Country music is ideal for beginners. Yes, there are your Brad Paisleys who are basically what Eddie Van Halen would have sounded like if he was from Texas, but for every Jerry Donahue, there are a hundred Johnny Cashes – simple songs with simple chords and simple strumming patterns – simple for beginners.
We’re going to run through our favourite country songs for beginners, from the 40s right up to modern day. To make things as easy as possible, we’ve included a YouTube video for each song plus a link to either the chords or the tabs (and if you need a primer on how to read tab, we’ve got that too).
- Achy, Breaky Heart by Billy Ray Cyrus
- Okie from Muskogee By Merle Haggard
- Boys ‘Round Here by Blake Shelton
- I Walk the Line by Johnny Cash
- King of the Road by Roger Miller
- When You Say Nothing at All by Keith Whitley
- Tennessee Whiskey by Chris Stapleton
- The Gambler by Kenny Rogers
- Country Girl (Shake It for Me) By Luke Bryan
- There Was This Girl by Riley Green
- Ocean Front Property by George Strait
- Blown Away by Carrie Underwood
- Ring of Fire by Johnny Cash
- Friends in Low Places by Garth Brooks
- Jambalaya by Hank Williams
- Jolene By Dolly Parton
- Sixteen Tons by Merle Travis
- Wagon Wheel by Old Crow Medicine Show
- A Boy Named Sue By Johnny Cash
- Coat of Many Colors by Dolly Parton
- El Paso by Marty Robbins
- I Will Always Love You by Dolly Parton
- Mammas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys by Willie Nelson
- On the Road Again by Willie Nelson
- Take Me Home Country Roads by John Denver
- Thank God I’m a Country Boy by John Denver
- Act Naturally by Buck Owens
- City of New Orleans by Steven Goodwin
- Cruise by Florida Georgia Line
- Cry! Cry! Cry! by Johnny Cash
- Family Tradition by Hank Williams Jr.
- Grandpa (Tell Me ‘Bout the Good Old Day) by The Judds
- Guitars, Cadillacs by Dwight Yoakam
- He Didn’t Have to Be by Brad Paisley
- I Think I’ll Just Stay Here and Drink by Merle Haggard
- I’m Gonna Be Somebody by Travis Tritt
- I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry by Hank Williams
- It’s Your Love by Tim McGraw and Faith Hill
- More of You by Chris Stapleton
- Rockytop by Nitty Gritty Dirt Band
- Strawberry Wine by Deana Carter
- The Fightin’ Side of Me by Merle Haggard
- Together Again by Buck Owens
- Waiting on You by Lindsay Ell
- Whiskey River by Willie Nelson
- You Are My Sunshine by Jimmie Davis
- Hurricane by Luke Combs
- I Got Away With You by Luke Combs
- Ol’ Red by Blake Shelton
- The Dance by Garth Brooks
- Farmer’s Daughter by Rodney Atkins
- Drunk on You by Luke Bryan
- Somebody Like You by Keith Urban
- In Case You Didn’t Know by Brett Young
- I Wish Grandpas Never Died by Riley Green
- If I Die Young by The Band Perry
- Even Though I’m Leaving by Luke Combs
- Everything has Changed by Taylor Swift with Ed Sheeran
- You’re Still The One by Shania Twain
- Independence Day by Martina McBride
Achy, Breaky Heart by Billy Ray Cyrus
Achy Breaky Heart is one of those country smash hits that transcends audiences. Some people will say it’s not a real country song, but nobody can deny it’s a simple song for guitar beginners. It’s also an ideal song if you have a solo bar acoustic gig on a Saturday night as pretty much everyone knows it!
While the song does have a single note run, the main verse and chorus sections are two simple chords, A and E, in rotation over and over. Even the lead run at the start is quite easy for beginners.
As a bonus, this song is so well known, you can pull it out of the bag in pretty much any situation and get a sing along going, from a campfire to a house party.
Okie from Muskogee By Merle Haggard
Continuing on with another two chord wonder, this is one of the best known songs by Merle Haggard, one of the most popular and successful stars of the genre of all time. This song was so popular that it was a Hot Country Singles number 1 within 3 months of it’s release – not a simple thing to achieve back in 1969 when songs didn’t have the internet to get the word out and send them to number 1 on week 1.
On top of being only two simple chords, this song introduces some very simple guitar fingerpicking for beginners to help you get start getting comfortable with the technique. In addition, the simple melody and storytelling technique within the song is a great pointer for anyone interested in writing their own songs.
