I guess you have to start with The Beatles and in particular the Abbey Road album. I was given a box of old cassettes when I was about 11 or 12 and that album was in there. It sets a pretty high benchmark. Through friends at school and university I got into Led Zeppelin, Fleetwood Mac, Queen (yes I did buy Bohemian Rhapsody the first time around), Free, Lynyrd Skynyrd, and Barclay James Harvest. Those bands you hear as you’re growing up stick with you, and I still listen to them all now. I’ve picked up others along the way - I remember hearing a Robert Cray‘s Bad Influence playing in a record shop in Leeds and buying all three of his albums that were out then; I heard Los Lonely Boys playing a live set on the car radio and ordered the album as soon as I got home; I saw the film Once and immediately bought the soundtrack, and everything Glen Hansard has recorded since. Plus of course there’s all the Folk and Roots stuff that friends have introduced and which I discovered in the days of CDs in the public library - Show of Hands, Kate Rusby, Martyn Joseph, Wolfstone, Jackson Browne, Clive Gregson, Richard Thompson, Gareth Davies-Jones, Seth Lakeman, and many more. The common link is that these people are all fantastic and skilled musicians, who create amazing music, and have undoubtedly shaped my own lesser efforts at writing songs.
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