best cover songsLearning how to play guitar for the first time can be an incredibly exciting experience. The feeling of mastering a chord progression or working your way through a scale for the first time is an empowering experience for children as well as adults. But the basic skills you master in the early stages of your playing won’t have a chance to truly develop and evolve unless you put your hard work to use through learning actual songs. To help get you started, we’ve put a list together some of the best cover songs out there for you to learn and explore. We’ll provide the lyrics and chord charts. But before we get started, let’s talk about a few ways to help you tackle these awesome songs.

 

Tips for learning cover songs

 

If you plan on singing and playing these hand-picked best cover songs, we recommend learning them by perfecting the chord progressions first. Play as slowly as you can and then build up speed as you gain confidence. If you’re not already in the habit of doing this, practice strumming the chord progressions here slowly to the click of a metronome. When you’ve mastered the song’s chords, move on to singing and playing at the same time. Some of the chords have been slightly adapted here to make learning these songs a little easier. Ready to get started?

 

“Blitzkrieg Bop,” by The Ramones

 

ramones
Photo credit: Michael715 / Shutterstock.com

What makes this one of the best cover songs is that it is an incredibly catchy tune that’s a blast to play and easy to learn. The biggest playing challenge here is the song’s quick chord transitions, which are found at the end of each section. To make things easy, slow things down as much as possible to give yourself the best chance at switching from chord to chord in rhythm without pausing.

 

ramones chords

 

[Intro]
A D E X3  A D A    A D E X3  A D A

NC               NC              A          A
Hey ho, let’s go. Hey ho ,let’s go. Hey ho, let’s go. Hey ho, let’s go.


[Verse]
A                                 D  E
They’re forming in a straight line.
A                                 D  E   
They’re going through a tight wind.
A                                 D  E
The kids are losing their minds.
                A D A
The Blitzkrieg Bop.
A                              D  E
They’re piling in the back seat.
A                              D  E
They’re generating steam heat.
A                              D  E
Pulsating to the back beat.
                A D A
The Blitzkrieg Bop.


[Chorus]
D               A                       D  A
Hey ho, let’s go,shoot’em in the back now.
D                                   B                D        E
What they want, I don’t know, they’re all reved up and ready to go.


[Verse]
A                                 D  E
They’re forming in a straight line.
A                                 D  E   
They’re going through a tight wind.
A                                 D  E
The kids are losing their minds.
                A D A
The Blitzkrieg Bop.
A                              D  E
They’re piling in the back seat.
A                              D  E
They’re generating steam heat.
A                              D  E
Pulsating to the back beat.
                A D A
The Blitzkrieg Bop.


[Chorus]
D               A                       D  A
Hey ho, let’s go, shoot’em in the back now.
D                                    B                D        E
What they want, I don’t know, they’re all reved up and ready to go.


[Verse]
A                                 D  E
They’re forming in a straight line.
A                                 D  E   
They’re going through a tight wind.
A                                 D  E
The kids are losing their minds.
                A D A
The Blitzkrieg Bop.
A                              D  E
They’re piling in the back seat.
A                              D  E
They’re generating steam heat.
A                              D  E
Pulsating to the back beat.
                A D A
The Blitzkrieg Bop.

(NC)               (NC)              A        A
Hey ho, let’s go. Hey ho, let’s go. Hey ho ,let’s go. Hey ho, let’s go.

 

“Creep,” by Radiohead

 

radiohead
Photo credit: Northfoto / Shutterstock.com

Though Radiohead is probably the world’s most important and influential band, they haven’t released a song more popular than “Creep,” a haunting song featured on their 1993 release Pablo Honey. Full disclosure: this song features bar chords. We mention that not to strike fear in you, but to let you know what you’re in for. Mastering bar chords is absolutely a crucial skill for guitarists, and learning just a few simple barred shapes will give you access to major and minor chords all over the guitar. Start by memorizing the shapes in these bar chords and work toward articulating the sound the best you can.

