those games can indicate whether an athlete chokes under the pressure, but even then it will be a very small sample size. Overall playoff performance may be more useful, but even then (especially in football) the same tends to be pretty small.

I think there is minimal room in most professional sports for a player to significantly raise their level of play in a playoff/championship vs. regular season game, and even less between a championship vs. a playoff game. This may be even more true for QBs than for other positions. A QB could take a bigger risk on a run to get a first down (thinking of Elway in the Super Bowl here), or stand in the pocket longer and take a big hit to let a receiver get open. Other than that, there isn’t much they can do to improve. I don’t think there is a “be more accurate” or “throw fewer picks” option they can select in their brains. Their performing at a high level during big games might indicate that they don’t wilt under pressure, which is itself very valuable, but it is also potentially statistical noise.

Of course, I may have Bills-related reasons for advocating this point of view.

95 msgkings December 16, 2016 at 3:14 pm

“Of course, I may have Bills-related reasons for advocating this point of view.” – outstanding comment

96 Turkey Vulture December 16, 2016 at 3:21 pm

Never forget: Four Straight AFC Championships!

97 msgkings December 16, 2016 at 3:26 pm

That Bills team was one of the best of all time, it’s dumb luck they couldn’t win even one of those Super Bowls. The curse of Scott Norwood.

98 Thor December 16, 2016 at 2:53 pm

Because those songs were really good? Just asking.

99 Thursday December 16, 2016 at 2:03 pm

Stills also burned out quickly on cocaine, after which he really faded from public view.

100 cove99 December 16, 2016 at 2:16 pm

Stephen Stills underrated is fair……..better than the Rolling Stones is one of the most ridiculous things Tyler’s said ….this week

The Rolling Stones Winter – YouTube
Sep 11, 2010 … Album: Goats Head Soup Postion: N/A Released: Aug 73 On Rolling Stones.

101 blades December 16, 2016 at 2:17 pm

No accounting for tastes, but can’t let this pass

With regard to the Stones, I’ll mention only four (there are many, many more) I’d listen to before any version of Suite Judy Blue Eyes:

Heart of Stone, when they were just breaking out in the US. Listened hundreds of times, still of interest.

Tumblin Dice, played just as much all over like SJBE, but not old

Beast of Burden. I stop everything I’m doing when I hear this.

Look What the Cat Dragged In, From their last original album, a great rock n roll song that is a bookend to Under My Thumb, with the shoe on the other foot for the older Jagger.

The SS songs are nice, and I enjoy them, but I always have a feeling of get on with it, you’re dragging this out

102 Nathan Taylor December 16, 2016 at 2:20 pm

Minor point about the Monkees.

From wikipedia:

Rumors were that Stills made an unsuccessful attempt to become one of The Monkees. He was reportedly turned down, not due to any lack of ability, but because of a conflict with his existing music publishing contract. So instead, he recommended his friend, multi-instrumentalist Peter Tork.[9]

In a later interview, Stills clarified by saying, “I never tried out for them! I have said this a million times! I went in there to sell my songs. Do you think in my wildest dreams I wanted to be a damn fake Beatle on television? (laughs) I was already writing songs, and I figured — I was young and dumb — that the only way I could get to them was a (casting) cattle call. I got in there and said, ‘I’ve got all these songs.’ And they said, ‘That’s already been fixed.’ I said, ‘What, you’ve got some Tin Pan Alley (character) writing all the songs?’ and they said, ‘Yeah.’ I said, ‘I don’t want this job, but I know a guy you might like,’ and that turned out to be Peter Tork.”[10]

103 cove99 December 16, 2016 at 2:21 pm

I’d add,,,,,,

Gotta Get Away, Memory Motel, Winter, 100 yrs ago, Loving Cup, Shine a light, Dead Flowers, Til the Next Time we say Goodbye….and maybe 60 or 70 other Sones tunes before i listened to a Stephen Stills

104 chuck martel December 16, 2016 at 2:30 pm

Rock and roll, whatever it is musically, is basically rebellion against the big band era and its requirement of many musicians and instruments. Musical white suburban kids of the sixties couldn’t assemble 25 like-minded losers in their dads’ garages on a regular basis. Rock and roll was cheap to produce and its quality was difficult for the market to measure. Showmanship. image and promotion (payola) became as important as musical talent since there are millions of talented musicians all over the world. It’s a real godsend that we now have options for the discovery of interesting music instead of just the local radio station.

