1. “Cannonball,” Damien Rice, 2002
Seeing Damien Rice perform when I was 11 changed my life forever. After seeing him play this small club in Ireland, I was able to meet him, and he was unbelievably cool. I went straight home and started writing songs. I would not be doing what I’m doing now if he’d been a jerk.
2. “Layla,” Derek and the Dominos, 1970
It sounds a bit clichéd, but Eric Clapton made me want to play guitar. I saw him perform “Layla” at the Queen’s Jubilee on TV when I was about the same age — 11 — and said, “I want to do that.” Of course, no one plays like Clapton, least of all me.
3. “Stan,” Eminem, 2000
Believe it or not, my dad was the one who bought me The Marshall Mathers LP. I think he read an article that compared Eminem to Bob Dylan, and he loved Bob Dylan, so he figured it had to be good. He wasn’t wrong. Eminem is still my favorite rapper of all time.
4. “Ricky,” the Game, 2011
The Game is one rapper that I constantly look up to. He has so much passion and feeling in this song. You know everything he does is the truth.
5. “Irish Heartbeat,” Van Morrison and the Chieftains, 1988
I’m a big Van Morrison fan. My parents used to play this album on our road trips when I was a kid, so it really takes me back. The album is a collaboration with the Chieftains, and the entire thing is incredible. This is the title track.
6. “Guiding Light,” Foy Vance, 2013
I’ve been a huge fan of Foy since I was 14 or 15, and this is one of my favorite songs of his. When he set out to make his first album in years, Joy of Nothing, he asked me to join him on the recording of “Guiding Light.” It’s one of my proudest moments.
7. “Do You Remember,” Jarryd James, 2015
I heard this while I was in an Australian radio station last week, and I had to find out who the singer was. Ends up he’s a young lad from Brisbane, and this is his debut single. I just love the sound.
8. “White Foxes,”Susanne Sundfør, 2015
I love when friends introduce me to something I’ve never heard of. My friend Christina Perri bought me Sundfør’s album The Silicon Veil, and it’s simply ambient brilliance. I could sit for hours listening to it.
9. “A Million Miles Away,” Rory Gallagher, 1973
This was the first song I learned on guitar. The story goes that when Jimi Hendrix was asked how it felt to be the greatest guitarist in the world, he answered, “I don’t know. Go ask Rory Gallagher.”