best one chord song?

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Animal Collective - Kids On Holiday or Visiting Friends.

dog latin (dog latin), Tuesday, 14 June 2005 10:06 (8 years ago) Permalink

I was thinking of Spacemen 3 -'Revolution' what's their other stuff like? any good. Actually I think 4 chords and excessive and greedy.

lexurian (lexurian), Tuesday, 14 June 2005 10:06 (8 years ago) Permalink

Popol Vuh - too many to mention

Bifidus Digestivum (Dada), Tuesday, 14 June 2005 10:07 (8 years ago) Permalink

Sorry, I can type really, just my computer was running a bit slowly there. As far as VU goes, 'The Gift' is one chord really innit, or one wee riff at least, pretty boring though. What about that Sunno(( (?) band?

lexurian (lexurian), Tuesday, 14 June 2005 10:21 (8 years ago) Permalink

"The Gift" is not one chord either

Bifidus Digestivum (Dada), Tuesday, 14 June 2005 10:24 (8 years ago) Permalink

'Rats' - Syd Barrett

Jonathan Z. (Joanthan Z.), Tuesday, 14 June 2005 10:26 (8 years ago) Permalink

faust: 'krautrock'

N_RQ, Tuesday, 14 June 2005 10:28 (8 years ago) Permalink

Now that is one chord!

Bifidus Digestivum (Dada), Tuesday, 14 June 2005 10:28 (8 years ago) Permalink

Alan Vega - Viet Vet (all 13 minutes of it)

Bifidus Digestivum (Dada), Tuesday, 14 June 2005 10:29 (8 years ago) Permalink

A lot of North Mississippi hill-country blues sounds one-chordish to me, although sometimes with additional chords in the breaks between lines or verses (but I haven't studied it carefully enough to know for sure). So -- nominations from John Lee Hooker, Junior Kimbrough, or R.L. Burnside?

Vornado, Tuesday, 14 June 2005 10:30 (8 years ago) Permalink

the raveonettes made an album in the same key. which is something entirely different (unlike the raveonettes)

stanley j hammerhead jr., Tuesday, 14 June 2005 10:34 (8 years ago) Permalink

'A lot of North Mississippi hill-country blues sounds one-chordish to me' - yeah, totally agree about that, I think that's why I like it so much.

lexurian (lexurian), Tuesday, 14 June 2005 10:38 (8 years ago) Permalink

"Tommorow Never Knows" is, I can confirm, a one-chord song.

(geir implodes)

mark grout (mark grout), Tuesday, 14 June 2005 10:42 (8 years ago) Permalink

ah ha .. ta stanley. i didn't remember the finer point to the detail.

mark e (mark e), Tuesday, 14 June 2005 10:42 (8 years ago) Permalink

... aren't those crap Indian songs of George Harrison's all one chord songs too?

Bifidus Digestivum (Dada), Tuesday, 14 June 2005 10:43 (8 years ago) Permalink

There was a Band of Susans song that just repeated an E chord, loudly. Probably on "Hope against Hope", in fact, it may even be the title track.

bg (creamolafoam), Tuesday, 14 June 2005 10:47 (8 years ago) Permalink

Can - Butterfly

Bifidus Digestivum (Dada), Tuesday, 14 June 2005 10:48 (8 years ago) Permalink

Usually needs at least four different chords for a song to be great. Three may work out if they are not I - IV - V. As for one, or even two, no way.

"You Really Got Me" is just two chords, isn't it?

Telephonething, Tuesday, 14 June 2005 10:52 (8 years ago) Permalink

Nope. Why do people know so little about chords?

Bifidus Digestivum (Dada), Tuesday, 14 June 2005 10:53 (8 years ago) Permalink

Exactly zero formal music education, mostly putting things together from guesswork.