Boys ‘Round Here by Blake Shelton
One of the things we like about this country song for beginners is that there are only two chords, making it incredibly simple. But, should you be in the mood to spice things up, there are a few different ways to play them in different parts of the songs. Both the A and D can be played as either simple cowboy chords, or (as with the video above) you can switch it up and take a shot at power chords, or even barre chords.
Released in 2013, Boys Round Here was an immediate hit in the country world, and it’s easy to see why. Shelton has always been a witty liricist, and this number is no exception.
In addition to having two simple chords, the strumming pattern is super easy for beginners.
- Chords: A, D
I Walk the Line by Johnny Cash
For many people, I Walk The Line is the first song that comes to mind when you say country music. Even for people who would never listen to country music, Johnny Cash is the one guy they have time for. Cash wasn’t your typical country star, and his hard living on top of his musical genius is what made him a legend, enough to have his own biopic, named – what else – Walk The Line.
The great thing about this song is it has a very simple chord structure that can be played with a basic strumming pattern for absolute beginners, and for intermediate to advanced beginners, there’s a playful intro line on the electric guitar that gives you a great opportunity to practice playing single notes in an off beat rhythm. In addition, playing the correct strumming pattern in the verse can provide a light challenge to keep you coming back to this song to build on your chops.
King of the Road by Roger Miller
While Roger Miller is generally known as a country artist, his hit song, King Of The Road, is one of those tracks that is beloved by fans of all genres – how many country songs do you know have reggae covers? This is another one that is great to have in your back pocket for campfires or any other singalong situation.
This is another simple, three country chords song, that kicks things up a little for medium level beginners by having a key change mid song. You can even play around with the key of this song if you want to keep it in open chords, or, you can bust out some simple barre chords and keep on trucking. In addition, there are tons of ways to approach the strumming, from a simple beginner’s approach, to a more involved, almost flamenco style strumming action. With this one, the ball is in your court.
When You Say Nothing at All by Keith Whitley
Originally written in 1998 by Don Schlitz (who also wrote The Gambler) and Paul Overstreet (who penned Forever and Ever, Amen), When You Say Nothing At All was a minor hit twice (for Alison Krauss in 1995 and Ronan Keating in 1999), but neither topped the success of Keith Whitley’s 1988 smash hit version.
While this song uses only three simple chords, it has a neat strumming pattern and a handful of simple hammer ons that make it perfect for a beginner guitarist who wants a little bit of a challenge. At the same time, the basic song is so easy, that for many, it’s the first song they learn to play. Truly a beginner country song for all guitarists.
Tennessee Whiskey by Chris Stapleton
Covered many times since David Allan Coe’s 1981 original, Stapleton put out what may be the definitive cover in 2015, and if you’re a modern country fan, you will probably know this song off by heart. Honestly, you don’t even need to be a little bit country to enjoy this one, because Tennesse Whiskey even made it into the top quarter of the Billboard Hot 100.
For guitarists, this is a really fun one to learn. The opening bassline is a blast and quite a break from the strum heavy tunes on the rest of this list, and if you’re not super confident with barre chords, you can use a capo (our favorites here) to play the A as a G and the Bm as an Am.
- Chords: A, Bm
- Chords / Tab
The Gambler by Kenny Rogers
If you’re learning country songs for a singalong, this is a great place to start. While the chord changes can be a little tricky for a beginner at full tempo, and the B barre chord can be a little challenging, once you get this one down pat, you are ready to lead a crowd in any situation.
Originally written by Don Schlitz (who also wrote When You Say Nothing At All), the song was a huge hit for Kenny Rogers in 1978 and even made it over to the pop charts. Rogers walked away with multiple Grammys that year, and we all walked away with one of the best choruses to ever come out of country music.
Country Girl (Shake It for Me) By Luke Bryan
Country girl is a song that can open a lot of doors for a new guitarist. The chords and strumming pattern are quite simple, but if you’re any further along than an absolute beginner, learning the intro arpeggio is a great idea, as it is a style that you’ll find yourself using over and over as you learn more songs. The same can be said for the fingerpicking in the song – you can strum but getting the fingerpicking right will open doors for you to learn tons of other songs.
The lyrics might be a little much for more conservative crowds, but Luke Bryan gives the song enough playful energy and catchy melody to make it clear that the song is more tongue in cheek than it is straight up sexist.
There Was This Girl by Riley Green
Often considered a masterclass in country storytelling, There Was This Girl does a masterful job in combining classic country sounds with some of the nuances of contemporary country music. This is a great choice for beginners to learn due to its low difficulty level; three simple open chords run in a circle throughout the song, and the strumming patterns are simple enough for anyone. Intermediate and above level players will also love learning this song’s fingerpicked riffs and arpeggiated sections, too.
