Ready for a time warp? Ukulele teacher Willy M. has 75 classic tunes from the 60s and 70s that are perfect for your ukulele – and are easy ukulele songs for beginners to master!
Anyone who has ever attempted to learn a new skill knows that it can be frustrating and difficult at times. But, when you finally achieve success, the feeling of accomplishment is incomparable.
There was something about the music of the 1960s and 1970s that has remained popular year after year. The nice thing about this for the beginning ukulele player is that 60s and 70s songs make great tunes to learn on the ukulele, simply because they’re relatively easy to play. Here are five easy ukulele songs for beginners that come from the swinging 60s and 70s.
If you’re thinking about learning how to play the ukulele, here are three easy songs from the 60s and 70s that will get you started on your musical journey. With a little practice, you’ll be playing like a pro in no time! So grab your ukulele and let’s start strumming! It’s time to take a look at 75 easy ukulele songs for beginners!
What Song Should I Learn on Ukulele?
If you’re going to learn ukulele, you might as well spend the time wisely and use it to learn some of the best tunes. These include:
- “Up Around the Bend” – Creedence Clearwater Revival
- “Sitting on the Dock of the Bay” – Otis Redding
- “Brown Eyed Girl” – Van Morrison
- “Love Me Do” – The Beatles
As you start mastering these easy ukulele songs for beginners, make sure you take the time to warm up properly, and of course, follow these practice tips for playing chords:
Top 4 Easy Ukulele Songs for Beginners
We’ll give you a more detailed list of easy beginner songs for ukulele later on, but for now, here are our top four picks, complete with videos and a description of what makes each song so fabulous. They are our true all-stars!
1. “Up Around the Bend”
The first song I want to point out to you is the classic Credence Clearwater Revival song written by John Fogarty called “Up Around the Bend.” This fun little tune has a verse chorus structure, so there are only two parts of the song to learn. The verse couldn’t be easier – there’s only two simple chords, the D chord and the A chord. You can also make the A chord an A7 when you are transitioning back to the D chord; but really it is as easy as just playing the D for a line, and then the A for a line.
In the chorus the song adds some depth by adding the G chord, but both lines of the chorus are simply a G chord to a D chord, and then finally ending on the A chord.
2. “Sitting on the Dock of the Bay”
What 1960s collection of songs would be complete without including something from the late great Otis Redding? “Sitting on the Dock of the Bay” was the last song Redding recorded before his tragic death in a plane crash at the tender age of 26 years old. Though his life was short, the gospel-turned-R&B singer left a brilliant catalog of hits, and in my opinion, this is one of his finest. “Dock of the Bay” is a great song for the ukulele, and it will challenge you to move out of your three chord frame of mind.
Unlike “Up around the Bend,” “Dock of the Bay” has three parts that you’ll have to learn, and several chords. However, all of the chords are simple chords that you can barre across the fret board to create. If you’re having trouble, you can tune your ukulele to Open G tuning to make it even easier, tuning it G B D G.
This song is in the key of G, but typical to a lot of 50s and 60s gospel music, it includes a few borrowed chords: A, E, B and F. To a new player, it will almost seem as if Otis couldn’t decide if he wanted to be in the key of G, C or A. But, what he’s really doing is borrowing chords from other keys to make the song sound more restless. It works well, and this song has remained popular ever since it was recorded.
Make sure you watch for the only F chord in the song when you get to the bridge. It provides the tension needed to get back to the more simple verse structure.
3. “Brown Eyed Girl”
“Brown Eyed Girl” is a very interesting, yet incredibly simple song to play. I can’t really call it a verse chorus type structure, because it’s really just a long verse with a repeated ending at the end of each verse. It has a refrain, but it’s more like a bridge that sets up the verse again. Regardless of the complexity of the song structure, it is really easy to play and learn.
“Brown Eyed Girl” is another song in the key of G with only the G, C and D chords, chords you probably already know as a beginning ukulele player. So, tackling this song should be second nature. And, once you get all your friends joining in on the la, ti, da’s at the end, you’ll feel like the master campfire ukulele player!
4. “Love Me Do”
No anthology of the 1960s would be complete without two bands who dominated the early 60s Billboard charts with catchy, easy to play love songs: The Beatles and The Beach Boys. So, to conclude our little foray into these 1960s easy ukulele songs for beginners, we are going to look at a couple of these bands’ songs. First, let’s take a look at The Beatles. “Love Me Do” is one of the easier songs The Beatles wrote. It is also in the key of G, with only the three main chords G, C and D for the bulk of the song. The Beatles get a little tricky and throw in that F chord to give it some spice on the bridge, but now that you’ve mastered “Dock of the Bay,” you know how to play it and can throw it into this song as well.
You need to be a little careful when you attempt to play these types of Beatles songs, though, because when it comes to doing the little head shake thing, people have been known to get whiplash! Just kidding. Next time you’re sitting at your next backyard barbecue, throw in a little Beatles, and you’ll have everyone singing in no time! See the chords and lyrics here.