Telephonething, Tuesday, 14 June 2005 10:57 (8 years ago) Permalink

"1 Cord City" by The Sluts (New Orleans 80s punk)

Amon (eman), Tuesday, 14 June 2005 11:05 (8 years ago) Permalink

'Tomorrow never knows' must win then surely?

lexurian (lexurian), Tuesday, 14 June 2005 11:08 (8 years ago) Permalink

I can't be bothered running thru "Tomorrow Never Knows" in my head to find out if it does only have one chord

Bifidus Digestivum (Dada), Tuesday, 14 June 2005 11:09 (8 years ago) Permalink

bo diddley - bo diddley

bo diddley, Tuesday, 14 June 2005 11:12 (8 years ago) Permalink

"Tommorow Never Knows" is, I can confirm, a one-chord song.

Surely it's a two-chorder: over the "It is not dying" lines the chord descends a tone, although the bass remains the same playing a pedal note.

The only one-chord song I can recall is I'm Gonna Move Right In by the Velvet Underground (on Another View).

Jez (Jez), Tuesday, 14 June 2005 11:14 (8 years ago) Permalink

'I can't be bothered running thru "Tomorrow Never Knows" in my head to find out if it does only have one chord' -awww, bless, has the musical ignorance of this thread jaded you?

lexurian (lexurian), Tuesday, 14 June 2005 11:16 (8 years ago) Permalink

I've got better things to do than have Beatles' songs clogging up my brain.

Bifidus Digestivum (Dada), Tuesday, 14 June 2005 11:18 (8 years ago) Permalink

I'd also say tomorrow never knows has 2 chords...

AleXTC (AleXTC), Tuesday, 14 June 2005 11:29 (8 years ago) Permalink

Well, I can sympathise with that. I hate that thing that so many people go through of getting obsessed with the Beatles, and playing them to the exclusion of everything else. Very tedious.

lexurian (lexurian), Tuesday, 14 June 2005 11:30 (8 years ago) Permalink

Jesus and Mary Chain must have done some one-chorders?

lexurian (lexurian), Tuesday, 14 June 2005 11:31 (8 years ago) Permalink

Archie Bell and the Drells - Tighten Up

Come Back Johnny B (Johnney B), Tuesday, 14 June 2005 11:32 (8 years ago) Permalink

If Lou Reed never wrote any one chord songs then I doubt they did. (xpost)

Bifidus Digestivum (Dada), Tuesday, 14 June 2005 11:33 (8 years ago) Permalink

Geir - im pretty sure Galaxie 500's Tell Me is a three chord I-IV-V progression, and their 4th of July is almost a I-IV progression. Both are amazingly amazing.

AaronK (AaronK), Tuesday, 14 June 2005 11:34 (8 years ago) Permalink

"Tommorow Never Knows" is, I can confirm, a one-chord song.

One note in the bass. The bass plays C all the time. However, the electronic noises on top play several B major chords, turning it into a two-chord song.

Geir Hongro (GeirHong), Tuesday, 14 June 2005 11:34 (8 years ago) Permalink

Geir - im pretty sure Galaxie 500's Tell Me is a three chord I-IV-V progression, and their 4th of July is almost a I-IV progression. Both are amazingly amazing.

Wrong.

Pulp's "Common People" works out in a way, but would have been better with more chords than just I - IV - V.

Geir Hongro (GeirHong), Tuesday, 14 June 2005 11:35 (8 years ago) Permalink

And, therefore, two chords short of a good song in the much the same way as Geir is two sandwiches short of a picnic (xpost)

Bifidus Digestivum (Dada), Tuesday, 14 June 2005 11:36 (8 years ago) Permalink

about tomorrow never knows :
http://www.recmusicbeatles.com/public/files/awp/tnk.html

AleXTC (AleXTC), Tuesday, 14 June 2005 11:36 (8 years ago) Permalink

VU's "Run run run" is all in D.
Not a very good song though.

Koens (Koens), Tuesday, 14 June 2005 11:37 (8 years ago) Permalink

It has more than one chord tho! The chorus! The chorus! Jesus!

