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50+ Easy Harmonica Songs For Beginners

Are you (or do you know of) a beginner harmonicist looking for a fun and easy set of songs to get to grips with?

Well, you’ve come to the right place!

Mastering the harmonica is no easy feat. Not only will you have to nail your breathing & mouth/tongue placement, but you’ll also have to learn how to inject a sense of feel into your playing.

As a result, it’s crucial to pick the right sort of songs to start out with; songs that are fun and easy to play, but that’ll also develop perfect technique.

In this article, our star team of writers-slash-awesome-harmonica-players have compiled this ultimate list of 50+ easy harmonica songs for beginners, including free video lessons, tabs and an insight into why each song is a good fit for beginner harmonicists.

Not only that, but we’ve also broken them down into four distinct categories:

  • Blues & jazz
  • Traditional
  • Folk & country
  • Pop & oldies

Each of the songs on this list can be played on either a diatonic or chromatic harmonica. However, we’d recommend starting out with a diatonic harmonica such as this one as virtually all of the songs on this list comprise of entirely diatonic melodies.

Let’s get started!

Easy Blues & Jazz Harmonica Songs

1. Juke (Little Walter)

“Juke” is a song that all beginner harmonica players need to learn, because the song was originally written to be an instrumental purely for the harmonica. The song is by Little Walter, one of the great Chicago bluesmen, who frequently collaborated with the equally iconic Muddy Waters.

Tab available here.

2. Piano Man (Billy Joel)

This 1973 blues classic is well-known for its harmonica introduction, which (luckily for you!) is pretty straightforward to play. Many of the phrases in this track are played by breathing in and out of the same hole multiple times, making it super beginner-friendly.

Tab available here.

3. I’m an Old Cowhand (From the Rio Grande) (Various)

“I’m an Old Cowhand (From the Rio Grande)” is a novelty song and showtune that was written by Bing Crosby to appear in the soundtrack to Rhythm on the Range.

Tab available here.

4. Smokestack Lightning (Howlin’ Wolf)

“Smokestack Lightning” is one of the most epic and rocking blues standards from one of the most epic and rocking blues singers who ever lived. The simplicity of this song makes it a perfect example of less being more when it comes to playing the harmonica.

Tab available here.

5. Summertime (from Porgy and Bess)

This jazz standard by George Gerschwin was originally written for the opera Porgy and Bess. Even if harmonicas are not typically thought of as opera instruments, learning this song will dramatically help your understanding of music theory.

Tab available here.

6. Green Onions (Booker T. & the MGs)

“Green Onions” is among the most famous instrumental pieces in blues music history. The song follows a twelve bar blues pattern and was written by Booker T when he was just seventeen years old.

Tab available here.

7. Ain’t No Sunshine (Bill Withers)

“Ain’t No Sunshine” is a classic blues and soul collaboration between veteran musician Bill Withers and his producer, Booker T. Jones. The song was a massive success, and it became a breakout hit for Bill Withers.  This remains one of the most popular songs of the 1970s.

Tab available here.

8. Tom Dooley (The Kingston Trio)

“Tom Dooley” is a traditional murder ballad from the 19th Century set in North Carolina, and made famous by The Kingston Trio in the 1950s.

Tab available here.

9. Folsom Prison Blues (Johnny Cash)

This is one of Johnny Cash’s signature songs for a reason. This simple, rollicking tune has been a hit with generation after generation of country music fans.

Tab available here.

10. What a Wonderful World (Louis Armstrong)

“What a Wonderful World” is a jazz standard written by Bob Thiele and George David Weiss. It was most popularly performed by Louis Armstrong.

Tab available here.

11. You Gotta Move (Mississippi Fred McDowel)

“You Gotta Move” is a traditional gospel song that has its roots in African American spiritual music.

Tab available here.

12. Goodnight, Irene (Lead Belly)

“Goodnight, Irene” is an old blues standard by Lead Belly, written in 3/4 time. This is a good song for beginner harmonica players to learn because of the unusual time signature. This is a great way to expand your musical horizons.

Tab available here.

13. My Girl (The Temptations)

“My Girl” is a song that was written and recorded by The Temptations, and became one of their most famous songs. Today the song is considered a Motown classic.

Tab available here.

14. Stand by Me (Ben E. King)

“Stand by Me” is an R&B classic that was written by Ben E. King with help from Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller. The song actually has a connection to a different “king” as well: It inspired the title of the movie Stand By Me, which is based on a short story by Stephen King.

Tab available here.

Easy Traditional Harmonica Songs

15. This Land is Your Land (Woody Guthrie)

It’s hard to decide upon a “most famous” traditional American song, but this might be the one. “This Land is Your Land” is written by the king of American folk, and this song is the embodiment of all of the ideals America loves.

Tab available here.

16. Mary Had A Little Lamb (Traditional)

Arguably one of the easiest songs on this list, this one serves as a great introduction to the harmonica. It’s played at the low end of the harp, meaning you won’t have to worry about any crazy pitch shifts.