 

radiohead chords

 

[Intro] G B C Cm

[Verse]                     G
When you were here before
                         B
Couldn’t look you in the eyes
                      C
You’re just like an angel
                  Cm
Your skin makes me cry
                    G
You float like a feather
                B
In a beautiful world
                C
I wish I was special
                Cm
You’re so very special

[Chorus]             G
But I’m a creep
         B
I’m a weirdo
                          C
What the hell am I doin’ here
               Cm
I don’t belong here

[Verse]                     G
I don’t care if it hurts
               B
I wanna have control
                  C
I want a perfect body
                Cm
I want a perfect soul
               G
I want you to notice
               B
When I’m not around
                 C
You’re so very special
               Cm
I wish I was special…

[Chorus]
           G
But I’m a creep
        B
I’m a weirdo
                          C
What the hell am I doin’ here
              Cm
I don’t belong here

[Verse] (play loud)
          G                  B
oooh oooh she’s running out again…
                   C                     Cm
she’s running out   she run…run…run…ruuuuun…
G B C  Cm
ruuuuun…

(play soft until the end)
                    G
Whatever makes you happy
             B
Whatever you want
                C
You’re so very special
              Cm
I wish I was special…

[Chorus]            G
But I’m a creep
        B
I’m a weirdo
                          C
What the hell am I doin’ here
               Cm
I don’t belong here
                G
I don’t belong here

 

“Giving Up The Gun,” by Vampire Weekend

 

Meticulously produced songs like this one might seem super complicated and difficult to play, but they’re really not. Vampire Weekend’s “Giving Up The Gun,” features the same chord progression for the entire song. The simple chords and open-ended rhythm make this one of the best cover songs for beginners- there’s no straightforward strumming pattern here, so feel free to create your own!

 

vampire weekend chords

 

[Chorus] A                     F#m
  Your sword’s grown old and rusty
E                 D
Burnt beneath the rising sun
A                 F#m
  It’s locked up like a trophy
  E               D
Forgetting all the things it’s done

And though it’s been a long time
You’re right back where you started from
I see it in your eyes
That now you’re giving up the gun

[Verse] A
  When I was 17
F#m
  I had wrists like steel
E                D
  And I felt complete

And now my body fades
Behind a brass charade
And I’m obsolete

But if the chance remained
To see those better days
I’d cut the cannons down

My ears are blown to bits
From all the rifle hits
But I still crave that sound

[Chorus] A                     F#m
  Your sword’s grown old and rusty
E                 D
Burnt beneath the rising sun
A                 F#m
  It’s locked up like a trophy
  E               D
Forgetting all the things it’s done

And though it’s been a long time
You’re right back where you started from
I see it in your eyes
That now you’re giving up the gun

[Verse] A   
  I heard you play guitar
F#m
  Down at a seedy bar
E                          D
  Where skinheads used to fight

Your Tokugawa smile
And your garbage style
Used to save the night

You felt the coming wave
Told me we’d all be brave
You said you wouldn’t flinch

But in the years that passed
Since I saw you last
You haven’t moved an inch

[Chorus] A                     F#m
  Your sword’s grown old and rusty
E                 D
Burnt beneath the rising sun
A                 F#m
  It’s locked up like a trophy
  E               D
Forgetting all the things it’s done

And though it’s been a long time
You’re right back where you started from
I see it in your eyes
That now you’re giving up the gun

[Bridge] x7

A            F#m
  I see you shine in your way         
  E             D
Go on, go on, go on

[Chorus] A                     F#m
  Your sword’s grown old and rusty
E                 D
Burnt beneath the rising sun
A                 F#m
  It’s locked up like a trophy
  E               D
Forgetting all the things it’s done

And though it’s been a long time
You’re right back where you started from
I see it in your eyes
That now you’re giving up the gun

 

“Cause I’m a Man,” by Tame Impala

 

tame impala
Photo credit: Christian Bertrand / Shutterstock.com

The Australian music scene has become a dominant force in popular music, and no Aussie band has a greater influence than Tame Impala. This song enters the realm of major 7th chords, which aren’t typically covered in basic guitar material.

