It’s not easy learning new songs, especially if you are a beginner. To help a bit, I created a list of twenty-five famous rock songs that have well-known intro and riff that might help you on the way. You probably know most of the songs from the list, and you’ll notice how some of them are rather easy to play. However, there are a few that are not as easy, but once you master them, you’ll enjoy playing them quite a lot.
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Nothing Else Matters – Metallica
People often believe that Nothing Else Matters is the easiest song to learn since the beginning part has only open strings played. However, the rest is a bit more complex. Over the years, the song became the most popular by Metallica and is considered as one of their greatest songs ever. The song also had a major impact on Metallica, since they became popular to a wider audience thanks to it. Nothing Else Matters is undoubtedly among the best rock songs ever written.
Losing My Religion – R.E.M.
While this alternative rock band released many incredible songs, Losing My Religion is probably the most recognizable one. Interestingly, the song was unlikely to succeed at the time, and the reason for such fame was thanks to the music video. Critics loved the video, and the audience loved the song. Even though R.E.M. stopped playing in 2011, their music lives on through songs like Losing My Religion and armies of fans.
Patience – Guns N’ Roses
While many know songs like Paradise City and Sweet Child O’Mine, Patience is a great example of how less known songs can be incredible as well. With this song, the band decided to create a bit softer song and it turned out to be a great move. Besides Axl Rose’s unique vocals, there is a great whistling at the beginning that only makes the song better. Of course, the best thing is that the song is not that complex and you won’t have any trouble learning how to play it.
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More Than Words – Extreme
Interestingly, Extreme decided to diverge from their standard funk-rock style with this song. More Than Words is a ballad that almost brought fame to the band. While they still play rock music, many associates the song with their style. Naturally, the band continues playing it at almost every show. Not only that this ballad is powerful and emotional, but it is also easy to play.
Hotel California – Eagles
There is no secret that Hotel California is among the greatest songs ever recorded. Furthermore, that famous solo from the end of the song has been named the best solo of all time by readers of the British magazine Guitarist. Before the solo starts, the main focus of the music is on acoustic guitars and well-known intro. While it’s not really difficult to learn, you will have to master barre chords if you want it to sound as on the record.
Dust In The Wind – Kansas
If your fingerpicking technique is a bit rusty, Dust in the Wind will get you back on track in no time. While the song is not really hard to play, you will undoubtedly need a bit of practice before you can pull out this one. Even if you had no experience with fingerpicking before, you should know that Kerry Livgren wrote Dust in the Wind as an exercise while he was learning to fingerpick himself. If you invest a bit of practice, you’ll be able to play one of the most popular acoustic guitar songs ever
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Wonderwall – Oasis
This song was written by Noel Gallagher in 1995. Probably everyone knows this one, and almost anyone who ever picked guitar knows how to play it. The song is recognizable and you won’t need months of practice to learn it. Oasis kept recording great songs, but Wonderwall remained among their best.
Wish You Were Here – Pink Floyd
You probably know that famous radio shuffling before the song begins. Wish You Were Here was released in 1975, on the album of the same name. It was written by David Gilmour and Roger Waters. While it would be great if you have a twelve-string guitar, it is not necessary to play the song. Pink Floyd offers an incredible acoustic intro with a beautiful solo in the intro. Both Gilmour and Waters agree that Wish You Were Here is one of the best songs by the band.
Stairway To Heaven – Led Zeppelin
When Jimmy Page and Robert Plant sat down to write a song, they probably had no idea that it will become among the greatest and most loved songs in the history of music. Stairways to Heaven starts with acoustic instruments before moving to that famous hard rock tempo. The intro of the song is almost as legendary as the Page’s solo in the end. If you are looking to learn some song, it won’t be easy to find better than Stairway to Heaven.
Fast Car – Tracy Chapman
Tracy Chapman released an album in 1988 that became almost an instant hit. One of the songs from her self-titled debut is Fast Car. The song has a charming acoustic riff that keeps repeating during the chorus. While the guitar part sounds beautiful, it is actually not that hard to play. The story follows a poor woman trying to work her way out of poverty. This incredibly powerful song is sometimes described as subtle folk-rock.
Wanted Dead Or Alive – Bon Jovi
Bon Jovi has released many hit songs during their career but Wanted Dead or Alive remains among the best. The main inspiration for the song was Turn the Page by Bob Seger and it is an homage to the heroes of Old West. It is no surprise that Wanted Dead or Alive is considered a signature of Bon Jovi. What is best is that the acoustic part of the song won’t give you much trouble if you are looking to learn how to play it.