Tab available here.

17. Happy Birthday (Traditional)

This track makes full-use of the harmonica’s range, while still being super beginner-friendly. It’s particularly good for introducing pitch jumps and dynamics into your technique.

Tab available here.

18. Amazing Grace (Traditional)

“Amazing Grace” is an important song for every musician to learn, regardless of what instrument they play. It’s one of the most famous songs in the entire history of western music and is used as a hymn in both religious and secular traditions.

Tab available here.

19. Silent Night (Franz Xaver Gruber)

Aside from being one of the most well-known carols of all time, “Silent Night” follows a simple diatonic melody and a nicely-paced breathing pattern. It’s a great one to master before diving into some of the more advanced tracks on this list.

Tab available here.

20. Twinkle Twinkle Little Star (Traditional)

Another one that’s mainly concentrated around the lower end of the harp, making it a perfect one to start out with. It sounds great without any frills (such as dynamics or bends), meaning you can focus on nailing the fundamentals first.

Tab available here.

21. For He’s A Jolly Good Fellow (Traditional)

This one is particularly-good for incorporating dynamics into your harmonica playing. We’d recommend starting out at a pianissimo dynamic, before building up to a fortissimo dynamic at the end of the song.

Tab available here.

22. She’ll Be Coming ‘Round The Mountain (Traditional)

This one makes use of the harmonica’s range, but benefits from a diatonic melody. This means you’ll be able to work your way up and down the harmonica gradually without any tricky leaps in the melody.

Tab available here.

23. Yankee Doodle (Traditional)

In a similar vein to “She’ll Be Coming ‘Round The Mountain”, this tune features a stepwise melody that makes broad use of the harmonica’s range. It also sounds particularly-good with a few bends thrown in, allowing you to inject personality and feel into your technique.

Tab available here.

24. He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands (Traditional)

“He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands” is a folk song that is based on traditional African spiritual music. The song dates back to the 1920s, but it became hugely popular in the 50s when it was recorded by Laurie London.

Tab available here.

25. When Irish Eyes Are Smiling (Traditional)

“When Irish Eyes Are Smiling” is a tribute to Ireland, written by Chauncey Olcott, George Graff, Jr, and Ernest Ball. This is a traditional song that’s been recorded time and time again.

Tab available here.

26. Kumbaya (Traditional)

“Kumbaya” is one of the most famous campfire songs in the entire world. The song began as a folk song in the deep south, based on African spiritual music, and likely written by enslaved West Africans. Learning to play this song will make you popular at any campfire.

Tab available here.

27. Morning Has Broken (Traditional)

“Morning Has Broken” is an old English funeral hymn, and is featured on the Cat Stevens album Teaser and the Firecat.

Tab available here.

28. In the Good Old Summertime (Various)

“In the Good Old Summertime” is a song that dates back to the very beginning of the 20th Century. This song became an enduringly popular hit and inspired the Judy Garland film that was also called In the Good Old Summertime.

Tab available here.

29. Michael Row the Boat Ashore (Traditional)

“Michael Row the Boat Ashore” is an important part of the American musical canon. This traditional song is based on an old African spiritual and will help beginner harmonica players develop a better understanding of world music.

Tab available here.

30. Scarborough Fair (Simon & Garfunkel)

“Scarborough Fair” is a traditional English ballad that itself is actually inspired by a traditional Scottish ballad called “The Elfin Knight”. This song is one of the most popular folk songs – not just in English history – but all over the world.

Tab available here.

31. Oh! Susanna (Traditional)

“Oh! Susanna!” is one of the most famous traditional folk songs in American history. It was originally written by Stephen Foster in the 1800s and has become a staple of Americana in the years since.

Tab available here.

32. You Are My Sunshine (Various)

“You Are My Sunshine” is a classic song that’s been recorded by countless artists and is Louisiana’s official state song.

Tab available here.

Easy Folk & Country Harmonica Songs

33. Leaving on a Jet Plane (John Denver)

John Denver is one of the great American country songwriters. “Leaving on a Jet Plane” is one of his most famous songs, along with “Country Roads”. Learning these songs by John Denver is an important step for any beginner harmonica player to build a well-rounded repertoire.

Tab available here.

34. Bye Bye Love (The Everly Brothers)

“Bye Bye Love” is a song originally written by Felice and Boudleaux Bryant, and it was more famously performed and recorded by one of country music’s most famous (and vitriolic) duos, The Everly Brothers. The song was also performed by The Beatles as well as Simon and Garfunkel. In addition to performing it with The Beatles, George Harrison also recorded this song as a solo artist.

Tab available here.

35. The Times They Are A’ Changing (Bob Dylan)

“The Times They Are A’ Changing” is probably Bob Dylan’s most famous song, alongside “Blowin’ in the Wind”. This song was written during one of the most turbulent times in American history – the social upheaval of the 1960s.

Tab available here.