- Chords: G, A, D
Ocean Front Property by George Strait
For a song with a somewhat depressing set of lyrics, Ocean Front Property is quite upbeat to play. It’s built up from simple, open chords, and the strumming pattern is definitely appropriate for beginner guitarists looking to learn easy country songs.
Written by the all star team of Dean Dillon, Hank Cochran and Royce Porter, the song was originally released in 1986 and quickly went on to be a number one hit in both the US and Canada.
Blown Away by Carrie Underwood
One of the most notable things about this song is how well it straddles the line between being a country song and a pop song. It has a pop melody, but the lyrics have a classic country theme – making it easy to see why it was such a huge hit on release.
For guitarists, the song can be played in two ways – either with the simple strumming pattern, or if you’re feeling adventurous, as a fingerpicked song. This makes it a great song to learn when you’re new to the guitar, and then come back to later when you feel like fingerpicking is more within your reach.
Ring of Fire by Johnny Cash
If you weren’t a Johnny Cash Fan before you started to learn to play country guitar, you will be by the end of it. There’s a reason the man in black is all over this list – not only did he write songs that are easy to play for beginners, he wrote them so well, that everyone knows them, and Ring Of Fire is no exception. Bust this one out at a campfire singalong or at an acoustic night, and watch everyone go nuts when you hit the chorus.
Guitar-wise, the song is actually quite straight forward. it has a very simple strumming pattern, and uses two of the simplest open chords as far as fingering goes (G and C), with the only real change being the D chord. You may want to start at a slower tempo to make the chord changes easier, but after a few runs you should be up to speed and no longer feel the burn, burn, burn…
Friends in Low Places by Garth Brooks
Anyone who was even moderately aware of music in the early 90s knows this song. It is undoubtedly one of the biggest commercial successes in country music, and it’s just a ton of fun to play.
For beginners, this song is best played with a capo. Again, it’s one where you can learn the simple strumming pattern of the chorus as a brand new beginner, and then come back later once you have more experience to learn the fingerpicked and arpeggiated verses.
Jambalaya by Hank Williams
When you talk about iconic country songs, Hank Williams’ Jambalaya is always going to be to be close to top of the list. Sounding not unlike Grand Texas, this song has a catchy melody and simple lyrics that can be remembered by anyone, and more importantly played by anyone. This goes a long way to explaining its cult status among cowboys and the people who want to be cowboys.
For beginner guitarists, this song is a great place to start learning. It has a simple strumming pattern, and only two chords – how could anything be easier?
Jolene By Dolly Parton
Perhaps not one for absolute beginners, Jolene is a good target for someone who wants to up the difficulty level just a little. You will need a capo to pull this one off with open chords (aka cowboy chords), but fortunately, Am, C and G are just about the easiest chords for beginners, making this much less challenging than you might expect.
The song itself needs no introduction – if you want an example of Dolly’s songwriting prowess, Jolene is your song. Covered by just about every country singer since its release, and quite a few non-country singers, too, Jolene finally received a Grammy in 2016 when acapella group, Pentatonix, recorded their version.
Sixteen Tons by Merle Travis
Merle Travis is a classic country artist that doesn’t get a lot of attention today, but if you go back and listen to his songs, you’ll find yourself surprised at how many of them you know. Sixteen Tons is one of these easily recognizable tracks; it was first recorded in 1946, and later inducted into the National Recording Registry of the Library of Congress in 2015. You might not remember all the words but you’ll almost certainly know the melody.
Playing wise, the song is best suited to for more experienced beginners, as it does have some fingerpicking, but if you can pick this one up, you’ll have a great foundation for both the orientation of your fingers as well as the dexterity required to pull off some more intermediate to advanced songs.
Wagon Wheel by Old Crow Medicine Show
Wagon Wheel is a fun song to play – it makes use of simple chords, and a strumming pattern you’ve probably played a hundred times by now. However, the real magic happens when you sing over the top – what a melody!
The song was originally written in part by Bob Dylan and in part by Old Crow Medicine’s Ketch Scor, who came up with the verses. Over the years it’s been covered almost too many times to remember, with Darius Rucker’s version seeing the most commercial success. Whether you’re looking for a campfire sing along, something to include in your next set list, or just a fun song to play at home, this is a great choice.
A Boy Named Sue By Johnny Cash
Long an off-beat country favorite, A Boy Name Sue was often Cash’s opportunity to go off script and entertain the audience with an adlib. Originally written by noted American author/satirist/humorist Shel Silverstein (of “The Giving Tree” fame) and recorded at Cash’s famous/infamous San Quentin State Prison concert, the lyrical pattern of AABCCB gave Cash the opportunity to make up his own variations on the lyrics from time to time – which he often did. Cash considered the song a high point in any set he played, as some light relief from his more serious material.
