30 Easy 2 Chord Songs to Play on Guitar (With Videos, Tabs, and Tuning)

The songs we know and love are often a reflection of our favorite artists’ personalities. And while some musicians choose to express themselves with a series of complex chords, some do it with just two!

Personally, I feel that when the soundscape is dominated by just 2 chords, the listener invariably ends up paying a lot more attention to the lyrics, the songwriting, and the overall sentiment the artist wants to convey.

Bruce Springsteen Playing an Easy 2 Chord Song on Guitar

So today let’s look at 30 songs spanning genres and time periods with one thing in common – the 2 chords holding them together! From campfire favorites to grunge, we’ve got something for everyone.

But, if you’re a beginner, you’re bound to love this list even more because it’s full of easy 2 chord guitar songs that require minimum effort but are still bound to impress!

Here is a List of 2 Chord Songs

1. Born In The USA by Bruce Springsteen

Tuning E A D G B E
Chords B and E
Tabs See Born In The USA by Bruce Springsteen tabs here

The Boss’ 1984 classic hit ‘Born in the U.S.A’ is most people’s gateway song into the institution that is Bruce Springsteen. With that powerful snare keeping time, the whole song revolves around the chords B and E major. If you’re having a hard time playing the barred version of the B chord, there are multiple variations that you can use right from the B power chord to simpler fingering patterns.

If you’re still finding this hard, use a capo on the second fret and play the song using the chords A and D. If you have access to a few pedals or digital effects, start out with clean guitar then dial in a bit of distortion when the song kicks in fully. For the faster parts of the song, a fuller strumming of the chords sounds a lot better than simply letting them ring. A song that follows the same rhythm pattern till it dissolves into a cymbal-heavy outro – this is a great song to practice your vocal chops as the melody is fairly standard throughout.

2. Something In The Way by Nirvana

Tuning Half step down with Drop D
Chords F#m and D
Tabs See Something In The Way by Nirvana tabs here

You may recognize this song from the trailer to the latest Batman film. While the version you’ve heard in 2021 is an elevated, cinematic piece, the original song written by Kurt Cobain features a raw acoustic guitar strumming the F#m and D chords throughout the song. Amongst the lesser-known Nirvana songs, the reason Something In The Way has a haunting charm to it is because of its tuning. The entire guitar is tuned half a step-down and the top E string is dropped down to a D, essentially tuned to the C# note. This is a common tuning amongst rock musicians, as this makes the guitar sound ‘darker’ compared to the standard E tuning.

Also, if you pay close attention, the strumming of this song ‘swings’ and isn’t exactly on time which adds to the ethereal charm of the song even more. One thing I’d like to point out is that Kurt lets go of his typical style of singing and chooses a vocal style that’s slow and sad which perfectly compliments his guitar work through the song.

3. You Never Can Tell by Chuck Berry

Tuning E A D G B E
Chords C and G
Tabs See You Never Can Tell by Chuck Berry tabs here

If there’s anyone who can turn just 2 chords into a timeless hit, it’s none other than the father of Rock n’ Roll – Chuck Berry himself! If you’ve watched Pulp Fiction, you’d remember this as the song from the legendary scene where John Travolta and Uma Thurman dance as if no one’s watching!

You Never Can Tell is a witty, catchy track that conveys something quite deep in a light-hearted manner that life is unpredictable, and you never know what will happen next. The song has gone on to become synonymous with the Rock n’ Roll genre and has been covered by several artists including Bruce Springsteen.

Essentially, you just need to know how to play the C major and the G major chords to play the whole song. though, once you grasp the gist of the song, you can also throw in the G7 every time the line goes ‘C’est la vie say the old folks…’ to add a little something extra to the song. The strumming pattern is not too tough to decode either – you’ll be playing each chord for a total of two bars, with quarter note strumming.

4. Achy Breaky Heart by Billy Ray Cyrus

Tuning E A D G B E
Chords A and E
Tabs See Achy Breaky Heart by Billy Ray Cyrus tabs here

Miley Cyrus’ dad gave us this earworm in his album Some Gave All way back in 1992. Almost thirty years later, this song is still doing the rounds at dance parties with everyone getting their jive on as soon as the guitar lick in the intro hits. The reason why this song makes it to this list is that its rhythm is built on just two chords – A and E. Across the verses, chorus, and even the solo, it’s just these two chords that hold the entire song together.

