Top 35 Most Popular Guitar Songs to Learn

Published Categorized as Acoustic Guitar Songs

Are you at a loss for what to learn next and want some divine inspiration to spear you with a shock from above? Are you keen to explore different styles of music to your usual route? Want to hear some of our favorite popular guitar songs in the Western world today?

Then you are in the right place, for today we will be exploring some of the best popular guitar songs around!

Table of Contents

Top 35 Most Popular Guitar Songs to Learn

1. ‘Silver Morning’ by Brian Eno

Though Eno carries the artistic credit here, the real reason this is one of the most popular guitar songs in ambient music is because of the contributions of Daniel Lanois, an esteemed pedal steel guitarist known for his incredibly emotive performance – this one is no exception.

Apollo by BRIAN ENO (2009-08-04)

2. ‘Click Clack (Live)’ by Captain Beefheart & the Magic Band

Though initially released on his LP The Spotlight Kid, this song really came into its own when Beefheart and the Magic Band took it on tour, becoming a steaming blues romp. Just listen to that electric guitar and feel it honk – one of the best blues songs of all time!

Click Clack

3. ‘Little Johnny Jewel’ by Television

Though undoubtedly better remembered for their late 70s magnum opus Marquee Moon, this is a great song that catalogs the liminal period between their landmark debut album and their less successful sophomore release, exhibiting precisely why fans still had hope. Getting your head around electric guitar songs will help you to really develop your own style.

Little Johnny Jewel Parts 1 And 2

4. ‘Smokies’ by Barefoot Jerry

For those looking for a song where they can really groove and pound their acoustic guitar, then perhaps the answer comes in the form of this jam from the country rock outfit Barefoot Jerry. Indeed, this is one of the lesser-known acoustic guitar songs to write home about.

Smokies

5. ‘True Blue’ by Dirty Beaches

Definitely one of Alex Zhang Hungtai’s more popular songs under this moniker, this is a great song for those moments when you just fancy hitting a guitar and seeing what happens.

Badlands

6. ‘Rocks Off’ by the Rolling Stones

Undoubtedly one of the best electric guitar songs, the Rolling Stones have far too many jams to choose from, though this is certainly one of the most triumphant songs they ever released. In fact, this might be one of the best rock songs of all time, at least to our ears.

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7. ‘Instant Hit’ by the Slits

If you are looking to broaden your interests in guitar and explore other styles of music within the Western popular cultural pantheon like, say, dub and/or reggae, then why not give this track a go? This is a perfect blend of reggae and punk, from the heyday of the original post-punk era.

Instant Hit

8. ‘Happy Survival’ by Eddie Okwedy

If you are looking to broaden your music taste any further, then you would be remiss to neglect the fantastic guitar work prevalent in much of 70s Nigerian highlife music. It’s a wonder it isn’t more popular elsewhere in the world.

Happy Survival

9. ‘Weissensee’ by NEU!

The thing people often forget about Michael Rother’s dazzling guitar playing is how indebted it is to American greats like Jimi Hendrix. At heart, this is an acoustic folk-pop song that has messed with form and content to such an extent that it has been taken into the future.

Weissensee

10. ‘Smoke Rings’ by Les Paul & Mary Ford

It can be easy to forget that the famous Gibson Les Paul is actually named after someone.

This person, the venerable Les Paul, was easily the greatest guitar virtuoso of his day and is still a great inspiration to those learning his signature blend of gypsy swing and country-style guitar. By no means the official music video, the video above is merely a demonstration of how innovative the guy truly was.

Smoke Rings

11. ‘Epitaph’ by King Crimson

No doubt one of the best acoustic guitar songs ever, this is your chance to chant out an epic song into oblivion.

Epitaph (Including "March for No Reason

12. ‘Against Gravity by Horse Lords

By no means one of the easy pop songs – nor a popular song at all really – this is still a great song to learn on guitar, especially if you happen to have a guitar that has been set up to play in equal temperament instead of standard.

Against Gravity

13. ‘Trainspotting’ by Primal Scream

Utilizing basic chords and vocal melodies to devastating effect, this is perhaps one of the most famous songs from the eponymously titled Trainspotting soundtrack. This highly influential soundtrack also featured hits from Iggy Pop, Pulp, Brian Eno, Lou Reed, Elastica, Leftfield, Underworld, Damon Albarn, and New Order.

