Looking for the best slide guitar songs ever written? You're in the right place! Read on to discover some of the greatest pieces of songwriting on the slide guitar.
Not satisfied with the state of things, several guitar players have, over the years, looked for ways to make playing the guitar even more difficult. Some of the popular styles that we have seen over the years include playing the guitar over the head, with the teeth, with others' teeth, behind their back, and so on.
While several of these are novelties and quickly went the way of the dodo, slide guitar was and continues to be a popular way to play. In this post, we present some of the slide guitar songs that every music lover must absolutely know.
10 Incredible Slide Guitar Songs
Here's a closer look at some of the best slide guitar songs ever:
1. Statesboro Blues
The first guitar song on this list is Statesboro Blues from the Allman Brothers Band. Many rockers played with the thought of slide guitar prior to the creation of this jam and before slide guitar became something mainstream.
An example is Jeff Beck's performance on Evil Hearted You. However, while Jeff's performance is memorable for its innovation, arguably no other song brought slide guitar to the forefront of music like this song. Duane Allman of the Allman Brothers Band gives an absolute masterclass in slide guitar playing on this jam.
He used the slide to mimic the sound of a blues harp (no small feat in itself) and had thousands of listeners enthralled by his sheer skill and dexterity at handling the guitar. This performance certainly goes down as one of the best from the band alongside their Fillmore East Version of the same song.
Many magazines reported about his playing, with our favorite being Rolling Stone's description of his playing as being “chilling”. There are no several live versions of this song, including a recently released version on the SUNY at Stonybrook album.
Sonny Landreth is one of the most respected and iconic guitar players in recent times, therefore, it is no surprise to have him appear on this list. The Lousiana based musician is a slide player that started to grow in fame after the 2007 release of the Crossroads Blues Festival DVD. This release includes some tracks from him (who can forget his jam with Eric Clapton), and of course the focus of our attention – Überesso.
As a dedicated slide player, Sonny's style is absolutely unique and this lets him do things never before seen by any player. With his technique, he frets notes and plays chords and fragments while sliding. The slide lies on his small finger, giving the other fingers more than enough room to make love to the guitar and stick to fretting.
Check out his stupendous performance from the 2007 Crossroads Guitar Festival and we are pretty sure that you'd be as amazed as we were. It gets more awesome with every listen.
3. The Joker
Up next on this roundup is The Joker by Steve Miller. Steve Miller is a popular guitar player in his own right and is certainly one of the best ever on stage. Although known for his beautiful playing, Steve isn't actually known as a guitarist that plays slide guitar.
Well, on his hit single The Joker, Steve goes on to show that while he is a reserved and a rather quiet player, he can get rough and wow audiences with slide guitar playing. He put the slide to great use on this jam and it is one of the most memorable parts of the hit.
The Joker is an impressionable, hummable, and lovely slide solo for everyone, and it is certainly no surprise that it makes an appearance on this list. During his playing, the slide even manages to imitate a whistle several times.
Although it certainly isn't as impressive as Überesso from Sonny, it is an excellent showcase of slide playing. It is one of those jams that shows that a slide guitar song can be a commercial hit, especially in the 1970s.
4. Come On In My Kitchen
Separating Robert Johnson from his legend is an incredible task. Not a lot of information is known about one of the most iconic bluesmen in the history of music – although we certainly do not believe that he bargained his soul to the devil just to be one of the best guitarists of all time.
While his past is muddled, what is clear is that his way of playing is downright incredible and otherworldly. He has many songs, but one of the best from him is Come On In My Kitchen. This song is one of his most iconic hits and had people screaming and crying at concerts when he decided to play it.
He might not have ever met the devil, but Johnson fought off his inner demons to give us one of the best slide guitar performances ever in this heartfelt song.
5. Give Me Love ( Give Me Peace On Earth)
As with The Joker which we have talked about above, this song is proof that slide guitar isn't just a style that is great for parties and showing off but can even form part of a commercially successful hit.
While George Harrison is not mentioned in the same breath as more popular and arguably more talented players like Steve Howe or Jeff Beck, George Harrison was a major influence on many of those who decided to learn how to play the guitar.
As part of the Beetles ( yes, those guys), he played his part in influencing an entire generation of musicians and guitar players. While McCartney and John Lennon are the more popular members of the group, George came into the limelight, so to speak, when in 1969, he started to play slide guitar.
His style was distinctive, something different from the blues-based style of the time. His songs incorporated some parts of the sitar and Indian music. Although Give Me
Love is not as known as other songs from him, it perfectly shows his style of slide guitar. Listening to it even now still gives the listener chills and respect for the talent of this musical prodigy.
