As the man says, songs, songs, songs

Thank you for the replies everyone, your input is really appreciated.

I have to admit there are some songs I love and have tried on the guitar and I’ve just not enjoyed playing them at all.

I think for all the songs I would love to learn I should have stuck with my guitar when I bought it back in 98. :neutral_face:

I’ll keep trying songs I love and if I don’t enjoy them, instead of sticking with them I’m going to throw them away and try others for now.

@Mari63 what is this “songbook app” you speak of Mari?

@brianlarsen thanks for the song link Brian but though I enjoyed it, not one I would want to learn, I think. Edit The Trio+ is on my to buy list.

@Richard_close2u your link has now given me today’s earworm, which is Paul McCartney & Wings - Band On The Run (Official Music Video) - YouTube


Some of the songs that I have been working on I have been introduced too while working through Justin’s beginner course, some have been introduced to me by my guitar teacher friend during our zoom sessions and some are songs that I like. The result of all this is that I am probably working on way too many songs. I tend to work on two or three at a time, allowing them to grow with me as I improve, rotating through my repertoire, changing them around each week unless I particularly need to work on a song some more to nail a particular part of that song.

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@SgtColon Hi Stefan, it’s an app I use to manage my digital songbook. I have a bunch of songs on my computer, I put them in Dropbox, and I sync Songbook to Dropbox. It makes my song library portable, because I’ve got everything on my iPad (iPhone too, but that’s a bit small for playing!). It also has some cool features like scrolling - if the song is say 4 minutes I set it to that and then the words and chords or tab roll along at the speed necessary to play the song at that length.

You can have word, text and pdf files in Songbook (possibly others, not sure). I don’t usually use pdf files because those ones don’t scroll. I generally either copy in songs and chords from an online tab site, or export a song from Guitar Pro to ascii format and then import it. That’s generally how I do any songs that have tab in them. (Although I did spend an excruciating period of time writing out the tab for Here Comes The Sun note by note in a text file!!)

I find it to be a great app, very useful. I think I paid about $10 Cdn for it, well worth it. More info at LinkeSOFT SongBook Your lyrics and chords on iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch

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Lots of wisdom in what @CT shared.

My interpretation is ultimately to not just learn to play songs in a rote fashion. As you develop, progress and lay down your foundations blend in understanding theory, training the ear as you continue to learn songs to practice what you are learning.

Feel no pressure to do this necessarily from day one, guard against cognitive overload, as we always say it’s a never ending adventure, beyond a marathon, definitely not a sprint.

and there is the crux of the biscuit! I continue to torture myself by wanting to capture more of a song than my current abilities allow. I practice simpler versions of some songs but will not play the songs for anyone else until I have integrated enough of the complexities to please me.

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This is so true. Even though my singing is at best sub-par, the real enjoyment for me comes when I can play and sing the song. I hit brick walls every now and then with songs I know the lyrics of very well but applying chords in time doesn’t always follow. Practice, practice, practice…

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I hear you Rob. It was what led me to open the door to multi-track DAW recordings and the fact that I could not sing and play at the same time.

So what I would do in terms of learning others songs is don’t necessarily try to replicate the “recording” of the song. As you say Toby it’s going to be layered and produced so even for a full band it’s going to be difficult to reproduce. What I tend to do is look at how they perform the song live…that usually reveals a much more “doable” version…which will sound as good. Also don’t be afraid to look at how others have covered the song as that’ll also give you ideas on how to perform a good version yourself. Youtube is your friend in these situations.

I always say we play covers of songs but in our own interpretation and style. You need to make it your own song.


Great advice, Jason. My goal is not to play technically correct covers but to play the song as I interpret it. Sometimes that is very close to the original and sometimes it is quite different, but the feel and message need to be there. That is why my few AVoYP submissions always begin with me stating ‘this is my interpretation of…’ :grinning:

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@Mari63 Thank you for that Mari, it sounds really good. I’m going to have a look into that.

@Rossco01 Jason, that is a brilliant piece of advice. Thank you.

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Interesting about the singing. I am not a singer. Sometime I will get the nerve up to try. My fear of singing pushes me towards finger style and classical where the piece can stand without singing. A lot of the basic rock we are using to learn rhythm and cords is not that exciting by itself and really benefits from singing along, if the goal is a complete musical piece.

Divide songs into three categories. And try to be learning one in each category at any given time.

1.) Campfire/BBQ songs. Songs everyone knows the lyrics to and can sing along with, but are just basic chords progressions.

Song examples might be Knocking on Heaven’s Door, Country Roads, Hey Jude, American Pie, Let it Be, etc.

2.) Recognizable guitar songs. These are songs you can play on your own without accompaniment and people would recognize it. Because of a riff, or interesting rhythmic pattern. They maybe somewhat difficult but not impossible with your skill level at the moment.

Some examples might be Norwegian Wood, Hide Your Love Away, Over the Hills and Far Away, Better Man, Time of Your Life (with the picking), etc.

3.) Player songs. Kinda the same as above but much more difficult. Songs you have to spend a few days learning one bar. It might take a year or more to become anywhere near proficient.

Think songs from Tommy Emmanuel like Classical Gas, Angelina… or Clapton’s version of Hideaway. Could even be something classical or jazz.


It’s a fool’s errand to try and play a carbon copy cover of a well known song. Better to stylize it with what you’ve learned while finding your own voice on the instrument. If you are somehow able to copy the original exactly, you will still be left with a copy of a great song that anyone can play any time they want.

Change the key, slow it down or speed it up, add dynamics, add or drop a chord, etc. Find your own bag of tricks. What’s the point of focusing on the 13 millionth carbon copy cover of XYZ song, performed just like the original?


Just playing chords of a song leads to ear fatigue for the listener. Since songs are chord progressions at their heart (as I mentioned previously) it’s hard to distinguish a song from a chord progression without a melody line of some kind. Sing in service to the song, to distinguish it, and to help keep your playing in time.

I don’t like my singing voice at all, but I do it for the reasons stated above – or else I will play a lead jam over the progression or try and suss out some kind of lead melody.


If I sing, I might harm the dog…

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Thanks for the acknowledgement @DavidP!

I first learned guitar back in the 80’s, and it all started out with a Folk music teacher. Chord relationships and such were all part of the package. So these things were ingrained in me and my playing early on. I came to Justin’s lessons to kick start my re-entry after many years without playing.

That said, I zoomed ahead of where I was originally in short order, but I had that bit of music theory/concepts in my back pocket.

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I play the covers as best as I can as a an exercise in enjoyment and learning. Just like the original is usually beyond me.

I imagine as I improve as a musician, I will eventually be able to interpret other people’s songs and give them a personal spin.

For now recognisable and easy on the ear is what I aim for (including my now oft commented habit of inadvertently adjusting the melody and phrasing).

I think this emphasises the point I like to make that when considering how any person performs right now, one is often unaware of all that has come before that brought the person to the current point.

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Clint you’ve heard my covers, enough said. I might be mad by ain’t no fool :wink:

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@TheMadman_tobyjenner, you are an excellent example of putting your own spin on things, but also retaining the original emotion/vibe.

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Great advice Joe. I just started in January, so I’m just playing Three Little Birds, but looking forward to improving and playing more songs. Your categories make a lot of sense.

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