You’ve got your harmonica in hand, but what song should you play? Some songs are really well known, but very hard to play. Others are easy but obscure. So what are the best songs for harmonica?
The best song to play on harmonica is undoubtedly The Beatles’ “Love Me Do.” It’s a timeless classic that should be on every harmonica player’s list of songs they can play.
You don’t need to be able to read music or spend years practicing before you find out what makes this little instrument so appealing.
In this article, I’ll share some of the best and easy harmonica songs for rock, pop, and blues. I narrowed down the list to the 41 best tracks to learn on harmonica!
1. Love Me Do by The Beatles
You’ll be pleased to learn that one of the most popular songs of all time, “Love Me Do”, was written by Paul McCartney. The song starts with a lovely harmonica riff which was John Lennon’s idea.
It’s an absolutely awesome tune and should be part of your repertoire if you’re looking for some classics to play on your harmonica.
2. On The Road Again by Willie Nelson
“On the Road Again” is a song about the lifestyle of being on the road.
The harmonica playing here is very catchy, adding another layer to an already beautiful song. Thus, it’s such a great song to begin your harmonica journey with.
3. The Promised Land by Bruce Springsteen
The Promised Land was written by Bruce Springsteen and released on his 1975 album Born to Run.
This is a lively tune that can be easily learned on harmonica, but the lyrics are quite dark. Most people find it easy to play this song, even if they’ve never played a harmonica before!
4. Mannish Boy by Muddy Waters
One of the most influential blues musicians of all time, Muddy Waters was known for his unique voice and signature style of playing.
This song houses an iconic blues riff on harmonica and guitar that has been covered by many artists.
I also wrote about some of the best blues musicians in a recent article on my site. Feel free to check it out if you’re interested in the blues genre!
5. For Once in My Life by Stevie Wonder
Stevie Wonder later recorded this tune in 1971 for his album Signed, Sealed & Delivered.
The harmonica part is played by Stevie Wonder himself—and that’s just one of the reasons we love this song. The other reason? It has such a catchy melody, with heartfelt lyrics about finding your soulmate.
Stewie Wonder isn’t the only musician who cannot see. I talked about famous blind musicians in a recent article I wrote. Just click the link to read it on my site.
6. Mary Jane’s Last Dance by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
It’s about a difficult relationship with marijuana, which can be interpreted as a metaphor for other things including addiction, infidelity, or even just any unhealthy habit.
The band uses a nice harmonica melody blended with this legendary guitar riff that makes it such beautiful music.
7. When The Levee Breaks by Led Zeppelin
“When The Levee Breaks” was released on their 1971 album Led Zeppelin IV, which has become one of their most popular albums.
The song is based on the Great Mississippi Flood of 1927 and the harmonica makes up for an iconic part of this tune.
8. Whoopin’ The Blues by Sonny Terry
If you’re new to the harmonica, this song will be a great learning tool for getting familiar with the instrument and its technique.
It also features some basic bending techniques that will help you develop your own style as you play it more often.
You will surely have a good time!
9. Dirty Old Town by The Pogues
“Dirty Old Town” by The Pogues is a song that was originally performed by Ewan MacColl in 1958.
The opening harmonica part gives this song its unique sound and feel. One of the best things about “Dirty Old Town” is that it has a violin solo!
10. Train, Train by Blackfoot
The brilliant harmonica solo by Shorty Medlocke that opens this song is not only a great intro for beginners or newbies to the blues, but it also tells a story.
The sorrowful nature of the melody coupled with its upbeat tempo makes it an excellent choice for anyone who wants to learn how to play harmonica in their own way.
11. Piano Man by Billy Joel
“Piano Man” by Billy Joel is a classic song that deserves a spot on this list for its harmonica tune alone.
It’s one of many hits from Joel’s first solo album Piano Man, which tells the story of his days as a piano player in loungers around New York City during the early 70s.
12. Good Morning Little Schoolgirl by The Grateful Dead
A staple of the blues, “Good Morning Little Schoolgirl” was first recorded by Sonny Boy Williamson in 1937.
It can be challenging if you’re just starting out on your harmonica journey, but it’s worth learning as a great beginner song with some blow notes..
13. On The Road Again by Canned Heat
Canned Heat’s version of “On The Road Again” features a low harmonica and a funky sound that makes it one of the most recognizable songs in American music history.
There are tons of great harmonica solos for beginners to learn from this tune!
14. Keep On Smiling by Wet Willie
“Keep On Smiling” is one of the greatest harmonica songs ever written.
It’s a powerful, upbeat rocker that has been covered by countless bands, but it still retains its original luster.
The opening chords are simple enough for anyone to play, yet there’s something about them that just feels right—it’s easy to see why this great song remains so popular today.
15. Mr. Tambourine Man by Bob Dylan
The song was released in 1964, and it’s still one of the most famous folk songs today.
The main hook of the song is a simple yet beautiful harmonica blend over the guitar strums.
