Billy Joel and Elton John are two of the most prolific songwriters we have seen over the last 40 years, aside from being virtuoso pianists, compelling singers, and top line entertainers. Most of their songs are obviously piano based but here we have a set of lessons that either were guitar based or translate very well to our steel-stringed friend. All these lessons are solid intermediate songs.
Lesson 1: It's Still Rock And Roll To Me - Guitar Lesson
It’s Still Rock And Roll To Me is one of the few Billy Joel songs that features the guitar rather than the piano. The song appeared on his 1980 album, Glass Houses and is written from the point-of-view of an aging artist who is pressured by his label or manager to get with the times. Typical of a Billy Joel song, It’s Still Rock And Roll uses a wide range of chords, including some bar chords and some power chords. The power chords can be played using the common shuffle pattern that moves from the 5th of the chord to the 6th of the chord on beats 2 and 4 in each measure. The song opens with single bass notes played using the palm mute technique. Half way through the verse it starts strumming, then continues with a combination of the two techniques.
Lesson 2: She’s Always A Woman - Guitar Lesson
She’s Always A Woman is one of Billy Joel’s masterpieces, first appearing on his 1977 album The Stranger. It makes a great guitar song and really shows off his compositional skills. The guitar part is done in the key of D, and would be capoed at the first fret to get in the original key of Eb. This lesson includes a theory segment covering techniques such as pedal point, chord inversions, secondary dominant chords, and modulation.
Lesson 3: Piano Man - Guitar Lesson
Piano Man is the song that first brought Billy Joel onto the big music scene. It makes a great strumming guitar song and uses chord inversions that are more typical of piano-based songs. This makes for a few challenging changes and interesting voicings.
Lesson 4: Daniel - Guitar Lesson
Daniel is a great acoustic guitar song by Elton John. The original included a guitar strumming along with Elton’s piano, and some nice keyboard fills and a solo as well. This lesson looks at the chord progression in the original key of C and adds the fills and solo to create a very complete guitar part. The song is from Elton’s 1973 album Don’t Shoot Me I’m Only The Piano Player.
Lesson 5: Madman Across The Water - Guitar Lesson Elton John
Madman Across The Water was written by Elton John and his main lyricist, Bernie Taupin and was the title song from his 1971 album. It is one of his few songs that features acoustic guitar. The lesson goes over the basic riff and strumming accompaniment. Neil also improvises a chord solo arrangement of the tune which is not covered in the lesson but tab is included.
Lesson 6: Your Song - Guitar Lesson
Your Song is one of the songs that put the songwriting team of Elton John and Bernie Taupin on the musical map that was evolving in 1970. Elton’s brilliant music and piano arrangements translate pretty well to the guitar, as do most well written compositions. In this lesson we look at how to imitate the piano sound with fingerpicking patterns and chord inversions.