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Two chord songs needed

Jon W. 13 May 98 - 10:32 AM
Bill in Alabama 13 May 98 - 10:44 AM
Alice 13 May 98 - 11:02 AM
Frank Phillips 13 May 98 - 11:04 AM
steve t 13 May 98 - 12:34 PM
John in Brisbane 13 May 98 - 10:36 PM
wolfz 13 May 98 - 11:23 PM
Art Thieme 14 May 98 - 12:39 AM
steve t 14 May 98 - 01:05 AM
steve t 14 May 98 - 01:17 AM
Ted 14 May 98 - 02:55 AM
murray@mpce.mq.edu.au 14 May 98 - 03:56 AM
murray@mpce.mq.edu.au 14 May 98 - 04:08 AM
Jon W. 14 May 98 - 10:28 AM
Max 14 May 98 - 01:13 PM
alison 15 May 98 - 07:41 AM
Whippoorwill 15 May 98 - 10:19 AM
Darin McGrew 15 May 98 - 03:45 PM
murray@mpce.mq.edu.au 15 May 98 - 08:46 PM
KickyC 15 May 98 - 11:15 PM
Genie 16 Feb 02 - 04:26 AM
GUEST 09 Jun 08 - 08:13 AM
Piers Plowman 09 Jun 08 - 09:42 AM
GUEST,Volgadon 09 Jun 08 - 11:23 AM
The Fooles Troupe 09 Jun 08 - 07:12 PM
Piers Plowman 10 Jun 08 - 02:30 AM
Piers Plowman 10 Jun 08 - 02:58 AM
GUEST,Dave Clou 16 Jun 10 - 04:41 PM
mousethief 16 Jun 10 - 05:28 PM
GUEST,Corona Smith 16 Jun 10 - 08:30 PM
alex s 17 Jun 10 - 06:59 AM
GUEST,leeneia 17 Jun 10 - 08:03 AM
kendall 17 Jun 10 - 08:17 AM
GUEST 17 Jun 10 - 08:27 AM
Stringsinger 17 Jun 10 - 07:27 PM
BobKnight 17 Jun 10 - 07:32 PM
Stringsinger 17 Jun 10 - 07:34 PM
Bobert 17 Jun 10 - 08:13 PM
beeliner 17 Jun 10 - 08:15 PM
Crowhugger 03 Nov 10 - 10:22 PM
BrooklynJay 04 Nov 10 - 03:16 AM
GUEST,Desi C 04 Nov 10 - 08:39 AM
GUEST,Steamin' Willie 04 Nov 10 - 09:31 AM
The Sandman 04 Nov 10 - 02:14 PM
Trapper 05 Nov 10 - 10:33 AM
The Sandman 06 Nov 10 - 09:30 AM
buzzer64 06 Nov 10 - 09:57 AM
Janie 06 Nov 10 - 06:18 PM
Steve Shaw 06 Nov 10 - 08:07 PM
GUEST,george allen hicks 03 Jul 11 - 06:29 PM
Charley Noble 03 Jul 11 - 08:06 PM
GUEST,gabe 03 Jul 11 - 08:06 PM
The Sandman 04 Jul 11 - 07:24 AM
GUEST,jfharms 09 Nov 11 - 08:22 AM
Genie 21 Sep 12 - 11:36 PM
Northerner 22 Sep 12 - 04:03 AM
GUEST,DTM 22 Sep 12 - 04:56 AM
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Subject: Two chord songs needed
From: Jon W.
Date: 13 May 98 - 10:32 AM

My wife volunteers an hour a week to teach music in our grade school. She wants to have the children do a simple jug band next week, and wants to teach them a common folk song with two chord accompaniment on the jugs, in oom-pah-pah style. Can anyone suggest a very well-known folk song with just two chords?


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Subject: RE: Two chord songs needed
From: Bill in Alabama
Date: 13 May 98 - 10:44 AM

My Darling Clementine, for one.


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Subject: RE: Two chord songs needed
From: Alice
Date: 13 May 98 - 11:02 AM

From "American Folk Songs For Children" by Ruth Crawford Seeger,

Pick a Bale of Cotton

John Henry

Skip to My Lou

Pawpaw Patch

Frog Went a-Courtin'
(Her chords are F and C7, they could be silent on the one measure that is Bflat)

My Horses Ain't Hungry

There are many more in her book, but most of them are not 'very well known'.

alice


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Subject: RE: Two chord songs needed
From: Frank Phillips
Date: 13 May 98 - 11:04 AM

What about "Go Tell Aunt Rhody" or "Down in the Valley" or "Billy Boy" or "Hush Little Baby" or "He's got the Whole World"

Frank Phillips


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Subject: RE: Two chord songs needed
From: steve t
Date: 13 May 98 - 12:34 PM

From Rise Up Singing

Away With Rum
Buffalo Boy
Beans In My Ears (only song ever to be banned by a NY health board!)
Green, Green Rocky Road
Itsy Bitsy Spider
Skip to My Lou
Throw it Out the Window
The Wheels on the Bus


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Subject: RE: Two chord songs needed
From: John in Brisbane
Date: 13 May 98 - 10:36 PM

Top of the head - Jambalaya is only two chords - I think.