Drive – Incubus
Now to mention something a bit newer. In 2000, Incubus released their third album which is often considered to be their breakthrough. One of the songs from this alternative rock band is Drive. The acoustic guitar sounds exactly how you imagine an acoustic rock song. What is best, the song is not that hard to play, so you won’t have any trouble learning it.
All Apologies – Nirvana
The song was released on the final Nirvana’s album. It is also the final track of the In Utero that came out in 1993. Eventually, the song became one of the most requested songs on the radio. While the studio version of the song is amazing, I’ll mention here the performance which became among the best MTV Unplugged shows in history. Regardless, both versions of the song have the same intro, and the riff won’t give you a headache since it’s quite easy to play.
Tears In Heaven – Eric Clapton
After Clapton’s son died at the age of four, he was devastated. To this day, Tears in Heaven remains among the most emotional and the most beautiful songs ever. It would be wrong to say that this is the easiest song on the list. However, it is something you shouldn’t miss if you are looking for incredible acoustic guitar songs. With Clapton’s incredible vocals and unique fingerpicking style, Tears in Heaven is undoubtedly something you should try to learn. While there are many chords in the song, the fingerpicking style is not really difficult to play.
Here Comes The Sun – The Beatles
It would be rather strange to create any rock list without involving the Beatles. The song was written by George Harrison, and to this day remains among his most recognizable songs. Harrison wrote the song in Clapton’s house in 1969, and today it is the most-streamed song in the U.K. Here Comes The Sun is not the easiest song to play on the guitar, and you will need a capo as well. However, with enough practice, you will undoubtedly be able to learn how to play this one.
Wake Me Up When September Ends – Green Day
There is no doubt that 2004 was a big year for Green Day. The band released American Idiot which became one of their most-selling albums. Among the tracks is Wake Me Up When September Ends which Billie Joe Armstrong wrote about his father’s death. While this song is quite emotional and among the best songs from the band, it isn’t really hard to play. So, if you are a fan of Green Day, this is one you should undoubtedly try to learn.
Mama, I’m Coming Home – Ozzy Osbourne
Ozzy was an icon since the sixties. It is no wonder why Mama, I’m Coming Home is so incredible. Furthermore, the song was co-written by Zakk Wylde and legendary Lemmy Kilmister. Before proceeding to the heavy part, there is a great intro on the acoustic guitar and during the first few verses.
Layla – Eric Clapton
It seems reasonable that one of the best rock riffs ever is on the list of the best acoustic riffs as well. Layla was released in 1970 by Derek and the Dominos. Years later, Clapton played it in a rather different manner. During the 1992’s MTV Unplugged, Clapton started now well-known intro with words: “see if you can spot this one.” Layla became one of the two songs to ever reach number one place twice with two different versions. While Layla is not the easiest song ever, you will learn the acoustic version a lot faster.
Free Fallin’ – Tom Petty
Tom Petty has recorded quite a lot of exceptional songs, but Free Fallin’ still remains at the top. Interestingly, he and Jeff Lynne wrote the song in only two days. The song is almost on every list about best rock songs, and it offers a recognizable acoustic guitar intro. Fortunately, the guitar part is not complex at all, so you will learn how to play it in no time.
California Dreamin’ – The Mamas & The Papas
Whether you pick Barry Maguire version of The Mamas & the Papas, you will get an incredible intro on acoustic guitar. California Dreamin’ rightfully earned itself a place in the best songs of all time, and it became almost like a landmark for the entire era. While the song is not difficult to play, you will need a capo and a bit of practice before you can play it on the record. The song was covered by so many artists from the Beach Boys to John Mayer.
Road Trippin’ – Red Hot Chili Peppers
Californication made quite an impact on the whole music back in 1999. Frusciante returned to play with the Red Hot Chili Peppers, and they sounded better than ever. One of the songs from the album is Road Trippin’. There is a unique fingerpicking style and while the song sounds rather hard to play, it is actually easy. Naturally, you will need a bit of practice before you can play it perfectly, but the practice is always great. The song consists only of acoustic guitar and bass and it is one of the rare songs by the band without drums.
Angie – Rolling Stones
One of the rare songs that were entirely written by Keith Richards, Angie is one of the most popular soft rock songs ever. Since the song was released in 1973, there were so many speculations on the origin of the song. In the end, Richards admitted that he chose the name Angie at random. The song became an instant hit as soon as it came out, and it’s no secret why.
Hurt – Johnny Cash
Even though the original was performed by Nine Inch Nails, Johnny Cash version became so popular that people often believe that his song was the original. Hurt was also one of his final hits before he died. The song is simple, yet emotional. The opening riff repeats throughout the rest of the song, and you won’t have any trouble playing this masterpiece. In an interview, Trent Reznor from Nine Inch Nails praised the Johnny Cash’s cover and even said that the song isn’t his anymore.