Bifidus Digestivum (Dada), Tuesday, 14 June 2005 11:37 (8 years ago) Permalink

(snigger)

lexurian (lexurian), Tuesday, 14 June 2005 11:39 (8 years ago) Permalink

Do people not bother to listen to choruses and middle eights anymore?

Bifidus Digestivum (Dada), Tuesday, 14 June 2005 11:39 (8 years ago) Permalink

Palace Brothers - (I was drunk at the) Pulpit

D major all the way.

hmmm (hmmm), Tuesday, 14 June 2005 11:40 (8 years ago) Permalink

The only harmonic movement at all in the song is the implied vacillation toward flat-VII in the second half of virtually every verse, colored in each case by what sounds like sythesized brass instruments; either French horns or trombones.

Geir Hongro (GeirHong), Tuesday, 14 June 2005 11:40 (8 years ago) Permalink

Bifidus - probably some attention span related problem, a.d.d?

lexurian (lexurian), Tuesday, 14 June 2005 11:43 (8 years ago) Permalink

Do people not bother to listen to choruses and middle eights anymore?

since hit songs are gonna be more and more made to become ringtones...

AleXTC (AleXTC), Tuesday, 14 June 2005 11:48 (8 years ago) Permalink

VU's "Run run run" is all in D.
Not a very good song though.

you're a freekin' smackhead man... that's one of the best.

Nic de Teardrop (Nicholas), Tuesday, 14 June 2005 11:52 (8 years ago) Permalink

Oh, Mega Armageddon Death - The Electro Hippies. That only had one chord. Like, actually, only one. Played once, loudly.

bg (creamolafoam), Tuesday, 14 June 2005 12:01 (8 years ago) Permalink

I second "Drunk at the Pulpit." There's so much going on in the lyrics I didn't even notice how static the music was until I saw Oldham play the song live.

Derek Krissoff (Derek), Tuesday, 14 June 2005 12:04 (8 years ago) Permalink

The REM song "Hope" is a gloss on Leonard Cohen's "Suzanne."

The version on the record has at least three chords (F, C, Em), but I once saw Stipe do it solo, live, while playing an acoustic guitar. Up until that point I had no idea he played any instrument whatsoever.

Anyway, it sure looked to me like he was just strumming a G chord the whole way through. I could be wrong. But that's the only thing I can think of.

The Mad Puffin, Tuesday, 14 June 2005 12:27 (8 years ago) Permalink

Howlin' Wolf - "Smokestack Lightnin'"
John Lee Hooker - "Boogie Chillin'"

Jazzbo (jmcgaw), Tuesday, 14 June 2005 12:40 (8 years ago) Permalink

If the "song" by Band of Susans mentioned above is Guitar Trio by Rhys Chatham, I think it does indeed qualify as having only one chord. The ensemble strums a chord while a soloist highlights different overtones of the fundamental through picking techniques that bring out various harmonics.

I don't recall which album it was originally released on, I only have Wired for Sound now & it's the last track on the songs without words disc.

Herb Levy, Sunday, 18 March 2007 12:47 (7 years ago) Permalink

my pick is actually just one chord, as opposed to pretty much every other fucking song mentioned on this thread

"Electric Avenue" is one chord.

Curt1s Stephens, Sunday, 18 March 2007 20:38 (7 years ago) Permalink

3 years pass...

Alan Vega "Jukebox Babe"

bigdawg (crüt), Wednesday, 19 January 2011 05:25 (3 years ago) Permalink

Meme From Turner (James Redd and the Blecchs), Wednesday, 19 January 2011 05:52 (3 years ago) Permalink

lots that have already been listed, but also:

'7:20 am Jullander Shere' by Cornershop

Blazes Boyband (Pillbox), Wednesday, 19 January 2011 06:10 (3 years ago) Permalink

1 year passes...

I was listening to the Prince vocals version of "Love thy will be done" and it suddenly appeared to me that it's a one chord song since the bass plays the same note through the whole song !
of course, the synth plays other notes but still (It's a bit like "tomorrow never knows" which has the bass playing one chord and some noises playing other notes, I guess...)

