Planet Rock, the UK’s classic rock station, ran a Best Acoustic Rock Song Ever poll recently. I know: what does that mean exactly? Well, the results, broadcast at the weekend and now listed on their website for silly people like me who missed the show even though their curiosity had been pricked, were quite interesting.
Here’s the Top Ten:
01. Pink Floyd, ‘Wish You Were Here’
02. Extreme, ‘More Than Words’
03. Eagles, ‘Hotel California’ (Hell Freezes Over version)
04. Guns N’ Roses, ‘Patience’
05. Eric Clapton, ‘Layla’ (Unplugged version)
06. Foo Fighters, ‘Everlong’ (acoustic version… obviously)
07. Led Zeppelin, ‘Going to California’
08. Bad Company, ‘Seagull’
09. Green Day, ‘Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)’
10. Neil Young, ‘Heart of Gold’
Hurrah for ‘Wish You Were Here’. A very well-deserved placing, if I say so myself.
As you can see, the songs didn’t have to be totally unplugged; as long as the acoustic bit is central to the song and not just a quirky intro, its vote was counted.
Your thoughts on the 40 that were chosen, as always, will be received with genuine interest and probable nodding. I’d also like something other than the 40 selected, please. I think they’ve left out some good ones, albeit keeping in mind that Planet Rock plays predominantly classic rock… whatever that means. I don’t expect I’ll ever hear the ambrosial ‘Over the Hill’ by John Martyn (from Solid Air, with Richard Thompson on mandolin), although I’m still in shock after hearing ‘Corporal Clegg’ the other day (from A Saucerful of Secrets, with David on, er, kazoo).
Bonus points for songs featuring harmonica. I do like a bit of harmonica.
How about these? Think they’ll ever make it onto a Planet Rock playlist? Heck, they play one of them every day, it seems.
– Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, ‘Complicated Situation’
– Dire Straits, ‘Romeo and Juliet’
– John Lennon, ‘Working Class Hero’
– Manic Street Preachers, ‘Small Black Flowers That Grow In the Sky’
– Pearl Jam, ‘Yellow Ledbetter’
– R.E.M., ‘Nightswimming’
– Rolling Stones, ‘Wild Horses’
– Rod Stewart, ‘Maggie May’
– Supertramp, ‘Give a Little Bit’
– The Who, ‘Behind Blue Eyes’
The more I’ve thought about this poll and the great many songs it brought rushing to mind, and removed, often reluctantly, suggestions from my list for being too folky or for having a cat in hell’s chance of ever coming through my radio when set on the most likely of the four stations it only ever transmits (yes, Planet Rock), the more I’m loathe to generalise ‘acoustic music’. Just what does that mean, anyway? For the record and the benefit of this discussion, I think of it quite simply, perhaps unfairly, as a more understated and bare form of music; more honest and unashamed, if you like. No frills. They’re songs that make you feel good or thoroughly awful in equal measure through their very boldness. They are the most melancholy dirges and the gentlest love songs. They’re special.
As the poll’s title is Best Acoustic Rock Song Ever, I accept that some of my choices probably aren’t appropriate.
I also happen to like acoustic versions of electric songs stripped down (still waiting for that acoustic ‘Sorrow’, David, if you’re reading), generally at the behest of radio stations, or out-takes that make convenient B-sides, so do include some if you have any particular favourites that ought to be heard. Live renditions of ‘This is Yesterday’ by the Manic Street Preachers, for example, undoubtedly surpass the original studio recording and make for a far more poignant song to my mind.
Perhaps we’ll cover Best Acoustic Sing-along Songs, or something like that, some other time, then the Beatles, Kinks, Nick Drake and Cat Stevens can be involved; they’re never going to be embraced by Planet Rock, God bless them.
The chatroom will be open later today, so call in from 4pm if you’re free to natter about this, these or anything else that’s permitted by the now lenient rules.
The Best Acoustic Rock Song Ever countdown is repeated on Planet Rock tomorrow night, Thursday, at 11pm (UK). Everyone can listen to it freely online.