Amy Mantis


Acoustic Guitar and the Phrase "Singer/Songwriter"

My relationship with the acoustic guitar is one that blossomed in earnest over the past four months.  It really began about a year ago when I bought my Taylor, but it probably wasn't until at least six months after I bought it that I really began to develop a true love of the acoustic guitar.  Now I love playing the acoustic guitar.  These days I play it more than I play electric which is a surprise to me as much as it is to anyone who knows me.

See, when I first began playing guitar, I didn't want to be another girl that could play a few chords on her acoustic guitar.  I wanted to be the real thing.  So I solely played electric guitar (save for borrowing friends' guitars) for more than six years.  And even after I got my Martin I still wasn't terribly keen on the acoustic guitar.  It didn't hit me the way the electric guitar did at the outset.

It was a cliche.  And I didn't want to be a cliche.

I didn't want to be a singer/songwriter self-indulgent repetitious dink.  

The phrase "singer/songwriter" is thrown around too casually for my liking.  I love singer/songwriters.  But the real ones.  Carole King is a singer/songwriter.  James Taylor, Jackson Browne, Joni Mitchell, Neil Young (he's everything), CSN(Y), those people are singer/songwriters.  The guy down the hall from me in my dorm at Berklee, a singer/songwriter?  Technically, if he sings and writes his own songs, yeah, he is, but is he really?  Bruce Springsteen is.  Taylor Goldsmith is.  Laura Marling is.  I feel like there's a level that needs to be ascertained before using the phrase "singer/songwriter."

I don't consider myself a singer/songwriter for a number of reasons.  Do I write my own songs?  Yes.  Do I sing them?  Yes.  Am I singer/songwriter?  Again, technically, but no, I'm not.  I'm not comfortable with calling myself that out of respect to those who came before me and truly are singer/songwriters.

I know, I know.  I know it's silly, but maybe in a little while (or a long while) I'll be more welcoming of the phrase "singer/songwriter."  But for now, I'm not.