Most rock and country songs can be boiled down to just 2 simple chords, so practicing these transitions is a useful hack to expand your library. If A and E isn’t your favorite key to sing in, try it in any other key, starting the song with the major chord following it up with its respective fifth. Go on and try it with G and C, D and G, or whichever key you fancy because one thing is certain, this song is bound to get people on the dance floor.

5. Blurred Lines by Robin Thicke

Tuning E A D G B E
Chords G and D
Tabs See Blurred Lines by Robin Thicke tabs here

This 2013 song made the headlines for many, many reasons – right from its racy video featuring Emily Ratajkowski to the legal battle which ended after Thick and Pharell Williams (co-creator of the song) had to pay almost $5 million to Marvin Gaye, from whom this song was allegedly borrowed. But it’s third on our list because you can whip out your guitar and strum through this ditty using just 2 chords – D and G.

The strumming pattern is pretty straightforward, and a few listens into the song, figuring out where to add a few mutes is going to come naturally to you. When you’ve mastered the chords, step two is throwing in a walking line on the 5th string right after the D chord with the notes 0 – 3 – 2 – 0. A party starter for sure, you’re guaranteed to get people to join you in the ‘hey hey hey’ section of the song, if not the whole thing.

6. Dreams by Fleetwood Mac

Tuning E A D G B E
Chords F and G
Tabs See Dreams by Fleetwood Mac tabs here

If you don’t know this song by name, you’ll recognize it from the trend that took over Tik Tok and reels last year. Dreams by Fleetwood Mac made an unexpected comeback because people started using it heavily as the background score to them skateboarding and sipping on juice. Released way back in 1977, this song kicks off with a tight bass line which is the skeleton of the song. The song doesn’t feature any guitar strumming, but you can take the chords F and G and hold the whole song together, just like the bass line does. Yes, it features the F chord, something that every beginner has a love-hate relationship with.

Once you master this with regular chords, try the barred version because they have the same fingering and just move across two frets. A great song to strengthen your fingers and master barre chords, which add a fuller sound to your chord playing and give you full control on all strings, depending on how you use your strumming hand in conjunction with your left.

7. Horse With No Name by America

Tuning E A D G B E
Chords Em and D6
Tabs See Horse With No Name by America tabs here

We’re kicking this list off with 70’s classic Horse With No Name by America, a favorite among guitar beginners. A fairly simple song, the whole song is built using an E minor and a D6 chord. Don’t let the D6 chord intimidate you – you can play it with just two fingers placed on the E and G string on the second fret!

Alternatively, you could also try the second fret on the G and high E strings (Avoid playing the Low E and A strings when you try this fingering.) That’s the entire song for you right there but what makes it really interesting is its muted strumming which adds a percussive layer. I personally suggest starting off with just the chords and when you’re comfortable with the transitions, introduce the mutes slowly. The strumming of this song is a great exercise to learn how to add percussion to your rhythm.

8. 505 by Arctic Monkeys

Tuning E A D G B E
Chords Am and B
Tabs See 505 by Arctic Monkeys tabs here

Be it some of their all-out ragers like ‘Brianstorm’ or the staple ‘Do I Wanna Know’, the Brit Indie rockers have a specific flavor that’s instantly recognizable! Released in 2007, ‘505’ is no different, and even if you haven’t heard this song before, a minute or two into the song and you unmistakably know it belongs to the Arctic Monkeys.

While the song starts out on a reverb-y EP and builds to a heavy ballad that ends on a catchy guitar hook, the whole song can be played with just the A minor and B chords. Many say that this could possibly be the easiest Arctic Monkeys to play because of the number of chords it uses. An excellent song to perfect your barre chord transition, this song could get a little tricky while switching between chords, but it’s well worth the effort. Try some delay, throw in some reverb or simply strum hard through the song to create a banging acoustic rendition of 505 that would make Alex Turner proud.

9. Break On Through by The Doors

Tuning E A D G B E
Chords Em and D
Tabs See Break On Through by The Doors tabs here

If you’re a Doors fan, there’s no way this song doesn’t feature in your top five. Whether it is the song’s laid-back bossa nova rhythm or its energetic soundscape, everyone loves the first single to ever be released by The Doors for their reasons. To do true justice to this song, you’ll have to learn the iconic guitar riff which kickstarts the song and stays through it, but you can recreate the rhythm with the Em and D chords.

