Hauntingly beautiful piano/string music?
August 13, 2010 9:04 PM   Subscribe

Similar to these questions, I'm looking for simple, beautiful songs with a single voice and either a piano or strings.

Examples include Sarah McLachlan's "When She Loved Me," Peter Gabriel's "Here Comes the Flood," Amy Grant's "If These Walls Could Speak," "Lullabye (Goodnight, My Angel)" from Billy Joel, and even "Dexter's Tune" by Randy Newman (from Awakenings - just piano, but beautiful nonetheless). The songs should have wonderful chord progressions and bring a tear to your eyes. Thanks!
posted by adverb to Media & Arts (39 answers total) 26 users marked this as a favorite

I like Fiona Apple's Parting Gift.
posted by backwards guitar at 9:11 PM on August 13, 2010

This might not be what you're looking for, but I'm listening to it right now, so I can't resist: M.S. Subbulakshmi - More Tho Giridhara Gopal. It's simple and beautiful.
posted by goodglovin77 at 9:23 PM on August 13, 2010

Rufus Wainwright's "The Dream" from his recent album of piano songs.
posted by hermitosis at 9:26 PM on August 13, 2010 [1 favorite]

10,000 Maniacs - Verdi Cries
posted by corey flood at 9:27 PM on August 13, 2010 [1 favorite]

Tori Amos - Winter

Tori Amos - Sorta Fairytale

Regina Spektor - Samson

Regina Spektor - Real Love (cover of John Lennon/Beatles)

Rufus Wainwright - Poses

Ben Folds - Boxing (originally by Ben Folds Five)
posted by Jaltcoh at 9:29 PM on August 13, 2010

Susanna and the Magical Orchestra's "Love Will Tear Us Apart".
posted by fake at 9:29 PM on August 13, 2010 [1 favorite]

Counting Crows - Raining in Baltimore.

I've wanted to learn piano forever, just to be able to do a semblance of it.
posted by sanka at 9:33 PM on August 13, 2010 [1 favorite]

This immediately came to mind

Point of Disgust - Low
posted by maya at 9:35 PM on August 13, 2010 [3 favorites]

If a guitar is strings, I think Eric Clapton's acoustic version of In the Presence of the Lord qualifies.
posted by Bruce H. at 9:38 PM on August 13, 2010

I'm currently obsessed (OBSESSED!) with the song Everything is Free by Gillian Welch with guitar by David Rawlings.

The whole Time (The Revelator) album is great, and all guitar + vox.
posted by mollymayhem at 9:46 PM on August 13, 2010 [2 favorites]

Elliott Smith - Everything Means Nothing to Me
posted by allseeingabstract at 9:52 PM on August 13, 2010

"La Maison Delabrée" by Andrea House is great -- not on youtube, but available for streaming here.
posted by bewilderbeast at 9:56 PM on August 13, 2010

Lili Marleen. Here's the original recording from 1939 that made the song a favorite of soldiers on both sides in Europe during WWII.

It's been translated into lots of langauges. Here's a version in Japanese with a piano back. (It's from an anime called "Strike Witches", and don't ask why none of the girls are wearing pants.)

There's an English translation of it here.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 10:25 PM on August 13, 2010

Parlez Moi D'amour
posted by bonobothegreat at 10:30 PM on August 13, 2010

A Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief sung by Buster Poindexter. Amazing. It does have a wee bit of harmonica in it, but mostly it's just Buster and some guitar.
posted by Sassyfras at 10:32 PM on August 13, 2010

It does have more than just a piano, but it's such a lovely song and I really do think it's in the vein you're looking for.