I'd forgotten what a great song it is anyway...

AlXTC from Paris, Wednesday, 9 May 2012 14:52 (1 year ago) Permalink

Best one-chord song round my house right now is "Sabotage"

poxen, Wednesday, 9 May 2012 15:57 (1 year ago) Permalink

I'd say the Adverts' "One Chord Wonders," but it probably has more than one.

clemenza, Wednesday, 9 May 2012 16:08 (1 year ago) Permalink

Best concert promo poster ever, for a tour featuring The Adverts and The Damned: "The Adverts know one chord, the Damned know three. See all four at...."

Several mentions of Nilsson's "Coconut", but how about "Jump Into the Fire"? Those should get bonus points for being consecutive hit singles.

Lee593 (Lee626), Wednesday, 9 May 2012 19:52 (1 year ago) Permalink

Jump Into the Fire has more than one chord. I believe two or maybe three, in fact.

Josh in Chicago, Wednesday, 9 May 2012 19:55 (1 year ago) Permalink

fishermen are coveted by whores & stoners (Pillbox), Wednesday, 9 May 2012 20:01 (1 year ago) Permalink

Jennifer Gentle "I do dream you"

Trip Maker, Wednesday, 9 May 2012 20:04 (1 year ago) Permalink

surfin bird for a good minute. and it is a very good minute.

Philip Nunez, Wednesday, 9 May 2012 20:11 (1 year ago) Permalink

Prolly mentioned upthread, but EC tried this once or twice, with "Uncomplicated" and a couple of others from that era.

Josh in Chicago, Wednesday, 9 May 2012 22:00 (1 year ago) Permalink

Jump Into the Fire has more than one chord. I believe two or maybe three, in fact.

There are two chords built into the guitar riff, but that falls short of an actual chord change imo.

Lee593 (Lee626), Wednesday, 9 May 2012 22:05 (1 year ago) Permalink

haw, this thread is pretty funny.

tylerw, Wednesday, 9 May 2012 22:14 (1 year ago) Permalink

Trying very hard not to mark snarky comments.

Chewshabadoo, Wednesday, 9 May 2012 22:23 (1 year ago) Permalink

I'd like to note that "Frankie Teardrop" has only one note, not really a chord, BUT happily "Ghost Rider" has only one chord and it is also a song of high quality

poxen, Thursday, 10 May 2012 00:14 (1 year ago) Permalink

Just read through this thread. I would also say that 'Tomorrow Never Knows' is a two-chord song, even though it apparently written as a one-chord song.

The Jupiter 8 (Turrican), Thursday, 10 May 2012 00:40 (1 year ago) Permalink

I'd like to note that "Frankie Teardrop" has only one note, not really a chord, BUT happily "Ghost Rider" has only one chord and it is also a song of high quality

lol, came here to mention "ghost rider". amazed it hasn't come up prior.

10. “Pour Some Sugar On Me” – Tom Cruise (contenderizer), Thursday, 10 May 2012 00:42 (1 year ago) Permalink

Is 'one note samba' actually one chord? I can tell it revolves for the most time in the key of Bb major but I can hear B and Db on the bridge.

Moka, Thursday, 10 May 2012 01:01 (1 year ago) Permalink

what do you think? bossanova is really tricky in that regard but i'd say there are several chord changes all over the tune.

cock chirea, Thursday, 10 May 2012 02:03 (1 year ago) Permalink

joao gilberto's undiu is technically a one chord song, tho there are several transitional chords in there.

cock chirea, Thursday, 10 May 2012 02:05 (1 year ago) Permalink

pink - get the party started

cock chirea, Thursday, 10 May 2012 02:06 (1 year ago) Permalink

Fleetwood Mac - World Turning

Johnny Hotcox, Thursday, 10 May 2012 03:14 (1 year ago) Permalink

@ cock chirea, I heard four chords in the first four seconds

poxen, Thursday, 10 May 2012 06:20 (1 year ago) Permalink

I'd say the Adverts' "One Chord Wonders," but it probably has more than one.

yeah, it has loads...

