Name 3 Bands That Compelled You To Play Music

Todd Saal, Nashville, TN

March 13, 2017

Hi all. This week I’m going to discuss a question that was posed during a guitar lesson a few years ago. Name 3 bands that made you want to play music. It’s a great question as I was just getting back into playing regularly and wanted to get back to basics. Notice that the question was not name 3 guitarists that made you play guitar. In the end we play music. The guitar is just a means to that end. It is a fun question to answer as well. Maybe we’ll do that another time.

What was interesting about this was I was able to answer this very quickly. There was a part 2 to the question and it was “why”. The 3 bands listed below each had a very different effect on me that eventually called to me to pick up the guitar in the first place. In answering the “why” I also realized that there was a cohesiveness between the three. So let’s just get right into it.

Here’s my 3 bands in no particular order:

  • Led Zeppelin
  • Black Sabbath
  • Frank Zappa

Led Zeppelin

For me Led Zeppelin was more about the songs than anything else. Even more so than Jimmy Page’s guitar playing. My intro to them was from a step-aunt that lived with us when I was younger. She was an artist and would let me hang in her room and draw. The first record I recall from her was Zeppelin II. Hearing the opening track of Whole Lotta Love had me hooked. It was very different from the country and doo-wop I was being spoon feed from my mother. Zeppelin had so many great songs. So many great riffs. They played and sang with such feeling and emotion. Even if some of the lyrics and riffs were, let’s say, “borrowed”. Hell what isn’t borrowed to some degree. They made them their own and did things their way. My favorite Zeppelin album though is Physical Graffiti. Double album, so many of my favorite songs are on that one. Plus the album’s cover art is a building down on 8th street in Manhattan. What’s not to love?

Black Sabbath

Plain and simple – when I first heard them I had never heard anything like this before. A friend of mine, his sister got him hooked on Black Sabbath and he introduced them to me with their first album “Black Sabbath”. I remember I was listening to a lot of Yes and other progressive stuff at the time. I was just blown away. I thought what the hell is this? It was just so different and heavy. The drummer had a swing jazz feel to his playing but the guitar playing was so dark and heavy. There was so much attitude. I quickly picked up their other albums. Of all the albums and various versions of the band my favorites are 2 from the original line up and they were “Master of Reality” and “Vol 4”.


Black Sabbath

Black Sabbath – the original lineup. I actually had this poster hanging in my room as a teenager.

Frank Zappa

Out of the 3 bands listed here Frank Zappa was and still is my favorite. My introduction to Frank Zappa was from a friend’s brother. I used to hang at their house and listen to his record collection. His brother had some great stuff. The album that changed everything for me was The Mother of Invention’s “One Size Fits All”. For me this album still holds up today. I loved everything about it. The songs, the humorous lyrics, and the melodies were so unique. I was really drawn to the tension and idiosyncratic rhythmic phrasings. They were strange. Some were downright borderline uncomfortable. Over the years those types of feelings in general have become my happy place. I seem to excel best in that environment. There’s very little of Frank’s music that I don’t like. His catalog is so vast and it’s hard for me to pick only one album or so. It would be really hard to pick a favorite. Although “One Size Fits All” is the one that holds a special place for me since it really started me down a path of attempting to be unique. Do my thing, my way. I still listen to that record regularly.


So what did this tell me about what drives me to play and write music? This actually can apply to almost anything for me really.

  • Led Zeppelin – The Songs: Have something to say. Otherwise what’s the point?
  • Black Sabbath: Attitude: Say whatever it is with conviction. Put some passion into whatever you do
  • Frank Zappa: Unique: Make your statement your way. Don’t be afraid to experiment and be different. You might be surprised as to how it connects with someone else.

This only scratched the surface of what drew me to these bands but they are the fundamental traits of each. So what’s your favorite 3 bands? Till next time!

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