Van Morrison - In The Garden
posted by marsha56 at 10:46 PM on August 13, 2010

Black Sabbath, Changes
posted by Crane Shot at 10:57 PM on August 13, 2010

Cat Power - I Found a Reason (and the rest of the Covers Record).
posted by unmake at 11:04 PM on August 13, 2010 [2 favorites]

Title song to the movie "Gran Torino".
posted by Taurid at 11:08 PM on August 13, 2010

Sunset, by Roxy Music.
posted by Dreamcast at 12:15 AM on August 14, 2010

The Piano Has Been Drinking, and a ton of other Tom Waits songs work great with just voice and piano.
posted by Dr Dracator at 2:00 AM on August 14, 2010

Couple of songs from Hue and Cry:

Man with the child in his eyes

posted by Sarosmith at 2:01 AM on August 14, 2010

Candlelight remix of Heaven by Do
posted by markx2 at 2:08 AM on August 14, 2010

Frida Hyvönen - Dirty Dancing

It's probably a bit twee for your requirements, but if you go with it it's great.
posted by fire&wings at 3:56 AM on August 14, 2010

I very much like Sarah Fimm. Orchids fits your bill I think.
posted by Menthol at 3:57 AM on August 14, 2010

Nick Cave Into My Arms.
posted by frobozz at 5:39 AM on August 14, 2010 [1 favorite]

Simple Gifts with Gillian Welch and Yo Yo Ma
posted by jadepearl at 5:54 AM on August 14, 2010

Eurythmics - I Need You
posted by dirm at 6:35 AM on August 14, 2010

Song for a Dead Friend, by Kevin Gilbert. Devastating.
posted by holterbarbour at 6:44 AM on August 14, 2010

Regina Spektor - December
posted by ifjuly at 7:57 AM on August 14, 2010

Also seconding Cat Power, particular her cover of "Wild is the Wind", good god. And and. That Low song kills me every time.
posted by ifjuly at 7:59 AM on August 14, 2010

Sara Bareilles - Between the Lines
Chantal Kreviazuk - Feels Like Home
Jewel - Foolish Games
Sarah McLachlan - River
Enya - Watermark
posted by yawper at 8:25 AM on August 14, 2010

Prince - "Sometimes it Snows in April"
posted by Jaltcoh at 9:53 AM on August 14, 2010

If you liked "Here Comes the Flood," you'll probably love Peter Gabriel's new covers album, Scratch My Back. I like Book of Love (originally Magnetic Fields) and Heroes (originally David Bowie).
Rufus Wainwright - The Art Teacher. Lots of Rufus.
Ben Folds - Evaporated (I couldn't listen to this one for YEARS after a bad breakup in college.)
Ben Folds - Still Fighting It -- breaks out into more of a rock song, but heavy on the piano and strings.
Peter Cincotti (where did this guy go?) - Fool on the Hill/Nature Boy
Sting - Secret Marriage

I know you didn't ask for classical, but many of Schubert and Schumann's lieder fit the bill wonderfully, particularly with someone like Ian Bostridge. Du bist die Ruh - catch that last high note at the end. Wow.

Two with guitar but significant strings:
Nico - Fairest of the Seasons
Billy Bragg - Brickbat (I can't find a video of the album version with the strings, but he always does it with just solo guitar live.)
posted by Madamina at 10:02 AM on August 14, 2010

David Hopkins- Jackson. There isn't a good version of it on Youtube but it's a beautiful song. A lot of his earlier stuff would fit your criteria.
posted by fshgrl at 5:18 PM on August 14, 2010

Oh, and I can't remember for certain there's only piano, but I think so--Ani DiFranco has an early song with the lines "you are a china shop, and I am a bull/you are really good food and I am full" that's soft and wistful. "You Had Time," I think it's called.
posted by ifjuly at 6:36 AM on August 15, 2010

Keep remembering more--"Colors and the Kids" by Cat Power. PJ Harvey's "Silence," live.
posted by ifjuly at 6:38 AM on August 15, 2010

I just discovered Townes van Zandt. I absolutely cannot stop listening to "I'll be Here in the Morning."

Guitar + vox.
posted by mollymayhem at 3:59 PM on August 17, 2010

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