How-To

Easy Country Songs to Learn on Guitar

From Brad Paisley to Willie Nelson, here's a pack of country songs that you can learn in a snap.

If you’re a beginning guitar player, learning how to play a song is one of the most rewarding outcomes for your efforts.

You’ve been working hard on the basics, like how to tune your guitar, how to hold a pick and how to play chords. Why not show-off your new skills by tackling one of your favorite tunes?

For those beginners that like a little twang in their tone, there are a lot of country songs that are a snap to learn with Fender Play, from current pop country superstar Carrie Underwood to the legendary Bakersfield Sound pioneer Buck Owens.

Country music offers musicians a wealth of guitar techniques to add to their arsonal. From the shuffling locomotive style of strumming, to bass note fingerpicking, these country guitar mainstays can be heard on songs by legends like Willie Nelson to newer artists like Jaime Wyatt.

Here’s a list of 19 easy to learn country songs that any beginner can pick up.


Dolly Parton: “Jolene”

Dolly Parton’s “Jolene” is an impassioned plea from one woman to another, dealing with feelings of inadequacy, fear of losing a loved one, and a twinge of jealousy. An easy song for beginners to play, “Jolene” is made up of three easy country guitar chords (Am, C, and G) and centers around strumming at different speeds, using alternate strumming techniques for a sensitive, low-and-slow pace. One of the most-covered country songs of all time, singer-songwriter Jaime Wyatt puts a modern, gritty twist on Dolly’s country classic.

Check out Jaime Wyatt’s version of “Jolene”

Embedded content: https://youtu.be/n1fYC1y2dnw?t=358?rel=0

Chords Used
-- Am
-- G
-- C

Learn how to play “Jolene” by Dolly Parton


Willie Nelson: “On the Road Again”

Anyone who knows anything about country music knows Willie Nelson’s “One the Road Again,” a tale of the road with fiery rhythm guitar strumming that gives the bouncy melody some urgency. A simplified melody riff starts you on the path to learning this country guitar standard, and get ready to pull out that bass note strum technique. This song can be played solo with the bass note, but “On the Road Again” is also a great song to be “makin’ music with my friends again,” dividing up the guitar parts between picking, bass notes, and strumming.

Embedded content: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V2ZshEy2unU&feature=youtu.be&t=365?rel=0

Chords used:
-- E
-- F#
-- G#7
-- B7
-- A

Learn how to play “On the Road Again”.


Hank Williams: “Jambalaya (On the Bayou)”

Hank Williams' single-note-picking technique helped define country guitar playing, and this No. 1 Billboard Hot Country single proves he knew his way around song structure as well. This simple progression backing a catchy melody makes this tune into a country favorite. You’ve got two easy guitar chords here!

Basics needed:
-- First time chords: G&C
-- Read a Chord Diagram

Learn how to play “Jambalaya (On the Bayou)" here.


Steven Goodwin: “City of New Orleans”

When your song (produced by Kris Kristofferson no less!) is covered by legends like Arlo Guthrie and Willie Nelson, you know you penned a winner. Steve Goodman’s ‘70s country classic will help you lock down your bass note strumming techniques.

Chords Used:
-- Am
-- D
-- Em
-- F

Learn how to play “City of New Orleans” here.



Dolly Parton: “I Will Always Love You”

While most people associate “I Will Always Love You” with Whitney Houston in the film, The Bodyguard, Dolly Parton originally wrote and performed this song in another film, The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas. Dolly’s version takes the tempo down and relies more on a troubled sweetness than vocal pyrotechnics. This acoustic country ballad features such techniques as a country-style walk down, as well as fingerpicking with a bass note strum.

Hear Jaime Wyatt’s version of Dolly Parton’s “I Will Always Love You.”