Start with a basic strumming pattern that fits the bossa drum groove and build it up as you progress through the song. I highly suggest you don’t stop here and progress to breaking down the riffs of the verse and chorus part by part. A pro tip here would be to start as slow as possible and play with a metronome so you perfect your timing along with your notes. Once you’re through with that, you can speed the whole thing up to the original tempo. While this does seem like a lot of work, you’ll learn how to keep time with riffs, which is a level above keeping time with simple strumming. This is one of my personal favorite easy 2 chord guitar songs of all time.

10. Paperback Writer by The Beatles

Tuning E A D G B E
Chords G7 and C
Tabs See Paperback Writer by The Beatles tabs here

This 1966 classic is drizzled with surf rock elements along with iconic harmonies, catchy guitar riffs, and a jumpy rhythm to match. Because its rhythm revolves around 2 chords, this makes it an incredibly easy song to start your Beatles journey with.

Written primarily by Paul McCartney, this song uses just G7 and C throughout the song. If you’re not familiar with seventh chords, this is a great song to see how the seventh chord adds a layer of unexpected brightness to major chords. Try learning the seventh chords to all the major chords and slip them in occasionally to highlight your rhythm playing. There’s no standard rule to how seventh chords are used to accent major chords – the only way to do it is to play them, familiarise yourself with their sounds, and let them flow naturally.

11. Whole Lotta Love by Led Zeppelin

Tuning E A D G B E
Chords D and E
Tabs See Whole Lotta Love by Led Zeppelin tabs here

I think ‘Whole Lotta Love’ and instantly the loose blues-rock riff played by guitarist Jimmy Page on his Gibson Les Paul starts ringing in my head. While replicating that overdriven wail of the guitar is something we’ll save for another lesson, today we’ll talk about how you can play this Led Zep classic with two power chords (the root and the fifth) – the D and the E.

Accentuated with multiple mutes and fast strumming, you can use these 2 chords to replicate the rhythm of this unforgettable rock riff. Start with the A and the D notes of the D power chord followed by fast strums on the E power chord, and slowly you can progress to adding in those iconic Jimmy Page slides and fills. To get the hang of this song, you’ll have to carefully listen to the rhythm pattern, but once you get it, it’s really, really hard to stop playing it.

12. Feelin’ Alright by Joe Cocker

Tuning E A D G B E
Chords F7 and C7
Tabs See Feelin’ Alright by Joe Cocker tabs here

If I could describe soul music with just one word – my choice would be SMOOTH! Originally performed by Dave Mason from the English rock band Traffic, this song was popularised by Joe Cocker and has all the makings of a great soul song. A tight drum and bass groove, classic piano, Joe’s nonchalant husky voice, and a backing choir – you do justice to all of this with an acoustic guitar and the chords A and D with a capo on the third fret.

But I suggest trying this song out in the key of F, with the chords F7 and C7, which are a little unconventional but define soul music. The finger positions and transitions can feel a bit alien at the beginning but with a one chord per bar pattern, the chord structure is pretty standard. A great example of doing more with less, this song is the perfect background for your pianist friends to jump into impromptu solos that can keep going on forever.

13. One World (Not Three) by The Police

Tuning E A D G B E
Chords F and G
Tabs See One World (Not Three) by The Police tabs here

When the song One World starts, you’re suddenly left wondering if you’re listening to The Police or a professional reggae band. The song follows the classic reggae structure and pattern, complete with the sharp snare and the groovy bass line that keeps you engaged. And like most reggae songs, you can play this one with just two chords. One World uses the chords F and G. I highly suggest using barre chords to execute this song but if you’re not there yet, no worries, you can use the regular shapes too.

The strumming of this song is quite unconventional and while playing it, you’ll notice that if you switch to upstrokes instead of the typical downstrokes, it gets easier to create that reggae feel. Start by playing very slowly to get used to the offbeat strumming and build speed as you keep getting more comfortable. The motion will seem quite weird at first, as you’re going against the strings but with a little bit of practice, you’ll be playing this in no time.

14. Jambalaya by Hank Williams

Tuning E A D G B E
Chords G and C
Tabs See Jambalaya by Hank Williams tabs here

Jambalaya (On The Bayou) was first released in 1952 and since then has spawned countless covers across genres, making this Williams’ most covered song. A feel-good, happy song, this song swings from its first note to its last between the G and C chords. A perfect song for campsites, strum your way through this eight-bar progression with 2 bars on G, 4 bars on C, and ending with 2 bars of G.

