Before I learned how to drum, all I heard was guitar and voices. I wasn’t listening for the drums as an instrument in any music I heard.
Once you start listening for new things in music, it opens up a whole world. This is something I love. I have recently tried to listen out for any horns sections in songs – there’s a surprising amount of horns out there!
Back to drums – as a backing instrument it rarely gets the credit it deserves. Consider this an effort at shining the light on two examples.
Muddy Waters’ “Mannish Boy” has impeccable blues drumming. It kicks off the track and keeps it rock solid so that he can moan and growl on top. It’s so hard to drum slow and strong like this.
An easier one to hear: Ringo in the Beatles’ “Ticket to ride” adds syncopation and a lurching thump. This beat keeps an otherwise very average song up in the clouds.
Listen for the drums :).