105 Art Deco December 16, 2016 at 3:10 pm

Rock and roll, whatever it is musically, is basically rebellion against the big band era and its requirement of many musicians and instruments.

Big band had taken a back seat to vocal music a decade earlier. Whether it was a ‘rebellion’ or not, the musical genre which was shoved to the back of the queue was dominated by performers who may have had time with bands, but had a performing and recording career apart from them (Sinatra, Nat King Cole, Rosemary Clooney, Jo Stafford, Peggy Lee, Teresa Brewer, &c).

106 chuck martel December 16, 2016 at 3:52 pm

Frank Sinatra, Doris Day, Peggy Lee, etc, even in solo careers that were made possible by their popularity as singers in big bands, were accompanied by orchestras, not just rhythm and lead guitars, electric bass and drums. The rock and roll era ignored brass and woodwinds. Fans were so committed to the simplicity of rock and roll arrangements that later, more complicated dance and disco music were regarded by purists as obscene.

Music is really the only art form that requires no context. It’s a sequence of invisible, ephemeral sound waves that require no knowledge or experience to appreciate or abhor.

107 Art Deco December 16, 2016 at 4:16 pm

Frank Sinatra, Doris Day, Peggy Lee, etc, even in solo careers that were made possible by their popularity as singers in big bands,

Sinatra, perhaps. IIRC, Peggy Lee and Jo Stafford were much more obscure. Rosemary Clooney and Teresa Brewer post-dated that.

108 caravan70 December 16, 2016 at 4:36 pm

Rock and roll was largely black rhythm and blues filtered through a hillbilly lens. I do agree that there was an element of rebellion among white teenagers in particular against what they were hearing on the radio, primarily Teresa Brewer, Tennessee Ernie Ford, Patti Page, and other such pleasant but insipid material. By 1954 or so, though, there was very little big-band music to be heard on the radio or anywhere else.

I concur that the availability of more options than radio for discovering new artists and styles is a wonderful advantage we have now.

109 zztop December 17, 2016 at 2:46 pm

A marvelous blending of rock and roll and big band was accomplished by Jaco Pastorius and his Word of Mouth big band in the early eighties.

110 zztop December 17, 2016 at 3:05 pm

Brian Setzer big band is not a good example (big band/rock and roll). Awful.

Setzer was a fantastic guitar player and interpreter of rockabilly.

111 Edm December 16, 2016 at 2:32 pm

Ice cream is actually good for you.

112 Scott Mauldin December 16, 2016 at 3:39 pm

Thank you. “Healthiness” is contextual depending on what else you’ve eaten lately. If you’ve had nothing to eat all day but arugula salads, your body is probably craving some carbs and protein making something like ice cream, or bacon, a healthier choice than more arugula salads. If all you’ve eaten all day is bacon and ice cream, your body could really do with some arugula salads.

113 ant1900 December 16, 2016 at 2:42 pm

But Stones overrated might be the worst take ever. Check out a recording from the ’78 tour. Blues, country, punk, disco, jam, Motown. All in the same show. Watts and Wyman were beasts. I prefer Mick Taylor to Ronnie Wood but ’78 is Peak Wood.


Tattoo You was an album of outtakes and castoffs and it is one of the best albums of the 80s.

114 Sam Haysom December 16, 2016 at 2:51 pm

Yea but none of its very great. That was the Stones problem no focus they stretched themselves to thin whereas the Beatles were hedgehog like in drilling down deeper and deeper into their one chosen passion. Not that I’m crazy about later Beatles.

