The World's simplest rock songs. . .

Roadrunner – Jonathan Richman and the Modern Lovers, two chords all the way through with a third thrown in for the final cadence.

Leave Me Alone Lou Reed one (1) chord. I’ve only heard a Soft Boys cover of this and IIRC they just play a G all the way through, maybe Mr Reed makes it more complicated?

Anyone know of any songs to rival these?
I was also thinking of Oh, Superman but it’s so long since I’ve heard it I can’t remember if it has some structure or just goes Ah, ah, ah. . . all the way through.

Dave Barry once wrote that if you threw a guitar off a cliff, and it bounced off the rocks on the way down, it would play “Gloria”.

There’s a great band called Oneida (think Can crossed with Spacemen 3 crossed with the MC5) who do a song called Sheets of Easter on their album Each One Teach One. It starts with the line “You’ve got to look into the light”. On the word “light”, they play one loud, crunching, half-second riff, that then repeats, without change, for the next fourteen minutes.

“Every Rose Has its Thorn” by Poison.

C, C-suspended second. Move two fingers up and down.

Even I can play it, and I can’t play guitar.

Great song, though.

“I’ll Be Around” by The Spinners is based entirely on two chords.

I think “Horse With No Name” might only be two chords, from what I remember.

Smoke on the Water comes to mind.

“96 Tears” by ? and the Mysterians. Two chords, three notes, played on an electronic keyboard.

At the risk of angering fans of The Boss, *Born in the USA * is about as simple as it gets. It repeats the basic tune of the refrain, essentially three notes, throughout the entire song.

Suzy-Q is about as basic rock n’ roll as you can get.

The lyrics of course are far more sophisticated. :smiley:

I Want You (She’s So Heavy) - The Beatles

I came into this thread to post this very song.

I once heard a Muzak-y version of it sans lyrics. It was the same “DAAAAAh, dah dah Dah dah Dahhhhhhhhh” note sequence repeated, and repeated, and repeated, for 3 minutes. I like the original song, but as elevator music it simply did not work.

Wow. My suggestion, “Sweet Dreams are Made of This” is freakin’ Mozart compared to some of the suggestions above…

Of course, it is a bit more complicated than that. If you’re going to do it in the key of ‘C’, you have a C, and then really an Fsus2 for the verses, which end with a G and then an F going into the chorus, which operates chordally like the chorus.

There’s also a bridge that goes A minor, G, F, C, A minor, G, F (IIRC… I don’t have a piano/guitar handy).

So, the verses/chorus fit reasonably well within the ‘only got three chords’ rock song simplicity, but sticking a bridge with a different chord progression might disqualify this one. :slight_smile:

You can get away with playing Jane’s Addiction’s “Jane Says” with just G and A. It was the first song I learned to play on the guitar.

No kidding. I was going to recommend anything bby Ted “Who Needs Four Chords?” Nugent.

I hate the song, but only because we’re supposed to accept it from the same guy who gave us the infinitely more creative and musically superior *Born To Run * album. BitUSA offends my musical senses because of its simplicity, and because Bruce made a mint from the album despite the fact that it’s crap. [end of rant]

There are plenty of one-chord blues songs out there - it was a major part of John Lee Hooker’s style, and Howlin’ Wolf did his share of them as well - and plenty of rock musicians imitated them.

Why Don’t We Do It in the Road? is a twelve-bar blues, so it has three chords, but it also has only 14 distinct words by my count. I think it belongs on this list.

Silence, by John Cage.


For What It’s Worth, by Buffalo Springfield: E A E A E A E A…

Great song though. Simplicity is by no means a bad thing.