Our Latest “On My Deathbed” Winner Explains His Picks

January/February 2013 “On My Deathbed” winner Wayne Norfleet reveals his prize picks. From Kris Kristofferson to Frank Zappa, read Wayne’s ruminations on the picks that helped him win the Martin D-Mahogany Guitar. And enter the next “On My Deathbed” contest for your chance to win a Martin D-35 Seth Avett Custom Signature Guitar.

Videos by American Songwriter


In the Aeroplane Over the Sea – Neutral Milk Hotel

To me, if one was to subtract Jeff Mangum’s voice from the whole album, the sound might be considered, by some, to be different, but seemingly plain. Nonetheless,I think this was done intentionally to really highlight Mangum’s songwriting ability. For example, when I hear “King of Carrot Flowers”, the emotion evoked from some of the lines is very specific, and it takes me on a journey from beginning to end. The album as a whole is this way, but this song really sets the tone. I really wish Neutral Milk Hotel would put out another album, but Jeff Mangum has done well with his solo career.

John Prine – John Prine

John Prine is by far my favorite songwriter, and this album highlights some of his best work in my opinion. He brings the punchy tongue-in-cheek humor of some early country songwriters and melds it with a tapestry of storytelling and deep issues traditionally seen in folk.


– Bob Dylan

Bob Dylan would be a no-brainer for me to listen on my deathbed. He set the tone for many modern musicians with his storytelling and his signature confessional songwriting. This is my favorite album by far because of his voice. Just like Johnny Cash, his later albums show more emotion and a hard life, and once the listener recognizes this, it brings Tempest full circle. To me, Dylan has always been an abrasive singer, but the brilliant thing is that even though he may have not been gifted with a smooth voice, he is still the definition of a troubadour.


The Boatman’s Call – Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds

Nick Cave is my favorite melancholy songwriter. The Boatman’s Call I believe is his best work so far and is brilliantly put together. His lyrics have a way of painting a musical canvas with black and grey and still making it a colorful masterpiece.


After Bathing at Baxter’s – Jefferson Airplane

This band is one of my favorites, just because of the originality aspect. The signature 2/4 rhythm blows the top out of what your traditional listener would call rock ‘n’ roll. This band is fun, and I believe that After Bathing at Baxter’s is the pinnacle of their work.


The Silver Tongued Devil And I – Kris Kristofferson

Kris Kristofferson was, by anyone’s definition, a hell of a man and lead an amazing life. I think that this personal aspect really shined through in The Silver Tongue Devil and I. It takes a true man to explain such careful situations with such thought and emotion provoking lines. He is similar to John Prine as well, in the aspect that he uses some tongue-and-cheek situations to make light of maybe a darker issue, and this album uses all of his characteristics very effectively.


Embryonic – The Flaming Lips

I love this band for the same reasons I love Jefferson Airplane. This album really showed directness and outlined every good sound a band like this should produce. It is almost as if Wayne Coyne had a checklist and went down the line while they were recording. I bet he did. This album is that good.


Bridge Over Troubled Water – Simon & Garfunkel

Simon and Garfunkel are great songwriters, and this album really shows their true grit. They are wordsmiths through and through, and this album highlights their best work. The creativeness is amazing, and I love every second.

Lumpy Gravy – Frank Zappa

Frank Zappa generates a lot of buzz among my friends, and I never really understood the hype around him until I listened to Lumpy Gravy all the way through. The thought it provokes is amazing, and if one were to listen hard enough, they would realize that every syncopation, every tempo change, and every oddity is incredibly deliberate. I enjoy all of Zappa’s work, but Lumpy Gravy is my personal favorite.


Harvest Neil Young

Last, but most certainly not least is Neil Young’s Harvest. Neil Young is another one of my favorite wordsmiths, and Harvest really hits the point that I believe Young was making his entire career. He is another songwriter that I appreciate because of his voice. He might not be the most clear, beautiful singer, but he really puts into context what being a troubadour is all about: songwriting.

To enter the March/April “On My Deathbed” contest, simply click here and tell us the “ten albums you’d take to the other side” and you’ll be entered to win a Martin D-35 Seth Avett Custom Signature Guitar.

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