(To commemorate the GRAMMY Hall Of Fame's 40th Anniversary in 2013, GRAMMY.com has launched GRAMMY Hall Of Fame Inspirations. The ongoing series will feature conversations with various GRAMMY winners who will identify GRAMMY Hall Of Fame recordings that have influenced them and helped shape their careers.)
One thing that runs through the singular career of Juanes, arguably the biggest star of the vast Latin rock galaxy, is a refusal to stand still, a disdain for repeating himself, a fear of stagnation.
That was clear last year with the release of his MTV Unplugged album, a radical departure from his hard-edged rock sound, which earned him the Latin GRAMMY for Album Of The Year and a 55th GRAMMY nomination for Best Latin Pop Album. And last August, he gave an unprecedented performance with the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra, conducted by Gustavo Dudamel.
At that time, the Colombian artist told NPR, "This is a new beginning for me. Now I have no fear. I want to take risks. I just feel so happy to have that freedom and say, 'You know what? Let's forget everything and just break things. Go fast and break things and do whatever comes from your heart.' That's what I'm doing now."
It's an attitude that in his more than a decade as a solo artist has brought him 17 Latin GRAMMY Awards, as well as the Best Latin Pop Album GRAMMY Award for La Vida…Es Un Ratico in 2008. And it's a thread that runs through his five selections from the GRAMMY Hall Of Fame, recordings from iconically daring artists who were key in shaping his own character and sensibilities. Weaned on Carlos Gardel? Memories of Pink Floyd as the lullabies of his youth? As we said: singular.
"El Día Que Me Quieras"
"Carlos Gardel is an artist that I was born hearing, and grew up with as well. My dad would sing tango at home all the time. This song was definitely one of his favorites. My older brother had the complete Gardel songbook and my guitar classes were all with Gardel songs in the beginning. We had all of his albums. I consider him an icon like Jimi Hendrix or Pink Floyd. I can clearly say that Gardel is my Elvis Presley. His arrangements and singing style were amazing. I respect him deeply and to date I keep singing his songs. His is one of my favorites!"
Bob Marley & The Wailers
Island/Tuff Gong (1977)
"Bob Marley is one of my favorite artists of all time. It feels as if I've been listening to his music since the first time I understood reason and consciousness. There is something in his melody and lyrics that has always captivated me and acted as a therapy — and that is the great 'vibe' and positive feeling you sense when listening to his music. Exodus is an album that I like in particular because it has all the elements of his social message, delivered through music and partnered with unbelievable melodies that make you connect in a way that is out of this world."
"Let It Be"
"This was one of the first songs I listened to from the Beatles. This record was always in my house and to be honest it was the first time I read the words, 'The Beatles.' I had no idea who they were initially, but when I started listening to the record, there was an immediate connection. Every time I would listen to this song, I would get a sense of energy that would pass through my body. Sometimes I remember standing in front of the mirror and singing this song like a mad man, imagining a concert full of people. This has been a great inspiration for me, and more than just the song or its lyrics, the moment was personally significant for me."
Back In Black
"AC/DC was one of the first bands that I listened to. Back In Black is one of the albums that marked a very important moment for me, because I started to discover the electric guitar for the first time. The distortion pedals and the strength that rock had. I listened to this album nonstop for many years — learning all the songs [and] all of the riffs."
The Dark Side Of The Moon
"Every weekend when I would arrive at home, I would lie in bed and play The Dark Side Of The Moon from start to end. This album became one of my official lullabies. I always admired the tenacity and creativity that showed Pink Floyd was ahead of their time. David Gilmour is one of my favorite guitar players of all time, because of his delicate technique and simple lines played with an extreme sense of taste. His sound is very particular and gives Pink Floyd its avant-garde sound as a whole."
(Latin GRAMMY winner and GRAMMY winner Juanes won his first GRAMMY in 2008 for Best Latin Pop Album for La Vida...Es Un Ratico. He is currently nominated for Best Latin Pop Album for 2012's MTV Unplugged Deluxe Edition.)
(Steve Hochman has been covering the music world since 1985. He can be heard regularly discussing new music releases on KPCC-FM's "Take Two" and the KQED-FM-produced show "The California Report," and he is also a regular contributor to the former station's arts blog "Without A Net." For 25 years he was a mainstay of the pop music team at the Los Angeles Times and his work has appeared in many other publications.)