This summer has been a stressful time for all of us at The Rock and Roll Playhouse, and is an understatement for many more around the world. We all deserve time to relax, so in honor of National Relaxation Day on August 15th, we compiled a list of the best tunes that will help you and your kids take the edge off. Enjoy!
The Band: “The Weight”
A classic rock staple, “The Weight” begins with one of the most iconic acoustic guitar intros in the history of the genre. Many of us have had to carry some amount of weight on our shoulders, but taking the load off is almost always a relief, even if it is temporary. The most memorable song on this list will continue to be passed down from generation to generation.
The Beatles: “Something”
“Something” is one of George Harrison’s best Beatles compositions and one of the Fab Four’s best love songs. While it runs at a slower tempo, the delicate instrumentation along and superb harmonies during the bridge make for a nice, relaxing, and incredibly fun listen.
Blind Melon: “No Rain”
The meaning of this song is very relatable, as bassist Brad Smith describes the tune being “about not being able to get out of bed and find excuses to face the day when you have really, in a way, nothing.” We all know this feeling, but it is important to live your life one day at a time. It is exciting not always knowing what each day will bring, but being active, whether it is mentally or physically, is the key to a healthy life.
Bob Dylan: “The Man in Me”
Most people probably recognize this song as soon as they hear the “la la la”’s, but Dylan’s lyrics along with some lush piano can make you really feel like you’re floating on your beach chair on a hot summer day.
Counting Crows: “Hanginaround”
This song is the epitome of the hangout song, as it sounds like Adam Duritz and company are performing it in front of a large group of people in their living room (like in the music video). “Hanginaround” is loose, fun, chill, and can brighten any mood.
David Bowie: “Changes”
The opener off of Hunky Dory is one of Bowie’s most well-known songs for a variety of reasons. It is incredibly catchy, particularly because of the chorus, when we hear Bowie stuttering the “ch” at the beginning of the word “changes.” The piano is at the forefront, which is common with this Bowie era, and the saxophone solo at the end caps off one of the best openers of the seventies.
The Tallest Man on Earth: “Love Is All”
A handful of people refer to The Tallest Man on Earth as the closest thing to a modern-day Bob Dylan, largely due to his vocal style, but also because of his songwriting ability. Both these features are very evident in “Love Is All,” but what stands out here is the extraordinary fingerstyle guitar, as it’s the only instrument we hear (along with his vocals). It’s just a really good, intimate folk tune.
Faces: “Ooh La La”
Your kids will almost certainly develop a tendency to ignore you because they think they know better, so consider this song as an outlet to ease the tension and convince your kids to listen to you, as they’ll eventually wish they knew the lessons you taught them now once they’re older (cue the chorus).
Led Zeppelin: “Going to California”
“Going to California” was surely a left turn for Led Zeppelin, but it is easily one of their most beautiful songs. The interplay between Jimmy Page’s acoustic guitar and John Paul Jones’ mandolin is fascinating, and Robert Plant’s dynamic vocals add even more texture. It does not have a legendary Page solo or a killer John Bonham drum fill, but this song demonstrates the band’s unique chemistry in a way their audience was not totally used to yet.
Neil Young: “Comes a Time”
This song contains some of the elements of rock, folk, country, and bluegrass. The strings throughout the song along with some great harmonies during the chorus surely make it one of Neil’s best, at least from the late seventies. When the sun beams down on us on a hot summer day, this is the Neil Young song that comes to mind.
Nick Drake: “Northern Sky”
Nick Drake released only three albums in his short musical career, and many of his best songs are dark, sincere, and beautifully raw. “Northern Sky” is an exception. With the help of John Cale, Drake constructs a truly unique and intimate love song, with some direct, yet imaginative lyrics. “I’ve never felt magic as crazy as this” and “I never held emotion in the palm of my hand” are very touching, and John Cale’s sweet piano solo is the cherry on top.
Grateful Dead: “Ripple”
Here at The Rock and Roll Playhouse, we could not help but cap off this list with a Dead tune, as it is perhaps the first song on this list you would put on when you want to take the edge off. We all enjoy this song for the same reasons: Jerry’s vocals, Robert Hunter’s lyrics, David Grisman’s mandolin, and so many more. American Beauty is easily one of if not their finest work, and “Ripple” will continue to be a standout and singalong for you and your kids.