Below are what I consider to be 10 of the best blues songs to learn on guitar.
All songs are acoustic guitar based – this is an acoustic guitar blog after all! These songs should expand the blues guitar playing skills of even really advanced guitarists. Some are easier than others, so if you’re new to playing the blues, they are probably the best place to start.
O.k let’s get into the 10 songs, in no particular order.
#10: Hey Hey – Big Bill Broonzy
Eric Clapton’s cover of Big Bill Broonzy’s Hey Hey on his 1992 album Unplugged is the probably the more known version of this song but I have such a love for that raw sound of old school blues performances, so I’ve included the original here.
But learning this song you might find it easier to listen to the Eric Clapton version. Either way this is a great blues song, with a great driving rhythm.
#9: Black Dog Blues – Blind Blake
Created by one of the most famous artists to ever work for Paramount Record, Blind Blake was a blues and ragtime magician.
Strictly speaking this is ragtime rather than blues – but Blind Blake had such a bluesy way of playing Ragtime that it was fitting enough for this list – and to learn some Blind Blake is a great way to expand or enhance your guitar playing skills.
#8: Robert Johnson – Cross Road Blues
Robert Johnson was responsible for more blues standards than anyone else (or at least I assume so, since he was the creator of so many of them) and Cross Road Blues is just one of those. But learn this song well on acoustic guitar, and you will have mastered some skillful rhythms and some tricky fingerings.
#7: Death Letter Blues – Son House
Death Letter Blues is a divine combination of energy and emotion. This is a great fast blues song to learn and also incorporates the use of slide – which is a great skill to learn or improve on for blues playing.
#6: Lightnin’ Hopkins – Baby Please Don’t Go
This Lithnin’ Hopkins classic is a great sing along and one of the easier songs to play from this list. If you like to sing the blues while you play the blues, this is a must know.
#5: Suitcase – Keb Mo
A modern day acoustic blues great, Keb Mo’s suitcase is a great slow jam blues track to while away the blues with. This is another great one to sing with. If you’ve got someone to play the harmonica along as well, even better.
#4: Eric Clapton – Drifting Blues
This is a nice slow blues jam to get lost in. Originally written by Charles Brown in the 1940s, this blues standard is a great song to learn on guitar.
#3: Little Wing: Jimi Hendrix
Whilst this song was originally recorded on the electric guitar, this song sounds great on acoustic. Just learning the intro is worth doing. You could learn the original or you could check out the fingerstyle arrangement by Dan C Holloway as in the video below. This is a great way to play the song solo and without the need for lyrics.
#2: Hellhound On My Trail – Robert Johnson
A rather darker song by Johnson can be a great source of practice. Even though the background to the story is intimidating, when you find yourself playing this on your guitar, you will be impressed. It might take some practice as there are more chords being used and the timing is a little tricky.
This is another quick tempo song that will take a bit of practice to get sounding good – and then try singing it at the same time! Robert Johnson was certainly a unique talent.
#1: The Red Rooster – Howlin’ Wolf
The Red Rooster, a Howlin’ Wolf classic, is a great song to learn to incorporate slide into your guitar.
If you haven’t tried playing with a slide, this is a great addition your repertoire, especially for playing the blues – and the Red Rooster is a great example of the sounds you can create using a slide.
This is just a selection of 10 great blues songs to learn on guitar, there are of course many other great options. But if you can master these 10 songs and play them well, you can really expand your blues ability and your guitar abilities in general.
Any other songs you think are must learn blues songs for acoustic guitar?