As far as a song for beginner guitarists, A Boy Named Sue couldn’t be more straight forward. As long as you can play the three chords and get the strumming pattern down, you’re ready to roll. The chords and strum repeat through the whole song with no modifications, making it a “set it and forget it” country song for beginner guitarists.
Coat of Many Colors by Dolly Parton
Another song that can be revisited as you get better at the guitar, Dolly Parton’s Coat Of Many Colors can either be played with a simple strumming pattern, or as you improve, as a fingerstyle piece. There are also a good handful of embellishments that can be added as your skill level rises to meet the complexity of the song.
While Coat Of Many Colors wasn’t exactly a hit on it’s release, it’s come to be something of a country staple over the years, being both a fixture of Dolly’s own setlists and a favorite for other artists to cover.
El Paso by Marty Robbins
El Paso can be a little more challenging for some players due to the fact that it’s a quicker song and features a lot of chord changes, but many of the chords are either minor or 7th chords, making it relatively easy to simplify for beginners.
Marty Robbins wrote and recorded the song in 1959, and first released it on his record “Gunfighter Ballads and Trail Songs”, and the single went quickly to number 1, earning him a Grammy in the process. The song is considered a classic within the genre both for the distinctive Tex-Mex feel and the stereotypical gunslinger lyrics.
I Will Always Love You by Dolly Parton
I Will Always Love You is one of those songs that has a different singer in your head depending on when you were born and the genre you listen to most, but if you’re a country fan, you’re going all the way back to Willie Nelson, or Dolly (as we always do).
That said, one of the great things about this song is that the Whitney Houston cover (aka the biggest selling single of all time) is in the same key and arrangement as the original, so learn one and you’ll have both. I Will Always Love You has a very slow and simple strumming pattern that makes it an easy fit for beginner guitarists looking for easy country songs to play.
Mammas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys by Willie Nelson
Originally written by Ed and Patsy Bruce, the song was orignally recorded by Ed in 1976, but really made a splash when Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson recorded it for their 1978 duet record Waylon & Willie. The song spent a month on the top of the country charts and even broke the top half of the Billboard Hot 100 – no mean feat in 1978.
For beginner guitarists, the track is a good song to concentrate on and practice your strumming, as the chords only change once every bar. This leaves you to focus your energy on getting the strumming pattern down – and if you’re this far down the list, you’ll have come across this strumming pattern at least once. The pattern hits the bass note and then a pair of down-up strokes on the treble strings, repeating four times before the chord changes. It’s super straight forward and surprisingly effective when played right.
On the Road Again by Willie Nelson
Written by the man himself, On The Road Again is a classic Willie Nelson song that’s made it onto more road trip mix tapes over the years than maybe any other song. However, what is particularly amazing about the song is how it came to be.
Shortly after signing a contract for his first leading role in a movie (Honeysuckle Rose), Nelson was sitting on an airplane when one of the producers came to speak to him and ask him to write a theme song for the movie, which was about an aging musician travelling the US with his family as his band. The producer went back to his seat and Nelson wrote the song there and then, scribbling the lyrics on the back of a barf bag.
Sure enough, as with just about any Willie Nelson song, the tune is quite easy to play on the guitar. Brand new players may take some time to get up to speed with the shuffling strum pattern, but overall this is a fun and easy song to play.
Take Me Home Country Roads by John Denver
Considered by many to be one of, if not the greatest country song ever written, this John Denver classic is beloved by audiences of all demographics. Throw on country radio for a day, and even in 2022, you’ll probably hear this song more than once.
The original version has something of a tricky fingerpicking pattern, but beginners can approach this song with a straightforward strum. The chords also are simple enough to play that your only challenge as a beginner will be getting the changes done at speed.
Thank God I’m a Country Boy by John Denver
As far as country anthems go, “Thank God I’m A Country Boy” by John Denver is up there with the most iconic. it don’t get much more country than this! From good ol’ boys to casual country fans, this is a widely known track that always goes down well at any jam session or singalong.
While the melody of this song can be a little challenging, the guitar part is quite simple. The tempo might be a challenge for absolute beginners, but the chord progression is very straight forward, and the strumming pattern isn’t anything to get worried about.
Act Naturally by Buck Owens
Act Naturally is a great song if you’ve already mastered a wide range of chords. While most of the songs on this list use 2-3 chords, Act Naturally has a whopping five!
