If you’re like me, you started learning to play rhythm guitar because you wanted to accompany your own singing. With just a few chords under your belt, you can play a wide range of pop and folk songs. The following list presents 13 pop/folk songs that are easy to play if you know a handful of simple chords. But first, here are a few suggestions for finding chords on the Internet.
The World Wide Web has a ton of free chord transcriptions that show how to play popular songs. See the Resource list below for free guitar chord sites where you can search for your favorite artist. Or, do a Google search for a particular artist using this formula: “Artist’s Name guitar chord.”
Keep in mind that guitar tabs posted on the Internet are sometimes inaccurate. If the indicated chord sounds wrong, try another chord and use whatever sounds best. Also remember that you can sometimes substitute easier chords for difficult ones. Use what you know and see what sounds best. Have fun and don’t worry about doing it “right.”
Even notoriously difficult songwriters like Paul Simon have written at least one or two simpler songs that you can learn quickly. If recent songs by your favorite artist are too complex for you to play right away, try searching for songs from their earlier albums, which may be easier to play.
The following 13 songs are a good place to start with your searches. If you already know the chords listed for each song, you’ll be able to play it right away. If you need a refresher on any of the basic chords, see the Resource list for free how-to sites.
“Woodstock” by Joni Mitchell (Em, A, D)
“The L&N Don’t Stop Here Anymore” by Michelle Shocked (Em, D, C)
“This Flower” by Kasey Chambers (G, C, D)
“Try Not to Breathe” by R.E.M. (D, Am, C, G)
“Slip-Slidin’ Away” by Paul Simon (G, Em, D, C)
“Wonder” by Natalie Merchant (C, G, Am, F)
“Iowa” by Dar Williams (G, D, Em, C, Am)
“Gone Again” by the Indigo Girls (G, D, C, Am, Em)
“Sharp Cutting Words” by Lucinda Williams (C, G, D, Em)
“Ice Cream” by Sarah McLachlan (Am, D, G, C, Em)
“Country Roads” by John Denver (G, Em, D, C, D7)
“Kiss Me” by Sixpence None the Richer (C, Cmaj7, Dm, G, Em)
“The Times They Are A-Changin'” by Bob Dylan (G, Em, C, G, D, Am)