Street performing, or busking, is a great way for a guitar player to gain confidence. If you’re an experienced busker, you probably know by now which songs to play in order to get most of the attention.
However, if you’re just planning to hit the street with your guitar, you may still wonder what to play.
I used to go busking back in the day. I remember myself carefully choosing the playlist of songs to play. How did it go, you ask?
Some songs for which I thought they would be great hit didn’t pass on too well with the audience. On the other hand, some songs did really great, in terms of response.
You may have already seen a various lists of good busking songs. Unfortunately, those lists are full of songs everyone heard a million times before.
Here’s the list of the songs I found out to be the best busking songs.
In The Summertime by Mungo Jerry
In The Summertime is by far Mungo Jerry’s biggest hit. It was released in 1970, and it’s equally big today as it was 40 years ago.
This song is easy listening, catchy and carefree. Ideal for playing in the street on a hot summer day.
It’s ideal to play this one in some coastal touristic town with a lot of tourists willing to give you some coins. You cannot miss with this one! Great opener also.
Brown Eyed Girl by Van Morrison
Everyone knows this tune, and yet this is not the song that easily irritates the listener. It is really simple song, with only four chords used.
Even if you’re a guitar beginner, you should be able to play this with ease. This song is great for those situations when you want to catch attention from some girls passing by. Especially if one of them has brown eyes! 🙂
You can’t miss with this one.
Wanted (Dead Or Alive) by Bon Jovi
If you have a fairly good voice, you may want to try this one. Especially if you have a 12 string guitar.
Wanted (Dead Or Alive) is just one of the many great songs from Bon Jovi, and yet it’s not their biggest hit. But that’s exactly why you should play it.
Playing It’s My Life or Livin’ On A Prayer may sound dull and boring, but that’s not the case with this one. People like to hear it, and you should give it a try!
Mrs. Robinson by Simon & Garfunkel
Everybody likes Simon & Garfunkel. They sang peaceful and soothing songs. Mrs. Robinson is one of their faster paced songs, but nevertheless, it is still peaceful and not intrusive to the passing audience.
The rhythm should make everyone who listens to you jiggle a bit, and yet it’s very catchy.
Anyway, this is another example of a perfect song you can play on the street without fear.
Heart Of Gold by Neil Young
If you have a harmonica, you have probably heard this one. It’s deep and yet peaceful, nostalgic – vibe song that everyone likes.
This song should catch the attention of passing audience on the street. Especially if you play harmonica, along with the guitar.
Midnight Special by Creedence Clearwater Revival
Creedence Clearwater Revival had some really easy listening, and easy playing, catchy tunes.
Midnight Special is just one among the many you can successfully play on the street. Older people will almost certainly remember this old tune.
That should bring the smile on their faces. And coins in your coffin!
She Is Always A Woman by Billy Joel
Although Billy Joel is primarily piano player, that doesn’t mean you can’t play this song on a guitar.
Actually, it sounds equally great on a guitar as it sounds on a piano. And by the way, people like to hear songs in different arrangements.
This masterpiece pop ballad has a tremendous potential for a brisking performance. Transcribe it on your guitar, and play it.
Dead Flowers by The Rolling Stones
This great song was originally played by Townes Van Zandt. Nevertheless, The Rolling Stones made it really groovy with their cover.
This country classic is really simple (only three chords). You should be able to play it without any difficulties.
Yet, it’s very catchy and goofy at the same time. You can’t miss with this one. It really makes the people moving towards you.
Take It Easy by The Eagles
I really like easy listening, catchy tunes that are not pompous nor epic. This one is a perfect example of that song. It really makes you to sing along. Even if you don’t know the song yet!
That’s what I found out when I played back in the day. Play this song, and everyone will get relaxed, you can bet.
Especially if you have a really good southern accent.
Lookin’ Out My Back Door by Creedence Clearwater Revival
This song is more than 50 years old, and it is still one of Creedence’s biggest hit up to this day.
Yes, you can play Have You Ever Seen The Rain, but this is better. Especially for older people who will almost certainly remember this one.
Wild World by Cat Stevens
Cat Stevens is a great artist with a lot of peaceful, meditating songs. This is one of his biggest hit, but it’s nonetheless worth to be played on the street.
Sloop John B by The Beach Boys
This song is great if you play along with your buddy. It’s because The Beach Boys use a lot of vocal harmony in their songs.
So, if you plan to play on the street with another guitar buddy, this is the song that can give you a great time.
But don’t forget to practice it first. You can bet you’ll sound great.
Mull Of Kintyre by Paul McCartney & Wings
Mull Of Kintyre is one of Paul McCartney’s biggest solo career hit. It is really one of those sing along songs that can be played all night long without stopping.
Those sing along songs are integral part of every street performing. It is ideal for closing your street session. If you did a good job, you can bet everyone on the street will sing along with you.
That also means that you’ll get a lot of coins in your coffin!
Goodbye Yellow Brick Road by Elton John
Elton John is, just like Billy Joel, primarily piano oriented musician. But again, that doesn’t mean you can’t play some of his songs on your guitar.