Like many country hits, it has been covered by many different artists over the years, making it recognizable in quite a few different strumming patterns. It can be played using a simple strum, or if you’re feeling adventurous, you can throw some hammer-ons in there to add some extra texture.
City of New Orleans by Steven Goodwin
This song needs different capo positions depending on which cover you’re looking at, but for beginners the easiest is Steve Goodwin’s version with a capo at the 5th fret.
The song is another that requires you to know a good number of chords, making it a really good goal song for someone who wants to make sure they have them all learned correctly and can quickly and easily switch between them.
- Chords: G, A, Bm, C, D, Em, F
Cruise by Florida Georgia Line
If you’re a fan of so called “bro country”, you probably already have this song etched into your brain. Florida Georgia Line rose to prominence, taking country and adding some of the best parts of many other styles of music, from electronica to hip-hop, and when you listen to Cruise it’s easy to see how their rise to popularity happened so quickly
While the song in full features a wide range of instrumentation, the main guitar part is quite easy to play, and gives you some great exposure to the varied songwriting techniques the band has incorporated into their music. If you’re looking for a feel good contemporary country song for your next campfire, this is a great place to start.
Cry! Cry! Cry! by Johnny Cash
Here he is again, the man in black – Johnny Cash. What’s fun about this track in particular is that it has both a strumming pattern and, as with many songs by Johnny Cash, a relatively simple arpeggiated line that can be fun to learn for beginner players, and a nice change of pace for more practiced players.
Cash originally wrote the song after his first overture to Sun Records (Hey Porter) was rejected. Sam Phillips told Cash to come back with something he could sell, and from there came Cry Cry Cry.
Family Tradition by Hank Williams Jr.
Hard to believe it now, but Family Tradition was the fourth single from Hank’s 1979 album of the same name, going on to be one of his most well known songs.
The song itself is a blast for beginner guitarists. The chord progression is simple without any quick changed, and the alternating bassline and treble strumming pattern is both easy and elemental enough to be in a million other songs. If you’ve mastered this basic strumming pattern, the chords are so simple that it should come very easily to any beginner.
Grandpa (Tell Me ‘Bout the Good Old Day) by The Judds
This song sounds awesome when played with ringing, open chords, so it’s definitely best played with a capo! Grandpa Tell Me About the Good ol’ Days features some very simple chords and an even simpler strumming pattern, this is an easy and fun song for beginners, and a soothing one to strum to yourself from your easy chair.
Guitars, Cadillacs by Dwight Yoakam
Anyone familiar with blues progressions will take to this song pretty quickly. Like any basic country song for beginners, the pattern repeats all the way through.
As an added bonus, the eclectic picking sections are a lot of fun for people who want to try their hand at something a little more advanced – and once you’re all the way into intermediate playing, there’s a classic country solo in there for you too.
He Didn’t Have to Be by Brad Paisley
Brad Paisley knows how to pull out some pretty amazing guitar playing when it suits him, but He Didn’t Have To Be is a good example of him switching gear and doing something a little more basic. The beauty of this song does lie in its simplicity, which is why it’s a great choice for novice players.
The song comprises some very easy country chords, and a true beginner strumming pattern. There’s nothing here that should be much of a challenge for anyone, and that’s enough to make it a fun one to learn early on and have ready for the next camping trip.
- Chords: G, C, D, Am, Em
- Chords / Tab
I Think I’ll Just Stay Here and Drink by Merle Haggard
The rhythm parts of this song are very straight forward, and for beginners who only have only mastered the most basic chords, this song is ideal. A,ll you need is A, D, and E, and a basic strumming pattern, and you’re ready to roll.
Where this song really shines (as per the video above) is as a background for some killer country picking solos, so if you’re ready to move on to the next level, this one is for you.
I’m Gonna Be Somebody by Travis Tritt
Some songs are complicated, tricky, a real challenge for beginners. I’m Gonna Be Somebody is not one of those songs.
With lyrics about setting aside the doubts others try to sew in you, the chords make it easy for you to be “somebody”, with a simple pleasant melody to play along with, and a simple strumming pattern to get you up and running in no time.
I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry by Hank Williams
Covering this song on his Aloha from Hawaii TV-Special, Elvis introduced the song as “probably the saddest song I’ve ever heard”, and many would agree. Written and recorded all the way back in 1949, I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry has been covered so many times you could almost consider it a country standard.
As with many of the songs here, I’m So Lonesome I Could cry has a simple strumming pattern and uses a handful of easy chords to create a classic tune for a singalong. As a bonus for new guitarists, the chord changes are few and far between, making this a simple song for the very earliest beginners.
