The 25 Greatest Acoustic Songs In Hard Rock
Guitar World presents a guide to the 25 greatest acoustic songs in hard rock.
"JANE SAYS," JANE'S ADDICTION
Nothing's Shocking (1988)
It's five minutes long, features just two chords (G and A) and, with its steel drum ornamentation, sounds like something Jimmy Buffett might have conjured up after a three-day orgy of sponge cake and margaritas.
Nonetheless, "Jane Says" remains one of the L.A. punk-metal band's most enduring songs. Perhaps its durability can be attributed to the fact that it doesn't fit neatly in the group's canon.
In place of frenzied, psychedelic metal dispatched with tectonic force, we get a wistful, straightforward acoustic ditty, tailor-made for campfires and backyard cookouts. Coming from Perry Farrell, Dave Navarro and Co., that's pretty shocking.
"MORE THAN WORDS," EXTREME
Extreme II: Pornograffitti (1990)
In the late Eighties, Extreme carved out a niche as the funkiest hard rockers on the block, with a sound that, thanks to guitar hero Nuno Bettencourt, straddled the line between Van Halen shred and Aerosmith strut.
And so it was something of a kick in the head when Bettencourt and singer Gary Cherone unleashed the Everly Brothers homage "More Than Words."
Aside from a couple of finger snaps, the only accompaniment to Cherone and Bettencourt's harmonizing voices was Bettencourt's fingerpicking on a Washburn acoustic and the percussive knocking of his hand against the guitar's top. The result was a smash hit: "More Than Words" hit Number One on the Billboard charts in 1991, and led a generation of would-be shred heroes to put down the electric, grab an acoustic, and knock the hell out of it.
"SHE TALKS TO ANGELS," THE BLACK CROWES
Shake Your Money Maker (1990)
"Jealous Again," "Twice as Hard" and "Hard to Handle" put Atlanta's Black Crowes on the map as a raucous, genuine-article blues-rock ensemble.
But it was this soulful acoustic-driven number about the ravages of heroin addiction that put the band over the top-and gave it a Number One song.
For the recording, guitarist Rich Robinson (who wrote the music to the song when he was just 15) played a Martin D-28 in open D tuning. Although he capoed the 2nd fret, effectively giving him an open E tuning, there's a certain feel and texture to his sound that fits the wrenching nature of the track. Add in brother Chris Robinson's soulful, yearning vocal, and you have something truly heavenly.
"SILENT LUCIDITY," QUEENSRYCHE
Let's say you're a proggy metal band (from Seattle, of all places), best known for releasing a kitchen-sink concept album (1988's Operation: Mindcrime) about government overthrow ... or something like that. What do you do for an encore?
If you're Queensryche, you whip up a kitchen-sink acoustic song about dream consciousness ... or something like that. "Silent Lucidity" features songwriter and QueensrYche guitarist Chris DeGarmo on Spanish six-string guitar in the intro and verses, playing a sweetly arpeggiated pattern that beautifully mixes fretted notes and open strings.
The song drifts steadily along, adding electrics, voice-overs and swelling orchestration until practically busting at the seams with sound. And yet it ends as it began, with DeGarmo's lone acoustic. And then, silence.
"NO EXCUSES," ALICE IN CHAINS
Jar of Flies (1994)
With their 1992 mostly acoustic EP, Sap, Alice in Chains served notice that they had more to offer than merely distorted grunge.
Melodic and full of somber beauty, Sap set the stage for Jar oj Flies, which firmly established AIC.as a band of uncommon, if very bleak, depth.
"No Excuses" marked something of a departure for the band. With its gentle, easygoing pace and hopeful (for Alice in Chains, at least) lyrics about enduring life's hills and valleys, "No Excuses" is practically toe-tappin' and good-timey. But the real revelation is guitarist Jerry Cantrell's wide-a s-the-Grand-Canyon acoustic sound-full, ringing and droning for days. No excuses needed for that at all.
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