71 More Easy Songs on Ukulele for Beginners
But wait! We aren’t done just yet. We promised you 75 easy ukulele songs for beginners, and that’s what we’re going to give you! Many of these are not songs that are meant for ukulele but are easy to adapt from guitar (and other instruments) into ukulele tabs. In fact, these tabs are readily available online with a quick Google search.
Here are more great ukulele songs to learn how to play:
Easy Ukulele Songs for Beginners From the 1960s:
Love the 60s? You’ve got to learn these easy ukulele songs then!
- “Blue Red and Gray” – The Who
- “Down on the Corner” -Creedence Clearwater Revival
- “Never My Love” – The Association
- “Taste of Honey” – The Beatles
- “In My Room” – The Beach Boys
- “Two of Us” – The Beatles
- “This Time Tomorrow” – The Kinks
- “I Can Hear Music” – The Beach Boys
- “No Reply” – The Beatles
- “Venus” – Shocking Blue
- “Mrs. Brown You’ve Got a Lovely Daughter” – Herman’s Hermits
- “Dead Flowers” – The Rolling STones
- “Octopus’s Garden” – The Beatles
- “Waterloo Sunset” – The Kinks
- “Catch the Wind” – Donovan
- “Here There and Everywhere” – The Beatles
- “Joe Hill” – Joan Baez
- “Falling For Ya” – Grace Phipps
- “City of New Orleans” – Arlo Guthrie
- “Then He Kissed Me” – The Crystals
- “Oh Pretty WOman” – Roy Orbison
- “Darlin” – The Beach Boys
- “People Are Strange” – The DOors
- “Surfin USA” – The Beach Boys
- “Fools Rush In” – Ricky Nelson
- “Strangers” – The Kinks
- “Revolution” – The Beatles
- “Crazy” – Patsy Cline
- “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” – Rolling Stones
- “To Sir, With Love” – Lulu
- “Across the Universe” – The Beatles
- “Dream a Little Dream of Me” – The Mamas and the Papas
- “You Really Got a Hold on Me” – Smokey Robinson
- “Girl” – The Beatles
- “I Am a Rock” – Simon and Garfunkel
- “For Your Love” – The Yardbirds
- “The Fool on the Hill” – The Beatles
- “All I Have To Do is Dream” – The Everly Brothers
- “Come Together” – The Beatles
- “The Boxer”- Simon and Garfunkel
Easy Ukulele Songs for Beginners From the 1970s:
If bell bottoms are more your style, these 70s songs are great ones to learn on the ukulele. Again, many of these were not arranged simply for ukulele, but it’s easy to find ukulele sheet music and tabs online for them:
- “The Chain” – Fleetwood Mac
- “Please Come Home for Christmas” – The Eagles
- “Little Lies” – Fleetwood Mac
- “Make it With You” – Bread
- “Hiroshima” – Wishful Thinking
- “One” – Three Dog Night
- “You’re the Inspiration” – Chicago
- “I Still Have Faith in You” – ABBA
- “I Started a Joke” – Bee Gees
- “Ventura Highway” – America
- “Does Your Mother Know” – ABBA
- “You’re So Vain” – Carly Simon
- “Lonely Days” – Bee Gees
- “Don’t Stop” – Fleetwood Mac
- “Kisses of Fire” – ABBA
- “California Dreamin” – The Mamas and the Papas
- “Spirit in the Sky” – Norman Greenbaum
- “Let it Ride” – Bachman-Turner Overdrive
- “Best of My Love” – The Eagles
- “Ain’t No Sunshine” – Bill Withers
- “Waterloo” – ABBA
- “Go Your Own Way” – Fleetwood Mac
- “Nothing From Nothing” – Billy Preston
- “Dust in the Wind” – Kansas
- “Love Will Keep Us Alive” – The Eagles
- “School” – Supertramp
- “Let’s Stay Together” – Al Green
- “Lost Without Your Love” – Bread
- “Landslide” – Fleetwood Mac
- “Hotel California” – The Eagles
- “American Pie” – Don McLean
How Do I Teach Myself the Ukulele?
Although it’s almost always going to be easier to work with a ukulele instructor, there are a few ways you can teach yourself the ukulele. Some tips:
- Always tune your ukulele before you play
- Maintain good form and posture
- Master basic ukulele chords
- Use a metronome to get the hang of rhythm
- Take regular practices
- Always warm up
- Sing along while you play basic strumming patterns
Easy Ukulele Songs for Beginners: Give Them a Try!
If you’re looking for a few easy ukulele songs to get started with, we’ve got you covered. The 60s were an incredible time for music, and some of the best tunes are still enjoyable today on the uke.
I hope you have a great time as you give these easy ukulele songs for beginners a try at your next luau or 60s dance – or whatever fun party you’re going to have this summer! These five easy ukulele songs are sure to get your friends doing the mashed potato or surfer’s stomp in no time!
Learn more ukulele songs and techniques by studying with a private ukulele instructor. Find your ukulele teacher now!
Willy M. teaches guitar, ukulele, and mandolin lessons in Winston Salem, NC. He is the author of the Dead Man’s Tuning series of mandolin songbooks, and is a former member of the American Federation of Musicians. Willy has been teaching for 20 years, and his students have ranged in age from young children to folks in their 80s. Learn more about Willy here!
Photo by catspyjamasnz