Acoustics and Artists

The Weekly Music Carousel (name change pending) is a thing that Sugar and I are doing for fun. We come up with a theme, then throw up three songs that we feel fit the theme. There are no other rules, other than to have fun and see if we can find songs that the other hasn’t heard and actually likes. This is week two, and so far no joy. On my first try, Sugar was familiar with 2 out of the 3 I put up, and didn’t like the third. She in turn offered up three songs that I didn’t like either.

For this week’s theme, she chose acoustic music, which was one of my alternatives for the first theme. I know that the kind of artists usually associated with that genre label are the John Meyers and Jason Mrazes of the music world. Strictly though, this is music that uses no electric or electronic instruments other than amplification of non-electric gear. That would include the entire classical genre, and huge chunks of the new age and jazz genres. I’ll avoid classical, then, because I’m sure that’s not what Sugar has in mind, but I’ll be liberal in interpretation otherwise. It’s not like a lot of these artists pigeonhole into cut-and-dried musical genres, if such things actually exist.

Ragamuffin – Michael Hedges

I enjoy the work of a lot of the artists under the Windham Hill label. Michael Hedges is a guitarist discovered by label mogul Will Ackerman. His music straddles folk, country, new age and jazz, I think, but the label is irrelevant – his stuff is excellent. Hedges died tragically in a car accident at age 43. The YouTube track audio is terrible, so I’ve included the Spotify link with has significantly better audio quality.

The Other Side of the Sun – Janis Ian

Even as I’m leaving, I’ll never stop believing you are the one
Who can make me laugh and can bring me back
From beyond the other side of the sun

Janis Ian isn’t an unknown. She had one pop chart hit, “At Seventeen”, and recorded a lot of beautiful music. She also hasn’t done anything significant since 1980, the year this song was released. I love her voice and phrasing, and the clear simplicity of the instrumentation.

Meaning of Life – T-Cophony

I was introduced to this Japanese artist by a co-worker who lived in Japan. T-cophony (I don’t know his real name, and I don’t speak Japanese anyway) is a guitar virtuoso who uses all kinds of unusual techniques and equipment to create his sound. While not all his stuff is pure acoustic, the tracks that are tend to range from good to brilliant.

Honourable Mainstream Mentions

I tried to avoid all the artists that I’d consider my “favourites” as well as those that might be considered mainstream, as per instructions of Sugar. That eliminated all of the contemporary singer-songwriter types. Sadly without access to a good coffeehouse scene, the chances of happening upon a good indie artist a-la Keira Knightley in Begin Again are pretty much nil for me. So here’s some mainstream acoustic music that resides in my music library.

Y solo se me ocurre amarte – Alejandro Sanz

Tan dura la vida y tΓΊ
Tan llena de paz
Y sΓ³lo se me ocurre amarte

Llenas mi vida de luz
Llenas el cielo, la tierra y el mar
Y a mi tan solo se me ocurre amarte

Alejandro is a Latin music superstar and, I’m told, a Grade A hottie, so all he can get is honourable mention. I think I’ve broken both copies of his MTV Unplugged CD that I’ve owned.

Paper Airplane – Alison Krauss and Union Station

Our love is like a paper airplane flying in the folded wind
Riding high, dipping low
But innocence is fair game, I’m hoping I can hold it in
Our love will die, I know

Alison is a country music superstar with one of the most beautiful voices I’ve ever heard. I love Paper Airplane. No surprise though, I’ve been following her since “When You Say Nothing At All” in the 90s.

Like A Fool and Lost Stars – Keira Knightley

We take a chance from time to time
And put our necks out on the line
And you have broken every promise that we made
And I have loved you anyway

And you have broken every single fucking rule
And I have loved you like a fool

I’ll end with these two unquestionably mainstream tracks from the Begin Again soundtrack. It’s not fair that Keira Knightley can actually sing, along with act, be funny and be beautiful all at the same time, but there you are. The movie is all about the music industry and how hard it is to make it and how unfair that whole damned thing can be. Those of us who once dreamed or still dream to make art our living are probably better off not even getting started down that path, but that ends up as an unfulfilled dream all the same. You can’t stop loving art, and language, and music. For many of us, we can only exist with a steady diet of all three. It’s like eating and breathing. But sometimes it can get so frustrating to be limited to consuming, and not creating, and perpetually searching for meaning.

Take my hand, let’s see where we wake up tomorrow.
Best laid plans; sometimes are just a one night stand.
I’ll be damned; Cupid’s demanding back his arrow.
So let’s get drunk on our tears.

And God, tell us the reason youth is wasted on the young.
It’s hunting season and this lamb is on the run.
We’re searching for meaning…
But are we all lost stars trying to light up the dark?

Thanks Sugar, that was fun.

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10 thoughts on “Acoustics and Artists

  1. And this is why I have chosen Acoustics! I am on my way home with an almost flat phone, will comment properly when I am on my laptop.

  2. Fell asleep yesterday πŸ™‚
    Right! So, the instructions were to avoid just your number 1 acoustic artist (I said favourite!) you added an s to it which is fine but my post will be far more mainstream than yours!

    Starting from bottom to top because it’s easier to scroll like that to get the names right…

    Keira – Surprisingly nice. I will be checking out her songs, the lyrics were nice and the arrangement was just about right.
    Alison & Union Station – Didn’t really like this one. I don’t like her voice.
    Alejandro Sanz – Quite mainstream but worth mentioning, he is very talented. I like the song.
    T-Cophony – Probably my favourite of your post, thanks for introducing that artist, I will be definitely checking him out.
    Janis Ian – That song doesn’t fit the acoustics theme. She has an acoustic guitar but there is also a lot more going on in comparison to the other songs you selected. I didn’t really like this song either, possibly due to the arrangement.
    Michael Hedges – no need to say much, quite impressive skills.

    Also, a quick suggestion in how you are embedding your Youtube videos, ensure you get them the same size, it was very dificult to read your post on my phone, the videos messed up the width.

    Lastly, what have you done to your logo? Just curious why the colourful one is gone.

    1. Well, it doesn’t really matter since I stuck a bunch of mainstream stuff at the end since I couldn’t help myself. πŸ™‚

      Gasp. You don’t like Alison Krauss’s voice. Okay then.

      I kind of object on the Janis Ian song, but I realized I posted a YouTube video (the only one of the song) without watching it. My reference is a live version off her live album “The Bottom Line Encore Collection” which is definitely acoustic. My bad. But you didn’t like it anyway so all good. πŸ™‚

      How exactly do you resize YT videos when posting to WP? You need to tell me how, since you’re the web professional!

      I’m experiencing WP theme dissatisfaction. I liked my earlier one, but started experimenting with others, ran out of time and got stuck with this one. It will change again, soon. It just might change back to the old one. I don’t like how this one barely delineates between posts.

      1. I will look for the Janis Ian acoustic version. There is a big chance I will like it.

        Oh, I see. It’s tough when using free themes. I struggled to find one that I liked enough but I will be keeping mine for now I think. If I use this blog for one full year I may go for a premium theme and get more settings. For now it is not worth it, yet.

        How are you currently embedding Youtube videos on your blog?

  3. I’ve embedded a Spotify link in the post for you for live/acoustic The Other Side of the Sun.

    Been thinking of getting a premium account and theme, but am concerned that it may suck even more time than I have in puttering around with the blog. Maybe when I get a chunk of time off.

    I go to the YouTube video, select Share -> Embed, then copy/paste the link straight into the editor. I’m not smart enough to do it any other way. πŸ™‚

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