It’s probably no exaggeration to say that thousands of people have dreamed of being on stage and performing a scorching guitar solo. Or stayed at home pretending to be a guitarist.
There are fun activities you can try out in your living room, and many people have played aerial guitar on their favorite guitar riff when they are alone. Filmmakers are also well aware of the power of the guitar. Scott Pilgrim’s bass battle, the Bohemian Rhapsody guitar solo scene, and of course, Marty McFly in Back to the Future which releases a Chuck Berry classic.
Whether in the movies, on the radio quietly at home, or live in an arena, guitars have a power that some other instruments don’t. Here are some of those great guitar moments, who created them and why you should try them, too.
Do more people play instruments today than ever before?
During shutdowns over the past year and a half, most people have spent more time at home than ever before. While sheltering from Covid and playing by the rules, things have gotten stale.
Of course, it was fun watching Netflix every day and finally making that subscription profitable. Browsing through this list of Korean horror movies you’ve seen for the past six years was also satisfying. But, and whisper it softly, there are other activities that can be done at home. One of the hobbies that many practiced was learning an instrument. If you and your entire condo are stuck inside, why not brighten up the neighbors with a little out-of-tune violin?
More seriously, instrument sales exploded in 2020 and sales continue on the same path today. People started learning piano chords at home from the Internet for the first time. Others chose the ukulele or the guitar.
Why is the guitar still so popular?
Of all the instruments you can buy, it’s probably fair to say that guitars are considered the Alpha. Guitars look cool, they sound great, and they make a person cooler than they really are. But they can also make amazing sounds when in good hands, and no matter how old those hands are either.
While people were stuck at home, they were looking for new ways to spend their time. Music was one of them, and many middle-aged and senior people also chose to learn a new instrument. You can master the art of music as an adult as much as you can if you are a teenager.
It’s just that guitarist dads look less cool than eighteen-year-olds.
Which musicians should a guitar enthusiast watch?
Obviously, this aspect depends a little on your taste. However, there are some guitarists who have appeared in modern music and deserve listening and watching no matter what genre you find yourself in. Eddie Van Halen was a guitar prodigy. Johnny Marr of the Smiths among others is a much better guitarist than the next English musician. Eric Clapton is indeed a legend, and Layla has more than any guitarist could wish for.
The song Layla has that beautiful piano outro that Martin Scorsese used in Goodfellas, but it also has one of the most famous riffs of all time. Mark Knopfler, Joe Satriani, Santana, Pete Townshend, Brian May, Stevie Ray Vaughan and BB King are just a few of the guitarists to check out.
If you want to get away from the total mainstream, take a look at the big picture, then take a look at Graham Coxon. Unable to show all he could do in Blur, he has an undeniable talent with the guitar. However, there can only be one when it comes to climax. While everyone has their favorites, Jimi Hendrix is widely regarded as the best, most creative, and talented guitarist of all time.
Where to find the best riffs and solos?
If you want to work your way through a catalog, you will find an incredible amount of guitar work. Just watching movies will bring fun and sometimes great times. It’s Spinal Tap, School of Rock, and Crossroads, which are entertaining for any guitar fan.
However, when it comes to serious research, you’ll need to dig through your record collection, or maybe go to YouTube and Spotify. Business Insider’s Top 50 Albums include an array of records with classic riffs, intros, and guitar solos. Most of the best songs, or even just snippets, can be found online. Stairway to Heaven is of course a guitar riff to never forget. Maybe when it comes to intros, there’s one that has become iconic through the use of MTV.
Money for Nothing by Dire Straits presents one of the most played and recognizable intros of all time. For any fan of this song, there is a clip on YouTube where Mark Knopfler teamed up live with Phil Collins and Eric Clapton to perform it. Sting is there too.
Classic songs with serious guitar moments
Down to the smallest detail. A list of songs with the best riffs will be subjective as it would be easy to miss someone’s favorite song. But, here’s a list with some great guitar moments.
And, if you want to learn these songs, there is an easy way to find out what chords are being played. An online app can instantly display the chords of American Pie and any other song you want to learn. Just download the song and see the chords on the screen.
Top ten (ish) songs with unforgettable or unusual guitar moments in no particular order. Also, without the songs already mentioned above.
- Beat It – Eddie Van Halen’s solo
- That Lovely Man – Johnny Marr
- Satisfaction – Keith Richards and his Fuzztone
- Sweet Child o ‘Mine – Slash
- Wanted Dead or Alive – Richie Sambora’s intro
- All Along the Watchtower – Jimi Hendrix
- Carrefour – Eric Clapton for the solo
- Free Bird – Gary Rossington, Allen Collins
- Johnny Be Goode – Chuck Berry, guitar legend
- Only Shallow – Kevin Shields
What about a bit of controversy though?
The music has been marred by controversy over the decades. After all, surely there is only a limited number of chord arrangements you can make before copying someone else, whether on purpose or by accident.
The Strokes have been accused of copying Tom Petty. Vanilla Ice sampled the music of Queen and Bowie. And Radiohead accused Lana Del Ray of ripping them off, even though the Hollies accused the British group of doing the same to them.
As far as guitar riffs go, there is one that is interesting. Check out the interesting similarities between the Kings of Grunge; Nirvana, and The Killing Joke, and possibly the creators, The Damned. All powerful intros, but surprisingly similar.
If you have an interest in playing the guitar, there are real musical heroes. It may be good to learn these riffs and intros, but once you get the serious practice practicing you can create your own.
There are also some great movies for guitarists, including The Kids are Alright, The Runaways, and Shine a Light. Maybe also try The Dirt if you are a fan of the Crue.