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Singer/Songwriters—“Soft Rock”

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Charlie Mathews

on 10 April 2015

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Transcript of Singer/Songwriters—“Soft Rock”

Singer/Songwriters—“Soft Rock”
Joni Mitchell
Lyrics are poetic, classical music’s “art song” equivalent, after 1974 she goes into jazz and avant-garde.

“All I Want” 1971 (spotify—sample)
James Taylor
o Guitarist on Mitchell’s track, worked with Carole King

o He is rock’s first great conversationalist: he sings as if he’s talking to you one-one

o His “Fire and Rain” is an account of his reaction to a suicide of a fellow inmate in a mental asylum.

o His songs are textbook singer/songwriter stuff: autobiographical , public confessions of his troubles and desires.

o His music “tells a story”

“You’ve Got a Friend”(1971)

Melody first, acoustic, subtle rock groove
Carol King

o Term came to use in early 70s to identify performers who told stories in song, usually about themselves.

o Usually used a subdued, acoustic accompaniment (puts vocal in foreground).

o Continued development of path stared by Dylan, Beatles, and the Byrds

o Folk/country/pop fusion from the 60s—and Buddy Holly, Everly Bros, Roy Orbison, early 60s pop songwriters.
What have you learned about "soft rock"?

Study Guide Questions...
Randy Newman

Use of irony---(All on Spotify)

“Sail Away” ‘ 72 sounds patriotic, but is a slave capt’s “sales Pitch”

“Short People” ’77—banned because people took it literally

Recognize his voice?
Paul Simon

Career starts with “Simon and Garfunkel”, partnered with Art Garfunkel (they met in 6th grade), in 60s.

They were first called “Tom and Jerry,” and modeled their sound after the Everly Brothers.

SPOTIFY: “Sounds of Silence” , “Bridge over Troubled Water,” and/or “Mrs. Robinson” from The Graduate(1967) - Features of his solo music:

Usually speaks in the first person in songs

All elements of the accompaniment—instrument choice, rhythms, textures,--add to meaning of song

Huge range of styles: reggae influence, romantic ballad, gospel influence, Latin

Sample tunes:

“Still Crazy after all of these Years” (iTunes); Spotify—“50 Ways to Leave Your Lover"

Paul Simon’s ability to create appealing and thoughtful lyrics,
nice instrumental settings builds on the legacy of the Beatles.
Neil Young
Born in Toronto; moves to LA and forms Buffalo Springfield with Stephen Stills, then went solo.

Tells good stories; paints vivid pictures in words and music.

Subject matter is typically dark

Has had a long career with extremely varied output.

“Tonight’s the Night” (1975) (iTunes)

Very personal: tells story of one of Young’s roadies who died of an overdose. Part eulogy, part cry of despair.

Tells the story as if he were talking

Melody matches the mood of the subject and verse

Empty sounding accompaniment reinforces desolate mood
Sings with understanding /respect for Motown and soul

Speaks candidly about life and love from a woman’s perspective

Wrote in early 60s—Shirelle’s “Will you still love me Tomorrow” is her’s

“You Make Me feel Like a Natural Woman” (1971)—her tune, Aretha Franklin did it first

Gospel rhythm, motown style, melody is primary, woman’s point of view

Carole King's second solo album Tapestry is a landmark singer-songwriter album. It also marked a move into hit songs that discussed very adult aspects of relationships in the early 1970s. "It's Too Late" was the first single from the album and went to #1.

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