Regards John


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Subject: RE: Two chord songs needed
From: wolfz
Date: 13 May 98 - 11:23 PM

CHECK OUT OLDER COUNTRY SONGS,IE: HANK WILLIAMS, SR, AND BOXCAR WILLIE


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Subject: RE: Two chord songs needed
From: Art Thieme
Date: 14 May 98 - 12:39 AM

Woody used to do "Buffalo Skinners" with one chord.


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Subject: RE: Two chord songs needed
From: steve t
Date: 14 May 98 - 01:05 AM

How I longed to learn the tune to Buffalo Skinners when I was first learning the guitar. It was LONG after I could switch easily between chords that I finally heard the melody to the only song in the Folksinger's Wordbook that uses only one chord. Sigh.


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Subject: RE: Two chord songs needed
From: steve t
Date: 14 May 98 - 01:17 AM

I've just noticed a link to the scout's song book. You might find some useful stuff there.

http://www.emf.net/~troop24/scouting/songbook.html


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Subject: RE: Two chord songs needed
From: Ted
Date: 14 May 98 - 02:55 AM

There are many rock songs with two chords-- Iko,Iko (a song kids love!) Dream Baby (which many kids know from a recent tv commercial) Rockin' Pnuemonia (and the boogie woogie flu) Bo Diddley (which just a funny version of Mockingbird)

Lots of songs that don't sound simple have only two chords as well, such as "Just my Imagination"

Many rap tunes can be played with a single chord accompaniment--or may even with just a clapped rhythm--you say you don't know any rap ? The kids do--and they'd love to teach you(make sure the lyrics are safe first though)--

If you find songs that are interesting and fun, the kids can really open up, andyou will really have a great time--


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Subject: RE: Two chord songs needed
From: murray@mpce.mq.edu.au
Date: 14 May 98 - 03:56 AM

I have one of those '60s "guitar books for idiots". There are two simple songs that I think will do. The first is "Blow the Man Down" In the key of A major using A and E7. There is one bar calling for a D, but that one can be replaced by a jug "woof" or just silence. Here it is. The chords are in square brackets before the phrases to which they pertain. The starting note is E

I'll [A] sing you a song a good song of the sea
Way! [D, jug or silence] Hey! [E7] Blow the man down;
And trust that you'll join in the chorus with me.
Give me some time to blow the man [A] down.

The other one is Railroad Bill. The key is D the starting note is F:

[D] Railroad Bill Railroad Bill
He never worked and he [G] never will
I'm gonna [D] ride old [A7 or silence] Railroad [D] Bill

I played around with both and they sound fine without the extra chord. Railroad bill actually sounds OK if you use a D chord throughout the final "ride old Railroad Bill" but sing "Railroad" at the same pitch as "ride old".

Let me know if you need more detail about the melodies. I can probably make abc files for them.

Murray


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Subject: Lyr Add: RAILROAD BILL^^^
From: murray@mpce.mq.edu.au
Date: 14 May 98 - 04:08 AM

Oops! I forgot the extra verses for Railroad Bill

Railroad Bill he was a mighty mean man,
He shot the midnight lantern out of the brakeman's hand
I'm going to ride old Railroad Bill

Railroad Bill took my wife
Said if I don't like it, he would take my life
I'm going...

Going up on a mountain, going out West,
"Thirty-eight special" sticking out of my vest
I'm going....

Buy me a pistol just as long as my arm
Kill everybody ever done me harm
I'm going....

I've got a "thirty-eight special" on a "forty-five frame,"
How in the world can I miss him when I got dead aim
I'm going...

Repeat first verse
Honey, honey, think I'm a fool
Think I would quit you while the weather is cool
I'm going..

Great stuff for kids, Hm? But I think even if you only use two or three verses it makes a good song.

Murray


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Subject: RE: Two chord songs needed
From: Jon W.
Date: 14 May 98 - 10:28 AM

Thanks everyone. I'll pass the info on to my wife and she can choose the song to use.

Jon W.


