Ranking albums by how many songs off of them I can play

I had a funny idea today.  It’s kind of high concept but it’s the title of this post.  If I really like a song I want to learn to sing and play it myself, assuming it’s not too hard.  So I spent the afternoon trying to think of all the albums I listened to that made me want to learn the songs.  I figured it might be give me some idea of what a good album is.  And just for fun I tried to rank them based on how many songs I know and how often I usually play those songs.

5.  The Stooges Fun House

Songs from this album I can play:

Loose, TV Eye, 1970 (I Feel Alright)

In terms of total percentage of songs on an album I can play, this is probably the most.  Mainly because there are only seven songs on it- six if you’re like me and don’t consider LA Blues a song.  These are all just ones that are fun to break out in practice because most rockers know them.  I’ve performed TV Eye and 1970 live before, but probably wouldn’t again.  A little too old for that.  I’m just not that intense a performer anymore.

4.  The Beatles Beatles for Sale

Songs from this album I can play:

Baby’s in Black, Everybody’s Trying to Be My Baby, Kansas City/Hey! Hey! Hey!

This is just kind of an odd one that happens to have songs that are easy and two of these  aren’t even by the Beatles, but they introduced me to the songs, so it made the list.  Not even close to my favorite Beatles album.  Baby’s in Black is probably my favorite one to play, just because it’s a simple melody and kind of country-ish, so I sing it to myself.  I’ve actually played Kansas City live as part of a different medley, a long time ago.  I can’t remember what I played with it.

3.  Flying Burrito Brothers Gilded Palace of Sin

(I couldn’t find the full album, so I put up this one song, because it’s one of my favorites)

Songs from this album I can play:

Sin City, My Uncle, The Dark End of the Street

This is an album, along with the Byrds Sweetheart of the Rodeo, that really taught me to love country music.  It was also one of the last CDs I ever went out an purchased (a double album set with Burrito Deluxe), and when I got it home I listened to it over and over again.  For a good six months I was obsessed, and I learned a few songs off their second album as well.  Part of why I love the songs on here is that they’re not hard to play- Gram Parsons was a good but not extraordinary singer.  No George Jones or Merle Haggard, that’s for sure.  So I could sing along fairly easily, and hit most of the notes he could.  Any of the songs on those three albums are great for just sitting on my bed and singing.  Probably Sin City, Image of Me (from Burrito Deluxe) and You’re Still on My Mind (from Sweetheart of the Rodeo) are the ones you’ll most likely hear if you walk by my window on a Saturday afternoon.

2.  New York Dolls New York Dolls

Songs from this album I can play:

Subway Train, Personality Crisis, Trash, Pills

Johnny Thunders being one of the great GUITAR GODS of punk rock, this is a must album for every aspiring punk guitar player.  They’re also great, nasty rock and roll tunes.  Pills is originally a Bo Diddley song, but New York Dolls really made it their own here.  Subway Train is a good, sad song to sing on the acoustic.  Personality Crisis, Pills and Trash are punk rock standards, and regularly get busted out in practice.

1.  T-Rex Electric Warrior

Songs from this album I can play:

Cosmic Dancer, Lean Woman Blues, Monolith, Get It On (Bang a Gong)

This is a great album from start to finish and all of the songs are fairly easy, but it’s a diverse set of tunes.  I’ve heard people say The Slider or even Tanx are better, but I’m not going to argue because all three are great.  Of these songs, Monolith is probably my favorite.  It’s a sad, silly song about whatever fairy tales were running through Marc Bolan’s head.  Cosmic Dancer is another great one to play alone on an acoustic guitar when I’m feeling sad or lonely or just in an introspective mood.  Get It On is a fun one to bust out at practice.

What does this tell me?  Well, actually, these are some of my favorite albums.  But they’re also easy to play and they’re from bands that didn’t put out that many albums- New York Dolls and Flying Burrito Brothers put out two that most are familiar with, The Stooges put out three total, and T-Rex put out about four that get much attention.  Only The Beatles have a large output, and including them here is kind of silly, since two of the songs I know are just basic blues tunes.  I probably know more songs by the Kinks or the Ramones, but they’re not all concentrated on any one album since they put out so many.  So I guess there aren’t too many conclusions to draw from this.



    1. They’re one of my favorites. I felt kind of corny singing Merle Haggard or Johnny Cash (I’ve gotten over that a bit), so the Burritos were a good intro for me. Maybe they’re good country for people who aren’t that familiar with country. That being said, I know dozens of country songs, they just aren’t on any one album, because it seems like the album doesn’t seem as important in country as it does in rock. At least not in the 60s and 70s.

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