It’s Your Love by Tim McGraw and Faith Hill
It’s Your Love is a great song for beginners to learn on guitar because, once you get the basics down, you’re ready to roll. It doesn’t have any difficult chords – just simple G, C, Em and D cowboy chords – and the progression is very straight forward. Really one to get under your fingers quickly and then pull out for the next singalong.
And sing along people will. McGraw is of course a country boy, but this song had major crossover potential as a country pop song, even launching itself out of the country charts and into the Hot 100. Definitely one you know you won’t be leaving anyone behind by playing.
More of You by Chris Stapleton
More Of You is a deep cut from Stapleton’s 2015 album, Traveller, that has since become something of a fan favorite. Lucky for beginners, it’s also quite easy to play.
More of You is based on a very traditional country chord progression, and you may find yourself surprised at how familiar the song feels to play. The strumming pattern is the classic alternating bass with two downstrokes on the treble pattern – really nothing here should be too challenging for most beginners other than perhaps the F#m chord.
- Chords: E, B, F#m, A, E7
Rockytop by Nitty Gritty Dirt Band
The great thing about this song for beginners is that it has something for every skill level. Beginners can do a simple strumming pattern to get up and running, more advanced beginners can take on the walking aspect of the bass line, and intermediate players can tackle some of the hammer on and pull off parts that add a little bit more musicality on top.
While most of the bands on this list are pure country, the often forgotten Nitty Gritty Dirt Band were a more complicated beast, the country rock band. Formed in Long Beach California in 1966, the band have had an ever changing lineup over the years, to the point at which the list of current and former band members has its own separate wikipedia page. Even so, the band are often credited for moving country music along over the years, encouraging other artists to always try new things.
Strawberry Wine by Deana Carter
Originally written by Matraca Berg and Gary Harrison (the powerhouse duo behind songs performed by the likes of Trisha Yearwood, Kenny Chesney and Billy Ray Cyrus), Strawberry Wine gave Deana Carter her first number 1 on the Billboard Hot Country chart, and remains her signature song to this day.
Guitar wise, this song has a simple open chord progression and a simple strumming pattern that make it a no brainer for beginner players More advanced beginners can throw in a few hammer ons here and there, too to give it a more rhythmic feel.
The Fightin’ Side of Me by Merle Haggard
Released as the lead single to the album of the same name, The Fightin’ Side Of Me is one of Merle’s most famous songs, with Toby Keith describing it as “the original Angry American song”. This is a simple song for beginner guitarists, it’s short, it doesn’t have an overly complicated strumming pattern, and it uses basic open chords to great effect.
Together Again by Buck Owens
Together Again was originally the B side to Owens’ hit song, “My Heart Skips A Beat”, but after a spell, the song became so popular on its own that it knocked that song off the top of the charts. In fact, the solo in the song inspired Jerry Garcia to learn to play the guitar!
Despite its success, for beginner guitarists this song is a very straight forward one to learn. The strumming pattern is a classic country bass-down-up-down up, and the chords are the usual cowboy chords. For more advanced beginners there are a few short arpeggiated pieces, giving you reason to revisit the song again as your playing improves.
- Chords: C, F, G7, C7, G
Waiting on You by Lindsay Ell
Waiting On You is another one of those songs that can be played a number of ways, depending on your playing ability. You can play it as a straight strum, or, when you get a little better, you can add in the arpeggiated connecting parts into the intro and chorus. You will also want to use a capo on the 1st fret to match the album version if that’s what you’re going for.
- Chords: G, Am, C, C7
Whiskey River by Willie Nelson
We’re back to Willie Nelson once again! Originally written by Paul Stroud and Johnny Bush, Whiskey River has a number of different feels and up to four different strumming patterns depending on how you want to play it, but across the whole song there’s really nothing too difficult for beginners. It’s a great choice if you want to sit back and enjoy playing the song without thinking too hard.
You Are My Sunshine by Jimmie Davis
Click Here for tab for You Are My Sunshine by Jimmie Davis
Chords: A, E, B7, E7
This is such an iconic song that the state of Louisiana decreed that it would become an official song of the state. If you haven’t already heard Jimmie’s version you’ve no doubt heard one of its other incarnations. You Are My Sunshine has been covered and performed by over 350 artists in over 30 separate languages. It was first recorded and released in 1940 as a single and is, to date one of Davis’ best-selling singles ever.
The guitar parts for this song are played at a nice slow pace, and should be more than achievable for any beginner to grasp. It provides a great chance for you to become familiar with playing both a bassline and melody at the same time.
