Eric Johns' Top Ten Songs for Rock and Metal Magazine

Eric Johns, lead vocalist for Southern Gentlemen.

Here are my ten most important to me songs. I went in no particular order as to which get ranked above which:

10. Baba O'Riley - The Who - The first time I heard this song I was maybe 5 or 6 years old and I simply knew after hearing it that I had to be a singer. I think my Mom actually hid my Dad's copy of the album because she got so sick of me playing it.

9. The Mountain Song - Jane's Addiction - This was my favorite song off of Nothing's Shocking. Jane's Addiction was so important to me because they were the first band I got into that really had no rules. They didn't look or sound like anybody popular at the time. Their songs really opened up a whole new world for me musically.

8. 4 Degrees - TOOL - I was really starting to feel bored and uninspired by much new metal until TOOL hit the scene. This was my favorite song off of Undertow and I think it is one of Maynard James Keenan's best vocal performances. TOOL does the whole soft then hard, cresendo to climax thing better than just about anybody in the metal world.

7. Sign of the Southern Cross - Black Sabbath - This is my favorite Dio era Sabbath song. His voice on this is so damn huge it is unbelievable. I spent literally hours when I was a kid singing to this song on the stereo trying to learn every nuance of Dio's style. To me, Dio will always be the standard by which all metal voices are judged.

6. Five to One - The Doors - This was punk rock to me long before anyone ever thoguht of the word. What a brutal, awesome song. One of my favorite lyrics ever; "Five to one and one in five, no one hear gets out alive."

5. Piece of My Heart - Janis Joplin - I learned to sing this song on a dare. It was probably the hardest song I ever had to learn in my whole life to sing. I must have done alright with it, though, because the demo of this song got me the job singing for Southern Gentlemen.

4. Hurt - Johnny Cash - I liked the Nine Inch Nails original version of this song from back in the mid 90's, but the Johnny Cash version just breaks my heart every time I hear it. It is very cathartic sometimes to listen to sad songs and they don't get much sadder than this.

3. Times of Trouble - Temple of the Dog - I remember listening to this song over and over on my CD walkman flying back from Seattle. I had just broken up with a woman I was truly in love with and had moved clear across the country to be with. Unfortunately, it didn't work out and I decided to get on a plane and go back home. I suppose I will always have this song associated with that memory. It is one of Chris Cornell's best vocal performances in my opinion.

2. Old Friend - The Allman Brothers Band - I am huge fan of Warren Haynes for his work in the Allman Brothers, as well as with Gov't Mule. I listened to a lot of his work preparing to do the Southern Gentlemen record because I really loved his cadence on the blues songs he sings and wanted to match it. I probably listened to this song 100 times or more just trying to find the right blend of gruffness and soul in my own cadence. In short, I love Warren's voice and there is no one out there today even in his league.

1. Running to Stand Still - U2 - I have always liked U2, but this song wasn't really a stand out to me until I was asked to sing it at a memorial service for a friend who had passed away. His girlfriend loved the song because it dealt with the subject of drug addiction and had many paralells to the life story of our friend who had left us. Once I really put my head inside the words and started learning the song, I realized just how perfect a song it really was. There is a lyric in there where Bono sings, "I see seven towers, but I only see one way out," that is so amazing to me. I have only sung that song a handful of times because it is so special to me. It seems too good a song to just waste. And, again, I am a sucker for for sad songs.

Well, there's my list. Hope you like it.
Eric Johns

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