What you can do to spice things up and do justice to the country feel of this song is to pick the bass notes of each chord on the E and A strings for G and C chords respectively. A little challenging at the beginning, such small tweaks can add loads of pizazz to your rhythm playing. On days when you’re feeling down, strumming along to this song is going to act as an instant pick-me-up.

15. Alicia Keys by Fallin’

Tuning E A D G B E
Chords Am and Em
Tabs See Alicia Keys by Fallin’ tabs here

Alicia Keys has a voice, that if suddenly all the instrumentation behind her were to disappear, the song would still sound complete! Fallin’ is no exception to this rule. Structured in a way to make her voice takes center stage, you can play the whole song with the chords Am and Em. While strumming this song, pay special attention to your hand and try making the rhythm ‘swing’. You’ll hear the massive difference it makes to the song if you strum it on simply versus when you play this waltz tune with some attitude.

Also, this song follows the count of 3 rather than the standard 4, so play the top half of the strings on the one beat and try muting the 2 and 3 hits while strumming the chords. I will always maintain that it is the way you play the chords and how these chords fit into the song structure rather than the chords themselves. Fallin’ is another such example, where the song absorbs you because of its arrangement, not just because of how many chords it uses.

16. Everyday People by Sly & The Family Stone

Tuning E A D G B E
Chords C and G
Tabs See Everyday People by Sly & The Family Stone tabs here

I was pleasantly surprised to find out that this song made the term ‘scooby doo’ famous, even inspiring the name of our favorite animated Great Dane. Sly and the Family Stone, who released this song in 1968, were a supergroup that brought a bunch of styles ranging from funk to rock to country to their music. Everyone from Pearl Jam to Aretha Franklin to Joan Jett has covered Everyday People, and even you can with just 2 chords. With C and G chords, you can groove your way through the song.

Feel free to pick a strumming that fits best with the song as you play along with it. I’ve realized that instead of learning the strumming to songs, play with the song and allow yourself to mimic the song while inventing your strumming patterns. You’ll see how everything right from the drums to the bass can inspire your strumming, allowing you to express yourself a lot more than simply following a robotic pattern, which ends up sounding monotonous after a while.

17. Banana Boat Song by Harry Belafonte

Tuning E A D G B E
Chords D and A
Tabs See Banana Boat Song by Harry Belafonte tabs here

Banana Boat Song or Day-O, performed by Harry Belafonte in the late fifties is a song that will get you either grooving, singing ‘daylight come and we wan’ go home’ for days or in my case, both. This song is a great example of calypso music, instantly reminding you of the beach surrounded by lush tropical forests. For a song that’s almost seventy years old, it’s still making the rounds and you’ve definitely heard this song across pop culture.

A great song for beginners, this song uses just D and A throughout the song. You can substitute the A with an A7 to give this song a brighter soundscape. Remember to keep your muting hand at the ready to give this song the rhythm and bounce that defines it. The cherry on top is if you could get a bunch of friends to help you out with the backing vocals while you take it away with the vocals and the guitar. Back in the day, songs were written to bring communities together and have a good time, a feeling which you can recreate with just two chords today.

18. Working Class Hero by John Lennon

Tuning E A D G B E
Chords Am and D
Tabs See Working Class Hero by John Lennon tabs here

To the older generation, this is one of John Lennon’s more heartfelt tracks and to the newer generation, an epic Green Day one. Irrespective of which version you’re referring to, both of them feature an easy 2 chord structure. Oscillating between A minor and D (with a G major thrown in during the chorus), the structure of this song compels you to listen to the lyrics and contemplate their meaning – just like Lennon intended. If you pay close attention to the strumming style, Lennon starts with the bass notes of the chords and slides in a hammer-on, a pattern he keeps consistent throughout the song.

The song ends with the words ‘just follow me’, and that’s the advice we’ll leave you with too. Listen to the song over and over till you’ve memorized the pattern and simply follow Lennon. To those referring to the Green Day version, the chords stay the same but the subtle hammer-on structure is replaced with big, bold strums on the acoustic – a style signature to the punk rock band.

