9 Of The Best Acoustic Songs
As we all know: some songs are good, some songs are… well, not so good. Either way, even those not-so-good songs can be great when they’re performed acoustically (whether it’s a cover by another artist or just an acoustic performance by the original artist). There’s just something about an acoustic song that speaks to your soul a little bit more than one that has been tampered with and fixed by editing tools to sound perfect. Here, in no particular order, are just nine of the best acoustic songs.
1. “Everlong” – Foo Fighters
“Everlong” was released by the Foo Fighters on their album The Colour and the Shape. A rough cut of the song was written by Dave Grohl while working on the album in 1996 when his first marriage was ending. It’s rumored that the song was finally fully completed when Grohl found a new girlfriend in Louise Post of Veruca Salt.
Lyrics: “And now / I know you’ve always been / Out of your head / Out of my head I sang”
2. “Tears in Heaven” – Eric Clapton
Just to warn you: if you’ve never heard this song you’re probably going to cry – and if you have heard it, you’ll still cry. The song (at 10:55 in the YouTube video, though I recommend watching the entire thing) was written by Clapton and Will Jennings for the soundtrack of the movie “Rush.” However, Clapton and Jennings have both openly stated that the song was also a release of Clapton’s emotions in regard to the untimely death of his 4-year-old son, Conor. The song went on to win the 1993 Grammys for: Record of the Year, Best Male Pop Vocal Performance and Song of the Year. Clapton stopped performing the song in 2004 but recently added it back to his lineup during his 50th Anniversary Tour in 2013. Honestly, I could probably fill this whole article up with Clapton acoustics, but I’ll just leave the whole “MTV: Unplugged” episode here for your convenient viewing instead.
Lyrics: “Time can bring you down, time can bend your knees / Time can break your heart, have you begging please, begging please”
3. “Make You Feel My Love” – Adele
“Make You Feel My Love” was written by Bob Dylan, but wasn’t released commercially until later in 1997 after Billy Joel’s version titled “To Make You Feel My Love,” was released. You might be more familiar with the Garth Brooks version (1998) of “To Make You Feel My Love” for the movie “Hope Floats” (which should be on your watch list if you haven’t seen it – just trust me there). Adele’s version was released in 2008. Adele’s version regained notoriety more recently after the Brussel’s attack in 2016.
Lyrics: “The winds of change are blowing wild and free / You ain’t seen nothing like me yet”
4. “Working Class Hero” – John Lennon
You’ve probably heard Green Day’s cover of “Working Class Hero” from 2007 – Lennon’s original is better. While the song may not sound all that controversial now, it was very much so when it was released. Many stations declined to play the song due to the expletive within the lyrics.
Lyrics: “Keep you doped with religion, and sex, and TV / And you think you’re so clever and classless and free”
5. “Going to California” – Led Zeppelin
“Going to California” was written by Jimmy Page and Robert Plant and released on Zeppelin’s fourth album in 1971. According to Rolling Stone, the song is rumored to be about Joni Mitchell. But we all know, as Rolling Stone mentions, the song could really have been about any of the multitude of girls the band came in contact with.
Lyrics: “I think I might be sinking / Throw me a line if I reach it in time / I’ll meet you up there where the path / Runs straight and high”
6. “Hurt” – Johnny Cash
Some people think that Nine Inch Nails covered Cash; however, Cash actually covered the Nine Inch Nails song in 2002 for his album American IV: The Man Comes Around. Cash changed one of the lines in the song with profanity in it to, “crown of thorns,” to reference his Christian beliefs. Cash’s version won the Grammy for Best Short Form Music Video in 2003.
Lyrics: “What have I become / my sweetest friend / Everyone I know goes away / In the end”
7. “Landslide” – Fleetwood Mac
I don’t even think I need to explain why this song is on this list. If you need it explained to you – well, you’re doing it wrong. Stevie Nicks is the queen of my life and this song should speak to your soul as much as it does mine. No explanation needed.
Lyrics: “Oh, mirror in the sky, what is love? / Can the child within my heart rise above? / Can I sail through the changing ocean tides? / Can I handle the seasons of my life?”
8. “Fire and Rain” – James Taylor
While most people relate the song to Taylor’s childhood friend (who some have misconstrued as his girlfriend) Taylor has given interviews noting that he wrote the song in three parts. The first is about a childhood friend of his from New York, Suzanne, who committed suicide while Taylor was in London. The second part follows his addiction and depression. The third part includes the failure of his band, James Taylor and The Flying Machine. Taylor has also said that Carole King’s “You’ve Got a Friend,” was in response to the chorus of “Fire and Rain.”
Lyrics: “Won’t you look down upon me, Jesus, You’ve got to help me make a stand / You’ve just got to see me through another day”
9. “Where Did You Sleep Last Night” – Nirvana
Released by Lead Belly in 1944, Nirvana liked to perform this song during concerts in the ‘90s – but their most famous version gained notoriety during their “MTV Unplugged” appearance in 1993. As you can see, it was the final song during Nirvana’s performance (which makes it all the more haunting). As Neil Young noted, the screaming vocals by Cobain (along with the sigh/look/breath combo at the end, for me), take the song to an unbelievable level.
Lyrics: “In the pines, in the pines / Where the sun don’t ever shine / I would shiver the whole night through”
What are some of your favorite acoustic songs? To listen to these songs and other great artists check out the Trebel App!
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