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Subject: RE: Two chord songs needed
From: Max
Date: 14 May 98 - 01:13 PM

Song to Woody by Dylan

G and C


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Subject: RE: Two chord songs needed
From: alison
Date: 15 May 98 - 07:41 AM

Hi,

What shall we do with the drunken sailor. (Em D)

Slainte

Alison


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Subject: RE: Two chord songs needed
From: Whippoorwill
Date: 15 May 98 - 10:19 AM

There was a scout camp parody we used to do that requires only one chord:

Dirty Lil, Dirty Lil,
Lives on top of Garbage Hill.
Never washes, never will,
(Hochh, ptoo!) Dirty Lil.

Melody is - in the key of C:
EGG EGG
EGGAEDC
EGGAEGG
(hack, spit) EDC


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Subject: RE: Two chord songs needed
From: Darin McGrew
Date: 15 May 98 - 03:45 PM

"Hey, Lollee!" is another two-chord song.

Last year, the kids (3rd-6th grade) hated it, but this year they like it. And more than half of them are the same kids. Maybe it's the faster tempo this year, or maybe it's that I'm playing it in C (C & G7) instead of in D (D & A7).


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Subject: RE: Two chord songs needed
From: murray@mpce.mq.edu.au
Date: 15 May 98 - 08:46 PM

I have been comuning with my newly acquired Anthology of American Folk Music. I have noticed two ONE chord songs. "When that great ship went Down" and, if you leave out the guitar break, "Kassie Jones". Kassie Jones just uses the tonic for the words and the guitar break is in the subdominant.

In addition, Several of the Carter Family songs in it are two-chorded. "John Hardy Was a Desperate Little Man" uses tonic and subdominant--Of course the words for John Henry can replace its lyrics. "Single Girl, Married Girl" uses tonic and dominant-7. "Little Moses" uses tonic and dominant-7.

The Anthology version of John Henry itself uses two chords--tonic and subdominant.

Murray


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Subject: RE: Two chord songs needed
From: KickyC
Date: 15 May 98 - 11:15 PM

I am teaching some high school kids to play some folk instruments and we have done "He's Got the Whole World in His Hands" and then have half the group do "Rock-a-My-Soul" while the first group continues. You can do it also with "Swing Low Sweet Chariot". The kids are from Mexico so we are also doing "La Cucaracha". They were excited to be able to do something so quickly.

Kicky


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Subject: RE: Two chord songs needed
From: Genie
Date: 16 Feb 02 - 04:26 AM

Actually, many songs posted above as "two chord songs" sound much better, I believe, with at least three. But I totally agree that "Drunken Sailor" and "Hey Li-lee, Li-lee" really do not need more than two!

My idea of a true "two-chord" song is one where adding any others would make the sonng sound WORSE, or, at least, not make it sound any BETTER>

One other true "two chord" song is "Sinner Man." [Thinking without my guitar here, it seems the two chords are Em and D.]

Genie


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Subject: RE: Two chord songs needed
From: GUEST
Date: 09 Jun 08 - 08:13 AM

Shoo-Fly, Down at the Station, Skip to My Lou,


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Subject: RE: Two chord songs needed
From: Piers Plowman
Date: 09 Jun 08 - 09:42 AM

I was going to say "La Paloma", but the melody and rhythm are a bit tricky. Not really a jug band-style tune, though. I bet they'd like it, though.

Why not 3 chord songs? There is a huge number of them, and, in fact, it's possible to play many more by replacing (for the key of C) Dm with F, Em with G, etc.

I play "Cielito Lindo" with 3 (or more) chords, but I think you could just get away with I and V. Alas, children today probably have never seen the immortal Frito Bandito.


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Subject: RE: Two chord songs needed
From: GUEST,Volgadon
Date: 09 Jun 08 - 11:23 AM

Anything by Christy Moore.... =)))
Ok, I lie, he sometimes uses three...


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Subject: RE: Two chord songs needed
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 09 Jun 08 - 07:12 PM

"Why not 3 chord songs?"

Because there are other threads for that...


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Subject: RE: Two chord songs needed
From: Piers Plowman
Date: 10 Jun 08 - 02:30 AM

"Pretty Polly" can be played with a single chord, but I'm not sure that murder ballads are suitable for pre-schoolers.

"John Henry" can be played on a single chord, but I usually use three.

I actually use 4 chords for "Cielito Lindo", counting I and I7 as two different chords (which, of course, they are). The verse uses two chords (as I play it), tonic and dominant. For the beginning of the chorus, I was playing A7 D7 G7 C, but I think C7 F G7 C is better most of the time, with the sequence starting on A7 for occasional variety.

I tried it with two chords (C and G7) and it sounded all right.


