Are you looking to flex your guitar muscles within the bound of some two-chord songs? Perhaps you want some songs that are simple enough to play on guitar so that you can sing along with them?
Well, say no more, for this is precisely what we will be detailing today!
Table of Contents
- 1. ‘Heroin’ by the Velvet Underground
- 2. ‘Born in the USA’ by Bruce Springsteen
- 3. ‘Break On Through (To the Other Side)’ by The Doors
- 4. ‘Paperback Writer’ by the Beatles
- 5. ‘Oye Como Va’ by Carlos Santana
- 6. ‘Something in the Way’ by Nirvana
- 7. ‘Tomorrow Never Knows’ by the Beatles
- 8. ‘Everyday People’ by Sly & the Family Stone
- 9. ‘Jambalaya’ by Hank Williams
- 10. ‘Achy Breaky Heart’ by Billy Ray Cyrus
- 11. ‘Dreams’ by Fleetwood Mac
- 12. ‘Cocaine Blues’ by Johnny Cash
- 13. ‘Eleanor Rigby’ by the Beatles
- 14. ’25 Minutes to Go’ by Johnny Cash
- 15. ‘Fever’ by the Cramps
- 16. ‘Get Back’ by the Beatles
- 17. ‘The Rubber Room’ by Porter Wagoner
- 18. ‘Walk on the Wild Side’ by Lou Reed
- 19. ‘Three is a Magic Number’ by De La Soul
- 20. ‘Chaise Longue’ by Wet Leg
- 21. ‘LDN’ by Lily Allen
- 22. ‘white ace’ by sloyd flenching
- 23. ‘Singin’ in the Rain’ by Arthur Freed
- 24. ‘Uptown Funk’ by Bruno Mars & Mark Ronson
- 25. ‘You Never Can Tell’ by Chuck Berry
- Final Tones
- FAQs Two Chord Songs
1. ‘Heroin’ by the Velvet Underground
Of all the two-chord songs, out there this has to be one of the all-time greats, juicing the two major chords featured for all they are worth and spanning whole eons of time in the telling of its somber tale.
2. ‘Born in the USA’ by Bruce Springsteen
This epic anti-anthem voices the concerns of small-town America, a demographic often done dirty by the federal system. The fact that this song is so often played at football games and political rallies is testament enough to how much the lyrical content has fallen on deaf ears. Springsteen is no stranger to 2-chord songs that have a bunch to say.
3. ‘Break On Through (To the Other Side)’ by The Doors
Named after Aldous Huxley’s seminal psychedelic opus The Doors of Perception, this song is appropriately fitting with this theme of awakening, breaking through to the other side of consciousness.
4. ‘Paperback Writer’ by the Beatles
The Beatles take things in a more meta-fictional direction in their lyrics on this choice cut from their middle period.
Indeed, along with an artful music video (above), this was a grand statement at the time that the Beatles were more than just pop idols.
5. ‘Oye Como Va’ by Carlos Santana
Taken from Santana’s seminal 1970 fusion album Abraxas, this song is typical of Santana’s style at the time, fusing so much of North and South American popular music into one big melting pot of psychedelic mayhem.
6. ‘Something in the Way’ by Nirvana
One of Nirvana’s more underrated songs, the entire song plods along with a very repetitive chord progression made up of a minor chord and a minor chord. Indeed, these two chords do much of the leg work, even when a haunting cello comes in to bleet during what could be described as the chorus.
7. ‘Tomorrow Never Knows’ by the Beatles
Built up almost entirely from one C major chord, this utter dirge of a song must have been rather alarming to the 60s listener who had rushed off to buy the new Beatles’ record at the shop. While this is a great Beatles song for a beginner, it isn’t for the faint of heart. After a whole host of forward-thinking pop music, the album closes with this void song, beckoning one into nothingness…
8. ‘Everyday People’ by Sly & the Family Stone
The simplicity of the chords here reflects the simplicity of this song’s undying message, that equality and equity between races, classes, genders, and creeds shouldn’t be something that is so complicated.
9. ‘Jambalaya’ by Hank Williams
Written after the traditional creole dish, you can always rely on Hank Williams to really deliver a proper tune. This is by no means a traditional folk song, but country and western is the next big thing. It is, as many would say, the folk music of America.
10. ‘Achy Breaky Heart’ by Billy Ray Cyrus
Tackling country music from a very different angle, Billy Ray Cyrus uses great big power chords to get his blunt point across. Indeed, in the age of the power chord, he needed to use it in order to gain the attention of the masses, and he sure did.
11. ‘Dreams’ by Fleetwood Mac
With this album, Fleetwood Mac essentially defined the warm and laidback sound of radio music in the 70s. Their tumultuous and incestuous past doesn’t show up for a minute on this luscious and resplendent production, so you don’t have to think about it whatsoever.
12. ‘Cocaine Blues’ by Johnny Cash
This has to be one of the most famous instances of a song being covered and ultimately bested by the cover. Johnny Cash’s deep voice looks the other way when trying to think about the reality of its actions, acting badass with a needle in its arm.
