Please help: great songs that help demo music basics

I’m looking for songs that fit the following criteria:

(1) Well-known pop or rock songs, from the Beatles to the present. The more well-known the better.

(2) Songs where the arrangement or structure will help me to explain the rudiments of how pop/rock music actually works, how it’s put together.

Let me elaborate on the second point. Suppose I’m addressing someone who is basically clueless about how bands actually record and perform popular music. I want to illustrate the basics, and to find songs that help me to illustrate how the basics come together.

I’m only aiming to explain simple stuff. E.g. ‘the drummer establishes the tempo, the beat and the rhythm. The music is usually in what we call 4/4 (I’ll explain this) and the bass drum gives the deep heavy, dum - dum sound, usually on the 1 and 3 of the bar, while the snare (higher, tinny sort of sound) usually answers on the 2 and 4. Then there are tinny-sounding cymbals or ‘hi-hats’ that fill in beats or half beats, in a pitter-patter sort of way, to augment the sound, and ‘crash’ cymbals that mark the end of bars, usually at the end of 4 or 8 bar counts or to punctuate a climax. The bass player - that’s the deep, low-down guitar sound that rumbles the loudspeakers a bit - usually plays lines based on the root notes of each chord in the song, and the drummer and bass player together form what we call ‘the rhythm section’. The rhythm guitar basically plays the chords involved in the song, and the strumming or picking pattern helps to establish the rhythm and ‘feel’ of the song. When the rhythm guitar changes to a new chord, the bass guitar changes to a new root note, but he’s an octave or more below. The lead guitar is for riffs, licks and solos that stand out from the background and are meant to be a strong part of the appeal of the song and how memorable it is’.

Songs that are built up layer by layer, so that it’s easy for the listener to appreciate how it all comes together, would be good.

Sorry for the long OP. Any good suggestions?

I think Black Sabbath would work well for this, particularly “War Pigs”, “Into the Void”, and “Evil Woman.” Not sure how well known they are to the average person, though.

I’m a man - Chicago, the intro shows how fairly complex rhythyms can be layered up from simple elements, the percussion instruments and the lead guitar are introduced one by one to build up the song before being finally joined by the vocals.

Sultana - Titanic, works in a similar way, I’m afraid that a copy of this won’t be easy to locate though. You might want to check out some of their other stuff, not too many rock bands hail from Norway, they were pretty good.

Here there and everywhere - The Beatles, has been described as the most perfect pop song ever, its deceptively simple but it is regarded as one of Pauls best love song he wrote with the Beatles. It does show that you don’t need sophisticated equipment, lots of musicians and the like to write a classic.

Teenage Kicks - The Undertones, again a simple enough song, raucous and almost definative of what New Wave was all about, you don’t need massive musical skill, it helps but so does lots of energy and enthusiasm.

Two tracks from the Paul Simon album

The obvious child - Multilayer drums of differing tempos and note come in steadily.

Can’t run but - Starts of with a xylophone rhythym was has one bass added, this bass picks up part of the first instrument at an octave lower, then a number of drums come in at differant speeds and types.

Paranoid - Black Sabbath, its simple and effective, with the bass driving along and a cymbal and large tom strike ending every bar, it all works on timing between differant instruments so you get the bass reinforcing the bass kick drum to give it more punch.

I think that plenty of Chuck Berry songs would fit in, things like ‘Schoolday’ and ‘No particular place to go’

Yes, thank you, I had forgotten Paranoid. My only excuse is that I’ve heard that song so. many. times. I’ve put up a mental block to it.

Thanks fort he good suggestions thus far. ‘Paranoid’ might work quite well, and ‘Teenage Kicks’ is a very savvy suggestion. Some of the others I’ll check out.

Keep them coming, people! I’m sure there are more Dopers out there with good suggestions, but I think the length of my OP has put people off. Note to self: must write shorter, snappier posts.

Smoke on the Water* by Deep Purple has a very layered start.

It begins with one instrument and then adds them one by one.

Reviewing my suggestions, maybe the Paul Simon stuff would not be suitable, nor the Beatles one, the Chicago might work, but its doubtful unless you use it as something to aim for by working through a few others.

I think that standard fare for what you suggest is Status Quo material, I have heard one or two rock guitar tutors use it, particularly ‘Paper Plane’ and ‘Pictures of Matchstick men’ for real beginners as you can knock out the tune with a minimum of work.

Only problem is that the fingers are spread wide on the frets.

The first thing I thought of was Creedence Clearwater Revival. It doesn’t come much more clean and simple than Creedence. Between them and Bad Company, I was able to keep the drum seat in my first band until I actually learned to play.

(No offense to Simon Kirke or Doug “Cosmo” Clifford.)

Thanks for the suggestions, DfrntBreign. I’m not familiar with the work of these two bands. Would you care to suggest say, two tracks in either case, that might be particularly good examples?

Casdave - thanks again for your input. However, just to clarify, this isn’t for someone who will be playing, or learning to play, the guitar or any other instrument. I’m just ‘enlightening’ someone about how popular music actually works, and I want some good examples that will help her to attune her ear so she can pick out what the different elements are actually doing. That’s all.

The simple rhythmic structure is what made me think of both of these bands.

The arrangement of “Proud Mary” by CCR is almost a blueprint for a three minute, 4/4 rock song. “Down On The Corner” starts with just a hi-hat and adds a little at a time. Might be useful.

Most of Bad Company’s first album (Bad Company with the song “Bad Company”) is pretty much by-the-numbers as well. “Seagull” might help explain different time signatures. It’s in 6/8, I believe.

I have to ask. How do you know “Paranoid” and not CCR’s “Fortunate Son”, “Run Through The Jungle” or “Suzie Q”? Or Bad Company’s “Feel Like Making Love”? Not that you necessarily should know them, just how did you avoid them? In the early to mid-70’s, Bad Company was unavoidable. I know. I tried.

(Again, no offense to Simon Kirke.)

An interesting listen is “I, Robot” from The Alan Parsons Project.

It’s different because each layer that comes in sounds like a completely different beat until your mind suddenly switches gears and it all comes together and makes sense.

One of my favorites.

DfrntBreign -

Good list!

‘Bad Moon Rising’ was difficult to miss too!

I didn’t take in a great deal of popular music until around 75-76, and even then I tended to overdose on electronic / synth stuff (eg Tangerine Dream) and prog rock, to the exclusion of much else. I didn’t even get into Led Zep until the mid 1980s.

Thanks to all for further suggestions.

Don’t be surprised if you see RealityChuck come in and recommend “The Intro & The Outro” by The Bonzo Dog Band and ccwaterback or Hugh Jass stop by to recommend “Fried Hockey Boogie” by Canned Heat.

How 'bout Baba O’Riley?

It begins with just the synth track. Adds piano. Keith comes in on drums. A few cymbal crashes and then the bass and vocals enter into the mix. Next comes the signature Townshend power chords. Half way through, Pete adds some minimalist lead bits, and then (depending on which version you choose), there’s a violin or harmonica riff that closes the song out. It’s a basic, but very powerful song, with the various elements well-represented.