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List of melodic guitar ballads
December 1, 2007 1:28 PM   Subscribe

What's your all time favorite melodic guitar ballad? Along the lines of "American Tune" by Paul Simon, I'm looking for emotional, touching, tunes I can play and sing along with on the guitar. Emphasis on melodic and ballad, so "Vincent" by Don McLean would be a fit, but "More than Words" by Extreme wouldn't cut it for me, although it's a nice tune -- it's relatively lacking melody and relies a lot on gimmicky syncopated guitar work.

What are your all time favorite melodic guitar ballads?

Like "Frying Pan" by Victoria Williams, "American Tune" by Paul Simon, "Rhymes and Reasons" by John Denver...

Please help me find more!
posted by pallen123 to Media & Arts (39 answers total) 19 users marked this as a favorite
 
I think many of Nick Drake's songs would fit the bill here, although they tend to lean more toward the melancholy.
posted by Odinhead at 1:31 PM on December 1, 2007


El Paso, by Marty Robbins (tab).
posted by ObscureReferenceMan at 1:38 PM on December 1, 2007


John Lennon's "Imagine" is a favorite. I've seen it covered many times and it's always a hit.
posted by ikkyu2 at 1:41 PM on December 1, 2007


John Denver?
posted by rhizome at 1:43 PM on December 1, 2007


Probably Jim Croce and Tim Hardin as well.
posted by rhizome at 1:43 PM on December 1, 2007


Blackbird, by the Beatles?
posted by chrisamiller at 1:52 PM on December 1, 2007


Richard Thompson's "1952 Vincent Black Lightning".

Townes van Zandt's "Pancho and Lefty".
posted by BitterOldPunk at 1:52 PM on December 1, 2007


Sarah Harmer's "Trouble in the Fields" (Songs For Clem) is a lovely version of the Nanci Griffith song [linked version is to a live bootleg version]. I play this on the guitar a lot and love it. It isn't too hard to figure out the chords, but I think there are probably chords on the internet for this.

I also love "After All" by Dar Williams (from The Green World). [linked version is just concert video, but gives you an idea if you've never heard the song]

James Taylor's "You Can Close Your Eyes" is another good one.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 1:54 PM on December 1, 2007


Simon and Garfunkel - 'For Emily, Wherever I May Find Her', for a ballad in the traditional sense
posted by goo at 2:03 PM on December 1, 2007


The Replacements' "Skyway"
posted by punchdrunkhistory at 2:35 PM on December 1, 2007


A lot of Eva Cassidy's work is great for voice and guitar.
posted by ceri richard at 2:38 PM on December 1, 2007


A second on Jim Croce. I especially like playing
"New York's Not My Home"
also
"In My Life" by the Beatles
"Heaven" by Talking Heads
"Tempted" by Squeeze (adaptable as a ballad)
"Another Satellite" by XTC (an outstanding song -- no audio link though)
"Just the Way You Are" by Billy Joel
"I Won't Stand in Your Way" by Stray Cats
"Johnsburg, Illinois" by Tom Waits
"Stardust" by Hoagy Carmichael (IMHO one of the greatest songs ever written but exceptionally tricky on guitar)

...hope this is the kind of stuff you're looking for.
posted by McLir at 2:39 PM on December 1, 2007


Sufjan Stevens' "John Wayne Gacy" leaps to mind, or possibly "Casimir Pulaski Day".
posted by heeeraldo at 2:41 PM on December 1, 2007


"I Will" by the Beatles is one I play a lot. Sounds great when you get down the little arpeggio licks throughout.
posted by gfrobe at 2:52 PM on December 1, 2007


Anything by Elliot Smith, particularly 'Waltz #2,' 'Say Yes,' 'Between the Bars,' 'Somebody I Used To Know,' and 'Easy Way Out.'
posted by Sara Anne at 2:59 PM on December 1, 2007


Hank Williams "Tennessee Border" still gives me chills. If I could learn how to play only one song on a guitar, that would be it.
posted by Brian James at 3:00 PM on December 1, 2007


Neil Young's "The Needle and the Damage Done."
posted by saladin at 4:33 PM on December 1, 2007


Check out Olivia by Mefi's own chococat (and all the others he has posted to Mefi Music).

