The Best Guitar Songs For Parties
First Things First...
There are few times that compare to cool evenings hanging out with close friends while belting out slightly out-of-tune renditions of great songs. As long as you have a guitar and someone present who is at least capable of playing a few licks, a great night is virtually inevitable for everyone. Now, I'm going to have to be honest. That handsome devil to the right there is me (ladies?), and no, I am not an amazing guitarist, as any of my friends will tell you. What I can do, though, is play a handful of songs that absolutely everyone likes. Also, I'll add that many people would voluntarily take a steel-toed work boat to the groin before hearing my delightful singing voice. Still, it's not about me broadcasting my talents at all. It's about everyone joining in and having a great time, which is what learning these songs will help lead you to.
"Wagon Wheel" - Old Crow Medicine Show
Boom! Right off the bat, I'm hitting you with the most logical song known to man. This single song has single-handedly taken over for "Most Over-Requested Song Among Bar Musicians" (a spot previously held by "Free Bird"). My God, there is just something about this song that attaches itself to the joy center of the brain and will not let go. If you can play guitar at all in this day and age, it has almost become a law that you know this song because someone will request it, and that someone will get pissed if you don't know it.
The best part of knowing how to play "Wagon Wheel" is that it may be the easiest song to play in the history of ever. Just take a look here if you don't believe me. That's it. You play those chords over and over until everyone passes out of sheer exhaustion.
"Crazy Game of Poker" - O.A.R.
Who's up for game one?! Yes, perhaps O.A.R.'s ultimate encore song is an absolutely awesome song to play with a group of people. Why? The song includes references to poker (duh), booze, fights, and whatever a "honey-bunny" is. Most importantly, it's one of the most fun songs you'll ever listen to. In fact, I just now sat through that video after I found it. Don't blame me for it; the song did it to me.
Like "Wagon Wheel," the song is centered around a looping chord progression that persists throughout the entire song with occasional shifts in tempo. Hence, easy to play and easy to have fun with. You can learn how to play it here.
Any Popular Rap Song
If there is one thing I dig, I dig me some acoustic covers, especially ones covering popular rap songs. These songs present a perfect storm. For instance, if the people you're around prefer to sit around and sing along with a guitar player, they more than likely are not the ones that want to "grind it at the clubs" (I think that's what the kids call it nowadays). Meanwhile, no matter what rock you live under, you know a few of the most popular rap songs. These are the ones that need covers.
Let's throw some examples out there. Kellen Malloy's rendition of Ludacris's "What's Your Fantasy" may be the single greatest thing you listen to all day. Our friend Mr. Malloy takes one of the raunchiest rap songs ever recorded and morphs it into a song that almost feels like a sincere emo/acoustic love ballad. What results is hilarity. Along the same lines, my good friend Kenton Bryant (new album available on iTunes) plays a near perfect rendition of R. Kelly's "Remix to Ignition" (buy his album because it's awesome). His version is nowhere to be found on Youtube (something about "artistic integrity"), but I found this guy, who comes pretty damn close.
"Hallelujah" - Jeff Buckley, Leonard Cohen, or Rufus Wainwright
This is quite possibly the most beautiful song ever written, and has been played in so many different styles that it's virtually impossible to screw up. "Hallelujah" is also a song that virtually everyone knows, so you won't have to struggle to sing it. Even if people don't know the lyrics to every verse, the chorus is "Hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah, hallejuuuuu-u-u-uuuu-uuu-jah" (simple enough, right?).
If you're a virtuoso that believes in complexity, feel free to learn Jeff Buckley's finger-picking version, but I enjoy the much less stressful version that includes some simple chords. You can find it here.
"Free Fallin'" - Tom Petty
"Cuz I'm FREEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE, FREEEE FAAAAAAAAAALLIN'!"
If that lyric didn't immediately just get stuck in your head, you are lying and are going to have to let it weigh on your conscience for a while. It's one of the only songs that you can recognize from the first five chords, and even Tom Cruise knows the lyrics to the chorus. This song is also best enjoyed whilst imbibing a beverages of the adult variety. You can learn this ridiculously easy song here.
This Could Last All Night...
I'm going to have to cut this off now or else this article could last for another 1,000 words, but please feel free to offer your favorite sing-along guitar songs in the comments. We all search for those moments when we can escape the private amphitheater of our car seats to show our true talents with a group of friends. So, for the last time, let's all join hands and join me for this last run at the chorus...
"Yeah, I'm FREEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE, FREEEEEEE FAAAAALLIN'!"
Thank you and good night!