36. Jamaica Farewell (Harry Belafonte)

“Jamaica Farewell” is a Jamaican folk song written by Lord Burgess and performed by Harry Belafonte, celebrating the natural scenic beauty of the Jamaican island.

Tab available here.

37. Ring of Fire (Johnny Cash)

“Ring of Fire” is a song that Johnny Cash popularized, although it was actually written by his wife June. This country classic became one of the most important hits of Cash’s career.

Tab available here.

38. Your Cheatin’ Heart (Hank Williams)

“Your Cheatin’ Heart” is another classic song from Hank Williams, and is one of the most popular songs in the annals of country music history. It’s important for any beginner harmonica player to be familiar with this song.

Tab available here.

39. The Boxer (Simon and Garfunkel)

Simon and Garfunkel are one of America’s most potent songwriting teams and “The Boxer” (from the album A Bridge Over Troubled Water) is one of their most profound. There are many layers to this song and it’s an ideal one for any beginner harmonica player to hone their technique.

Tab available here.

40. Mr. Bojangles (Nitty Gritty Dirt Band)

“Mr. Bojangles” is another country music classic, originally written by Jerry Jeff Walker and later recorded by several other artists, including the Nitty Gritty Dirty Band.

Tab available here.

41. So Long It’s Been Good To Know You (Dusty Old Dust) (The Weavers)

“So Long It’s Been Good to Know You (Dusty Old Dust)” is a song that was originally written by American folk music icon Woody Guthrie, inspired by The Dust Bowl. It’s been covered by numerous artists, most notably The Weavers.

Tab available here.

42. Blowin’ in the Wind (Bob Dylan)

Aside from Woody Guthrie, Bob Dylan might be America’s most famous folk singer, and “Blowin’ in the Wind” might be his most famous song. The only other song Dylan wrote of such iconic stature is “The Times They Are A’ Changing.” Both of these songs are great additions to the repertoire of any beginner harmonica player.

Tab available here.

43. Turn! Turn! Turn! (To Everything There is a Season) (The Byrds)

If you’re looking for a beautiful piece of folk music to learn, there’s no better place to look than “Turn! Turn! Tun!” written by Pete Seeger and made famous by The Byrds.

Tab available here.

44. Jambalaya (On the Bayou) (Hank Williams)

“Jambalaya (On the Bayou)” is an iconic country song from iconic country singer Hank Williams. Seventy years later, “Jambalaya (On the Bayou)” is still one of Hank Williams’ most beloved songs.

Tab available here.

Easy Pop & Oldies Harmonica Songs

45. When I Grow Too Old to Dream (Nelson Eddy)

“When I Grow Too Old to Dream” is an early 20th Century pop standard that’s been covered by a lot of different artists, but the most famous version might be by Nelson Eddy.

Tab available here.

46. Sweet Caroline (Neil Diamond)

For over twenty five years now, it has been a tradition to play “Sweet Caroline” at every home game the Boston Red Sox play. It’s no wonder the “Fenway Faithful” love this song; it’s a banger.

Tab available here.

47. Moon River (Andy Williams)

“Moon River” is another classic song that was originally written by Henry Mancini for Breakfast At Tiffany’s, but the song became wildly popular, especially after it was recorded by artists such as Andy Williams.

Tab available here.

48. Isn’t She Lovely (Stevie Wonder)

“Isn’t She Lovely” is a song Stevie Wonder wrote in the mid 1970s to celebrate the birth of his daughter Aisha. The song features a sample of Aisha crying and it’s also famous for utilizing a lengthy harmonica solo. It’s the perfect song for a beginner harmonica player to learn.

Tab available here.

49. Love Me Tender (Elvis Presley)

There’s a reason Elvis Presley is one of the most popular singer-songwriters who has ever lived. His music defined American pop culture in the mid-twentieth Century and “Love Me Tender” is a great example of Presley’s music.

Tab available here.

50. Let it Be (The Beatles)

“Let it Be” is one of the last songs that The Beatles ever wrote and recorded. Legend has it that Paul McCartney wrote the song for his mother, who died while he was young.

Tab available here.

51. Brown Eyed Girl (Van Morrison)

“Brown Eyed Girl” is another classic song by another classic songwriter. This song was an important milestone in Van Morrison’s career, as it was the first song he released upon his arrival in the United States after relocating there from Ireland.

Tab available here.

52. Puff the Magic Dragon (Peter, Paul, and Mary)

“Puff the Magic Dragon” is a famous song written by Peter, Paul, and Mary, inspired by a poem written by Leonard Lipton. This is a great song for beginner harmonica players to learn.

Tab available here.

Closing Thoughts

We’re sure this list spoiled you for choice when it comes to picking the perfect set of easy harmonica songs as a beginner. If you enjoyed this article, why not check out our list of flute songs for beginners next?

About Author

I'm George; the founder of Indie Panda. I'm passionate about helping independent musicians realize the full potential of their talents and abilities through a strong work ethic, coherent project identity and a strong logistical foundation.