If you’re spending lockdown feeling bored, you probably count yourself as one of the lucky ones. But counting your blessings doesn’t help you figure out what to do with all that extra time on your hands. There’s only so much sourdough bread you can bake, after all.
Allow us to suggest a return to a favorite pastime of your tender years. That’s right — it’s time to dig that old hardshell case out of your closet, crack it open, and rediscover your lost love for playing guitar.
In high school, you could spend hours noodling away in the privacy of your bedroom. In college, you went from dorky zero to coffeehouse hero with just your two hands, a red spotlight, and a sheaf of tabs. But if you’re like a lot of us, the busyness of adult life slowly drove a wedge between you and your love for a good power ballad. Now is the perfect time to get those rusty fingers back into shape and express all your pent-up emotions (and we know you’ve got a few, by this time) through the magic of song.
To bulk up our admittedly meager list of guitar tune recommendations, we reached out to Andrew Burri, a Los Angeles-based musician who spent the last few years playing guitar for indie glam-pop band Lucius. In addition to putting out his own music, he’s been spending lockdown playing a series of innovative covers on Instagram that are definitely worth a watch.
Here are our 10 easy guitar songs that are also classics.
“Tom Petty was the master of simplicity, while conveying universal themes with so much emotion and integrity,” says Burri. This song literally has the same four chords (F, C, Am, G) over and over again, but that repetition just serves to drive home its relentless positive vibes.
We all loved to hate (or hated to love) this angsty ’90s standard, and the number of times it’s been covered over the years is a testament to its fundamental greatness. It doesn’t hurt that it’s easy to play. According to Burri, “All you have to do is keep your hand in the same position the entire song and just move your fingers to different strings.”
Opening riff aside, says Burri, “If you’re still a little rusty, this song is awesome and easy all the way through. Plus, it’s a great crowd participation song!” This tune is guaranteed to make you the star of your next Zoom happy hour.
This cornerstone of the Dead catalog has been covered by bluegrass bands, country singers, indie rockers — the list goes on. In other words, it’s a solid base for any flavor of jam you care to contribute.
The fun singalong vibes of this goofy Beatles tune makes it another great option for video hangouts, but it’s just as effective when you need a solo pick-me-up. If you’re feeling adventurous, try opening your windows and playing and singing as loud as you can, and see if your neighbors don’t join in.
Once your fingers are warmed up, crack out this perennial favorite from the Rolling Stones. “This one is a little harder because the riff happens a lot through the song,” says Burri, “But it’s not too bad once you get the hang of it. After that, it’s mostly the same thing over and over again.”
“I could not love Hank more,” says Burri. “So much emotion and earnestness in a simple song.” And could there be any better anthem for the global lockdown?
If you’re looking for love during COVID-19, we recommend finding yourself an opening to play this tune during your next FaceTime date. A classic of Elvis’ early years, this croonable number is the social distancing equivalent of taking a girl’s hand in a dark movie theater. “This era was the best for repetition and sincerity,” says Burri. “I wish I was around during this time.”
We asked Burri for a wild card, and he did not disappoint. “More chord changes on this one than the rest,” he warns, “But still not bad at all. I think it’s based on an old Irish song. It’s dark, and it repeats and repeats. So dope.”
A rare solo acoustic track from the reggae legend, “Redemption Song” is said to have been written when Marley was dealing secretly with the pain of his newly diagnosed cancer, and with it, awareness of his own mortality. The achingly beautiful melody and indomitable lyrics are a spiritual tonic in troubling times like these.
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