6. Slow Ride
Up next is another 1970's jam. This time, Slow Ride by Rod Price catches our attention as one of the slide guitar songs that every music lover must know. This song, in some ways, is the antithesis of the Give Me Love slide guitar style from George Harrison that we discussed above.
Although it is different in its way, it surely wowed the general public and even topped the charts for some time. Instead of the distinctive sound from Harrison, this song is a reflection of the common blues-based sound of the time. It was heavily influenced by the blues-craze of the time. However, we are certainly not complaining as this is one of the best slide guitar songs that we have listened to.
In this song, Rod Price lets it all go. The slide guitar becomes especially evident in his solo part near the Fadeout of this song. Although Rod died in 2005, his music continues to speak down to this day. You can check out this hit as well as his others like Stone Blue. You will certainly enjoy the slide guitar of the songs.
7. In My Time Of Dying
Ah, Jimmy Page! In the 1960s, the guitar scene was dominated by three main guitarists – Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck (who we have mentioned earlier), and of course, Jimmy Page. Each of the ‘Big Three”, at some time or the other in their rich, successful careers fiddled with slide guitar, it was Jimmy who really took to it. None other on the scene at that time used it as extensively or mastered slide guitar as much as he did.
You don't think so? Why don't you listen to In My Time of Dying from Physical Graffiti and come back to this? This song, of course, doesn't belong to Jimmy Page (it actually belongs to Josh White who recorded in the 40's). However, for the sake of slide guitar, Jimmy Page's version is the best that we have heard.
Remarkably, Jimmy also played slide guitar in other songs like What Should Never Be and When the Levee Breaks. However, none of the songs give the raw energy and distinctive style of Jimmy as well as In My Time of Dying does. It is a powerful and dark rendition that shows the splendor and genius of an artist at the peak of his powers.
8. Dust My Broom
When you think about the early years of Blues, one name readily comes to mind – Elmore James. In fact, the blues-influenced music and songs that we have cited on this list so far certainly draw inspiration, in one form or the other from Elmore James's music.
Very few people have been called the King of the Slide Guitar, but in his heyday, that is exactly what James was called – a testament to the skill of this remarkable musician. Out of all his songs and covers, perhaps the best known is Dust My Broom, and this song shows exactly why he is revered as one of the best slide guitar players of all time.
The opening riff of the song is known by guitar players all around the world and influenced an entire generation of guitarists. Although it sounds similar to the original song he covered (Dust My Broom by Robert Johnson), James takes it up a notch and differentiates himself by playing this riff on an electric guitar.
This introduction and the subsequent parts certainly had James make this song his own through and through. Listening to it even today is still an absolute thrill and will send chills down your spine.
9. Broke Down Engine
Johnny Winter holds several records. For one, he was a Grammy-winning artist. He was also inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame. And his main distinction is as the first non-African-American to be inducted into that Hall of Fame.
Choosing a Jonny Winter song was a tussle between the Highway 61 Revisited and Broke Down Engine.
Highway 61 Revisited is one of the best songs from the singer and in the hit, he lays everything bare, burning up the guitar and putting on one of the best slide guitar performances ever. Check out the 1969 album to see even more magic from him.
However, while Highway 61 Revisited is excellent, perhaps his best work in terms of slide guitar is Broke Down Engine.
This song is his version of the Blind Willie McTell song. It first appeared on his The Progressive Blues Experiment album. This album is renowned for its energy and the way he manipulates the guitar to his will in all the songs. Broke Down Engine is different from the rest of the songs on the album because he played it on a resonator.
And of course, the slide guitar riff here is one of the best that you will ever listen to.
10. I'm Yours & I'm Hers
The last song on our roundup is another by Johnny Winter. Johnny is a slide giant, and he decided to use a piece of pipe for his slide guitar playing.
In 1969, Winter released his Johnny Winter album, and the first track of the album was none other than I'm Yours & I'm Hers. This was a fitting first song and introduced listeners to one of the best guitar players of all time.
This song comes with a pair of guitar tracks with one with a slide and the other without. Both are played simultaneously, resulting in an incredible combination. It is one of the favorite songs from this incredible musician. The Stone would go on to play this song at a free concert in Hyde Park after Winter's sad death.
From when Weaver made a record for the first time using a slide as far back as 1923, the method of playing the guitar with a metallic object has evolved. In this post, we have seen some of the best examples of the best slide guitar songs.
Header image credit: Jessica Oliviera on Unsplash