25 Awesome Two-Chord Guitar Songs (Updated 2023)

Published Categorized as Acoustic Guitar Songs

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

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.

Heroin

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.

Born In The U.S.A.

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.

Break on Through (To the Other Side)

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.

Paperback Writer (Remastered 2009)

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.

Oye Como Va

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.

Something In The Way

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…

Tomorrow Never Knows (Remastered 2009)

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.

Everyday People

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.

Jambalaya (On The Bayou)

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.

Achy Breaky Heart

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.

Dreams (2004 Remaster)

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.

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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.

Eleanor Rigby (Remastered 2009)

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.

25 Minutes to Go (Live at Folsom State Prison, Folsom, CA (1st Show) - January 1968)

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.

Fever

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.

The Beatles - Let It Be

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.

Rubber Room

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.

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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.

3 Feet High And Rising (Amazon Exclusive Blue Vinyl)

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.

Chaise Longue

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.

LDN

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.

white ace

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.

Singin' in the Rain (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)

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.

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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.

You Never Can Tell (1964 Single Version / Mono)

Final Tones

So, there you have it! Hopefully, you are now feeling ready and able to get started!

FAQs Two Chord Songs

What are the 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.

Can you make a song with only 2 chords?

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.

What is the best two-chord progression?

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.

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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