There are more easy, popular songs out there than you probably imagine
Let’s assume you just started playing guitar recently and you’re looking for some easy songs to play. Well, I have good news for you. There are plenty of songs, some that you might not even imagine are simple, that you can play with just 3 or 4 chords. First, learn these easy basic guitar chords and you’ve won half the battle! Let me put it this way, if you learn all 10 chords in that lesson you can pretty much play more songs than I could ever list in this article. Therefore, I’m only going to list a couple to get you started. (In a second, bear with me here.)
Thing is, there are plenty of popular songs that rely only on simple major and minor chords. For a lot of these, there is absolutely no need to even worry about the minor 7, dominant 7 or sustained 4 chords for example. They are just good ol’ majors and minors. Now, eventually you will want to go ahead and learn to play a bunch of the chord variations such as min7, dim7, sus4, sus 2, 7sus4, add9, and so on and so forth. But for now, you can just have fun, impress your friends and not have to worry about the complicated stuff. That’s what having fun playing guitar is all about. Once you’ve mastered the easy stuff, you’ll inherently feel the desire to want to learn harder things. However, don’t let the hard chords discourage you. Why? Because you just don’t need them to play good songs! Don’t let the guitar tech snobs tell you otherwise. Screw them and their claim to forever-perfect guitar ninja skills! In fact, even after you get good, if you don’t know a chord you can easily look it up online or in one of those nifty smartphone applications that carry a million and a half chords in them.
If you’re into rock (who isn’t) you can hammer away at a bunch of rock songs playing simple power chords. You probably know what those are, but if not, I’m here to quickly clarify. A power chord is essentially a barre chord but removing the minor or major 3rd which is the note that defines a chord as major or minor. This is the note usually played with the middle finger of the fretting hand (depending on the chord and shape of course!) So when playing a power chord you will only be playing 2 notes, the root and its 5th! That’s it! Easy enough. You can also easily add the root’s octave using your pinky, or by barring 2 strings with your ring finger. See how a power chord looks like in the chord diagram and photo to the right. Then, go watch any video by a riffing rock guitarist (try Green Day) and you’re bound to see this shape within the first 5 seconds. By the way, if you don’t know how to read chord diagrams, check out the lesson on how to do that here.
Plus, here’s a little cheat that can help you out when you’re stuck with a chord you don’t know (but it’ll also teach you to be lazy, so be aware). Oftentimes if you run into a 7th, 9th or similar chord you can usually get away with playing the chord as a simple major or minor. Of course the song will not sound quite right and the guitar police of the internet will come and arrest you. But at least, you’ll be able to get away with playing the song on the spot!
Now for a list of easy songs:
- The Passenger – Iggy Pop (Chords used: Am-F-C-G-E)
- All the Small Things – Blink 182 (Chords used: C-F-G)
- Bad Moon Rising – Creedence Clearwater Revival (Chords used: A-D-G)
- Brown Eyed Girl – Van Morrison (Chords used: C-D7-Em-D)
- Sweet Home Alabama – Lynyrd Skynyrd (Chords used: C-D-G-F)
- Flake – Jack Johnson (Chords used: Dm-F-Bb-C-A-Fm7)
- Save Tonight – Eagle Eye Cherry (Chords used: Am-F-C-G)
Additionally, a friend today suggested I add: Let is be by The Beatles and Stand by Me by Ben E. King (which has also been covered by everyone and their mother.) All easy songs. And she must really know what’s she’s talking about when it comes to recommending easy songs for beginners, because she has been learning them herself. The version of Stand by Me suggested is played with the chords (G Em C D).
As you can see, some of the songs I listed have more than 3-4 chords and a few of them have the odd 7 and m7 chord in there. Don’t fret. Start by learning the song using regular majors and minors. Once you have the song down and are having fun, simply start learning the odd chord and adjust accordingly. It’s a lot easier than it seems.