Hurricane by Luke Combs
Click Here for tab for Hurricane by Luke Combs
Chords: G, C, D, Em, D/F#
Sometimes we have a tendency to associate country music with adopting an old-school classic kind of sound. But Luke Combs’ “Hurricane” is the perfect example of how contemporary country music should be done. This track was critical acclaimed, and performed remarkably considering it was Combs’ first ever single, and it peaked at number 3 on the Hot Country Songs chart.
Whether you’re an acoustic or electric player, there’s something for you in this song. It has a nice, steady chord pattern strummed underneath the vocals, making it ideal if you want to sing along while you play. Plus, if you want to try your hand at some simple lead guitar playing there are a lot of cool little low difficulty electric guitar parts for you to have some fun with too.
I Got Away With You by Luke Combs
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Chords: G, C, D, Em, D/F#
Although not released as a single, I Got Away With You was a part of the same album as Combs’ smash hit, Hurricane. The album in question was able to cling onto the Country Album charts for a mind-blowing 46 weeks, making it the longest period an album from a male artist has charted. Despite not getting its own single release, I Got Away With You is still a fan favorite and even has its own music video sitting at over 3.1million views on YouTube.
In terms of the guitar parts, it’s a nice slow song that uses a very soft strumming pattern. So, it provides a a good opportunity to put those dynamics into practice and control how hard you’re striking the strings to match the song’s mood. As you’d expect, there are some simple slide electric guitar parts layered over the top if you want to join in on them too.
Ol’ Red by Blake Shelton
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Chords: E, A, D, B7
Ol’ Red details the story of a man who is sentenced to jail and is able to find the guard dog a mate which allows him to make his escape. Of course, Blake’s version is a re-recording of the 1990 original from George Jones which Blake included as part of his 2001 self-titled album. Despite it not being an original track, his version is one of the most well-known, and has an official music video with over 74 million views on YouTube.
This is another track that has a really laid-back and strumming rhythm and should be straight forward for any beginner. It’s ideal if you want to sing over it at the same time too!
The Dance by Garth Brooks
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Chords: G, C, D, Bm7
So this track was originally written by Tony Arata but was recorded and released by Garth Brooks as part of his debut self-titled album. Despite it being written by Tony, it’s become known as the quintessential Garth Brooks song, and is one of his most popular releases to date. Garth has even said himself that he thinks this is the most successful song that he will ever release.
We get to break away from the strummed chords for a bit now as this track predominantly uses single-note passages and arpeggios. The trick here is to play them with a guitar pick; as tempting as it might be to fingerpick them, it simply doesn’t provide enough pick attack to produce that nice country twang you are looking for.
Farmer’s Daughter by Rodney Atkins
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Chords: G, A, D, Em, D/F#
This is a super simple, radio-friendly, country song that was written between performers Rhett Atkins, Marv Green, and Ben Hayslip, who then passed the song on to Rodney Atkins to record and produce. It was released in 2010 as part of the album ‘It’s America’ and was then later released again on the 2011 album ‘Take a Back Road’. It was able to hit the number 5 spot on the US Hot Country Songs Chart.
This is another track that works great if you’re interested in singing and playing guitar at the same time as it’s all fairly simple strumming. To play it in key with the original song you’ll need a capo on the fourth fret of the guitar, but you can also adjust this based on what’s comfortable for your voice.
Drunk on You by Luke Bryan
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Chords: G, A, D, Em, D/F#
Drunk on You was released by Luke Bryan in 2012 as part of his album ‘Tailgates & Tanlines’, and is a great example of a more modern twist on the classic country formula. The official music video for the song is sitting at more than 90 million views on YouTube.
There’s a nice assortment of guitar parts for you to pick from in this song. There are strummed layers of acoustic, some nice single-note plucked passages, and even some soft lead-guitar lines you can play along to as well! Just pick which parts you feel fit your ability level the best and have fun with it.
Somebody Like You by Keith Urban
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Chords: E, A, B, C#m
Despite the fact that he hails from Australia, Keith Urban has seen massive success in the American country scene with this song in particular selling over 1.05 million copies in the US alone. It’s also been rated as one of the greatest country songs of the 21st century. Released in 2002 as part of his album ‘Golden Road’, this has a little bit of rock flair and attitude to it that make it a ton of fun to play.
There are some really nice sections in this track that double up on particular octaves and open notes to some unique and huge-sounding chord voicings. The strumming pattern is simple, but the tempo is up there a bit, so it’s a good opportunity to work on your strumming speed if you haven’t done so yet.
