electric guitar and amp isolatedMusic made using electric, acoustic, and classical guitars has influenced popular culture in vast and profound ways. The world’s cultural landscape wouldn’t be the same without guitar classics like “Something” by the Beatles and “Come As You Are” by Seattle grunge rockers Nirvana. But just because a song is iconic doesn’t mean it has to be difficult to learn. Today we’re going to show you how to play a few guitar classics and tell you the stories behind each song.

 

 

“Something” By The Beatles

 

 

When most people think of The Beatles, they primarily think of master songwriters John Lennon and Paul McCartney, but George Harrison’s contribution to the band is indelible, even if it’s not always talked about. Harrison wrote “Something” in the fall of 1969, shortly before the band famously disbanded after releasing their final album Abbey Road. Lennon and McCartney both considered “Something” to be the best song on the album as well as the best song Harrison had ever written. Harrison is said to have imagined “Something” as being modeled after the music of Ray Charles, and the song was inspired by his wife, Pattie Boyd. This incredible song features somewhat complex chords and some interesting key changes. It has definitely taken its place among guitar classics.

 

Guitar Chords for "Something" The BeatlesGuitar Classics "Something" chords

[Verse 1]

C                    Cmaj7
Something in the way she moves
C7                           F    F C
Attracts me like no other lover
D                          G Am7 G
Something in the way she woos me
Am                         AmMaj7
I don’t want to leave her now
Am7                     D7
You know I believe and how

F D# G

[Verse 2]

C                          Cmaj7
Somewhere in her smile she knows
C7                            F   F C
That I don’t need no other lover
D                              G Am7 G/B
Something in her style that shows me, yeah
Am                         AmMaj7
I don’t want to leave her now
Am7                     D7
You know I believe and how

F D# G A

[Bridge]

A             C#m        F#m    A
You’re asking me, will my love grow?
D     G           A
I don’t know, I don’t know
A            C#m      F#m   A
You stick around now it may show
D     G
I don’t know, I don’t know

[Instrumental]

C Cmaj7 C7 F C D G Am7 G Am AmMaj7 Am7 D7 F D# G

[Verse 3]

C                        Cmaj7
Something in the way she knows
C7                        F          F Am
And all I have to do is think of her
D                             G Am7 G
Something in the things she shows me
Am                         AmMaj7
I don’t want to leave her now
Am7                   D7
You know I believe and how

F D# G

[Outro]

C Cmaj7 C7 F C D G Am7 G Am AmMaj7

Am7                    D7
You know I believe in how

F D# G A
F D# G C

 


“Come As You Are” By Nirvana

 

 

This iconic song features one of the most memorable guitar riffs of all time. Released on the band’s second album Nevermind in 1992, this song was immediately a hit in America and Britain. The untold story behind this amazing song has to do with the controversy over whether songwriter Kurt Cobain wrote the riff himself or was unintentionally inspired by a song called “Eighties” by the band Killing Joke. If you listen to both tracks, the similarities are pretty astounding. Regardless, it’s still one of those guitar classics that sticks with you.

 

For this song, we’ve included the main guitar riff as well as the basic chord structure.

Come As You Are Tab

Nirvana Come As You Are chords guitar

 

[Intro]

Em D Em D
Em D Em D

[Verse 1]

Em           D          Em
Come as you are, as you were
D           Em
As I want you to be
D            Em
As a friend, best friend
D          Em
There’s an old little me
D           Em
Take your time, hurry up
D               Em
The choice is yours don’t be late
D          Em
Take a rest, as a friend,
D      Em   D
As an old memory, yeah

[Interlude]

Em      D
Memory, yeah
Em      D
Memory, yeah
Em      D
Memory, yeah

[Verse 2]

Em            D            Em
Come dust and mud, soaked in bleach
D           Em
As I want you to be
D                Em
There’s a trend, there’s a friend
D       Em   D
There’s an old memory, yeah

[Interlude]

Em      D
Memory, yeah
Em      D
Memory, yeah
Em      D
Memory, yeah

[Chorus]

