When it comes to playing live music in a bar, choosing the right acoustic cover songs can make or break the atmosphere. As seasoned guitarists who have been playing the circuit for decades, we understand the importance of creating a playlist that captivates the audience and keeps them entertained throughout the night. After consulting with bar friends and fellow guitarists, we have curated a list of the 15 best acoustic cover songs that are guaranteed to elevate the bar experience.
Hotel California by The Eagles
As one of the most iconic guitar solos of all time, "Hotel California" by The Eagles is a quintessential favorite among live bands and seasoned ax players. The opening riff alone is enough to get the crowd tapping their feet, preparing them for a musical journey through a desolate desert landscape. It's no wonder that this Eagles masterpiece tops our list of acoustic cover songs to play in a bar.
Come Together by The Beatles
Released in 1969, "Come Together" by The Beatles perfectly captures the feeling of friends and colleagues coming together for a round of beer at the bar. The heart-thumping beat will have everyone swaying their heads in between sips of ice-cold beverages. Even with just an acoustic guitar, you can recreate the magic of this song and bring people together.
Wish You Were Here by Pink Floyd
Not everyone who enters a bar is in a celebratory mood. Some seek solace in beer and good music to drown their frustrations. "Wish You Were Here" by Pink Floyd is an excellent acoustic song choice for such moments. Its emotional weight, woven through the verses and choruses, resonates with the audience, allowing them to reflect and remember.
Africa by Toto
With its brassy opening riff, "Africa" by Toto provides the perfect opportunity to showcase your bass tricks on the acoustic guitar. The mellow vocals and catchy verses will have the whole pub humming along, creating an energetic and captivating atmosphere. This Toto masterpiece is a must-play for any acoustic guitar enthusiast in a bar setting.
Wonderful Tonight by Eric Clapton
It would be remiss not to include Eric Clapton's 1977 soft rock ballad, "Wonderful Tonight," in our list. The hypnotic guitar riff alone is enough to captivate the audience, even without the accompaniment of a full band. The smoothness of the rhythm and heartfelt lyrics make this song a perfect choice for creating an intimate and emotional ambiance in the bar.
Don't Think Twice, It's All Right by Bob Dylan
For those feeling down or doubtful, Bob Dylan's 1983 masterpiece, "Don't Think Twice, It's All Right," is a pub favorite. The easy-to-play chords make it accessible even for newbie acoustic guitarists, while the relatable lyrics serve as a suitable companion for anyone seeking solace with an ice-cold beer. This song is a perfect choice for those contemplative moments at the bar.
More than Words by Extreme
With its fancy fingerstyle and soul-stirring melodies, "More than Words" by Extreme is a joy to play in a pub full of love-struck individuals. The interplay between punchy bass lines and soulful trebles on the acoustic guitar creates a profound sound effect, complementing the heartfelt lyrics. This song is sure to leave a lasting impression on the audience.
A Hard Day's Night by The Beatles
When it comes to pub themes, few songs are more appropriate than "A Hard Day's Night" by The Beatles. The upbeat rhythm, funky sounds, and captivating lyrics will have the crowd on their feet from the opening riff. Mastering the strumming and fingerstyle techniques will allow you to fully engage the pub-going public and create an unforgettable bar experience.
Sweet Caroline by Neil Diamond
The slow start of "Sweet Caroline" sets the stage for an enticing musical journey that will pump up the crowd for a glorious evening. This song never fails to get people singing and dancing along, raising their glasses to Caroline and creating an electric atmosphere. Including this Neil Diamond masterpiece in your acoustic repertoire is sure to be a crowd-pleaser.
Heart of Gold by Neil Young
Another quintessential acoustic guitar song for the pub scene is "Heart of Gold" by Neil Young. Its easy rhythm swings heads, and the straightforward chords allow masters of the string to showcase their fingerboard skills. This song is perfect for entertaining grown-up men and creating an atmosphere of nostalgia and reflection.
Pretty Woman by Roy Orbison
Forget the famous film, and focus everyone's attention on that gorgeous lady at the bar with "Pretty Woman" by Roy Orbison. The distinct rhythm and catchy bassline will have everyone humming along, creating an exciting and engaging atmosphere. Playing this song is guaranteed to make a lasting impression on both the audience and that special someone.
Mirrors by Justin Timberlake
For love-struck millennials out for a great time at the pub, "Mirrors" by Justin Timberlake is the perfect choice. Its soulful R&B balladry sets the stage for a more romantic evening or prompts men to reflect on their successful relationships. Playing this song like a pro will have the whole pub singing along, creating an unforgettable experience.
Bad Liar by Imagine Dragons
"Bad Liar" by Imagine Dragons is a contemporary hit that appeals to a wide audience. Its infectious rhythm and beat are perfect for dancing and creating a lively atmosphere. Playing this song in a pub setting might even turn the whole venue into an internet sensation, with your guitar-playing providing the framework for a memorable night.
Despacito by Luis Fonsi
As a Latin sensation from 2017, "Despacito" remains a favorite among live audiences. Playing this song not only showcases your guitar mastery but also demonstrates an appreciation for a lively beat. The combination of your fingerpicking skills and the audience's enthusiasm will create a vibrant atmosphere that will have everyone singing and dancing along.
Let Her Go by Passenger
"Let Her Go" by Passenger is a fantastic acoustic guitar piece that resonates with disappointed and depressed individuals. Its relatable lyrics and catchy melody make it a song that anyone can sing along to, including the bartender and the tough guys by the entrance. Playing this song is a surefire way to create a sense of camaraderie and emotional connection in the bar.
In conclusion, choosing the right acoustic cover songs can significantly enhance the bar experience and keep the audience engaged throughout the night. While the list of songs provided serves as a good starting point, it's important to tailor your playlist to the specific atmosphere and preferences of your audience. By understanding the power of music and its ability to bring people together, you can create an unforgettable bar experience that will keep patrons coming back for more.
Let us know in the comments below which acoustic songs are your favorites and share your experiences of playing them in a bar setting!
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