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Subject: RE: Two chord songs needed
From: Piers Plowman
Date: 10 Jun 08 - 02:58 AM

Keeping the constraint that the song has to have at most two chords, I think one shouldn't necessarily reject a tune just because it has more.

Theoretically, any diatonic melody, i.e., one that stays within a single scale or mode, can be harmonized with a single chord. The ultimate test is one's ears: if it sounds okay, then it is okay.

In nearly every case (in Western music), the two chords in a two-chord song will be the tonic and the dominant, e.g., C (tonic) and G7 (dominant). If it's the tonic and the subdominant, e.g., C and F, I would suspect that it might actually be the other way around with F as the tonic and C (or alternatively C7) as the dominant. One can always add the dom. 7th to the dominant, or leave it off. Again, for both points, one's ears are the ultimate test.

One might have something like Am G7, which would be the relative minor of C and the dominant of C. More common would be Am and E7 (i and V7 of A minor).

In short, one should feel free to experiment. You can't break anything and the worst that can happen is that it will sound awful.


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Subject: RE: Two chord songs needed
From: GUEST,Dave Clou
Date: 16 Jun 10 - 04:41 PM

IMHO The two best two chord songs:
Bill Withers: Use Me
Dave Mason: Feeling Alright (made famous by Joe Cocker)


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Subject: RE: Two chord songs needed
From: mousethief
Date: 16 Jun 10 - 05:28 PM

"Coconut" by Harry Nilsson uses only one chord. (C7).


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Subject: RE: Two chord songs needed
From: GUEST,Corona Smith
Date: 16 Jun 10 - 08:30 PM

'nonesuch'.

There are some lovely words to it from the 60's too. Each line is a season of the year.

And she shall bring the birds in spring
And dance among the flowers.
In summer's heat her kisses sweet
They fall from leafy bowers.

She cuts the grain and harvests corn.
The gifts of autumn round her.
The days grow old and winter's cold.
She draws her cloak around her.

KEY Dm

verse:
Dm

chorus:
C Dm


Corona.


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Subject: RE: Two chord songs needed
From: alex s
Date: 17 Jun 10 - 06:59 AM

Ballad of Hollis Brown (Dylan)


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Subject: RE: Two chord songs needed
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 17 Jun 10 - 08:03 AM

There's a beautiful Welsh song, Lisa Lan (Fair Lisa) which uses only D and C. It may be on Comtemplator's site.


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Subject: RE: Two chord songs needed
From: kendall
Date: 17 Jun 10 - 08:17 AM

The Convict and the Rose


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Subject: RE: Two chord songs needed
From: GUEST
Date: 17 Jun 10 - 08:27 AM

Chords are NOT the tune. ANY tune can be accompanied by ANY chords. (Many might sound rubbish, mind!)

Leeneia suggests that 'Lisa Lan' only needs D and C. It sounds quite nice if you stick with D all the way through as a drone. It can also work well with more complicated arrangements.

There is no one answer.


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Subject: RE: Two chord songs needed
From: Stringsinger
Date: 17 Jun 10 - 07:27 PM

Go Tell Aunt Nancy (Rhody)
B.I.N.G.O.   (though the IV chord is often used)

Some songs you can cheat with, (by not using the IV chord)
The E-ri-e Canal (The Er-i-E was a-risin')
Old Dan Tucker
Drill Ye Tarriers Drill
Oh Sinner Man
Poor Liza Jane
Buffalo Boy (Are You Goin' To the Wednin?)
Quaker's Wooing
Billy Boy
Love Somebody, Yes I Do
Every Little Soul's Gonna' Shine (Mister Rabbit)
You Better Stop Kickin' My Dog Around


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Subject: RE: Two chord songs needed
From: BobKnight
Date: 17 Jun 10 - 07:32 PM

Okie From Muskogee - Merle Haggard
Stranger Things - George Straight

And that one the Mavericks had a big hit with a few years back.


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Subject: RE: Two chord songs needed
From: Stringsinger
Date: 17 Jun 10 - 07:34 PM

I'll Tell Me Ma When I Come Home (You can cheat on this one too)
Green Corn (Come Along Charley)
Goin' Down to Cairo
Sourwood Mountain
Cripple Creek
Old Joe Clark
Coffee Grows on White Oak Trees
Fare Ye Well My Blue Eyed Girl
Most of these songs you can cheat and just use I and V7.


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Subject: RE: Two chord songs needed
From: Bobert
Date: 17 Jun 10 - 08:13 PM

Google up R.L. Burnsides "Miss Maybelle"... It can be done with one chord but two is okay, too...