Embedded content: https://youtu.be/n1fYC1y2dnw?t=1302?rel=0

Chords Used:
-- Am
-- G
-- C

Learn how to play “I Will Always Love You” by Dolly Parton


John Denver: “Thank God I’m a Country Boy”

Topping the Billboard Hot Country Singles chart and Hot 100 in 1975, “Thank God I’m a Country Boy” is an anthem for hard-working, small-town folks everywhere and a tasty blend of folk and country guitar techniques. Learning this melodic riff along with bass note picking will give your country playing some spring in its step.

Learn how to play “Thank God I’m a Country Boy” here.

Chords Used:
-- D
-- E
-- A
-- F#
-- G


Carrie Underwood: “Blown Away”

Some call Carrie Underwood the new “Queen of Country,” and based on her spin on classic country songwriting, they may be right. “Blown Away” was her 13th No. 1 hit on the Billboard Country Airplay chart and also reached No. 20 on the Hot 100. With only one chord progression to master, you can make it through this Grammy-winning track.

Chords Used
-- Am
-- G
-- C

Learn how to play “Blown Away” here.


Willie Nelson: “Whiskey River”

Songs about pounding back hard liquor to drown your sorrows are just as much a part of country music as Willie Nelson is. On this classic country track, Willie switches time signatures throughout the song -- speeding up the pace before slowing things down and breathing new life into just four chords. The song also plays with such essential country guitar techniques as alternate strumming and string muting.

Check out Eugene Edwards and Chris Masterson playing the solo to “Whiskey River”

Embedded content: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V2ZshEy2unU&feature=youtu.be&t=875?rel=0

Techniques Used:
-- String Muting
-- Alternate Strumming

Learn how to play “Whiskey River”.


Dolly Parton: “Coat of Many Colors"

While most people associate “I Will Always Love You” with Whitney Houston in the film, The Bodyguard, Dolly Parton originally wrote and performed this song in another film, The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas. Dolly’s version takes the tempo down and relies more on a troubled sweetness than vocal pyrotechnics. This acoustic country ballad features such techniques as a country-style walk down, as well as fingerpicking with a bass note strum.

Hear Jaime Wyatt’s version of Dolly Parton’s “Coat of Many Colors.”

Embedded content: https://youtu.be/n1fYC1y2dnw?t=785?rel=0

Basics needed:
-- Learn Whole & Half Notes

Learn how to play “Coat of Many Colors” by Dolly Parton


Dwight Yoakam: “Guitars, Cadillacs"”

From fingerpicking to that unmistakable, locomotive country strum sound, Dwight Yoakam’s “Guitars, Cadillacs” packs in many classic country guitar techniques that call back to its earliest roots. Guitarist Eugene Edwards calls it’s intro “the history of country music all in one really catchy riff.”

A study in different types of picking, “Guitars, Cadillacs” challenges beginner guitarists with 16th note picking and downpicking, as well as hammer ons. A fun song to play, it relies just as much on chords and rhythm as it does string-bending your way through some hearty country riffs.

Hear Dwight Yoakam’s guitarist, Eugene Edwards, play the intro to “Guitars, Cadillacs.”

Embedded content: https://youtu.be/1C__NVLq-Ec?t=1770?rel=0

Techniques Used
-- Lead Guitar Hammer-Ons
-- String Bends

Learn how to play “Guitars, Cadillacs" here”


Buck Owens: “Together Again”

This No. 1 Billboard Country charter came of one of Buck Owens’ strongest albums of the ‘60s. You’ll find out how to play the bass note strum – a country fundamental – with a straight-from-the-heart classic. Pick up your Telecaster and follow along.

Chords used:
-- C7
-- F
-- G7
-- C

Learn how to play “Together Again” here.


Traditional: “I Shall Not Be Moved”

Bluesman Mississippi John Hurt's version of this classic gave blues and rock fans a lesson in songwriting and how to milk classic countrified chords. What’s more, it’s also been covered by Johnny Cash, Son House and even Elvis Presley. This song straddles folk, blues, and country and features three basic chords and syncopated rhythms.

Techniques used:
-- Syncopation
-- 8th Note Strum

Learn how to play “I Shall Not Be Moved”.