What always ruined the Stones for me was that Mick Jagger honestly thought his songs sounded like a Deep South bluesman. If you self perception is that off I wonder.

115 Taxes Can Be a Worthwhile Investment in Our Future December 16, 2016 at 6:34 pm

Most people’s self perceptions are that off, about a particular region of a country you didn’t grow up in and don’t live in.

116 Bob from Ohio December 16, 2016 at 2:44 pm

“three of the best (non-Beatles) songs of the 1960s/early 1970s: Bluebird, Wooden Ships, and Suite: Judy Blue Eyes”


Judy Blue Eyes is good but Bluebird and Wooden Ships are dreck. I guess if you were a stoned hippie.

Daydream Believer by the Monkees is better than anything Still ever wrote even though “some Tin Pan Alley (character)” wrote it. A near perfect pop song.

117 Larry Siegel December 17, 2016 at 4:47 pm

The folksinger John Stewart of the Kingston Trio wrote it. He later became a very compelling solo folk rocker, and died recently at the too-young age of 68.

118 Sam Haysom December 16, 2016 at 2:52 pm

The Stones best five songs are infinitely better than the Beatles best five songs, but the Beatles worst ten songs are even more infinitely better than the Stones worst ten songs. Probally better than the Stones worst forty songs frankly.

119 Thor December 16, 2016 at 2:55 pm

Well said. But luckily the Stones have about 20-25 great songs. I personally can’t listen to more than half a Beatles song.

120 Larry Siegel December 17, 2016 at 4:48 pm

Try “If I Fell” again.

121 Urso December 16, 2016 at 3:29 pm

I’m not sure this opinion is unpopular enough to count as an unpopular opinion.

122 responsible D December 16, 2016 at 3:41 pm

For an alternative point of view:

“Originality: 1/5. Any particular questions? They’re not any more original than the Eagles, unless three-part harmonies in roots rock songs count.”


123 Larry Siegel December 17, 2016 at 4:49 pm

Three-part harmonies in roots rock songs count. The Eagles are younger than CSN and were profoundly influenced by them, as well as having personal connections (at least one former Buffalo Springfield member is in the Eagles).

124 Dan in Philly December 16, 2016 at 4:26 pm

Unpopular opinion: Talking about Star Wars is a waste of time for an adult.

125 dan1111 December 16, 2016 at 6:26 pm

Technically you just wasted time.

126 Shane M December 16, 2016 at 4:35 pm

Not that my opinion on music counts for much, but fwiw “Love the One You’re With” is probably my favorite song of his, I guess primarily due to the musical vibe. But I rarely listen much to words. After Tyler dissed the song I listened to the words and now I’m like: “Oh, that’s not what I thought the song was about ;-)” My younger mind I guess couldn’t contemplate.

127 JTC December 16, 2016 at 5:08 pm

I saw went to see Neil Young touring with Stills (Stills-Young Band) and came away with the same thought… Stills was very underrated as a guitar player…

128 Edward Burke December 16, 2016 at 5:10 pm

The Super Session advice TC offers could be construed as misleading: Bloomfield played on side A, after he skipped out on the sessions Stills was called in to play on side B. Nothing in the liner notes, nothing I’ve ever heard on the album or its CD successor has ever intimated that Stills and Bloomfield collaborated on any single cut on the album. It was Kooper’s project, he played on both sides with both guitarists and produced the album.

All that said: Stills was a fine guitarist and songwriter, decent vocalist. Still, I’ll take Sticky Fingers, Let It Bleed, and Beggars Banquet over the CSY debut album most days.

129 Edward Burke December 16, 2016 at 5:57 pm

Whoops, sorry Graham: “the CSN debut album”.

Neil Young is a sorry vocalist and guitarist and songwriter who only gets worse by the half-century.

130 Scott Mauldin December 16, 2016 at 5:40 pm

Star Wars Episode I was better than Episode II.

