During my super fun twelve hour car ride to and from vacation this year, I listened to a lot of music on my iPod. While listening to the song "Fight Inside" by RED, I remembered that the band has an acoustic version of the song called "Nothing and Everything," but because I'm cheap, I bought the normal version of their "Innocence & Instinct" CD which of course doesn't have "Nothing and Everything." So one of the first things I did when I got home to internet access again? Listened to "Nothing and Everything" and compared it to "Fight Inside." I like both versions of the song, but surprisingly I found that I liked "Nothing and Everything" more.
It was an interesting assessment to make, because usually I consider the original versions of songs to be far superior to their acoustic counterparts. But my music tastes constantly shift, and at the moment I really love the lyrics. Whenever I like a new song, I always have to look up the lyrics to make sure I know exactly what the artists are saying. In the case of "Nothing and Everything," the lyrics are so heartrendingly beautiful that the acoustic version makes their meaning much stronger and clearer.
The first song that I experienced a sense of ambivalence about whether I liked the original or acoustic version better was Breaking Benjamin's "Diary of Jane." As with RED's "Fight Inside," the original versions are so raw and through those versions the listeners can really get a sense of the emotional turmoil that the lyrics portray. But the acoustic versions allow the actual lyrics to shine through, no longer bogged down by the drums and loud musical instruments. And most of the time, nothing properly expresses the song's message as well as the lead vocalist's voice anyway.
Because these two songs work very well as acoustic versions, I'm curious about other versions. I remain convinced that some songs really do need the full-out instruments to help convey the song's message, such as 30 Seconds to Mars' "The Kill." All of the drum beats and guitars and bass are really necessary for me. Without them, the acoustic version does sound as though it's missing something, instead of transforming into simply another way to convey its message. Maybe the lead singer's charisma and generally pleasant voice quality does have a major impact on the song, even more than I originally thought. I'm sure that the quality of the lyrics also has a big impact. I tend to prefer more thought provoking lyrics myself, so songs that already contain those kind of lyrics have a better chance of me liking their acoustic versions. As a lead singer, I probably would love the chance to perform an acoustic version. I realize that I don't know much about the music industry, but my best guess about the lack of acoustic song versions would be that most consumers have certain notions about acoustic versions, as I did -- that they're watered-down versions of the original. I'm glad that I have been able to alter my perspective on that. I only hope that others can come to realize the sheer beauty that acoustic song versions can contain.
Diary of Jane
Dairy of Jane (acoustic)