Am                  C           Am          C
(Remember/Well) I swear that I don’t have a gun
Am     C
No I don’t have a gun
Am                  C           Am          C
(Remember/Well) I swear that I don’t have a gun
Am     C
No I don’t have a gun

[Guitar Solo]

Em D Em D
Em D Em D
Em D Em D
Em D Em D
Em D Em D
[Interlude]

Em     D
Memory yeah
Em     D
Memory yeah
Em     D
Memory yeah
Em     D
Memory yeah

[Chorus]

Am                  C           Am          C
(Remember/Well) I swear that I don’t have a gun
Am     C
No I don’t have a gun
Am                  C           Am          C
(Remember/Well) I swear that I don’t have a gun
Am     C
No I don’t have a gun
Am                  C           Am          C
(Remember/Well) I swear that I don’t have a gun
Am     C
No I don’t have a gun
Am                  C           Am          C
(Remember/Well) I swear that I don’t have a gun
Am     C
No I don’t have a gun
Am                  C           Am          C
(Remember/Well) I swear that I don’t have a gun
Am     C
No I don’t have a gun

[Interlude]

Em     D
Memory yeah
Em     D
Memory yeah
 

“Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door” by Bob Dylan

 

 

This song proves that guitar classics don’t need to be complex. Master songwriter Bob Dylan described his song “Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door” as a “splendid exercise in simplicity.” This song has been covered by so many artists that many readers might be surprised to learn that Dylan wrote this classic in 1973. Dylan composed the song for the soundtrack of a movie called Pat Garrett and Billy The Kid, though the song is now widely known while the movie it was written for is mostly forgotten. This is an excellent song for beginning guitar students to learn due to its simple strumming pattern and 4-chord progression.

 

Chords for Knockin on Heaven's Door guitar

 

[Intro]

G  D  C
G  D  C
G  D  C
G  D  C

G    D        Am
Oo – oo – oo  oo
G    D        C
Oo – oo – oo  oo
G    D        Am
Oo – oo – oo  oo
G    D        C
Oo – oo – oo  oo

[Verse]

G              D            Am
Mama take this badge off of me
G       D          C
I can’t use it any-more
G            D                        Am
It’s getting dark, too dark for me to see
G          D                   C
I feel I’m knockin on heaven’s door

[Chorus]

G             D                    Am
Knock, knock, knockin’ on heaven’s door
G             D                    C
Knock, knock, knockin’ on heaven’s door
G             D                    Am
Knock, knock, knockin’ on heaven’s door
G             D                    C
Knock, knock, knockin’ on heaven’s door

[Verse]

G           D           Am
Mama put my guns in the ground
G       D              C
I can’t shoot them any-more
G               D               Am
That long black cloud is comin’ down
G          D                    C
I feel I’m knockin’ on heaven’s door

[Chorus]

G             D                    Am
Knock, knock, knockin’ on heaven’s door
G             D                    C
Knock, knock, knockin’ on heaven’s door
G             D                    Am
Knock, knock, knockin’ on heaven’s door
G             D                    C
Knock, knock, knockin’ on heaven’s door

[Outro]

G    D        Am

 

 

 

“Hotel California” By The Eagles

 

 

Released in the February of 1977, you have to imagine that the guys in The Eagles knew they had a hit on their hands when they wrote this now famous song. The lyrics of the song are said to be about the vapid and dangerous drug culture of Los Angeles in the 1970’s. The song boasts clear influences from Mexican and Reggae music, and its original working title was simply called “Mexican Reggae.”

 

We’ve provided the simple chord progressions for this song here, but feel free to learn the solo if you’re feeling ambitious.

