The Beginner’s Classic Rock Playlist

The ‘60s and ‘70s brought us amazing music led by killer melodies and heavy guitar tones, so I’ve created this beginner playlist to catch up the younger generations on what they’ve missed. The following ten songs will get you started. Check out some of these bands’ albums and you are on your way to a rock and roll lifestyle.

1. The Beatles- Yellow Submarine
No music education is complete without the Fab Four, so let’s begin there.Not a lot of bands will lend the microphone to their drummer, but it really paid off here for the Beatles. Their best sing-along song about the joys of sea life was a hit. The animated movie of the same title was pretty darn weird, though it might fit inside the boundaries of your imagination.

2. Creedence Clearwater Revival (CCR)- Down on the Corner
The boys of CCR produced hit after hit in the genre they call “swamp rock.” “Down on the Corner” tells the story of Willy and the Poor Boys, a fictional band playing for tips on the street corner. The second verse reveals the rest of the bands names: Rooster, Blinky, and Poorboy. So, that’s weird.

3. Jefferson Airplane- Somebody to Love
Grace Slick, one of rock’s great female vocalists, brought this track to the recording sessions for Jefferson Airplane’s album Surrealistic Pillow. I’m not quite sure what that album title means, but what is obvious is the awesome power of “Somebody to Love.” We’ll leave the Queen song of the same name for the Intermediate Playlist.

4. The Zombies- Time of the Season
The Zombies won’t eat your brains, but they will blow your mind with their awesome harmonies. Their discography is full of ‘60s pop and rock greatness, and “Time of the Season” is one of their best. The song expresses the snobby sentiment, “What’s your name? Who’s your daddy? Is he rich like me?” and also contains one of the most famous organ solos in a rock song.*

5. The Beach Boys- Good Vibrations
Dang, those boys can sing high. The Beach Boys were masters of vocal harmony and singing like girls, and their surfer rock brought a new edge to pop rock. Maybe you can start a family garage band like the Wilson brothers did. Hey, it could happen.

6. The Rolling Stones- Get Off of My Cloud
This 1965 hit came out in the middle of the Beatles vs. Rolling Stones debate. Everyone was picking sides, except for the bands themselves. Lennon and McCartney came to a Stones recording session and wrote the song “I Wanna Be Your Man” for their “rivals” to record.

7. The Who- Who Are You?
The Who released seven albums before Who Are You was released in 1978. Watch some YouTube videos to learn Pete Townshend’s windmill guitar strumming style, which can be essential to rocking out fully.Thissong always helps me remember to set my DVR to record the latest episode of CSI.

8. Jimi Hendrix- Fire
It just wouldn’t be rock and roll without Jimi, would it? One of the guitar greats shreds through this popular hit off his debut album in 1967. Delve any farther into Jimi’s discography and you will find face-melting solos, along with album covers featuring the amazing afros of Jimi and his band.

9. LynyrdSkynyrd- Gimme Three Steps
These Florida rockers became most famous for their rock anthems “Sweet Home Alabama” and “Freebird,” but they scored their first hit song in 1973 with “Gimme Three Steps.” This story about a man’s run in with Linda-Lou and her mean boyfriend is a must-listen, must-rock track. Be sure to really get that head banging during the guitar solo.

10. Blue Oyster Cult- Godzilla
Every loves Godzilla, right? Blue Oyster Cult sure did, and they pay tribute to the big green beast in the first track off their best album, Spectres. Feel free to sing along with the chorus, “They say he’s got to go, go, go Godzilla!” No buildings were destroyed in the recording of this song.

This is just the beginning. Exploring classic rock can give you great appreciation for past and present music. Better go polish and restring your air guitar.

Jack Martin is a freelance writer with music up above his head. His desire to learn music and live simply has led him to an elastic, folky lifestyle.

*There aren’t enough rock songs that feature the organ. Wouldn’t you agree?

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  • Replace these and we’re good:

    1. The Beatles – Tomorrow Never Knows

    2. Creedence Clearwater Revival – Born on the Bayou

    4. The Zombies- Care of Cell 44

    5. The Beach Boys – Heroes & Villains

    6. The Rolling Stones – Street Fighting Man

    7. The Who – My Generation

    8. Jimi Hendrix – Manic Depression