From a burger-flipping alien chef to the factory scene straight out of a Saturday morning cartoon, Episode II was comically bad. Episode I was boring and odd (way too much politics for Star Wars) but not particularly awful.

131 msgkings December 16, 2016 at 6:08 pm

Episode I also had the best light saber battle of the entire series, with Darth Maul and his double-saber taking on 2 Jedi at once.

132 AaronM December 16, 2016 at 5:52 pm

Hear, hear! Manassas is a masterpiece.

133 HankP December 16, 2016 at 6:06 pm

De gustibus non est disputandum = everyone here trying to argue that their personal tastes are universal

134 msgkings December 16, 2016 at 6:09 pm

Well yeah, that’s the point of arguing about culture. There’s no ‘right answer’. Also the blog post was asking for everyone’s personal favorites that most don’t agree with.

135 HankP December 16, 2016 at 8:28 pm

Still boring. If people point out things that aren’t well known, or that might appeal to people who like other things, that’s fine. But the internet is filled with “x sucks/x is great” arguments. Pointless and a waste of time.

136 Donald Pretari December 16, 2016 at 6:15 pm

That Dragnet 67-70 is easily the best cop show ever. The police are generally educated, decent, fair-minded, and don’t pretend all police officers are. They never beat anyone up, threaten to kill them, or whine about citizens having rights. I prefer to watch cops who have a tough job, and do it as best they can.

137 Doc at the Radar Station December 16, 2016 at 9:22 pm

Also, Adam 12 was quite good. Wished that Netflix hadn’t ended both of those.

138 gregor December 16, 2016 at 6:18 pm

“Unpopular opinion” can be a little vague. Some opinions simply rarely receive much consideration one way or another, but once suggested many people are fairly amenable to it. Then there is the class of opinions where most people will react very negatively to the suggestion, often because they’ve been thoroughly considered and rejected.

139 DJFitz December 16, 2016 at 7:43 pm

Finally, some recognition for a great rock and roller! First solo record …yes the white one… has several classic songs and not a miss on the whole record. Have debated with friends and family for years that he is a Top 20 R&R guitarist. Thanks, TC!

140 cthulhu December 16, 2016 at 7:52 pm

The only “Star Wars” movie worth seeing is the original from 1977 (and it is very good indeed). In particular, “Empire Strikes Back” is turgid, unwatchable drek.

ZZ Top’s “La Grange” is perhaps the best Texas boogie ever recorded.

Fitzgerald in general and “Gatsby” in particular is pretentious hooey.

Tom Wolfe’s “The Painted Word” is spot-on from cover to cover.

141 Sam Haysom December 16, 2016 at 8:48 pm

I agree with you about Wolfe.

although there is some abstract expressionism I like I think Wolfe is 100% right about the conditions under which it was created. When he starts in on the cult of flatness and Morris Louis in particular it’s a wonderful evisceration.