Shape Of My Heart – Sting
Written by Sting and Dominic Miller, Shape of My Heart tells a story about the gambler. Unlike many others, the gambler from the song plays not to win but to understand some kind of logic behind the luck. The song was released in 1993, and it is among the most recognizable songs by this English musician.
Close My Eyes Forever – Ozzy Osbourne And Lita Ford
In 1988 Lita Ford recorded a duet for her album with Ozzy Osbourne, and it remains one of the best rock ballads ever. Interestingly, the duo wrote the song by accident while they were in the studio after too many drinks. Close My Eyes Forever is also the highest-charted single by Lita Ford.
Battery – Metallica
Of course, most of you probably know already that this is not a ballad, and that is not entirely on the acoustic guitar. However, the intro of the song is amazing, and it makes all the fans screaming whenever they hear it live. The song is from the Master of Puppets album, and the intro itself is not hard to play. Naturally, the rest of the song is a bit trickier, but the intro remains one of the best acoustic parts ever played.
Soldier Of Fortune – Deep Purple
What do you get when you put together with David Coverdale and Ritchie Blackmore? One of the best Deep Purple albums ever. Stormbringer came out in 1974 when Coverdale replaced Ian Gillian as the lead singer. The song offers an incredible intro and Coverdale’s vocals only improve the song. This emotional song received a cult over the years even though Deep Purple never released it as a single. Coverdale continued playing the song even years after during Whitesnake years. Whitesnake re-recorded the song in 2015 on their live album named the Purple Album.
The Sound Of Silence – Simon & Garfunkel
Probably everyone has heard about this song, but not all know that the album was a failure when it came out. Furthermore, it was such a commercial failure that led to the band disbanding in 1964. However, the song kept gaining an audience, and over the years became a number one place on the lists across the globe. The song offers a charming intro, and the entire song has only guitar and vocals. Today, we all know the impact and importance of this song, as well as many covers like Disturbed.
Blackbird – The Beatles
Yes, I already mentioned the Beatles, but this time, the song is by Paul McCartney. Interestingly, Blackbird is one of the rare songs by the Beatles that has only one member playing. Paul is both singing and playing the song, and the acoustic guitar sounds lovely. The song was part of the famous White Album from 1968, and while it is not the most famous song by the Beatles, it still has a beautiful intro that is not hard to play. While it might sound complicated at first, it sounds more difficult than it really is.
The House Of The Rising Sun – The Animals
While the Animals’ version is played on the electric guitar, you can easily play it on acoustic as well. The song is a traditional folk song, and even though the version by this British band is the most popular, there were so many covers before. The House of the Rising Sun by the Animals is also considered as the first rock hit ever.
Blister In The Sun – Violent Femmes
Even though the beginning of Blister In The Sun might sound a bit fast, it is not as complicated as it sounds. The song made quite an impact for the American band Violent Femmes since it was released on their first album in 1983. Over the years, the band continued with their success, but Blister In The Sun remained among their best and most popular songs. The riff at the beginning of the song is also one of the most recognizable intros on acoustic guitar.
Big Love – Fleetwood Mac
Now, I won’t lie to you. This song is not easy to play. But it is so good that you need to at least hear it if you don’t know it already. Lindsey Buckingham really went over the top with Big Love, and it sounds so good that you have to give it a try.
More Than A Feeling – Boston
More Than a Feeling by Boston is on almost every list of best rock songs of all time. It came out in 1976, and besides incredible vocals and guitars, there is also an acoustic intro at the beginning of the song. They said that Tom Scholz needed five years to finish the song, but you will be able to learn how to play it much faster. Furthermore, the song offers a well-known riff for electric guitar during the chorus. It seems that Boston really hit a home run with More Than a Feeling, and there is no doubt why this is one of their best songs.
Behind Blue Eyes – The Who
Any list without the Who would be incomplete. This British band made quite an impact on the music scene in the sixties and continued releasing amazing songs since. Behind Blue Eyes was written by legendary Pete Townshend, and it was covered by so many artists ever since. The most famous cover is probably by Limp Bizkit.
The Joker – Steve Miller Band
The song from the Steve Miller Band’s eighth album of the same name is quite easy to play. There is a chance that you know some of their songs, and even if you didn’t, the Joker is a great place to start. Besides catchy riff at the beginning, the song also has a great whistling in the first part that Steve played on the slide guitar. The song was released in 1973, and quickly reached the top of the charts across the world.
I hope that you enjoyed the list and that you find at least a few songs that you love and want to learn how to play. Some of the songs from the list are easier than the others, and I had to include that tricky one in the end. Keep practicing and in time, you’ll be able to play each and every song from this list.
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