Chords for Hotel California guitar

 

 

[Verse]

Bm                        F#
On a dark desert highway, cool wind in my hair
A                     E
Warm smell of colitas rising up through the air
G                         D
Up ahead in the distance, I saw a shimmering light
Em
My head grew heavy and my sight grew dim
F#
I had to stop for the night

Bm                               F#
There she stood in the doorway;  I heard the mission bell
A                                          E
And I was thinking to myself this could be heaven or this could be hell
G                        D
Then she lit up a candle, and she showed me the way
Em                                   F#
There were voices down the corridor, I thought I heard them say

[Chorus]

G                        D
Welcome to the Hotel California.
F#7                   Bm
Such a lovely place, such a lovely face
G                               D
Plenty of room at the Hotel California
Em                                      F#
Any time of year (any time of year) you can find it here

[Verse]

Bm                           F#
Her mind is Tiffany-twisted, she got the Mercedes bends
A                        E
She got a lot of pretty, pretty boys she calls friends
G                                D
How they dance in the courtyard, sweet summer sweat.
Em                        F#
Some dance to remember, some dance to forget

Bm                           F#
So I called up the Captain, ‘Please bring me my wine’
A                                               E
He said, ‘We haven’t had that spirit here since nineteen sixty nine’
G                          D
And still those voices are calling from far away,
Em
Wake you up in the middle of the night
F#
Just to hear them say…

[Chorus]

G                        D
Welcome to the Hotel California
F#7                                               Bm
Such a lovely place (Such a lovely place), Such a lovely face
G                                  D
They livin’ it up at the Hotel California
Em                                           F#
What a nice surprise (what a nice surprise), Bring your alibis

[Verse]

Bm                      F#
Mirrors on the ceiling, The pink champagne on ice
A                                             E
And she said ‘We are all just prisoners here, of our own device’
G                             D
And in the master’s chambers, They gathered for the feast
Em
They stab it with their steely knives,
F#
But they just can’t kill the beast

Bm                     F#
Last thing I remember, I was running for the door
A                                     E
I had to find the passage back to the place I was before
G                             D
‘Relax,’ said the night man, ‘We are programmed to receive.
Em
You can check-out any time you like,
F#
But you can never leave!’

 

 

“The Joker” By Steve Miller Band

 

 

This surprisingly simple song was released in 1973, but it had a massive resurgence in 1990 after being featured in a commercial advertising Levi’s jeans. The “Space Cowboy” lyric makes reference to Aldous Huxley’s famous novel, Brave New World. Guitar classics can feature complex chord progressions like the ones in “Something,” or simple 3-chord progressions like the ones found in this song. For this song, you’ll need to capo the second fret.

 

chords for The Joker guitar
[Verse 1]

G     C                         D    C
Some people call me the space cowboy yeah
G     C                       D     C
Some call me the gangster of love
G      C                D   C
Some people call me Maurice
G              C           D    C
Cause’ I speak of the pompatus of love

[Verse 2]

G  C             D           C
People talk about me baby
G         C                   D          C
Say I’m doin’ you wrong, doin’ you wrong
G   C                D           C
But don’t you worry baby don’t worry
G                       C                    D   C
Cause’ I’m right here, right here, right here, right at home

[Chorus]

G              C
Cause’ I’m a picker, I’m a grinner
G                C
I’m a lover, And I’m a sinner
G           C            D   C
playin’ my music in the sun
G            C
I’m a joker, I’m a smoker
G           C
I’m a mid-night toker
G          C            D
I get my lovin’ on the run, Ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh

[Verse 3]

G        C                    D          C
You’re the cutest thing that I ever did see
G                 C               D          C
I really love your peaches want to shake your tree
G      C                         D             C
Lovey dovey, lovey dovey, lovey dovey all the time
G          C           D              C
Ooh wee baby, I sure show you a good time

[Chorus]

G              C
Cause’ I’m a picker, I’m a grinner
G                C
I’m a lover, And I’m a sinner
G           C            D   C
playin’ my music in the sun
G            C
I’m a joker, I’m a smoker
G           C
I’m a mid-night toker
G            C               D
I sure don’t want to hurt no one, Ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh

 

 

 

For help learning how to play these guitar classics, we recommend finding an experienced teacher to work with. With enough time, energy, and practice, you’ll be able to move onto more challenging material.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.