I think it's a reference to the "F" chord shape, slide up and down the neck of the guitar to perform all the major chords ...

Mark G, Thursday, 10 May 2012 08:36 (1 year ago) Permalink

Not a one chord song as such (therefore, by rights, I should be berating myself as vehemently as I was berating others upthread) but "Me About You" by the Turtles has straight-down-the-middle-100%-no-messin' one note bassline, which is admirable to me as it's not some arty wankfest but a pop song

Charles Kennedy Jumped Up, He Called 'Oh No'. (Tom D.), Thursday, 10 May 2012 11:07 (1 year ago) Permalink

OK, how about "I'm Chief Kamanawanamaka (We're the Royal Macadamia nuts)" by the same group?

Mark G, Thursday, 10 May 2012 11:10 (1 year ago) Permalink

I'm ashamed to admit I don't have that album!

Charles Kennedy Jumped Up, He Called 'Oh No'. (Tom D.), Thursday, 10 May 2012 11:11 (1 year ago) Permalink

It's difficult to get on CD

Unless you get a really good clean original and write it to CD

and make a nice label and envelope printed with the photo you took of it, and so on.

I have it right here..

Mark G, Thursday, 10 May 2012 11:15 (1 year ago) Permalink

"heart and soul" by joy division could be a perfect one chord song just excluding those 'fake' chords from barney that add some color post verses (there are no key changes anyway so there you have it)

cock chirea, Thursday, 10 May 2012 11:47 (1 year ago) Permalink

"Born in the USA" comes close...

Saw a few suggestions of "Exodus" by Bob Marley, "Run Through the Jungle" by CCR, "No Diggity," "Forever In My Life" by Prince ...

Keith Urban has a song called "One Chord Song." What is "Showbiz Kids" by Steely Dan? I guess a lot of these songs can be played with one chord on guitar, though the recordings may not necessarily stick there.

Josh in Chicago, Thursday, 10 May 2012 11:52 (1 year ago) Permalink

love thy will be done IS NOT a one chord song, try humming the vocal melody and you will realise there are at least 2 or 3 chord changes during the verses

cock chirea, Thursday, 10 May 2012 12:07 (1 year ago) Permalink

raga bihag. padma talwalkar & buddies do a good version.

iglu ferrignu, Thursday, 10 May 2012 12:33 (1 year ago) Permalink

I'd just like to say that it's _my favourite thing ever_ when there is a triad or an open 5th that drones on for the song's entirety... chord changes, bass movement may happen, but that chord stays on, regardless. "2nd Thought" and "Of all the things we've made" by OMD are key examples

poxen, Thursday, 10 May 2012 12:43 (1 year ago) Permalink

Yeah, 'Of All The Things We've Made' is great. Love the way the bassline moves around while the guitars stay on the one chord throughout.

The Jupiter 8 (Turrican), Thursday, 10 May 2012 14:23 (1 year ago) Permalink

drunks with guns - hell house, iirc?

arby's, Thursday, 10 May 2012 14:35 (1 year ago) Permalink

love thy will be done IS NOT a one chord song, try humming the vocal melody and you will realise there are at least 2 or 3 chord changes during the verses

yeah, that's what I always thought but listening to it recently, I realized the bass stays on the one note the whole time. of course there are some other notes played by the synth and I agree that it feels like there are more chords though.

AlXTC from Paris, Thursday, 10 May 2012 16:49 (1 year ago) Permalink

caro's johnson (Eazy), Friday, 11 May 2012 05:29 (1 year ago) Permalink

Bo Diddley wrote sarky songs to Chubby Checker? Oh hang on...

Mark G, Friday, 11 May 2012 06:05 (1 year ago) Permalink


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