It's a real cute song that has lots of animals in it...

(But, Boberdz... It's a dirty song...)

Well, okay, if ya gotta a dirty mind it is but kids love this song...

"let me be your hoppin' frog" (how dirty is that???)

B~


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Subject: RE: Two chord songs needed
From: beeliner
Date: 17 Jun 10 - 08:15 PM

Kids love "Molasses, Molasses (It's Icky Sticky Goo)". and you can make up verses for each kid's name!

I sing it with three chords, F, to C, then dropping in a C7 just before returning to the F.

But two suffice.


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Subject: RE: Two chord songs needed
From: Crowhugger
Date: 03 Nov 10 - 10:22 PM

I'm always amazed when old threads are reborn, especially when it's not by another asker but by those with more answers.

900 miles
Streets of Laredo can be done with 2 though I use more.


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Subject: RE: Two chord songs needed
From: BrooklynJay
Date: 04 Nov 10 - 03:16 AM

Coincidentally, at a folksinging get-together in Brooklyn last night I did a couple of songs that had only two chords:

Old Paint (I Ride an Old Paint)
Puttin' On the Style

I did them with only a D and A7 and they worked out quite well, I'm relieved to say.


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Subject: RE: Two chord songs needed
From: GUEST,Desi C
Date: 04 Nov 10 - 08:39 AM

Irish songs, Black Velvet Band and Galway Bay can both be played with two chords. Jumbalaya as someone else mention and quite a few of Hank Williams, and other early country songs, good luck, great to get kids involved early


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Subject: RE: Two chord songs needed
From: GUEST,Steamin' Willie
Date: 04 Nov 10 - 09:31 AM

I would argue just about every song if you pull it off with a strong melody in your singing, (which I can't so compensate with a million ruddy chords to disguise my less than perfect voice.)

Start by strumming a pedal chord (I) and see how far you get. The further you get, the more you realise what a good voice you have!


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Subject: RE: Two chord songs needed
From: The Sandman
Date: 04 Nov 10 - 02:14 PM

murshem durkin,black velvet band,biddy mulligan, cockles and mussels, cripple creek,


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Subject: RE: Two chord songs needed
From: Trapper
Date: 05 Nov 10 - 10:33 AM

The first two-chord song I learned was Tom Dooley.

- Al


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Subject: RE: Two chord songs needed
From: The Sandman
Date: 06 Nov 10 - 09:30 AM

matty groves.


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Subject: RE: Two chord songs needed
From: buzzer64
Date: 06 Nov 10 - 09:57 AM

Tom Paxton's Ramblin' Boy G D.


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Subject: RE: Two chord songs needed
From: Janie
Date: 06 Nov 10 - 06:18 PM

"Little Sally Walker" is more like a 1 1/2 chord song. In D usually.

Jim and Marilym Kweskin do a version that they call "Ain't Never Been Satisfied."

Amazon has a sample here.


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Subject: RE: Two chord songs needed
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 06 Nov 10 - 08:07 PM

Woody sang Pastures Of Plenty with just one chord. Woody once famously said that anyone who used three chords in a song was just showin' off. :-)


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Subject: RE: Two chord songs needed
From: GUEST,george allen hicks
Date: 03 Jul 11 - 06:29 PM

horse with no name


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Subject: RE: Two chord songs needed
From: Charley Noble
Date: 03 Jul 11 - 08:06 PM

I would second Trapper's suggestion: "Tom Dulla"

I remember well the agony and stress of changing from one chord to another!

Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: Two chord songs needed
From: GUEST,gabe
Date: 03 Jul 11 - 08:06 PM

Angeline Baker, D and G


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Subject: RE: Two chord songs needed
From: The Sandman
Date: 04 Jul 11 - 07:24 AM

peggy and the soldier, little birdie


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Subject: RE: Two chord songs needed
From: GUEST,jfharms
Date: 09 Nov 11 - 08:22 AM

One Time (Justin Beiber)
Some kids will love you forever.
Others will think it's dorky, but usual get into it (and know all the words in spite of themselves.)


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Subject: RE: Two chord songs needed
From: Genie
Date: 21 Sep 12 - 11:36 PM

Pastures Of Plenty doesn't need more than 2 chords, anyway (though embellishing with short melodic snippets, hammering, etc., can make the background more interesting than just strumming on one chord).


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Subject: RE: Two chord songs needed
From: Northerner
Date: 22 Sep 12 - 04:03 AM

Thank you for bringing this thread back again.


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Subject: RE: Two chord songs needed
From: GUEST,DTM
Date: 22 Sep 12 - 04:56 AM

"Pay Me My Money Down"
"Jambalaya"


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