I’m fairly sure most people in the civilised world know the chorus to McLean’s opus ‘American Pie’ and would quite happily sing it at the top of their voice. It’s a thoroughly enjoyable, if complex, song about a dark day in music history. The other highlight of the album is ‘Vincent’, his ode to Van Gogh. A picture is worth a thousand words but in just a few minutes McLean sums up the beauty of both one the most incredible paintings in the world and the wonderful man who created it.
Carole King had been writing hit songs for years before she decided to try singing them for herself instead of writing for others. The album includes ‘(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman’ and ‘Will You Love Me Tomorrow?’ which were made famous by Aretha Franklin and The Shirelles respectively. Here they are sung in the stripped back manner in which they were created, as well as ‘You’ve Got A Friend’ which would later go on to be a #1 hit for James Taylor.
Whilst his first and last albums were simple an somber, here on his second album Nick Drake creates a soundscape that is wistful and uplifting. The music and lyrics fill your mind with enchanting scenery of your own design. One moment you feel as though you are strolling by the river in Paris and the next you are drifting through the ‘Northern Sky’. Honestly some of the most innocent and beautiful music ever created.
Simple poetry and melancholy. It’s a very personal album, listening to is like hearing Joni confess all her troubles, unload all the hurt and the sorrow. She has the voice of an angel and as a whole ‘Blue’ sums up the appeal of so called Singer-Songwriters (a term I usually abstain from using), a deep sense of intimacy and honesty.
James Taylor is certainly one of the first people to enter my thoughts when someone says singer-songwriter. ‘Sweet Baby James’ features contains his finest song, ‘Fire and Rain’. It’s all his troubles summed up in a single song; the loss of a friend, his battle with drugs and depression and his struggle to come to terms with fame.