See also,
ORthey
ludwig_van
JulianDay
buriednexttoyou
ajp
inoculatedcities

Just to name a few, out of what you could find at Metafilter Music.
posted by micayetoca at 5:35 PM on December 1, 2007


Peter, Paul, & Mary; Bob Dylan; Be Good Tanyas - Lakes of Pontchartrain; Leonard Cohen, Sisters of Mercy; Rolling Stones / Alejandro Escovedo - Sway A lot of songs by Gillian Welch, Tom Waits, Nick Drake, Alejandro Escovedo, John Prine, Neil Halstead (Hi-Lo and In Between), Neil Young, and Leonard Cohen.
posted by salvia at 6:02 PM on December 1, 2007


Joni Mitchell's "A Case of You."

Gordon Lightfoot's "Song for a Winter's Night."

Neil Young's "Pocahontas."
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 6:05 PM on December 1, 2007


Arrow by Chreyl Wheeler
posted by tdismukes at 6:06 PM on December 1, 2007


Arrgh! Cheryl Wheeler
posted by tdismukes at 6:07 PM on December 1, 2007


Probably better examples by each of these artists, but here are a few good ones:
  • Iron & Wine, Upward over the Mountain [tab]
  • Leonard Cohen, Bird on a Wire [tab]
  • The Pogues, Dirty Old Town [tab]
  • Josh Ritter, Monster Ballads [tab]
  • Neko Case, Margaret vs. Pauline [tab]

posted by Hildago at 6:08 PM on December 1, 2007 [1 favorite]


Beeswing by Richard Thompson.
posted by tdismukes at 6:12 PM on December 1, 2007


"It's Not The Spotlight" - Beth Orton (Originally by Rod Stewart)
posted by grabbingsand at 6:56 PM on December 1, 2007


There's a ton of stuff to like on Joe Pass's acoustic diversion, Virtuoso #4, but my personal favorite is his treatment of Billy Strayhorn's lovely, sad Lush Life.

But you need some chops to take on Pass's arrangement...
posted by paulsc at 8:04 PM on December 1, 2007


Nthing Neil Young. Most any of his songs can be ballads. Cowgirl in the Sand
posted by JohnnyGunn at 8:30 PM on December 1, 2007


39 by Queen
posted by Oriole Adams at 8:41 PM on December 1, 2007


Tom Petty: "The Waiting" and "Free Fallin"
Foo Fighters: "Ain't It the Life" and "Aurora"
Jack Johnson: "Better Together"
posted by TheSecretDecoderRing at 10:44 PM on December 1, 2007


i've always loved what a good boy by the barenaked ladies. that link will play the video, but just listen, don't watch- it's too 1992 and will ruin everything.
maybe 1-2-3-4 by feist?
i also like lucky, high & dry, and fake plastic trees by radiohead.
posted by twistofrhyme at 10:48 PM on December 1, 2007


oh, here's a better link for fake plastic trees.
posted by twistofrhyme at 10:54 PM on December 1, 2007


oh man, sorry! really nice cover of fake plastic trees.
posted by twistofrhyme at 10:55 PM on December 1, 2007


Hallelujah by Leonard Cohen, also covered by Tim Buckley, Rufus Wainwright, and others, is great fun to play. Here are the chords.
posted by RussHy at 3:31 AM on December 2, 2007


Clapton's Wonderful Tonight? From what I remember (grr for having no copy on hand) the melody is simple but pretty, and fun to play.
posted by anaelith at 4:33 AM on December 2, 2007


Almost anything by Storyhill - Stillwater, Clearing, If I Could, Mary on the Mountain, Absaroka Air
posted by belladonna at 8:02 AM on December 2, 2007


Bonnie Raitt - "I Can't Make You Love Me"
Carole King -- "So Far Away"
Gladys Knight & The Pips -- "Midnight Train To Georgia"
Cyndi Lauper -- "True Colors" and "Time After Time"
Elvis Costello -- "Allison"
Judy Collins - "Someday Soon"
Fairport Convention -- "Who knows where the time goes?"
The La's -- "There She Goes"
Peter Gabriel -- "Here Comes The Flood"
Elton John -- "Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word"
Paul Simon -- "Still Crazy After All These Years" and "Slip Slidin' Away" and "Something So Right"
Bob Marley -- "Waiting In Vain"
posted by pracowity at 9:37 AM on December 2, 2007


Bonnie Rait "Angel from Montgomery"
posted by nax at 9:42 AM on December 2, 2007


Gordon Lightfoot "Canadian Railroad Trilogy" - chords & lyrics; on YouTube.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 2:02 PM on December 3, 2007 [1 favorite]


Hyperrust is the best place to get Neil Young tabs.
posted by premortem at 8:05 AM on December 7, 2007


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