13. ‘Eleanor Rigby’ by the Beatles
We return with a brief interlude to those Liverpudlian lads who ditch the traditional rock instrumentation altogether here in favor of a double-string quartet, lending this song a decidedly more dramatic air. The pulsing E minor chord couldn’t be much more dramatic.
14. ’25 Minutes to Go’ by Johnny Cash
If nothing else, this series of two-chord songs and strumming patterns should be an exhibition of just how amazing Johnny Cash is at covers. He is alleged to have known over 1000 songs by heart, though he sadly isn’t around to prove it anymore. Hopping between a G and D major chord is so country and just part of the deal.
15. ‘Fever’ by the Cramps
This extraordinary cover of Peggy Lee’s classic swing track will no doubt leave you hot under the collar and oozing from the pores, especially when you hear Poison Ivy’s sensuous strumming pattern.
16. ‘Get Back’ by the Beatles
Before it became the title of the new program tracking the Beatles in the recording studio, ‘Get Back’ was the title of a song from the final album they released before breaking up, Let It Be. Bearing a basic strumming pattern, this guitar playing is deceptively difficult to pull off properly.
17. ‘The Rubber Room’ by Porter Wagoner
Oh, this ain’t no ‘Banana Boat Song’, unless, of course, the banana boat itself is a symbol for the vehicle that takes you away to the rubber room of the soul. No iconic guitar riff played on any electric guitar can save you from its clutches, no matter how indebted to country it may be.
18. ‘Walk on the Wild Side’ by Lou Reed
With some lyrics that listeners today might find disturbing, it is still a wonder that Lou Reed was able to conjure up such a vivid world with just two chords, the exact same chords used in so many other songs and song transitions.
19. ‘Three is a Magic Number’ by De La Soul
One of the seminal tracks from De La Soul’s epic and gargantuan landmark album Three Feet High and Rising, it seemed to capture the playful energy of the sunshine era of hip-hop so well.
20. ‘Chaise Longue’ by Wet Leg
The first single to make a splash for Isle of Wight natives Wet Leg was this song consisting of only two power chords, taking rock n roll into a different era altogether.
21. ‘LDN’ by Lily Allen
One of England’s premier and unique cultural exports in the 00s came in the form of Lily Allen, a talented and multi-faceted singer-songwriter who used samples to her advantage and was plenty proud of her cultural heritage, as evinced in this song which playfully used the initials LDN to refer to her home of London.
22. ‘white ace’ by sloyd flenching
The large majority of this blisteringly fuzzy track consists of two barre chords droning back and forth between one another. The central girth of this track comes from the lack of guitars, swapping them out instead to have basses play the chords.
23. ‘Singin’ in the Rain’ by Arthur Freed
Before this tune was repurposed as the haunting and twisted mantra of A Clockwork Orange‘s Alex DeLarge, this was the centerpiece of the musical of the same name, belted by the frontman as he is literally singing and dancing in the rain.
24. ‘Uptown Funk’ by Bruno Mars & Mark Ronson
This huge production sounds good on just about every sound system and that’s the point. This song is meant to be heard everywhere at all times. Featuring vague funk chord progressions and rhythms, this song is more about the idea of funk than it is reminiscent of actual funk music.
25. ‘You Never Can Tell’ by Chuck Berry
An extremely troubled man – as all those with a gift for early rock and roll seem to have been – he was nevertheless a talented songwriter and exhilarating guitarist at the time, inspiring many of the Beatles’ early instrumental tropes. This song is a cute ditty perhaps best remembered for soundtracking the dance scene in Pulp Fiction.
So, there you have it! Hopefully, you are now feeling ready and able to get started!
FAQs Two Chord Songs
There are plenty of two-chord songs, so many it would be impossible to name them all, though there are plenty that gets trotted out constantly on resources like this, such as ‘Singin’ in the Rain’, ‘Paperback Writer’, ‘Clementine’, ‘A Horse With No Name’, ‘Achy Breaky Heart’, ‘Banana Boat Song’, ‘You Never Can Tell’, ‘Uptown Funk’, ‘He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands’, ‘Everyday People, etc, etc.
Indeed you can and plenty of artists have. Eschewing focus on harmonic progression, there will be more of a focus on the other elements of songwriting in a song that is based around two chords. So, structure, tonality, texture, melody, rhythm, etc, will all be at least a little more interesting in such a song in much the same way that other senses are heightened when one of the senses is taken out of the equation as in, say, the example of blind people developing stronger senses of hearing, taste, touch, and/or smell.
Though there is no two-chord progression that trumps the rest, a personal favorite would have to be the Velvet Underground’s ‘Heroin’, a song whose absence of harmonic progression is more than made up for by the sheer dynamic range of the song, constantly speeding up and slowing down like a freight train, at once at peace, then out of control, much like the relationship with opiates that it seeks to chronicle.