142 efim polenov December 17, 2016 at 12:16 am

Sam Haysom – Hans Hoffman, for example, was a humble artisan, and while, if I owned one of his paintings, I would not really want to hang it up on a wall of my house (if I owned a house), I respect his rather likeable – albeit juvenile – excitement with his random thoughts about color. Pollock and de Kooning each had two or three paintings that were not embarrassingly self-indulgent, albeit there are few things sadder than a self-proclaimed artist who lives an entire lifetime without ever once painting an empathetic portrait of another human being – it is almost as if they were cursed by a love for the robotic. And robotic is not a compliment kind of word in this context. Sort of like those extreme cat ladies – the ones with enough money to live a normal life – who spend all their cash on rent and cat food and never talk to anybody who could make them laugh or feel happy and appreciated in a normal human way. God bless their souls – and God have mercy on the poor cats who have to live with them. Anyway, very few of us are artistically creative in any real and significant 20th century modernist sense, but a majority of us (not me and, probably, not you, but that is another story) want to be, and for that reason I, for one, do not have the heart to want to criticize abstract expressionists at any significant level of detail. Gatsby is a terrible novel, but there are hundreds of well-written sentences in it – Pernilla August did a great job in one of the later Star Wars movies, and whoever coached the young British guy on how to sound like a younger Alec Guiness does not deserve to be forgotten. I met Graham Nash once, sort of, at a book signing (I was in the bookstore for other reasons – if memory serves, I was looking for a CD by Madeleine Peyroux and for the version of Graham Greene’s End of the Affair with that really cool picture of a lonely rain-swept English park that Penguin put on the book for a few years back in the 90s. I was short on cash in those days, as I still am, and only planned to buy one or the other) ; he (Graham Nash) was very polite to some guy who was gushing about how Graham Nash was “the voice of his youth”, or something like that, and I imagine Stephen Stills would have been just as polite. To me, there is nothing unpopular about saying somebody like that is underrated compared to his competitors: I hope they all had a good time creating what they created, that they were as kind as they could have been given the circumstances, and that they all have happy memories of those days.

143 cthulhu December 17, 2016 at 12:29 am

I am extraordinarily allergic to Graham Nash – his voice grates on me, and his “songwriting” is pathetically juvenile. Glad he seemed to be a nice guy.

144 efin polenov December 17, 2016 at 12:56 am

I am only slightly above an average judge of character: so take it for what it is worth – he was definitely polite and understanding. He did not need the money, he did not need to impress anyone, and he did not know there was anybody noticing. Whatever else he has done in his life – and, as much as I like the music of that era (and I am not claiming that most of it is not juvenile), I have never bothered to learn much about the musicians – in that moment, he made someone (not me, but the guy who was talking to him) feel as if a famous person was happy to be talking to him.

145 Sam Haysom December 17, 2016 at 2:49 pm

Efim I was trying to think up a way to summarize my thoughts on Gatsby and I think you hit the nail on the head. It really does have some wonderfully well written sentences in it which is probably why it caught on in popularity as a high school literature class staple because its a good book for quote identification type questions. A lot of sentences in there that you can write a paragraph on during a test.

146 efim polenov December 17, 2016 at 10:14 pm

Thanks, I don’t underestimate English teachers either

147 msgkings December 16, 2016 at 9:01 pm

+1 to ZZ Top and Tom Wolfe, -1 to ESB and Fitzgerald

148 efim polenov December 17, 2016 at 12:18 am

ZZ Topp was a favorite band of Calvin of “Calvin and Hobbes” fame: ESB is very watchable.

149 Doc at the Radar Station December 16, 2016 at 9:02 pm

Rock Music Quality vs. US Oil Production

Interesting. But we should be finding some good rock and roll in the last few years due to fracking.

150 Sam the Sham December 16, 2016 at 9:30 pm

I’m not sure I’ve got a vastly unpopular opinion… 🙁 I like winter, the cold, the sleet, the roads and trees glistening with ice?

151 Steve Sailer December 16, 2016 at 9:30 pm

When For What It’s Worth came out in 1967, did anybody then say it sounded like something else previously released, or was it really new sounding?


I didn’t start listening to Top 40 music until the end of 1969, but it sounded quite original even three or four years later.

152 Steve Sailer December 16, 2016 at 9:34 pm

My impression is that Stephen Sill’s reputation tends to get overshadowed by his association with Neil Young in two different bands, and Young is a more domineering personality. Crosby Stills and Nash were probably the top band in American without Young, but as soon as they added Young to CSN, he took it over because he is aggressive and masterful. Young is so alpha that it never seems to have occurred to him that somebody who sings like he does shouldn’t be a rock star.

