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James Taylor Fire and Rain

Acoustic Classic: James Taylor’s ‘Fire and Rain’

It’s been 50 years since James Taylor released what would prove to be one of the most enduring ballads in the folk-pop realm—and, according to recent surveys, an overwhelming favorite of AG readers. “Fire and Rain” is a rather heavy song. Its three verses refer obliquely to a friend who…

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Dire Straits (L-R): John Illsley, Mark Knopfler, Pick Withers, David Knopfler

Acoustic Classic: Dire Straits‘ ‘Sultans of Swing’

When AG recently surveyed readers about what songs they’d like to learn, the most requested selection was “Sultans of Swing.” This came as a surprise, as the track, which the British rock band Dire Straits released in 1978, has not a lick of acoustic guitar in it. But ask and you shall receive, as they say.

Campfire Songs: Learn to Play ‘Tom Dooley’

This classic murder ballad chronicles the 1866 death of one Laura Foster, in Wilkes County, North Carolina, and the capital punishment of her lover and assailant, Tom Dula—a story that received widespread national attention when it was published in newspapers such as The New York Times.

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Joan shelley

Watch Joan Shelley and Nathan Salsburg Play ‘Wild Indifference’

The Kentucky-based folk singer-songwriter Joan Shelley calls forth colorful sonic landscapes within her trademark economical songs. This is particularly evident on one of her latest tunes, “Wild Indifference,” in which her gently strummed patterns intertwine beautifully with embellishments from her co-guitarists, Nathan Salsburg on the acoustic and James Elkington on…

Joe Ely

Texas Gold: Joe Ely’s ‘Cold Black Hammer’

On “Cold Black Hammer,” from his 2015 album, Panhandle Rambler, the singer-songwriter Joe Ely evokes the tension between pumps and environment in the oil fields of his native Texas. The song is in the key of E minor. Its four chords—the i (Em), the iv (Am), the vi (C) and…

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