Playlist: A man and his Guitar
Updated: Jul 29, 2020
I made this playlist a while ago and have been adding to it here and there. The title is A Man and his Guitar. The concept behind it is fairly self-explanatory in that it’s strictly songs where it is only a man and a guitar but in a way that brings exposure to the artists themselves as the songs are so stripped to the bone and far more revealing. The theme carried through is that these songs are important because they give space, they give the man and his guitar a space to say something.
The playlist starts with Neil Young followed by Elliot Smith, both with a sober tone yet one that echoes in the ethos of I survived, I’m still here. “A Needle and the Damage Done” is a song Young wrote for a band member he lost to heroin and the song carries a tone heavy in that same nature. “Between the Bars” is Elliot Smith’s most popular song for a reason, he’s a master of the acoustic song writer scenario and this is a pure example of that.
These are followed by uplifting tracks in “Blackbird” by Sir Paul and “Bermuda Highway” by My Morning Jacket, songs that truly prove why a man and a guitar can be so powerful. These songs both carry a very different tone but I find them similar in that they are both from musicians who are typically part of a larger band, and, thus, are a departure from the norm and instances where these artists were able to paint a unique portrait
From there the playlist goes into a series of solo savants starting with Bob Marley’s “Redemption Song”, followed by the Jack Johnson song “Gone”, into Bon Iver’s “Skinny Love” taking case in the idea that songs are for people to communicate the ideas they hold in the people who want to understand the same thing.
"Mr. Tambourine Man” has to be on the list because Bob Dylan is a quintessential acoustic artist but I also think it’s impossible to say that anyone can send such a message with just a guitar, a harmonica and his voice. Dylan is able to transport us to a dream, or, even more specifically, that moment just before we are about to wake, a moment so hard to describe, yet perfect in the diction and phrase.
The next track is a personal favorite, one of Eddie Vedder’s from the Into the Wild soundtrack. I love this entire soundtrack, but I think it’s really interesting and telling to hear the Pearl Jam frontman take on such a different persona. It’s a little depressing though so I followed it up with a Sublime track, “Boss D.J.”
The second to last song is a Jeff Buckley cover of “I Shall Be Released” a version that only makes a person think that this is the way the song should be played. A true testament to Buckley’s voice and a perfect marriage to Dylan’s message of a triumphant end.
The list finally ends with “Little Wing” because, well, do I even need an explanation for this one?
“A Needle and the Damage Done” – Neil Young
“Between the Bars” – Elliot Smith
“Blackbird” – The Beatles
“Bermuda Highway” – My Morning Jacket
“Redemption Song” – Bob Marley
“Gone” – Live in Morrison, Co – Jack Johnson
“Skinny Love” – Bon Iver
“Mr. Tambourine Man” – Live at Boston Music Hall – Bob Dylan
“Society” – Eddie Vedder
“Boss D.J.” – Acoustic Version – Sublime
“I Shall Be Released” – Live at Sin-é – Jeff Buckley
“Little Wing” – Jimi Hendrix