There’s a big advantage to having a small instrument. This is why harmonica is so great – it’s a compact little thing that still gives quite a punch. It’s also one of the catchiest-sounding instruments out there, and it’s one of the most often choices as a second instrument.
But now that you’ve got your instrument and that you’ve covered the basics, it’s time to look more into some great songs that you can learn. With this in mind, here’s the list of what we consider to be the best songs to play on harmonica.
Top 10 Best Songs to Learn How to Play on Harmonica
Canned Heat – On the Road Again
Canned Heat never got the credit that they deserve. Just take a listen to “On the Road Again” and the great groovy harmonica parts performed by Alan Wilson. These are some pretty simple yet effective riffs. It can be a good choice for beginners, but it’s a challenge if you want to do it completely right.
Black Sabbath – The Wizard
Harmonica and demonic riffs? Such a crazy idea would only come to mind to a band like Black Sabbath. Pioneering heavy metal, the group was still deeply into their blues roots on the self-titled debut album. “The Wizard” is an awesome combination of evil-sounding riffs and bluesy harmonica parts. These were performed by none other than Ozzy Osbourne himself.
Now we have something traditional. Although famous as a Christian vocal song, it’s not rare to see “Amazing Grace” covered on solo instruments. For some reason, this one works particularly well on harmonica. It’s also a very easy one to learn. So if you’ve just got your first beginner harmonica, this is where you’d want to start.
Neil Young – Heart of Gold
Neil Young is one of those musicians who has always been able to achieve so much with just a few chords and simple melodies. Going through his amazing discography, a song like “Heart of Gold” stands out, with Neil playing both the guitar and harmonica at the same time.
The Doors – Roadhouse Blues
Although their main career was relatively short-lived, The Doors made an immense impact not only on rock music but the industry as a whole. Despite dying too young, Jim Morrison is still remembered as one of the best frontmen in history. A great example of his musicianship is “Roadhouse Blues” where he also played harmonica.
The J. Gellis Band – Whammer Jammer
Now, if you like some high-energy pumped up blues-rock songs, you should look no further than “Whammer Jammer” by The J. Gellis Band. Richard Salwitz, also known as Magic Dick, is one of the most accomplished harmonica players of all time. Although this instrumental has the classic 12-bar-blues composition, these harmonica parts are a bit tricky to perform.
Doobie Brothers – Long Train Running
You don’t always find a song that’s as timeless as the Doobie Brothers’ “Long Train Running.” Even to this day, the song still remains fresh. We’re including it on this list due to a wonderful harmonica solo by the band’s frontman Tom Johnston who also wrote the piece.
Sting – Shape of My Heart
“Shape of My Heart” is a bit different compared to other songs here. Aside from being a mellow ballad, that unique type that only Sting and Dominic Miller were able to write, there’s also a great harmonica solo in it. This one was performed by Larry Adler, who is a famous player of this fine instrument.
The Beatles – Love Me Do
Of course, it’s impossible not to include this legendary piece by The Beatles. Released back in 1962, “Love Me Do” was the band’s first-ever release. It features a fairly simple and catchy harmonica riff which was performed by John Lennon. This song is a must for everyone who wants to start playing the instrument.
Bob Dylan – Mr. Tambourine Man
Bob Dylan has recorded almost 40 albums in his career. But going through all of his stuff, we’d argue that “Mr. Tambourine Man” really stands out. What’s more, it features some of the best-known harmonica parts in the history of modern music. It’s not a complicate one to learn, although it’s far from an easy task to get it to sound like the original.
Here, we included what we consider to be the most interesting songs to play on harmonica. These will all cover some basic techniques, but will also provide a solid basis for you to learn improvisation and soloing over simple chord progressions. Nothing too complicated, but we also included a few of them that are a bit challenging.
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