By Mickey Dunaway

Session 2 of Music My Way displays the Big Pile of everyone whose music I particularly appreciate. From this group will come the Baker’s Dozen of the top 13 artists or groups that, for reasons that are totally mine, I ranked as better than the rest of Big Pile from whence they came. You will also find the Little Piles into which I placed the artists so that I could begin narrowing and narrowing down until I had 13, and finally arriving at the top five. It will not surprise me if you look at my Little Piles and they make no sense at all to you.  Again, that is perfectly OK. My categories and who I placed in them only had to make sense to me. Remember this blog this is Music My Way!

The Big Pile

The pile started with nearly 50 people and groups mixed all together. Categories were going to be clearly essential, and I started with 17 different ones. They were categories and subcategories that made sense only to me. Making sense to me was all that counted. I recognize that I am no music expert. However, I know what I like and what I don’t like.  Even so, my final categories split some hairs mighty thinly.

I began by listing artists who were longtime favorites of ours. That was the easy part. Next, I spent some time with my iTunes Library to see if anyone jumped out.  I have no idea if our 5578 songs and 14.7 days of music is a lot or a little. It is just how many songs I have on my iMac. This provided at least half of the Big Pile, which makes sense since mostly, these were purchases with purpose. Finally, I included some people like BB King who could not be left out of the Big Pile even though I did not have an album of his.

So, folks, below is the Big Pile, and at this point, I did not put them in any categories. It was later that I put them in a table so that I could sort and rate them in various ways to generate different insights. Did I leave out artists that I really like—the Avett Brothers—for instance? Absolutely. I like them, but their contributions are young. Bob Marley? Yes, but although I like his reggae, I don’t listen to it often. So, there you have a couple of the kinds of reasons that might have kept good and exceptional artists from my Big Pile.

Andrea Bocelli, Alabama, BB King, Beach Boys, Blind Boys of Alabama, Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, Buddy Holley, Carol King, Charley Daniels, Chet Atkins, Dean Martin, Dolly Parton, Dwight Yoakam, Eagles, Elvis Presley, Emmylou Harris, Eric Clapton, Everly Brothers, George Jones, Glen Miller and his Orchestra, Gordon Lightfoot, Hank Williams, Sr, Israel Kamakawiwoʻole (IZ), James Taylor, Jim Croce, Jimmy Buffett, John Coltrane, John Lennon, John Prine, Johnny Cash, June Carter Cash, Keb Mo, Kris Kristofferson, Leonard Cohen, Loretta Lynn, Mark Knopfler, Meryl Haggard, Paul McCartney, Paul Simon, Ray Charles, Roy Orbison, The Band, The Beatles, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson.

NOTE: This is not everyone whose music I enjoy or even have purchased. I started with people who had to have made a significant impact on music in general as well as on my taste.

The Little Piles

It is easy to see that there were lots of potential categories in the Big Pile. Sandy and I tend to like originals who do things differently. Jim Croce is a good example of that. Not rock. Not folk. Not country. But one of a kind that died way too early. Mark Knopfler started out as a traditional rocker with the group Dire Straits, but when he left the group, his skills expanded far beyond rock and roll.  So how far and where would he best fit today at the height of his career?

I sifted and sorted the categories over and over. For example, I initially put Jimmy Buffett and Israel Kamakawiwoʻole (IZ) in the same category of Island Music. The more I thought on that the more I realized that while that grouping was true, it was not the whole story. IZ was Hawai’ian and Jimmy Buffett’s style is more Caribbean, so I separated them late in my sorting and categorizing. This was before I even considered if either would make the final cut of 13 favorites. The 17 categories evolved to be:


Blues-Modern Iteration



Classical—Modern Form

Country Royalty

Country Royalty—The King

Country Royalty (The Queen) 

Country Royalty (Group)


Island Music (Caribbean)

Island Music (Hawai’ian)

Jazz (An Original)

Jazz Royalty

Pop 40s 

Rock (One of A Kind)

Rock (My Teen Era)

Rock Royalty (Group)

Rock Royalty (The King) 

Rock Royalty (Folk/Storyteller)

Rock (Group)

Rock (Storyteller/Guitarist/Movie Composer)

I thought you might like to see who I placed into each category. The table below shows that, but remember, there is no ranking at this point, only categorizing. 


Now that you have seen all my selections and the categories I have arbitrarily put them that makes sense to only me. Why don’t you try to guess my Bakers Dozen of 13 greats and my top five coming from that 13? 

Until next time, remember this quote from David Bowe about Bob Dylan’s voice, it sounds “like sand and glue,” he said. 


  1. Dunaway’s Top Five
    Hank Williams Sr
    Eric Clapton
    Ray Charles
    Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers

    Hard choices, I enjoy all of the artists in your top 13. The only band missing – The Moody Blues


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