19. Give Peace A Chance by John Lennon

Tuning E A D G B E
Chords C and G
Tabs See Give Peace A Chance by John Lennon tabs here

‘Everybody’s talking about Bagism, Shagism, Dragism, Madism, Ragism, Tagism, This-ism, That-ism…’ this is the opening to John Lennon’s first hit away from The Beatles and it kinda sets the premise to what this song is all about. Lennon once told Rolling Stone magazine that he wrote this song to be sung during demonstrations such as The Moratorium to End the War in Vietnam. Recorded way back in 1969, the video of this song features Lennon sitting with Yoko Ono, guitar in hand, strumming away and singing to a small crowd.

Because of how easy the chords to this song are, you can have your personal Lennon moment if you can play the C and G chords smoothly. You’ll find people using the D and A or A and E combinations too depending on their singing comfort). Down strum through the entire song or play the original two down strums followed by a down-up-down-up pattern till you get it down pat. Feel free to substitute G with G7, like the original record. To do this, play the first fret of the E string instead of the third like you do on a G chord. All these years later, I am left wondering how you could always trust Lennon to come up with extremely simple chord patterns with lyrics so intense that the song becomes an instant earworm.

20. Lively Up Yourself by Bob Marley

Tuning E A D G B E
Chords D and G
Tabs See Lively Up Yourself by Bob Marley tabs here

The universally true thing about reggae is that it puts you in a good mood in a matter of minutes! Lively Up Yourself is another such track and as soon as the bass-heavy intro kicks in, you find yourself grooving in a way you can only to reggae music. Released in the mid-seventies, this song bounces from start to end on just two chords – D and G, two of the most common and versatile chords used across a lot of genres of music. As a general rule, reggae music follows a similar pattern with minimal chords, so this genre is great if you’re a beginner.

For the strumming, I suggest you use your palm to mute the top strings to give your strumming a percussive feel. Try mimicking the beat of the bongos to create your rhythm patterns and enjoy this song from start to end. While 2 chords are more than enough to do justice, check out the tabs link to see how you can sneak in a few more chords to make your playing fuller. Another thing you could do is look up similar reggae songs that follow this pattern and dive into a full-blown guitar medley when you’re playing this for your friends.

21. What I Got by Sublime

Tuning E A D G B E
Chords D and G
Tabs See What I Got by Sublime tabs here

Whether you know how to dance like a human or not, there’s no way you can’t groove when ‘What I Got’ plays! This is my go-to road trip song – it’s so catchy, infectious, and laidback. This track catapulted the American band Sublime to fame, and guess what? This 2-chord song has also made it to Rolling Stone magazine’s ‘Top 100 Guitar Songs Of All Time’! More proof that you don’t need to jam a hundred different chords into a song to make it memorable or worthy of recognition and respect.

‘What I Got’ only has D major and G major chords that repeat all through the track – be it verse or chorus. These chords should be familiar to guitar beginners as well, ad they’re one of the first few chords taught to us while we start out on the instrument. The strumming hand may need a bit of run-through, since the chords are played in a rather arpeggiated manner in the song (as you can hear in the intro) but nothing that a bit of practice can’t solve.

The cherry on top is the guitar solo in the track, which is quite easy to play! It’s a short and sweet solo that’s not too fast, making it perfect for novices to learn. Check out this easy and quick guitar lesson to figure out how to get cracking on this one!

22. Eleanor Rigby by The Beatles

Tuning E A D G B E
Chords C and Em
Tabs See Eleanor Rigby by The Beatles tabs here

I remember the first time I heard Eleanor Rigby, the song was stuck in my head for days after just one listen! The harmonies, the strings section, Paul McCartney’s unmistakable voice – this song was love at first listen. On this list, you’ll see Paperback Writer making an appearance, another Beatles track that uses the same two chords as Eleanor Rigby – C and Em. Even though both songs use the exact same chords, it is the songwriting that makes them sound so vastly different.

My suggestion is that once you learn this song play it with Paperback Writer back to back to see how you could perform a bunch of songs using the same chords without them having to sound the same. Both songs feature one of my favorite chords – Em, which sounds melancholic yet intense, making it a favorite among rock musicians. Even across this list, you’ll see the Em chord featuring prominently on songs that belong to the rock genre. A very versatile chord, Em fits beautifully with chords like C, D, G, A, even E major! Try it out for yourself.

