Monday, November 12, 2012

Top 25 Acoustic Guitar Songs

I was in a mellow mood the other day and started picking out soft acoustic guitar songs to listen to. I realized I hadn't made a list in a long time, so I began writing down my favorites. In order to narrow it down, I decided that the songs had to feature the acoustic guitar and not a band sound, so generally that meant no drums (thus I had to drop songs like Mrs. Robinson and other similar songs, which are brilliant but aren't as straightforward guitar-centric as I wished) or other instruments that distract from the music. I made exceptions where I felt the guitar really stood out and the other instruments didn't really take away from it.

1. Kathy's Song by Simon and Garfunkel -- The live version from their Greatest Hits album. My all-time favorite soft guitar song.

2. Father and Son by Cat Stevens -- One of the few songs that can bring a tear to my eyes. The most beautiful song by an artist who created many such songs.

3. Pigs on the Wing (Part 1) by Pink Floyd -- Okay so it's short and a bit odd, but I just love it. The guitar sounds so simple, but try to learn it yourself and you will see the amazing little touches that make it harder than it seems.

4. Yesterday by The Beatles -- One of the only purely acoustic songs done by The Beatles, and easily the most lovely.

5. Landslide by Fleetwood Mac -- The vocals and the guitar are both simply amazing.

6. Famous Blue Raincoat by Leonard Cohen -- Sad and haunting

7. Scarborough Fair/Canticle by Simon and Garfunkel -- When you are in mood for soft and pretty, this song pretty much defines it, and I love the guitar harmonics at the end.

8. Tangerine by Led Zeppelin -- This song has some drum in it, but it comes in the middle and the parts of this song that really blow me away are all acoustic, the beginning and the incredible outro.

9. Homeward Bound by Simon and Garfunkel -- Lots of these two up at the top, but that's because of how amazing they are at creating gorgeous acoustic songs. I prefer the live version from their Greatest Hits.

10. Mother Nature's Son by The Beatles -- I used to sing my sons to sleep with this song, so by the age of two they could sing all the lyrics quite well.

11. Trouble by Cat Stevens -- It's hard not to use the same adjectives over and over for all these songs. All I can say is that I love this song, but just a touch less than the ones above!

12. Me and Bobby McGee by Kris Kristofferson -- The grating version by Janis Joplin is more famous for some reason, but Kristofferson wrote the song and his version is far better, in my opinion.

13. Going to California by Led Zeppelin -- Jimmy Page's acoustic skills are highly underrated.

14. Suzanne by Leonard Cohen -- I grew up listening to Leonard Cohen because my mom loved him. He had to grow on me, but when I'm in certain moods he is terrific.

15. Goodbye Blue Sky by Pink Floyd -- I love the guitar on this so much; I probably play this song more than any other on my guitar.

16. Seasons by Chris Cornell -- Cornell is one of the greatest singer/songwriters of my generation, just after Maynard James Keenan in my opinion, and though he is best known for his heavy rock with Soundgarden, he can write some really great acoustic songs when he wants.

17. Never Going Back Again by Fleetwood Mac -- Lindsey Buckingham is easily one of the greatest singer/guitarists ever. He has a lot of songs greater than this, but those are mostly with a full band sound, and this is still a great song with some wonderful fingerpicking.

18. Can't Find My Way Home by Blind Faith -- Eric Clapton and Steve Winwood together, what more needs to be said?

19. Dust in the Wind by Kansas -- I heard this song so much in my youth that I'm a little tired of it, but you can't deny how great it is.

20. Dead Man by Pearl Jam -- Eddie Vedder is another of the rare brilliant singer/songwriters of my generation.

21. The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feeling Groovy) by Simon and Garfunkel -- Again, I prefer the version from their Greatest Hits album.

22. The Moonbeam Song by Harry Nilsson -- Harry was a bit eccentric and perhaps a bit of a genius, too.

23. Parachutes by Coldplay -- A tiny and pretty little tune.

24. Bookends by Simon and Garfunkel -- See Parachutes

25. I couldn't decide between several Donovan songs here, so I'll mention London Town, Codine, Catch the Wind, and Colours.

Yes, there are all kinds of soft songs that beat out some on this list, but they mostly failed to meet the test of what I was looking for in particular here. However, I'm sure you can tell me ones that I really did miss such as Bob Dylan. Well, I'm not a huge fan of his acoustic songs, though I really do love some of his other work, like Romance in Durango and Black Diamond Bay and Hurricane.


  1. Cornell is amazing. And you can't have a list like this without Dust on the Wind. I'd add Extreme's More Than Words to the list. Nuno is the man.

  2. I hear you Alex, and I like that song okay; it just doesn't quite to it for me the way it does for you. I actually missed seeing Extreme live when they were opening for Van Halen and my buddy caused us to be late.

  3. You have listed some wonderful songs here. I will share. Some I had forgotten. I'm ancient.

    My grandson who is self taught will be hearing these. I have introduced him to Page, Plant, Clapton, King, Waters, and Hendrix. I want his music view to be wide since there are so many wonderful songs scattered through the ages. At sixteen these artists hold as much fascination for him as they forever will with me.

  4. Gail, I'm so glad you are teaching your son a love of the older greats! That's what I've done with my boys, and I'm thrilled that they have really developed a love for them.

  5. Lots of songs I love there. I'm at work, and the music quieted the girls locker room down. Maybe I should play more gentle music in here, calm the wild bunch down.

  6. They could hear what you were playing? That would have been something to see. I doubt many young people have ever heard many of these, which is sad to contemplate.

  7. Thanks for the Simon and Garfunkle song. I like this kind of music more and more the older I get. I think there's a return to simplicity as I age.

  8. I'm glad to see so much Simon and Garfunkle. A bit surprised not to see any Gordon Lightfoot or Bob Seiger; but I believe both use a string guitar. I don't know my guitars, just like the music.


  9. Donna, they just aren't really to my taste. I like them okay, but I don't love them.

  10. Oh man ... you totally shoulda added Ryan Adams' cover of Wonderwall!

  11. Tears in Heaven, Eric Clapton?

    I love 'Yesterday' though.

  12. Clapton is awesome, but I don't really like Tears in Heaven. Sacrilege I know, but to me it is too mellow with not enough edge. Yes, I know it is intended that way, but songs that stick with me and make me love them are always ones with some sort of edginess to them. That one's simply too saccharine for my tastes.

  13. I can't listen to most of these songs without crying. I'm sentimental little wimp.

  14. The sight of songs by Simon and Garfunkel just made my day. They were pretty much my favorites growing up. Although I like a lot of different genres, Simon and Garfunkel just take my breath away. Homeward Bound was one song I always listened to while growing up. This is such a beautiful song (especially to those who are talented in playing the guitar with their mandolin picks for instance) that it still brings tears to my eyes, the power of music I guess?

  15. Not sure if you'd honour a movie's soundtrack but Eddie Vedder's music in Into the Wild gives me goosebumps with songs like Society, Guaranteed, Long Nights and Rise. Vedder goes silent from 2:40 to 4:40 in Guaranteed, it's like he's giving you the time to compare your life to the one you wanted.

  16. Pavit, thanks for stopping by. I really love Vedder and Pearl Jam. I've seen them live a number of times.

  17. There are some awesome songs here! Great entry c:
    Though, I'd have added Hurt by Johnny Cash.

  18. Nice post & perfect place of song with acoustic guitar..Thanks for are some instruments, you may like to shop like Electric Cello, Cello Strings and Eastman Guitars.