Trainspotting

14. ‘The Rubber Room’ by Porter Wagoner

You can play this touching and emotionally-intense country ballad on an acoustic or electric guitar and it is still going to have the same awesome power to command whoever is listening. Chronicling Wagoner’s time in a psychiatric hospital in gruesome detail, this is not a song for the faint of heart. Perhaps there is a reason this isn’t a more famous song.

Rubber Room

15. ‘I Woke Up’ by Tim Buckley

Certainly more famous for his folkier music earlier in his career, Buckley is less acknowledged for his unique and difficult-to-categorize middle period where he stretched the conception of jazz, folk, and rock to their limits. This is the flagship from that period, merging lyrics of pure poesy with instrumentation that seems to breathe life into these fragile oneiric images with lucidity and depth. This is a chord progression to look out for.

I Woke Up

16. ‘The Glory of Man’ by Minutemen

While this might not be a ‘Hey Soul Sister’, this still has every right to be branded a soulful anthem of working-class pride.

The Glory of Man

17. ‘Blue Jade’ by Buddy Emmons

Emmons is easily one of the best pedal steel players that have ever lived, matching Speedy West‘s inherent virtuosity, though never at the expense of pure emotive suggestion. ‘Blue Jade’ is one of his many masterworks of the pedal steel.

Blue Jade (feat. Dan Dugmore)

18. ‘Fleur Tropicale’ by Francis Bebey

The Cameroonian polymath Francis Bebey gave the world many, many songs that were never quite like anything else that came before. Somewhere, there is a parallel universe where Bebey’s signature blend of central African instrumentation with burgeoning electronics became the dominant form of music…

African Electronic Music 1975-1982

19. ‘Free Your Mind’ by Amnesty

Completely neglected by the passage of time, Amnesty was the missing link between funk greats like James Brown & Funkadelic and then progressive rock bands like King Crimson. Taking funk as their medium, they sought to expand its very vocabulary, though this sadly fell on deaf ears during their brief tenure in the 70s.

Free Your Mind

An incendiary alternative song from the 80s that clearly inspired countless artists to strip back their approach and focus on simple plucked melodies on the guitar and bass alongside synths.

Age of Consent (2015 Remaster)

21. ‘Downward Spiral’ by Danny Brown

The samples that Danny Brown’s frequent collaborator and producer Paul White has used in this song are incredibly burned out and fuzzy, making it excellent for jamming along to it if you are in any way into that sort of thing.

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22. ‘Oneironaut’ by John Dwyer

Largely composed of extended jam sessions that John Dwyer had with Ryan Sawyer, Greg Coates, Wilder Zoby, and Andres Renteria, these solo records are far more akin to, say, On The Corner-era Miles Davis than anything Dwyer has done before with his famous band O SEES. There is a great and timeless feel to these tracks, this one, in particular, turning the guitar into something else entirely.

Oneironaut

23. ‘Health and Efficiency’ by This Heat

This essential melding of punk and industrial music ought to be required listening for anyone interested in either of these two styles of music (and especially those who have an interest in both)!

Health and Efficiency

24. ‘Only Loved at Night’ by The Raincoats

Another innovative band working around the same time comes in the form of the Raincoats who tackled the same dilemma in music from the opposite direction. This Heat’s playing can be quite astute and virtuosic at times, whereas the Raincoats approach music from an incredibly naive and playful angle.

Only Loved at Night

25. ‘Politicians in My Eyes’ by Death

Allegedly one of the first bands to embrace what it meant to be punk before there was even such a thing, this is another group that was crossed and passed by the popular cultural pantheon, even despite how innovative they clearly were.

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26. ‘Shadows’ by Yo La Tengo

What more is there to say about the incredibly long-lasting and era-defining indie rock monoliths Yo La Tengo that hasn’t already been said? Equally famed for their world-clattering noise as they are their quiet and peaceful moments, this song falls in the latter camp, offering up a healthy dose of solace in one’s solitude.

Shadows

27. ‘You Did It Yourself’ by Arthur Russell

The multi-faceted and gifted composer Arthur Russell was scarcely acknowledged in his lifetime, certainly not to the extent that he ought to have been given his clear gifts for artistic expression in all its forms. This is a great song to strum along with while pointing the finger at someone who has done you dirty.

