All tagged Songs Worth Learning

Songs Worth Learning - 22

Down On The Corner - Creedence Clearwater Revival

Many Creedence Clearwater Revival (CCR) songs are worth learning. John Fogerty has a real talent for writing catchy songs with cool guitar parts. New guitar players will find a lot to like in their songs. They typically featured relatively easy guitar rhythms and cool guitar riffs and solos.

Songs Worth Learning - 21

The Boys Are Back In Town - Thin Lizzy

Thin Lizzy was an anomaly. An Irish hard rock band (often verging on metal) with two lead guitarists and a black singer/bass player who wrote engaging poetic lyrics about various characters and every day life. They were huge in the U.K. but only had a couple of hits in the U.S in the 70s. Their biggest hit over here was The Boys Are Back In Town. It is worth learning for several reasons. 

Songs Worth Learning - 20

Walk Don't Run - The Ventures

This classic surf song was actually first written and released as a jazz song by the great jazz guitarist Johnny Smith in 1954. It was later recorded by Chet Atkins and played fingerstyle. The Ventures heard the Chet Atkins version, which had a slightly “country” breakdown but was still overall on the jazzy side.

Songs Worth Learning - 19

Amie -  Pure Prairie League

Pure Prairie League was one of the earlier bands to earn the title of “country rock” band. They initially had limited success selling albums and were dropped by RCA Records after two albums. But they continued to tour. Which paid off when radio stations began playing their song Amie and it became a radio hit.

Songs Worth Learning - 18

Bridge Of Sighs - Robin Trower

Robin Trower initially achieved fame and success in the band Procol Harum (Whiter Shade Of Pale.) Then he launched a successful solo career in the early 1970s. In an era when originality in music was actually prized and encouraged, Robin Trower was often unfairly criticized for sounding too much like Jimi Hendrix. Imagine that happening today.

Songs Worth Learning - 17

Dust In The Wind - Kansas

In the 1970s guitarist Kerry Livgren was mainly an electric guitar player playing in the progressive rock band Kansas. He decided he wanted to learn to play fingerstyle guitar and he create an exercise to practice. That exercise was the chords in “Dust In The Wind.” His wife heard him playing it and said “That’s really pretty, you should put words to it.” Livgren said “No it’s just an exercise.” But his wife didn’t relent and eventually Livgren wrote lyrics for it. 

Songs Worth Learning - 16

Rock Around The Clock - Bill Haley & His Comets

In 1954 rock and roll was in its infancy. Bill Haley & His Comets had gone into the studio to record a new song (Thirteen Women) their record label, Decca, wanted them to record as a single. This was before multi-track recording so the band all played together and did take after take until they got a good one.

Songs Worth Learning - 15

Ain't Talkin' 'Bout Love - Van Halen

When Van Halen’s first album came out in 1978 most guitar players I knew (me included) were stunned by the instrumental guitar solo “Eruption", wondering how Eddie Van Halen could play so crazy fast. Later, thanks to guitar magazines (there was no YouTube back then to learn licks off of), we found out that he was “tapping.” He wasn’t the first to use this technique (I won’t jump into that argument of who was) but he certainly popularized it.

Songs Worth Learning - 14

The Girl From Ipanema - Getz/Gilberto

This song started a Bossa Nova craze in the U.S. in 1962 and in turn brought considerable latin influence to American music, especially jazz. It was also the last dying gasp of “jazz” as popular music before The Beatles changed what popular music meant. 

Songs Worth Learning - 13

All Right Now - Free

If you are fan of “classic rock” (a music industry label, not mine) you might recognize the singer as Paul Rodgers who went on to international fame with the band Bad Company. But the guitar playing of Paul Kossoff is the real star in this song. The ambiguous chords in the verse have stymied beginning guitarists since the song’s release. They are actually two different chord voicings overdubbed. I will have mercy on you and show a way to play them with only one guitar.

Songs Worth Learning - 12

(Sittin' On) The Dock Of The Bay - Otis Redding

Otis Redding started writing this song while living on a rented houseboat in California. He finished the song with the help of STAX producer and guitar player Steve Cropper in Memphis just days before his death in an airplane crash in 1967. Cropper’s unique, soulful style of playing makes this song a masterclass in how to use riffs/fills (hammer-ons, double stops, slides, etc.)

Songs Worth Learning - 11

Blackbird - The Beatles (Paul McCartney)

This Paul McCartney written song flies up and down the guitar neck like a bird, making it a fingerstyle classic perfect for solo performing. Paul McCartney has said it was inspired by J.S. Bach's Bourrée in E minor, a well known lute piece that he and George Harrison tried to learn as teenagers.

Songs Worth Learning - 10

My Girl - The Temptations

This 1964 classic Motown hit was The Temptations’ first #1 single. It was written by Smokey Robinson and Ronald White. The instantly recognizable signature ascending guitar riff is simply a C major Pentatonic scale followed by an F major Pentatonic Scale. But scales rarely sound this good. It is also a clever way to outline chord changes without actually playing chords.

Songs Worth Learning - 9

Heart Of Gold - Neil Young

Neil Young is one of the few artists who has successfully jumped from solo acoustic singer-songwriter to grunge rocker to country bandleader and had hits in each style. This song is one of his popular acoustic hits. And while it is an acoustic song with country flavorings, it also has a cool driving acoustic guitar part with riffs in the intro that feels more rock than country.

Songs Worth Learning - 8

Oye Como Va - Santana

The song was written in 1963 by popular latin jazz musician Tito Puente, but when Santana covered it replacing the flute and horn parts with overdriven rock guitar it became a huge hit for the young latin rock group. The rhythmic Am7 to D9 chords and latin percussion provide the perfect bed for the single note rock guitar of Carlos Santana playing the melody.

Songs Worth Learning - 7

Ain't Too Proud To Beg - The Temptations

"Chopping" the treble strings of a chord on beats 2 and 4 is a staple of Motown and 60's R&B music. This song also adds a simple guitar riff in the chorus. It is good practice to play songs where you don’t play the 1 beat. (Reggae is another example of music where the guitar often doesn’t play the 1 beat.)

Songs Worth Learning - 6

Smoke On The Water - Deep Purple

This is the song that put the "power" into power chords. It was also the first  45 (vinyl single) I ever bought when I was 12. It had the album version of Smoke On The Water on one side and the radio edit of Smoke On The Water on the other. I remember thinking "What a rip-off." Ha ha. 

Songs Worth Learning - 5

25 Or 6 To 4 - Chicago

Chicago was one of the most popular rock bands of the 70s to incorporate a horn section into its music. This song is one you can learn in stages. Even beginners can handle the fun, opening riff with a little alternate picking practice. It simply descends down the 6th string moving form the 5th fret to the 3rd to the 2nd to the 1st to the open 6th string. Then starts again.

Songs Worth Learning - 4

Wipe Out - The Surfaris

Back in the 1960s when instrumental rock was twangy and cool, Wipeout ruled. Wipeout is a surf music classic that has been featured in over 20 films and countless covers by other bands. It has catchy riff/melody and only three chords. It is a great alternate picking workout, and you get to practice chord stabs. Which is good practice for not playing 3 1/2 beats per measures. Not playing can be just as effective as playing and often better than playing too much. Drummers love this song too, making it more likely to be requested.