This song was inspired by Bruce Langhorne, a musician who plays a large tambourine. This type of tambourine can make all sorts of sounds similar to a harmonica or ocarina when played right.
16. My Babe by Little Walter
This song is one of the most popular blues songs and has been covered by countless artists.
It’s a classic hit that you can sing with your friends or play on the harmonica in the park.
Little Walter is known for his smooth harmonica skills, so this song will touch every woman’s heart. If you’re looking for an easy way to impress your loved ones, learn this on harmonica!
17. Whammer Jammer by The J. Geils Band
If you’re a fan of rock and blues, this song is one of the best on the list.
The harmonica riffs are killer and will impress your friends as they hear them for the first time.
It’s also a great tune to learn the use of the harmonica if you’re new at it—the melody is easy enough but still interesting enough to keep people interested in what you’re doing.
18. Midnight Rambler by The Rolling Stones
If you’re looking to add a little harmonica to your next song, look no further than The Rolling Stones’ “Midnight Rambler.”
Released in 1969, this track is a rock classic that features some nice harmonica riffs from Mick Jagger.
The song tells the story of a serial killer who murdered 13 women in Boston.
19. Parchman Farm by John Mayall and the Blues Breakers
This song by John Mayall and the Blues Breakers is easy to memorize for a harmonica beginner.
The melody is simple but catchy, and it provides ample opportunity to practice different rhythms and scales.
Plus, the guitar solo in this song alone contains enough information to keep you busy for months!
20. The Wizard by Black Sabbath
“The Wizard” is a song by the British heavy metal band Black Sabbath.
It was released on their fifth studio album, Black Sabbath in 1975.
The haunting and almost creepy opening is all thanks to some brilliant diatonic harmonica solo. The second half of this powerful song has another harmonical solo to die for!
21. Long Train Running by The Doobie Brothers and Tom Johnston
This song was written by the band’s lead vocalist and guitarist, Tom Johnston.
It was released in 1973, but it has remained popular through the years as a jam band favorite. “Long Train Running” is about the life of a musician who travels from town to town playing music for people all over the country.
It’s also known for having one of the most memorable harmonica solos ever recorded!
22. Heart Of Gold by Neil Young
Neil Young is a Canadian singer-songwriter and musician who has been around for decades.
His 1971 song “Heart of Gold”, from his album Harvest, is one of the most recognizable harmonica songs ever recorded.
The song features a memorable harmonica solo past the one-minute mark, which makes it perfect for practicing your own solos or learning from someone else’s style!
23. You Don’t Know How It Feels by Tom Petty
If you’re looking for an emotional classic with a harmonica, look no further than Tom Petty’s “You Don’t Know How It Feels.”
The song has been covered by esteemed artists, but it was originally released in 1994 on Petty’s album Wildflowers.
The harmonica adds a melancholic feel to the song, which makes it even more poignant when combined with Petty’s soulful voice and guitar riffs.
24. Roadhouse Blues by The Doors
The harmonic in this song is almost hypnotic that it sounds like a human voice.
The harmonica part was played by a non-member, John Sebastian. When it comes to harmonica skills, expect no less from Sebastian!
He uses the tremolo technique which gives the song its distinct sound. You might want to use a harmonica with a tremolo if you want your version of Roadhouse Blues to sound similar to the original.
25. You’ve Got A Friend by James Taylor
If you’re looking for a song with a harmonica solo to practice, then look no further than “You’ve Got A Friend.”
The song was released in 1971 by singer-songwriter James Taylor, and it’s been covered many times since.
Fun fact: it’s a beautiful song about friendship, but it also serves as an excellent introduction to playing the harmonica.
26. Bad, Bad Leroy Brown by Jim Croce
The first song on our list is “Bad, Bad Leroy Brown” by Jim Croce.
This song was a hit in 1973 when it reached #10 on the United States Billboard Hot 100 chart and #5 on both the Adult Contemporary and Hot Country Songs charts.
It’s one of those songs that anyone can sing along with and has become a staple for harmonica players since then. If you can play this song well, people will think you’re a pro!
27. Don’t Know Why by Norah Jones
Another one of the most popular harmonica songs is “Don’t Know Why” by Norah Jones.
This beautiful song can be played in C or G and is a great tune to start with because it’s a fun yet really simple song.
Almost everyone will sing along for sure, so you’ll feel like part of the crowd when playing this popular tune.
28. Good Riddance (Time Of Your Life) by Green Day
“Good Riddance” was one of the first songs I learned to play on the harmonica.
It’s a hit song from the band Green Day, released in 1997 from their fifth studio album, Nimrod.
The song itself is about a guy who is moving on from his past and is telling us that we should all do so as well.
29. Hand in My Pocket by Alanis Morissette
This is a famous track by the legendary Canadian singer Alanis Morissette.
It was released in 1995 from her third studio album, Jagged Little Pill.
The song was a huge hit at that time and has become one of the most iconic songs of all time.