 

tame impala chords

 

[INTRO]    

E D E G Dmaj7


[verse]


E               D
Like the brutal morning sun
  E                 Dmaj7
It dawns on me, what have I done?
E                             D
Saying sorry ain’t as good as saying why
      E                     Dmaj7
But it buys me a little more time


[pre-chorus] G                           A
Lost in the moment for the second time
G                         A
Each fucking atom in him makes him cry
G                              A
I’m just pathetic, that’s the reason why
G                       A
In desperation all that you can do
  B
Is ask me why

[chorus]            E         G  Dmaj7
Cause I’m a man, woman
            E                 D   Dmaj7
Don’t always think before I do
           E         G  Dmaj7
Cause I’m a man, woman
             E                   D
It’s the only answer I got for you

           E         G  Dmaj7
Cause I’m a man, woman
         E                     D  Dmaj7
Not often proud of what I choose
       E         G  Dmaj7
I’m a human, woman
        E                D
A greater force I answer to


[verse] E                 D
Once again as it takes a hold
 E             Dmaj7
I am aware, not in control, see
E                            D
I had a conscience and it’s never fooled
        E                 Dmaj7
but it’s prone to be overruled


[PRE-CHORUS] G                             A
You wanna know what I always think I’m ’bout, but
G                            A
You never accept defeat and let it slide (why?), but
G                           A
I have no voice if I don’t speak my mind (why?)
G                             A
My weakness is the source of all my pride
    B
I’ll tell you why


[chorus]            E          G  Dmaj7
Cause I’m a man, woman
           E          D  Dmaj7
Don’t always think before I do
           E          G  Dmaj7
Cause I’m a man, woman
             E                   D
It’s the only answer I got for you

           E          G  Dmaj7
Cause I’m a man, woman
          E                  D  Dmaj7
I’ll never be as strong as you
       E          G  Dmaj7
I’m a human, human
        E                D
A greater force I answer to

 

“Beth Rest,” by Bon Iver

 

bon iver
Photo credit: Christopher Halloran / Shutterstock.com

 

 

You’ll need a capo for this song. These are devices that clamp on to the fretboard and alter the guitar’s range. The shapes that your left hand plays won’t change, but the actual chords will be different. On paper, this song might seem simple, but the rhythm can be a bit difficult to master, so make sure you spend plenty of time perfecting the chord progressions before you attempt to sing. And remember, simply playing along to these songs without singing them is perfectly fine.

 

bon iver chords

 

(Capo on 2nd fret)


[Intro and verse chords]
G – C – C – Em – C


      G
Errant heat to the star
       C
And the rain let in
   C                 Em                 C
The hawser rolls, the vessel’s whole and Christ, it’s thin


        D               G
Well I’d know that you’d offer
           D               C
Would reveal it, though it’s soft and flat
                         Em
Won’t repeat it, cull and coffer’s that
       G                 Am
For the soffit, hang this homeward


                     Em
Pry it open with your love
       D                       C
Sending lost and alone standing offers


     G
It is steep, it is stone
      C
Such recovery
        C                Em               C
From the daily press, the deepest nest, in keeper’s keep


       G
All the news at the door
      C
Such a revelry
          C                Em             C
Well, it’s locked inside of everything you said to me


      D             G
It was found what we orphaned
             D         C
Didn’t mention it would serve us picked
         Em
Said your love is known
            G
I’m standing up on it
         Am
Aren’t we married?


                     Em
I ain’t living in the dark no more
          D                       C
It’s not a promise, I’m just gonna call it


  C
Heavy mitted love
   G
Our love is a star
         C
Sure some hazardry
       C                Em           C
For the light before and after most indefinitely

 

 

Remember, the best cover songs to learn out there totally depend on you and your unique background, so take some time exploring some other covers on your own. Finding what works for you and pursuing your musical interests is the best way to really develop as a guitarist. For more helpful articles about the world of music, check out the Musika Lessons blog.

 

best cover songs

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