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Although many vocalists sang their own songs, including early rock & rollers like Chuck Berry and Buddy Holly, the term Singer-Songwriter refers to the legions of performers that followed Bob Dylan in the late 60s and early 70s. Most of the original singer/songwriters performed alone with an acoustic guitar or a piano but some had small groups for backing. Their lyrics were personal, although they were often veiled by layers of metaphors and obscure imagery. Singer/songwriters drew primarily from folk and country, although certain writers like Randy Newman and Carole King incorporated the songcraft of Tin Pan Alley pop. The main concern for any singer/songwriter was the song itself, not necessarily the performance. However, most singer/songwriter records have a similar sound, which is usually spare, direct, and reflective, which places the emphasis on the song itself. James Taylor, Jackson Browne, and Joni Mitchell were the quintessential singer/songwriters of the '70s, and most of the songwriters that followed them based themselves on their styles, or Dylan's. Singer/songwriters were at the height of their popularity in the early '70s, and although they faded away from the pop chart, they never disappeared. In the late '70s, artists like Rickie Lee Jones and Joan Armatrading that were heavily influenced by the sound of the original singer/songwriters crossed over into the pop charts, as did Suzanne Vega and Tracy Chapman in the late '80s. This resurgence of the style in the late 80's led to a new popularity and exposure for a new crop of contemporary singer/songwriters.
Stylistic origins:
Folk, Country, Pop
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