Sometimes less really is more! Acoustic demo tapes provide a fascinating insight into a songwriter’s process. It’s a window into a private moment, when they’re usually alone in their bedroom (or studio) with nothing but a guitar and a tape recorder, creating a tune from out of nowhere. It’s like listening to magic happening right before your ears! And if the songs they create go on to become classics, it’s also a precious moment in history. We’ve put together a list of 10 incredible early tapes of songs you know by heart. Not only are they beautiful in their stripped down simplicity, but these first drafts are sometimes drastically different from the final cut. Read on to hear some amazing works in progress!
“Surfin’ USA” by The Beach Boys (1963)
Although now known as a genius of melody and harmony, Brian Wilson‘s first Top Ten hit was actually a pretty blatant re-writing of Chuck Berry‘s “Sweet Little Sixteen”. After penning new lyrics listing off various surfing hot-spots, he was ready to roll! We’re used to hearing Brian’s trademark falsetto in among the Beach Boy blend, so it’s truly special to hear his voice by itself, with a hint of soulful swagger.
“My Generation” by The Who (1965)
The fierce bit of proto-punk bite began life as an acoustic call-and-response blues song in the style of Mose Allison. It was allegedly inspired after the Queen Mother had Pete Townshend’s black Packard hearse (his favorite car) towed off the street in front of his house, because she was offended by the very sight of it!