153 cthulhu December 17, 2016 at 12:26 am

IMHO, CSN were not even close to the top band in America in 1969: Hendrix, Joplin (aka Big Brother and the Holding Company), the Doors, the Velvet Underground, the Youngbloods, Jefferson Airplane, Moby Grape, Quicksilver Messenger, and especially Creedence Clearwater Revival. And when Neil Young joined and CSNY made “Deja Vu”, their best-known album, Stills was always front and center, much more so than Neil. Same for Buffalo Springfield – Stills was definitely the top dog in that band; all their great songs except “Mr. Soul” are Stills – “Bluebird”, “Rock and Roll Woman”, “Hung Upside Down” as examples. (Although I actually prefer the James Gang cover of “Bluebird”; Joe Walsh kills it on guitar.)

154 Larry Siegel December 17, 2016 at 4:24 am

All you have to do is read that list and you’ll realize how amazing late 1960s rock music was. All that in one year! Only the peaks of the classical period and the Jazz Age are anything like it.

155 cthulhu December 17, 2016 at 11:57 am

Agree, and this is just a very incomplete list of American bands; bring in the Brits and add the rest of the great American bands, and you get orders of magnitude more. There’s a reason why it’s called classic rock.

156 Tom_Servo December 16, 2016 at 11:35 pm

Where are trigger warnings when you need them?

You guys should put a big warning sign saying “Economists talking about Music”. The sounds of chalk being scrapped across a chalkboard.

My 2 cents (I’m not an economist): Stills is neither under- nor over-rated. He was correctly rated by peers and near-peers (guys who did what he did, but not as well, or successfully), and by the people who assembled groups, produced LPs, and bought LPs and concert tickets. Where he’s at now rating-wise is irrelevant. That’s the natural course for pop musicians, composers, performers. Memory is short. People tend to like music that they grew up listening to. What goes around comes around. Keep on trucking. ‘Scuse me while I kiss the sky.

As for over-rated, the Stones are # 1, but they made some good records (pre-Gimme Shelter), and Gimme Shelter LP was outstanding (lots of thanks to Merry Clayton). Nevertheless, the fact that they are still at it is impressive. Gotta give credit where it’s due.

157 Lex December 16, 2016 at 11:37 pm

Mike Piazza was a well-above average defensive catcher.
Police brutality and corruption are better (i.e., less frequent) now than at any point in history.
Judge Posner is grossly overrated: As a legal thinker, he’s at best memorable, and hardly influential; as a judge, he’s mediocre.

158 Jaffe December 16, 2016 at 11:39 pm

Virtually all rap music is bad.

The medium allows people to use their voice in interesting rhythms as well as pack a lot of information in the lyrics, but hardly anyone really takes advantage of this. Both the lyrics and flows are almost always boring.

159 msgkings December 17, 2016 at 12:20 am

Only the chart topping rappers. There’s plenty of really good rap beneath the top 40.

160 Zeitgeisty December 17, 2016 at 2:39 pm

I agree with you on both points. One interesting exception is a collective called Doomtree and some recordings by the individual members especially Dessa.

161 Ryan T December 17, 2016 at 10:55 am

Although perhaps all of TC’s opinions are unpopular, I still hope #confessyourunpopularopinion will become a somewhat regular type of post.

162 zztop December 17, 2016 at 2:48 pm

The best pop music band ever: Tally Hall.

Pop production perfection.

And I–zztop dude–even admit this.

163 zztop December 17, 2016 at 2:49 pm

Compositional perfection as well. Go to album: Good and Evil.

164 zztop December 17, 2016 at 2:53 pm

Still’s over anything by the Stones? Really. Tyler must not have heard “Exile on Main Street,” by far, the best rock album ever.

165 cw December 18, 2016 at 12:24 am

A. is totally underrated [I know because I have more sophisticated taste than the average consumer]. People always talk about how great B. and C. are, but without A. they wouldn’t exist. Think about Aa. or Ab. Those were ground breaking, especially the (component) and the (other component.) You can still (sensory verb) A.’s influence in (area of human creation) today. I crack up when I see hipsters promoting C. like it’s the greatest invention since possum on toast without even knowing (who, what) A is.

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