When it comes time to lead the sing-along, you need some easy acoustic guitar songs that are known and loved by all.
Here are a few that will get the crowd going and make you look like a genius... even if they only are three chords!
1. Brown Eyed Girl - Van Morrison
This has always been a favorite of mine. Probably because of my own brown eyes.
And why not. It’s got an easy, breezy sensibility and a walk-in-the-sunshine vibe.
“Brown Eyed Girl” was first released in May 1967 on the album Blowin' Your Mind! It was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2007. Originally titled "Brown-Skinned Girl," Morrison changed it to "Brown Eyed Girl" when he recorded it.
Morrison remarked on the original title, "That was just a mistake. It was a kind of Jamaican song. Calypso. It just slipped my mind. I changed the title. After we'd recorded it, I looked at the tape box and didn't even notice that I'd changed the title. I looked at the box where I'd lain it down with my guitar and it said 'Brown Eyed Girl' on the tape box. It's just one of those things that happen."
2. Down on the Corner – Creedence Clearwater Revival
Be sure to have a tambourine on hand for this one.
"Down on the Corner" appeared on CCR's fourth studio album, Willy and the Poor Boys (1969). The song peaked at Number 3 on the Hot 100 on December 20, 1969.
The song chronicles the tale of the fictional band Willy and the Poor Boys, and how they play on street corners to cheer people up and ask for nickels.
You might want to pass the hat while you’re jamming out on this one. Or at least jangle a couple of nickels in a cup.
3. Margaritaville – Jimmy Buffett
There are boatloads of diehard Buffett fans out there, and I’m betting you’ll find plenty of folks ready to raise a glass to this one.
"Margaritaville" was released in 1977 on the album Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes.
This song was written about a drink Buffett discovered at Lung's Cocina del Sur restaurant on Anderson Lane in Austin, Texas, and the first huge surge of tourists who descended on Key West, Florida around that time. He wrote most of the song that night in Austin and finished it while spending time in Key West.
In the U.S. "Margaritaville" reached Number 8 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, and went to #1 on the Easy Listening chart, also peaking at Number 13 on the Hot Country Songs chart. It remains Buffett's highest charting solo single.
Has Buffett contributed to the popularity of the Margarita? We may never know, but I say HELL YEAH!
4. Ob-La-Di Ob-La-Da – The Beatles
If there ever was a song written for singing along, this is it! The iconic syllabic chorus is a crowd-pleaser, for sure.
"Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da" is a song credited to Lennon–McCartney, but written by Paul McCartney, and released by the Beatles on their 1968 album The Beatles (commonly called the White Album).
It was released as a single that same year in many countries, but not in the United Kingdom, nor in the United States until 1976.
It’s reported that John Lennon was never particular enchanted with it, but you must admit, its carefree happy-go-lucky vibe is perfect for a by-the-fire sing-along!
5. Stir It Up – Bob Marley
"Stir It Up" is a song by Bob Marley in 1967, written for his wife Rita, and first made popular by Johnny Nash. Nash's recording hit the top 15 in both Britain and America in 1973.
When Bob Marley returned to Jamaica from the United States in 1967, The Wailers started their own label, ‘Wail'n Soul'm’ records, and released their first independent single "Freedom Time" backed with "Bend Down Low."
"Nice Time," "Hypocrites," "Mellow Mood," "Thank You Lord," and "Stir It Up" are all recorded in the same year.
"Stir It Up" was Bob Marley's first successful song outside Jamaica.
I particularly like that it opens with the chorus. The sing-along begins right off the top!
6. Sweet Home Alabama – Lynyrd Skynyrd
This iconic song proves you don’t have to be from the south to love southern rock. Released by Lynyrd Skynyrd, it first appeared in 1974 on their second album, Second Helping. It reached Number 8 on the U.S. charts in 1974 and was the band's second hit single.
The back story goes that at a band practice shortly after bassist Ed King had switched to guitar, King heard fellow guitarist Gary Rossington playing a guitar riff that inspired him.
In interviews, King has said that, during the night following the practice session, the chords and two main guitar solos came to him in a dream, note for note.
King then introduced the song to the band the next day. Also written at this session was the track that followed "Sweet Home Alabama" on the Second Helping album, "I Need You."
So crank it up, or at least strum louder!
7. Free Fallin' – Tom Petty
This laid back tune has an iconic chordal strum that runs through the entire song. Easy and cool!
"Free Fallin'" is the opening track from Tom Petty's 1989 solo album, Full Moon Fever. The song was written by Petty and his writing partner for the album, Jeff Lynne (and also features Lynne on backing vocals). The duo wrote and recorded the single in two days, making it the first song completed for Full Moon Fever.
"Free Fallin'" is one of Petty's most famous tracks, as well as his longest-charting. It peaked at Number 7 on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart in January 1990.
So practice the riff a couple of times and then dig in!
8. Come On Get Higher – Matt Nathanson
I admit it. I’m partial to the songs of Matt Nathanson.
He’s just hits the lyrics on the head and writes ultimately singable melodies.
"Come On Get Higher" was co-written by and Mark Weinberg and released as the second single from his album Some Mad Hope in 2008.
The single went platinum, reaching the Billboard Hot 100 at number 59 as well as charting within the Top 10 of Billboard's Adult Contemporary and Adult Pop Songs charts.
The song has been covered by many artists, including country music duo Sugarland, whose live version of the song appears on the Deluxe Edition of their album Love on the Inside.
I start a little tenderly and then build into the heart-on-my-sleeve chorus.
Sing it to your sweetie and you can’t lose.
9. Chasing Cars – Snow Patrol
This minimalist song is simply brilliant.
It’s second single from Snow Patrol's fourth album, Eyes Open. It was recorded in 2005 and released June 6, 2006 in the U.S.
The song was nominated for a 2007 Grammy Award for Best Rock Song, as well as for a 2007 BRIT Award for Best British Single.
It has been reported that lead singer Gary Lightbody wrote the song, sober after a binge of white wine, in the garden of producer Jacknife Lee's Kent cottage.
The song has Lightbody singing a plain melody over sparse guitars, which has an ever-building crescendo.
He stated it was his "purest love song." The phrase "Chasing Cars" came from Lightbody's father, in reference to a girl Lightbody was infatuated with, "You're like a dog chasing a car. You'll never catch it and you just wouldn't know what to do with it if you did."
10. Wonderwall - Oasis
I have personally played this around a campfire and I bet some of you have too!
It's the song everyone loves to sing along too. What is a "wonderwall?" Who cares!
"Wonderwall" was written by the band's guitarist and main songwriter Noel Gallagher. The song was produced by Owen Morris and Gallagher for their second album, (What's the Story) Morning Glory?
According to Gallagher, "Wonderwall" describes "an imaginary friend who's gonna come and save you from yourself."
Legend has it that the song's title was appropriated from Wonderwall, a 1968 film whose soundtrack was provided by George Harrison.
I think it's about just singing along. So grab a beer and let's go!
You can capo the second fret, or not!
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