30. No Rain by Blind Melon
“No Rain” is a popular harmonica song by the American rock band Blind Melon. The song was released in 1993 and became the band’s highest-charting song with a stunning performance from the lead singer.
It also gave them their album Soup to reach the multi-platinum level.
This song features great melodies that are easy to play on your harmonica if you have mastered playing single notes before moving on to more advanced techniques.
31. Eye Of The Tiger by Survivor
The song “Eye of the Tiger” by Survivor is one of the most popular harmonica songs to play.
It was released in 1982 as part of the band’s third studio album.
This rock song has remained to be widely popular even after all these years, and it’s a good one to learn on harmonica.
32. XO by John Mayer
This song is a classic. John Mayer is an excellent harmonica player, and he does it in the key of D major on his song “XO”.
The harmonica gives the song more of a melancholy feel, which makes it great for practicing blues notes.
The playing also feels very emotional, which will help you get into the headspace to become better at creating music.
33. Down Home Shakedown by Big Mama Thornton
This blues track is a classic, and not just due to the genre.
Big Mama Thornton has one of the most recognizable voices in music history, so it’s no wonder that this song has become such a favorite for harmonica players.
The harmonica is used sparingly on this track, but when it does come in, you can feel the emotion behind it—especially if you’re playing along with her vocals!
34. Isn’t She Lovely by Stevie Wonder
I’ll go so far as to say that Stevie Wonder is one of the best harmonica players in history.
He plays tons of instruments, and none of them are easy instruments. But one instrument he’s especially good at is the harmonica.
There’s so much soulful emotion packed into this song that it can elevate even a novice player right into Stevie Wonder’s league—but only if you’re willing to put some time into practicing!
35. Church Of The Poison Mind by Culture Club
This song is the lead single from their Colour By Numbers album, and it’s not just a great song, it’s a great track for learning how to play harmonica.
You’ll begin by hearing the harmonica playing in the background. It sounds like a very subtle and quiet tone that you may have missed if you weren’t paying attention. But once it kicks into gear, it adds another layer of depth to an already amazing song.
This is one of those tracks that I never get sick of listening to—it’s just so good!
36. Blue Sky Mine by Midnight Oil
If you’re new to the harmonica and looking for some music to get started with, “Blue Sky Mine” is a great place to start. It’s the first song on Midnight Oil’s Blue Sky Mining album in 1990.
The song tells the story of asbestos miners working in Wittenoom, Western Australia.
This song serves as both a protest against what happened there and an attempt at personal accountability by those who allowed everything to happen.
37. I Guess That’s Why They Call It The Blues by Elton John
This song was written by Bernie Taupin for his wife at that time.
It’s a harmonica-based ballad, and it is perfect for beginners who are looking for something easy to learn how to play on their harmonicas.
The music is an easy acoustic tune, but the harmonica solo will bring out your inner Stevie Wonder! This is also a great one to play on live performances.
38. Take The Long Way Home by Supertramp
“Take The Long Way Home,” written by Roger Hodgson, was originally from Supertramp’s 1979 studio album Breakfast in America.
It’s one of the band’s most well-known songs and it has been covered by many other artists.
Rick Davies beautifully played the harmonica on this track and many other harmonica players have this on their repertoire as well because of its popularity.
39. Carry On Wayward Son by Kansas
This song is played using electric guitars and acoustic guitars alongside the piano, drums, and harmonica.
The instruments blend together so beautifully that you can’t help but want to sing along. It’s also played in the key of C major—a great key for beginners to get started with!
If you’re looking for a fun song to learn on harmonica and improve your skills, this is a great one to start with!
40. Smokestack Lightning by Howlin’ Wolf
To play this song, you will need to be able to play the blues scale. “Smokestack Lightning” is one of those classic songs that never seems to get old.
It’s bluesy, brooding, and just plain fun. Howlin’ Wolf is one of the greatest blues artists to ever grace the music industry and this song simply showcases his talent in a very simple yet powerful way.
It’s also incredibly easy to play on harmonica so it’s a great place for beginners to start!
41. Goodnight, Irene by Lead Belly
Lead Belly was a folk musician who played 12-string guitar, banjo, mandolin, harmonica, and violin.
“Goodnight, Irene” is written in 3/4 time, which is unusual for a popular song. This song is also included in the National Recording Registry.
It’s long been considered one of the top songs for novice harmonic players due to its unique time signature and ease of playing. You will surely upscale your skills with this one!
And that’s the end of our list!
We hope you found something new to add to your repertoire and that these songs inspire you to try a new style or challenge yourself with some harmonica playing.
The list includes some of the most popular and well-known tunes, but also some obscure ones that you might not have heard before.
If you’re looking for some new harmonica tablature to jam on your harp, then this list is sure to help with your search. So go ahead, pick one out and start playing your harmonica today!
And if you have some great ideas of your own, feel free to share your thoughts below.
Image by Steven Wright from Pixabay