For all those with music A.D.D. or the insatiable itch to change the song after 30 seconds, this post may be quite rough on you. That said, part 4 the Sativa Mixtape is about 1 thing: Ballads. A ballad (in this case a rock or power ballad) is defined as an emotional rock song, generally focused on love and delivered with powerful vocals. Power ballads entered the music scene as early as the ’70s, allowing rockers to share a softer side to their bad-ass persona. In retrospect, I should have waited and posted Stairway to Heaven in part 4. Also, you may notice that I included two Guns N’ Roses tracks. I took out the iconic Sweet Child of Mine from the track list to avoid a GNR overload. However, don’t mistake this post as a rundown of the most epic power ballads. There are many – potentially better – ballads out there. Also please note that as I have said before, listening to the first minute will do nothing for you.
Let me begin with the most epic (contrary to the last sentence you just read, this is not up for debate) ballad out there. Free Bird. No, this was not composed after lasts year’s worldwide movement to free Byrd but written by Allen Collins of Lynyrd Skynyrd about a conversation that he and his girlfriend had. Ten minutes long, Free Bird consistently builds up the energy and tempo throughout the song, adding what seems like a million guitars along the way. Amazingly, all of the guitars harmonize to form a kind of beat. Furthermore, when a guitar or two deviate from the “beat”, it takes the listener on a roller-coaster of sound. The beauty of Free Bird is that by the end of the guitar work sounds so frenzied and chaotic but in reality it is organized and highly calculated sounds. Guitar World named its solo as the 3rd best of all-time and is included in such lists as The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll, and Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. In my personal opinion, this praise is fully justified.
After Free Bird, we have another marathon of a sound; at 9 minutes long, November Rain by Guns N’ Roses is another example of a power ballad. Its distinct symphonic overtone owes to a sweeping string arrangement, orchestrated by Axl Rose. Critically acclaimed and loved by many, it is listed at number 6 in the The 100 Greatest Guitar Solos list by Guitar World – Slash kills the solo. November Rain was voted #1 on the Rock 1000 2006, an annual countdown of the top 1,000 rock songs by New Zealand radio listeners. Additionally, it’s music video was released in 1991, and won an MTV Video Music Award for Best Cinematography.
Generally, Hey Jude by the Beatles is not classified as a ballad. However, I see a lot of ballad-like characteristics in its emotional buildup, love theme and powerful vocals. It is arguably one of the most successful and beloved singles of all-time. A lengthy track at 7 minutes (another characteristic of a ballad), it is the longest song to ever reach #1 on the British charts. It also spent 9 weeks atop the US charts. following the Beatles’ hit, comes Comfortably Numb (Pink Floyd) and Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door (Gun’s N’ Roses). Both of these tracks are less ballad-y but hold a fair amount emotional significance to me but I will not extensively post about them here. Be ready though, for an extensive Pink Floyd will be coming at you soon and Comfortably Numb will most definitely be featured.