This is an example of a good, catchy and nostalgic tune you can transcribe on your guitar and play it on the street.
Everyday by Buddy Holly
Every street performing playlist has to have a few of sweet, minimalist, short and yet catchy songs that get stuck in everyone’s head.
This is one of those songs. Everybody knows it, and yet it’s so short so no one can get tired of it. It’s also easy to play.
Make sure you include this one in your playlist. You cannot miss with this one!
Pretty Woman by Roy Orbison
From my experience, I have realized that a foreign (non British, American, or Australian) tourists really love this song.
Therefore, this one is perfect to be played in places with a lot of foreigners. Trust me, you will raise the good mood with this song.
You Never Can Tell by Chuck Berry
Mothers with kids love this song! Every time I played it, there were kids jumping around, carrying the coins their parents gave them, into my coffin.
There’s a reason for that. This old classic really gets everyone moving around, wherever you’re performing.
Touch Me by The Doors
If you have a deeper, baritone or a bass voice, you just have to play and sing this one. People like to hear that kind of voice on the street.
You can bet you’ll get a lot of coins by performing it. Of course, perform it good!
Behind Blue Eyes by The Who
This song is sad. But sometimes it is just ideal to play some sad songs. This one is a great song to catch the attention of an audience around you.
When you start to sing, you’re actually asking for an attention. This song serves as a good attention seeker. But make sure to feel the right moment to play it.
The River by Bruce Springsteen
Another song you can play along with your harmonica. This one is really emotional. In other words, you’ll have to invest a lot of your own emotions in the performance, if you want it to sound good.
Therefore, this song may not be the best choice if you plan to hit the street for the first time.
But then again, if you feel confident enough, you can bet this song will catch the attention from people.
American Pie by Don McLean
This is another emotional song you can play on the street. It is very long, it lasts for around 8 and a half minutes.
Of course, you don’t have to play it all from beginning to end. But you can try to play it and sing it. This is really touching song, where Don McLean is singing about the “day when music day”. That was the day when Buddy Holly, along with his band members, died in an airplane accident.
Therefore, you should invest your own emotions in this song, as well.
Lola by The Kinks
This is kind of a humorous song. It’s really fun to perform it, especially if there are girls in the audience.
It’s really catchy, and also it’s one of those sing along songs that will certainly catch the attention from the audience.
Wonderful Tonight by Eric Clapton
Eric Clapton made a bunch of beautiful songs. This is one of those. Wonderful Tonight is a slow paced pop ballad everyone likes to hear at every moment.
Especially if there are couples around you on the street. You can be sure you’ll get some coins in your coffin while performing this beautiful ballad.
More Than Words by Extreme
This beautiful pop rock ballad is ideal to be played on the street along with your playing buddy.
That’s because it has some beautiful two vocals harmonies in itself. Anyway, you cannot miss with this one, that’s for sure!
Space Oddity by David Bowie
David Bowie is that kind of an authentic person everyone happens to like. This is just one of the great songs he wrote in his life.
It’s really catchy, and yet it’s deep. That’s a perfect combination of a song meant to be played on a street.
Don’t Dream It’s Over by Crowded House
Crowded House was an Australian one hit wonder band. But nevertheless, they left as this beautiful 80s pop ballad. Those kind of songs are ideal for a street performance.
Especially for solo performance. Anyway, this is also a kind of a song you would want to perform with a lot of emotions invested. And emotions always pay off in this case!
Sultans Of Swing by Dire Straits
Everyone knows this classic just by hearing that legendary intro. It’s also a song that’s easy to sing along.
You cannot miss with this one. Just make sure you master it before playing.
Love Of My Life by Queen
Everyone likes Queen. They have a bunch of a hymn like, pompous and epic songs. This one, on the contrary, is a very opposite of the songs like We Will Rock You, We Are The Champions, Bohemian Rhapsody, Don’t Stop Me Now and so on.
This one is very emotional, ideal for solo performance. Just make sure you perform it well. You can bet that this one will drive the audience near you.
It’s A Heartache by Bonnie Tyler
I really like Bonnie Tyler. Her crispy voice awakens a special, inner emotions to listeners.
This song is a great one to perform. It’s very catchy, and yet it’s very emotional. Older audience will like it a lot!
My Sweet Lord by George Harrison
George Harrison is that kind of a silent guy everyone likes. He had that peaceful vibe. This is perhaps his biggest solo career hit. This song is great for street performing.
Play it, and you can bet the audience will grant it!
Busking, or street performing, can gain a lot of confidence. Make sure you don’t annoy the audience with a lot of hits everyone heard a million times before.
Instead, it is much more effective to perform some older hits that one cannot hear easily on the radio every day. But also, make sure you don’t play songs no one knows.
I tried to make the list with that kind of balance. I hope you enjoyed reading this article as much as I enjoyed writing it. Keep in mind that this I wrote from my own experience.
I hope you can choose something from this list.
Anyway, make sure to check out some other cool lists and articles I made on this website:
Cheers, and rock on!