Ballads have never been my favorite style song. Often I prefer uptempo songs to slow songs and I find ballads can make an otherwise great album good, or a good album mediocre. Along these lines, for me it’s the slow songs (just about every album in every genre has them) that makes an album great. For example, Led Zeppelin III has three slow songs that positively make the album GREAT–“Since I’ve Been Loving You”, “Tangerine”, and one of my all-time favorite ballads, “That’s the Way”.
“That’s the Way” is the first ballad I ever listened to over and over for any length of time, starting when I was about 15. The next ballad I got into was “I Don’t Want to Talk About It”, a Danny Whitten composition taken off the eponymous Crazy Horse album. The song was made famous by an inferior version recorded by Rod Stewart, subsequently becoming a contemporary standard. What a super song.
There’s relatively few ballads I’d consider among my favorite songs–off the top of my head, I’d say Emmylou Harris’ ode to Gram Parsons “Boulder to Birmingham”, Guy Clark wrote and recorded the positively beautiful “Like a Coat From the Cold”, and the Joe Ely sung, Jimmie Dale Gilmore composition “Treat Me Like a Saturday Night”.
Speaking of Joe Ely, I’ve recently been listening to his works and I’ve found one of his own songs, “Because of the Wind”, is a shimmering example of balladry at its best. I love this song and it ranks among my all-time favorite songs in any genre. Take a listen for yourselfhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5cB-uaN5jPk