In Case You Didn’t Know by Brett Young
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Chords: G, C, D, Em, Am, D/F#, G/F#
A much more recent country song next, with Brett Young’s 2017 single ‘In Case You Didn’t Know’, which was the first song released from his debut, self-titled album. Since its release it’s already been certified as 3x platinum (3 million copies). Due to the tremendous success of the song, he would later that same year release it a second time as a duet with the Irish singer Una Healy.
If you listen carefully there are actually two sets of guitars going on during this song. One is simply strumming the open chord on each measure, while the second plays a fingerpicking pattern that outlines the same chord progression but in a much more exciting way. Depending on your skill level or how involved you want to get with the song you can either play along with the easy chords or give the fingerpicked parts a try!
I Wish Grandpas Never Died by Riley Green
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Chords: G, D, Em, Cadd9, D/F#
Originally, Riley Green wasn’t going to put this on his album, but after performing it a few times, fellow country singer Brad Paisley convinced him to record the track. Of course, it ended up as a moderate commercial success, selling over 123,000 copies within its first year of release. He decided to release this as a promotional single for the album too, so thank you to Brad Paisley for the part he played in helping this song see the light of day!
There are a few lapsteel/slide guitar parts going on here but they aren’t really substantial enough to follow along with for the whole song. There is also a nice single-note pattern going on that outlines the overall chord progression of the tune, which is a lot of fun to play. We recommend playing it with a pick to get that authentic country sound.
If I Die Young by The Band Perry
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Chords: G, D, A, Bm, A7
The Band Perry, led by Kimberly Perry, is a fantastic Country/bluegrass act. Their song, “If I Die Young” was a promotional single for their self-titled debut album released in 2010. The song details the sadness and pain that comes with dying at a young age. Of course, the single was a runaway success, with the official music video racking up over 200 million views, and the single selling over 2 million copies. Not bad for a first album effort!
This is about as easy as songs come on guitar, it’s played at a comfortable tempo, and you’ll just be strumming the open chord shapes. Although as you can see from their live performances, some of these chords are held with their barred variants, which for some are easier to play than the regular open positions.
Even Though I’m Leaving by Luke Combs
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Chords: D, G, Bm, A
Next up we have a much more modern song that saw its first release in 2019, first of all as part of Luke’s second studio album ‘What You See Is What You Get’ but was later released as part of an EP called ‘The Prequel’. It’s a soft rock/country ballad, and there’s even a bit of mandolin layered in between the guitars too.
This song holds a nice, steady strumming pattern that essentially underpins the rest of the song. You will notice there are a lot of little passing melodies and inflections layered in on the mandolin, you can very easily pick these up and play them on an acoustic guitar to make things a little bit more interesting if you are not going to sing at the same time too!
Everything has Changed by Taylor Swift with Ed Sheeran
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Chords: D, G, Bm, A, Em7
Taylor Swift is no stranger to country music, and although she has mostly moved on to a more pop-orientated style she still does a great job and infusing a little of that country flair into some of her vocal phrases and melodies. As you’d imagine, a single involving two of the most prominent musical artists around was tremendously successful, and you can even see Taylor perform the song live with Ed Sheeran on the popular TV show Britain’s Got Talent in 2013.
Despite leaning more towards the pop side of things, if you’ve learned a few other country songs already you’re going to feel right at home here. The main thing to focus on is memorizing the strumming pattern detailed in the provided video lesson, once you have that down you can just maintain it for the duration of the song.
You’re Still The One by Shania Twain
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Chords: D, G, A, Em
Shania Twain has always done a great job of combining her country roots with a slightly more accessible pop style. This song demonstrates that perfectly with its infectious melodies that have those country inflections to them. It was released as a single from her third studio album titled ‘Come On Over’ and was nominated for a whopping 4 Grammy Awards, winning two of them!
It has a straight forward 4 chord sequence, which you’ll play with an easy and consistent strumming pattern. Although, if you want to play along with the original song you’ll need a capo on the first fret of the guitar so that the first D shape is a D sharp.
Independence Day by Martina McBride
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Chords: G, C, D, Em, Em7
Originally written by Gretchen Peters, this track was passed onto and recorded by Martina Mcbride for her 1982 album ‘The Way That I Am’ . The song did pretty well commercially and peaked at the number 12 spot on the Hot Country Songs chart. The song details a story about domestic abuse, with ‘Independence Day’ actually meaning a mother gaining her independence from an abusive partner.
This song has a nice blend of acoustic and electric guitars, with the acoustics acting as a nice chordal bed for the more melodic instruments to play over. The electric guitars like to hit those big 5-6 string chords, so be careful with how much gain you use as those can easily start to become muddy if you saturate the distortion too much, tasteful use of gain here is key!