Years back, I remember reading an interview with musician Livingston Taylor, a big favorite of mine during my high school years. He was patiently answering the inevitable line of questioning he always gets that challenges him to compare and contrast his musicianship with that of his more famous brother James. Eventually fed up with the whole thing, he turns a challenge back on to the interviewer: “You know, it is possible to like us both.” Touche.
As a lifelong educator, I’ve learned one thing: Regardless of the circumstances of their birth, all kids have the same amount of say in selecting their parents and siblings: no say at all. So, let’s let the music stand on its own with 16 sweet songs by siblings and off-spring (alphabetical by artist):
1. “Grace” by Jeff Buckley. Both he and dad Tim died before their time.
2. “This Will Be” by Natalie Cole. Daughter of Nat King Cole. Ah, back to the spring of my freshman year of college.
3. “Gramercy Park” by Deadsy. Elijah Blue Allman (Hyde ’94), son of Cher and Greg Allman, leads his band on this one. (Note: The album cover features a painting of the back of the Hyde Mansion w/ Sunken Garden.)
4. “Harlem River Blues” by Justin Townes Earle. Born the son of Steve and named for legend Townes Van Zandt, he goes his own way.
5. “Simple Gearle” by Stacey Earle. Sister of Steve with her own style.
6. “4th of July” by Shooter Jennings. Waylon’s boy with his outlaw spirit.
7. “Don’t Know Why” by Norah Jones. Any baby-boomers out there remember sitarist Ravi Shankar? He’s Norah’s dad.
8. “Johnny B. Goode” by Julian Lennon, with a little help from a friend: Chuck Berry.
9. “True to Myself” by Ziggy Marley. Catchy tune from the son of Bob.
10. “These Boots Are Made for Walking” by Nancy Sinatra. “Are you ready boots?…..”
11. “Carolina Day’ by Livingston Taylor. James’ bro with a song of his own about Carolina. Liv’s eponymous debut was a constant in my high school sound track.
12. “6 Strings Down” by Jimmy Vaughn. A compelling tribute to brother Stevie Ray written by Art Neville.
13. “Millbrook” by Rufus Wainwright. The son of folkies Loudon and Kate McGarrigle with a song about his boarding school days.
14. “One Headlight” by The Wallflowers. While Jakob Dylan may look like his pa, he’s got his own sound.
15. “Are You Sure Hank Done It This Way?” by Hank Williams, Jr. Off his album Tribute to My Father.
16. “The Grand Old Opry (Ain’t So Grand)” by Hank III keeps it real and in the family.
BONUS: “Alice’s Restaurant” by Arlo Guthrie. While his catalog may not be as big as Woody’s, this song gets played every single year in late November.
Onward, Malcolm Gauld