Although various folk artists had become more and more iconoclastic in the late Sixties, following the lead of Bob Dylan, it was James Taylor who brought the music into the mainstream in the early '70s, with Carole King and her monolithic 1971 hit album Tapestry sealing the deal with audiences. Singer-songwriter music, besides obviously being music performed by the solo singer who wrote it, also has certain definable elements: spare instrumentation, the aforementioned folk and country influences, a gentle, quiet air, and lyrics which deal directly with the deepest personal emotional experiences, usually the fine details of a relationship or the quest for spiritual understanding.
It was an unusual style because it developed equally between men and women, featured acoustic guitar (although those who wrote on piano usually featured that instrument) and was roundly criticized for making no pretensions towards rock and roll at all. By the end of the "me decade," the style had largely decomposed into the more generic "soft rock" balladry, but it came back into vogue in the 90s and has not left since: John Mayer, Ryan Adams, Ray LaMontagne, and females from Tori Amos to Ani DiFranco are modern proponents of the style.
- "Fire And Rain," James Taylor (purchase/download)
- "It's Too Late," Carole King (purchase/download)
- "Help Me," Joni Mitchell (purchase/download)
- "Time Has Told Me," Nick Drake (purchase/download)
- "Sitting," Cat Stevens (purchase/download)
- "Astral Weeks," Van Morrison (purchase/download)
- "Vincent," Don McLean (purchase/download)
- "These Days," Jackson Browne (purchase/download)
- "Heart Of Gold," Neil Young (purchase/download)
- "Suzanne," Leonard Cohen (purchase/download)