You Did It Yourself

28. ‘This is My Name’ by Sun City Girls

Contrary to the name, all three members of this band are actually men, though I don’t imagine this meant much to the surviving members when one of them died suddenly. In response, they released the album Funeral Mariachi, doing away with much of the comedy and folly that marked their previous albums so as to respectfully send their bandmate off into the void.

This is My Name

29. ‘C.R.E.E.P.’ by the Fall

It is a truth universally acknowledged that when the Fall writes a pop song, they do better than almost all of their contemporaries. This song is one of the finest examples of this phenomenon.

C.R.E.E.P.

30. ‘Electric Blend’ by Sandy Bull

Virtuosic and prodigal folk guitarist Sandy Bull has been said to be an incredible inspiration on the sensibilities of 60s music toward Eastern influence. Here, he leaves us with an incredibly hypnotic dirge with which to send ourselves into our own void.

Electric Blend

31. ‘The Herald’ by Comus

Largely overlooked in favor of the more intense and visceral progressive rock acts of the era like King Crimson, Comus is a key part of this genre’s trajectory. Fans of fingerpicking patterns will no doubt rejoice to hear the frilly flourishes embellishing this song throughout.

The Herald

32. ‘Trees’ by Blurt

The DIY project of funny and witty no-wave musicians here arrayed is incredibly gifted at carving out a groove and adhering to it for a set period of time, giving plenty of space for frontman Ted Milton to trip over himself explaining such an abstracted worldview.

Trees

33. ‘Ebb Tide’ by Houston & Dorsey

This suggestive piece of popular cultural detritus is a cover of a song composed by Robert Maxwell, an incredibly popular standard around the time of its composition in the 50s. This version makes heavy use of tape delay, emphasizing the frothing nature of the waves which are so readily represented by the oozing crescendos of the song’s structure and progression.

Ebb Tide

34. ‘Anchi Bale Game’ by Admas

If you are looking to learn something a little more difficult in the realm of Ethiopian music, then you have found yourself in the right place. This track from Admas is oozing with character and seeks to be orally taught to a new generation of listeners.

Anchi Bale Game

35. ‘The Way I Walk’ by the Cramps

No doubt one of the Cramps’ best covers ever, this is a low-down and dirty rockabilly boogie. You can literally hear the barn crumbling as the living dead rise from their graves to subsume whoever stands too long in their path.

The Way I Walk

Final Tones

So, there you have it! Hopefully, you are now feeling ready and able to find a new song to learn and hopefully extend your scope of listening and appreciating different styles of music.

What pop songs should I learn on guitar?

The best way to engage in a guitar practice regimen that you will actually benefit from is to choose to learn music that you like.

What is the easiest song to play on guitar?

While there is no one song that is categorically the easiest to play on guitar, there are a few contenders. These are usually the kind of songs that are trotted out by guitar tutors on those seminal first few lessons.

What is the most famous guitar progression?

Though it is difficult to say outright what the most famous guitar progression is, there are a number of contenders, as well as a progression that many would suggest, is one of, if not the most, popular or well-utilized chord progressions in the history of Western music. This rears its head in the form of C – G – Am – F (I – V – vi – IV) – here, in the key of C major, capital letters will represent major chords and lowercase letters minor chords. This would be the same if the key was C minor – the capital letters would be representative of a minor chord and the lowercase of a minor chord.

What are the 3 most common guitar chords in songs?

Allegedly, the 3 most common guitar chords in popular Western music are G, C, and D. These are all relatively safe chords that have a pretty direct relationship with one another, so this should hardly be surprising. Indeed, these chords are said to present in thousands and thousands (perhaps even millions) of songs, either separately as a distinct progression in any configuration of the three.

By Nate Pallesen

Nate is just your average (above average) guitar player. He's no Joe Satriani, Jimi Hendrix or Jimmy Page - wait this site is about acoustic guitars (sorry) He's no Django Reinhardt, Chet Atkins, or Michael Hedges, wait? who!? He's no Robert Johnson, Eric Clapton or Ben Harper - more familiar? Anyway you get the point :-)

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