In my early days as a busker, I thought you had to sing and play guitar. Instrumentals were only for riffs or intros or if you forgot the words. Today a lot of buskers do not sing at all, they only use their instrument. If that is what you want to do, here are ten strong songs that always command attention.
Now, I would advise guitar players to land their lowest note in each song on E, because that will give that note maximum power. Plus, for the newbie player E is always easy to find.
Paying attention to ASCAP and BMI regulations for performing copyrighted songs, here are my top 10 picks.
First is Black Magic Woman, due to the famous four note descent and fairly easy lead melody. You can always expand from there into the riff. If you start to sound as good as Carlos Santana then you have truly arrived!
Second is another Santana song, Smooth. Both of these songs can be played slow and relaxed. Try using a rhythm box and adjust the tempo to your increasing skill level.
Third song in line is The Boxer, by Paul Simon. Number four is The Theme from Rocky, because it can segway into the idea of a fighter. Both songs have powerful melodic structure and are instantly recognizable. You, the Busker, represent a type of fighter also. You are fighting for recognition and ego strength. You are fighting to gain and hold an audience.
Heartbreak Hotel, the big Elvis hit, is number five in this series. A strong. deep guitar lead can carry this song. I was fortunate to hear Elvis live in Hawaii back in the early seventies. This song was one of the crowd favorites!
The Animals found fame with their rendition of House of the Rising Sun. If you learn to play the intro for this song, plus the lead, you will gather a crowd. My youngest grand daughter is getting very good at playing this song on her Yamaha classical guitar.I hope she won’t mind me bragging about her!
Number seven is Hotel California, by the Eagles. Learn the intro, the lead, the chorus. You cannot go wrong with this song. Get good at the riff and the crowd will love you!
The next two are Sweet Caroline and Sound of Silence. Both Neil Diamond and Paul Simon excel at constructing bold songs that have interesting climbs. These tunes are sure winners!
The tenth and perhaps most audience-grabbing song is Satisfaction, by the Rolling Stones. Use fuzz tone on your amp for the best sound. Again, check all copyright rules for performing any of these songs. I hope you try all ten!. Enjoy!