23. Stop Whispering by Radiohead

Tuning E A D G B E
Chords D and G
Tabs See Stop Whispering by Radiohead tabs here

At first listen, till Thom Yorke’s brilliantly weird voice doesn’t kick in, one wouldn’t instantly recognize this as a Radiohead song. Off their grunge-inspired album Pablo Honey, Stop Whispering sounds ‘happier’ (if I may) than most of their songs. With a steady snare groove holding the song from beginning to end, this surprisingly upbeat song can be played with just D and G. Although you can play the song with basic strumming, the original playing includes some arpeggios between chords.

You can start with strumming and progress to the arpeggios as and when you feel comfortable. As is with all Radiohead songs, there’s always that element of surprise and Jonny Greenwood’s off-key notes during the solo and the outro bring the song comfortably back to Radiohead territory. Not listed amongst the band’s top ten songs, this song is a refreshing find for Radiohead fans who get to sample quite an unexpected side of the band from their early days.

24. Oye Como Va by Santana

Tuning E A D G B E
Chords Am7 and D7
Tabs See Oye Como Va by Santana tabs here

Bring on some Latin Rock, because we’re talking about Santana! Oye Como Va is an infectious track in the classic Cuban ‘cha-cha-cha’ rhythm pattern blended with influences from various styles of music. In true Santana style, the guitar god has kept the backing rhythm simple, letting his tasteful and atmospheric guitars shine through.

While learning to play the lead guitars of the track might take a bit of practice and skill, the backing rhythm is very easy to learn for novices too! All you need to learn is how to play the Am7 and D7 chords – don’t get intimidated by the ‘7ths’ in these chords – they’re pretty straightforward to play, as you’ll see in the guitar tabs we’ve linked here. Am7 is nothing but the A minor chord with the 3rd string played open, while the D7 chord is the D major chord with the 1st fret held down instead of the 3rd on the 2nd string. Pay close attention to the strumming pattern as it’s not your everyday acoustic guitar strumming. But if you have listened to the song enough times, you’ll have no problem strumming along.

25. Tomorrow Never Knows by The Beatles

Tuning E A D G B E
Chords C and Bb
Tabs See Tomorrow Never Knows by The Beatles tabs here

You may not have heard of this track if you’re not a hardcore Beatles fan – ‘Tomorrow Never Comes’ is one of their lesser-known songs. But this is a unique one that clearly shows the influence Indian music had on the band – you can hear passages with the Indian stringed instrument ‘Sitar’ and the ‘Tanpura’ backing, creating a unique ambiance throughout the song. If you’ve only heard the popular Beatles tracks, then the vibe of ‘Tomorrow Never Knows’ might come as a surprise – though a pleasant one, for sure. The only 2 chords being used across the song are C major and Bb chords – while C major is easy enough for most beginners to play, barring the Bb might take a bit of practice.

This is an energetic track, and the fast-paced guitar strumming only adds to the high energy! Make sure you understand the strumming pattern correctly since it could be a bit challenging to play consistently across the song. If you find the original pattern tricky to tackle, then you can play your own, easier version of the strumming and then build-up to the more accurate version as you get more and more confident.

26. Tulsa Time by Eric Clapton

Tuning E A D G B E
Chords G and D
Tabs See Tulsa Time by Eric Clapton tabs here

Originally sung by Don Williams, a handful of artists have taken a shot at Tulsa Time, but Eric Clapton’s upbeat, blues rock rendition is the one that’s gone mainstream. Similar in structure and even tune to Achy Breaky Heart which features above on this list, Tulsa Time is your standard blues-rock pattern come to life with the chords G and D (feel free to use any key that’s to your liking).

The strumming of this song has multiple variations so find one that fits best with the song. Like we’ve mentioned earlier, this pattern and chord structure is a rock and blues staple, so if you’ve mastered this, you can not only play this song but a bunch of others that are simply one Google search away. After you’re comfortable with the chord transitions, two-chord songs like this one are best to practice your singing, as the muscle memory takes over with the guitar and you can focus on hitting the right notes with your voice. This is another one of my favorite two chord guitar songs to play.

27. Drunken Sailor by The Irish Rovers

Tuning E A D G B E
Chords Em and D
Tabs See Drunken Sailor by The Irish Rovers tabs here

This traditional sea shanty from Ireland gives me goosebumps – every time I hear it, I can imagine weary, hard-working Irish sailors singing it together to keep their spirits high while being hard at work around the ship and sailing through intimidating seas! This folk song is one of the most well-known sea shanties around the world – has been covered by several different artists across the world. But one of its most popular versions is by The Irish Rovers, who usually closed their performances with this gem by involving the crowd and getting them to sing along – in true sea shanty style.