Maren Morris: “My Church”

A modern country song with a classic feel, “My Church” by Maren Morris takes a look at what it means to be human and how cranking music in your car can kick your soul into four-wheel drive. Three open major chords (A, D, and E) ring out loud and true. Different strum techniques add some spice to the tune, including alternate strumming, quarter note, and eighth note strumming.

Chords used:
-- D
-- E
-- A

Learn how to play “My Church".


Traditional: “Pay Me My Money Down”

This traditional song was performed by the Weavers during their influential 1955 Carnegie Hall concerts and further popularized by the Kingston Trio in 1957, but Bruce Springsteen gave it new life when he included it on his 2006 folk album, We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions. Its old-timey vibe helped familiarize younger generations with traditional country song structure and guitar work. Using one-finger chords, it will aid you in playing simplified chords and rhythm patterns.

Chords used:
-- C
-- G

Learn how to play “Pay Me My Money Down” here.


Jamie Wyatt “Just a Woman"

Dubbed the new queen of outlaw country, Jaime Wyatt’s grit shines through in her songs. “Just a Woman.” Played with a capo on the first fret, listen as Wyatt shifts through chord changes and uses the classic bass-note strum technique and percussive strumming to bring a vintage country feel to the new breed of outlaw musicians.

Listen to Jaime Wyatt play her song, “Just a Woman.”

Embedded content: https://youtu.be/n1fYC1y2dnw?t=1758?rel=0

Learn how to play “Coat of Many Colors” by Dolly Parton


Brad Paisley: “He Didn’t Have to Be”

Telecaster master Brad Paisley has helped define the modern country sound, and this easy-to-learn smash hit shows why. This easygoing song – that was his first No. 1 hit – will help refine your strumming hand technique.

Basic Skills Needed:
-- Using a capo
-- Reading a Chord Diagram

Learn how to play “He Didn’t Have to Be” here.


Merle Haggard: "The Fightin' Side of Me”

With "The Fightin' Side of Me," we're going to look at a common chord progression used in many styles of music. By the end of this lesson you will have learned: E, A and B7 chords

Learn how to play “The Fightin' Side of Me” here.

Techniques used:
-- 8th note strumming
-- Alternate Strumming


Willie Nelson: “Mammas Don't Let Your Babies”

A cautionary tale to mothers everywhere, the godfather of outlaw country, Willie Nelson, tells them not to let their kids grow up to be cowboys. The ambling fingerpicking style of the song calls out to the ramblin’ nature of the cowboy lifestyle, while the bass note strum technique gives the song a low-down, dirty feel.

Country guitarist Eugene Edwards and Chris Masterson (of the husband-wife duo, The Mastersons) pick and strum their way through a version of the song that lends cool effects to Willie’s original country classic.

Embedded content: https://youtu.be/V2ZshEy2unU?t=1178?rel=0.

Techniques used:
-- Fingerpicking
-- Bass Note Strum

Learn how to play “Mammas Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Cowboys” here.


Merle Haggard: "I Think I’ll Just Stay Here and Drink”

Another outlaw country pioneer, Merle Haggard serves up a honky-tonk feel on “I Think I’ll Just Stay Here and Drink.” Play this song and pick up some country staples such as shuffle-style strumming and bass note eighth strumming laid down with some easy open chords: A, D, and E. The original makes use of piano and saxophone, but guitarists Eugene Edwards and Chris Masterson switched things up, playing some licks from the song alongside bass note strumming. Listen for yourself and try your own hand at playing Haggard’s classic.

Embedded content: https://youtu.be/V2ZshEy2unU?t=1495?rel=0.

Learn how to play “I Think I'll just Stay Here and Drink.

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For more easy songs to learn, click on the links that follow: Folk Songs I Pop Songs l Rock Songs l Blues Songs l Songs for Electric Guitar l Songs for Acoustic Guitar l Songs with 3 Chords