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Best Rock Songs Done Acoustically

Updated on February 21, 2013

Acoustic Rock

Recently I posted a question wanting to know what rock songs people liked best when played acoustically. I had many responses and people really seemed to enjoy the topic. So, i have decided to post a list of the top ten rock songs played acoustically. This list is comprised of the answers I received and put in order based on my thoughts. I'm anxious to hear any feedback as I'm sure everyone has their own opinion on which ones are better.  There are an awful lot of good songs out there so I apologize that I only list ten.

10. Outside by Staind

 I'm pretty sure we've all heard this one. It definitely got it's share of radio play when it was released. Recorded in Biloxi, MS Aaron Lewis and Fred Durst performed and recorded this one live. An album version was released later but never seemed to have the same impact as the live version. Aaron Lewis once said in an interview that Fred wanted both of them to perform that song that night. Lewis says he hadn't even finished writing it and was making some of it up as he went along. Well done Aaron, well done.

9. Plush by Stone Temple Pilots

 One of the greatest things MTV did before becoming just TV was the Unplugged series. The Stone Temple Pilots Unplugged was one of my favorite performances. Plush was a pretty great song before this show. Once they played it "unplugged" it became that much greater. One of the best songs they could have done.

8. Tears In Heaven by Eric Clapton

 This song was an acoustic song to begin with which is why I don't rate it a little higher. Needless to say though, an all time great. Another great MTV moment was Eric Clapton's performance of it on MTV Unplugged.  I think this version captured a little more of the emotion behind it than what the studio ever could. As a "new" father, knowing the story behind it really makes this song that much more powerful.

7. Wanted Dead or Alive by Bon Jovi

 There are many performances on the internet featuring Jon and Richie Sambora performing this one acoustically. I'd have to say that any of them are great to listen to. It was a great song period and watching or listening to them play it live with nothing but the two of them is awesome. I have to say that there aren't any versions that capture some sort of emotion in their performance but hey, it's just a good jam.

6. Where Did You Sleep Last Night by Nirvana

 This one may not have made it to number 1 in this category, but definitely would win for longest title on the list. I love the way Kurt Cobain sounded in this performance. Yes, it is yet another MTV Unplugged performance, but as with the rest, it was great. Evidently this was an old folk song from the latter 1800's. I didn't know they had such awesome jams back then. I wonder if anyone sounded like Kurt back then. That'd be weird.

5. Hurt performed by Johnny Cash

There is one thing in this life that I never expected. That was Johnny Cash singing a Nine Inch Nails song. Then again, it is Johnny Cash we're talking about. Mr. Cash sounded like he really did hurt himself. That's what makes this tune so pwerful I guess. I must say that I'm not a huge fan of Trent Rezner but this was one of the better ones. Too bad he couldn't get Johnny to sing a few more.

4. Down in a Hole by Alice in Chains

 This song was absolutely awesome on the original album. The acoustic performance was even better. The vocals were absolutely amazing and the music was too. This is one of my all time favorite songs no matter which version I'm listening to.  I've always wondered what this song was about. I'm guessing heroin, but there are other things in the song that just make me wonder. Whatever it's about, I think it is a beautiful piece of music.

3. Stillborn by Black Label Society

 I could barely even recognize this song the first time I heard the acoustic version. I thought the original was okay, but nowhere near as powerful as the acoustic version. This song made me think about some hypothetical situations that ended up coming true. I wondered if I would feel the way he describes in the song. Guess what, I did. Loved it!

2. Nutshell by Alice in Chains

 That's right. AIC made it onto this list twice. Nutshell has got to be one of the most beautiful songs played acoutically I have ever heard. Hell, I don't think I had ever heard the album version before hearing the MTV Unplugged performance. Layne Staley's voice along with Jerry Cantrell's guitar playing just make this song a wonderful work of art.

1. Black performed by Aaron Lewis

 Another Aaron Lewis performance minus Fred Durst and the rest of Staind. This acoustic version is not as much about the music as it is the vocals. When this guy sings this song, it's like he is really feeling it. I don't think I heard that much emotion when Eddie Vedder sang it. I haven't looked for an album with this song on it. It would definitely have to be a live performance to catch the magic of it. 

In Summation

 I know there are probably many of you out there who may disagree with these choices or the ranking of them. To each his own. To any of you that haven't listened to some of these songs, I highly recommend you check them out. I think most of these could have been some of the best performances of their careers.


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    • James St Germaine profile image

      James St Germaine 

      7 years ago

      Good list.

    • Wayne Orvisburg profile imageAUTHOR

      Kenneth Wayne 

      8 years ago from Alabama

      Glad you enjoyed it!

    • Michael Shane profile image

      Michael Shane 

      8 years ago from Gadsden, Alabama

      Great recommendations! Nice hub!

    • thevoice profile image


      8 years ago from carthage ill

      great hub great days of rock and roll thanks


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