As Bernie Taupin once wrote and Elton John sang, the sad songs say so much, don’t they? There probably isn’t a guitar player on the planet that hasn’t at some point been in the mood to play a mournful ballad, or strum a tender melody of loss and regret.
On the other hand, there’s Eric Clapton’s “Tears in Heaven”. Of all the sad guitar songs in history, none quite jerk the heartstrings like the petulant child of “Tears”. Personally, you’d have to pay me a large sum of money – think six figures – to sit through Clapton’s Unplugged performance of the song, let alone actually play the damn thing myself. While I’m a big fan of sad guitar songs, there’s a line I’m not willing to cross, and “Tears” is that line.
Check out this famous guitar riff by Eric clapton! ERIC CLAPTON FAMOUS GUITAR RIFF
Anyway, I’ve put together a nice list of sad guitar songs which vary in relative difficulty to play (with random links to chord charts and tabs). Check out some of these jams for yourself.
Hallelujah – Jeff Buckley* Medium-high
Everlong – Foo Fighters Medium
No Surprises – Radiohead Medium
Pictures of You – The Cure Low-medium
Pale Blue Eyes – Velvet Underground Low
The Needle and the Damage Done – Neil Young Low-medium
Wild Horses – The Rolling Stones Medium
Working Class Hero – John Lennon Low-medium
God Only Knows – The Beach Boys** Medium-high
Here Comes a Regular – The Replacements Low-medium
Whatever – Hüsker Dü Medium-high
Lost Cause – Beck Medium
I Know It’s Over – The Smiths Medium
Hurt – Nine Inch Nails/Johnny Cash Low-medium
While My Guitar Gently Weeps – The Beatles Medium-high
I Will Follow You Into the Dark – Death Cab for Cutie Medium
Casmir Pulaski Day – Sufjan Stevens Medium
Use Somebody – Kings of Leon Low-medium
Between Bars – Elliot Smith Medium
The Man Who Sold the World – David Bowie Medium
Marie – Townes Van Zandt Medium
* The original Leonard Cohen version is also very sweet and very easy to play, but you really must hear Buckley’s version.
* Yes, I know this is not a guitar song per se, but it’s one of the most beautifully sad songs ever recorded and you should be familiar with it, even if you hate the Beach Boys.
If learning tons of songs is your goal, I recommend you to get our guitar song collection course: