When someone asks me what my favourite film is, I usually just give them a helpless sigh and eventually just shrug my shoulders in defeat. How can you narrow down every film you’ve ever seen and pick one out above all the others? It’s a similar story of picking out the best guitar songs of all time. As a guitar player myself, and a fan of lots of types of music, there’s a huge range of songs I have to trawl through and somehow distil into a top 5. I hate having to put myself through this, I’ll have to miss out some songs that on another day might have made it into my top 5.
I actually wrote this same article on my previous website. But after looking back on it last week, I was surprised to find how much I disagreed with the songs I had selected at that time; in my defence, I did include couple of disclaimers, saying that my top 5 guitar songs would probably change over time and I was right! So here’s my updated top 5. The same disclaimer still holds true for this list, this is not a definite list, and will probably change by next week. These 5 songs aren’t ranked in order of how good they are, that would be impossible to do.
Sultans of Swing – Dire Straits
Some days I would have written this list and it would have exclusively been made up of out of Dire Straits songs. Mark Knopfler is probably my favourite guitarist of all time with songs like Brothers In Arms, Money For Nothing, Tunnel of Love, Telegraph Road and so on. But it’s Sultans Of Swing that I’ve chosen as his stand out performance. It’s all out from the very first second and doesn’t let up, and finishes with one of the most iconic and melodic guitar riffs of all time.
Lucille – BB King
It doesn’t take long when listening to BB King to realise why he is one of the best guitarists to have ever lived. Anyone learning to play guitar should just watch him to learn what really counts when playing guitar – feel. The way he holds his guitar (named Lucille) and caresses each note shows that he truly loved Lucille, and this emotion comes through in every tone and note he ever played. It was a sad day for music when he passed away a few weeks ago, RIP BB.
Voodoo Child – The Jimi Hendrix Experience
To be honest, it would be rude to have a list of the best guitar songs without including any of this guy’s songs. Jimi’s impact on guitar playing was colossal, which is even more impressive considering he died when he was just 27. Similarly to BB King, he had a connection to guitars that can’t really be explained in words, you just have to listen to it and again – feel – it.
Bohemian Rhapsody – Queen
Nobody really knows what this song is about, except Freddie Mercury. What we do know is that Bohemian Rhapsody is one of the all-time great songs, as well as one of the all-time great guitar songs. The first half of the song features what many consider to be the best guitar solo ever from Brian May, and the second half features one of the most definitive rock riffs and performances of the era.
Primavera – Santana
Long sustained notes, a great solo, and that cool drippy tone, this song has all the trademarks that makes Carlos Santana’s songs so iconic. Even though I don’t completely understand the lyrics it doesn’t matter; this is a list for great guitar songs, and the rolling riffs and solo are more than strong enough to carry it into my top 5.
5 songs aren’t going to cover all the great guitar music that’s out there, but my choices are enough to get some discussion going. So if you agree or disagree with my list, comment in the box below and share which songs you would have in your top 5.