The song only uses the Em and D major chords through, both chords alternating one after the other – this is the common pattern in which such sea shanties were written. The strumming style is equally easy, with your regular downstrokes that cover all the strings. This is a brilliant sing-along song whether you’re playing solo for a small audience or to a large crowd.

28. Jane Says by Jane’s Addiction

Tuning E A D G B E
Chords G and A
Tabs See Jane Says by Jane’s Addiction tabs here

Listening to Jane Says takes me back to the good ol’ days of alternative music. First released in 1987, this song has been around for a while and was used to frequently end Jane’s Addiction live concerts. For a song that has so much going for it, its stripped-down structure is built on just 2 chords – G and A. Switching between these 2 chords isn’t very hard and shouldn’t pose much of a challenge, even if you’re a beginner.

Even though its chord pattern stays pretty much the same throughout the song, lead vocalist Perry Farrell’s vocal lines take Jane Says through a series of ups and downs. With his voice doing the heavy lifting through the song, you’ll rarely notice it is built on two very simple chords repeated from start to finish. The best part about covering this song is that you need nothing else but a no-frills acoustic guitar and a right hand that can deliver that punchy strumming.

29. Heroin by The Velvet Underground

Tuning E A D G B E
Chords D and G
Tabs See Heroin by The Velvet Underground tabs here

Even though this song is built on just two chords, what makes it interesting is the pattern in which these chords are used. From the intro to the verse, the timing changes and it doesn’t just stop here. Midway through the verse, the tempo increases to create tension before unexpectedly dropping back to what we started within the beginning. What stays consistent through the song is the down strumming pattern.

The song basically consists of D and G major chords played as 8 down-strokes each. It is an extremely easy song to play and sing, but keeping time with the ever-changing groove can seem tricky at first. What is essential while playing the song is to maintain accents when strumming. You can do this by changing the pressure of your strum to create some movement in your playing rather than keep it standard from start to end.

Another great example of not how many chords, but how the chords are used. To really take this song to the next level, you can arpeggiate the chords, which is playing them one note per string. Listen to how the song switches between the arpeggio pattern and the strumming to create a wild melody that sounds energetic, disturbing, and fun, all at the same time.

30. Solitude by Black Sabbath

Tuning E A D G B E
Chords F and Gm
Tabs See Solitude by Black Sabbath tabs here

When you see Black Sabbath on the list, you instantly think of driving rhythms and power chords from start to end but the English band that laid the foundation for many genres of metal took occasional departures from their typical sound to give us peaceful ballads. Solitude is one such song that follows a lilting melody, accented with pan flutes, making you do a double-take the first time you hear it. But, it’s songs like these that are a clear indicator of Black Sabbath’s versatility.

Getting back to this song – to play it, all you need are the G minor and F major barre chords. Strum through it or play it as arpeggios, you can interpret this song in many, many ways, but whichever style you pick, the transition between F and G minor instantly creates a melancholic feeling that’s signature to this song. If you’re playing this song on the electric guitar, add some delay and reverb when you arpeggiate the chords to add an atmospheric setting to your playing.

Conclusion

This brings us to the end of the list of 2 chord guitar songs across a whole lot of genres. As you play these songs, irrespective of whether you’re a beginner or not, after a point you’ll see the musicality of the artists shine through. Like I’ve repeated before, it’s not the number of chords that make a song. There’s a place for songs that are loaded with theory, sure, there’s no denying that. But there’s a lot you can do with just 2chords as well. As and when you progress to writing original music, you’ll be tempted to incorporate your entire library of chords, scales, and modes to build a song, but keep coming back to this list to remind yourself that less can be more too.

We hope you have a great time interpreting these iconic songs in your own style, whether you’re playing them for yourself in your bedroom or to an audience. Your progress with these songs becomes even more real when you master the basic strumming and start adding fills, arpeggios, and licks like the original records. While you’ll always find tabs handy, try listening to the songs, memorizing them, and figuring them out on your own. This may seem tedious at first but it always helps in the long run because these exercises help build your ears more than your fingers. If you’re looking for more inspiration, don’t forget to check out our other blogs which include best sing along guitar songs, easy love songs on guitar, and a lot more. As always, I wish you hours and hours of happy playing!

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