23 Best Slide Guitar Songs

“Paris, Texas” by Ry Cooder

“Paris, Texas” by Ry Cooder

Ry Cooder is generally considered to be one of the absolute best slide guitar players of the last 60 years. He might not have been popular in the mainstream, but his successes were usually hidden in plain sight.

For instance, the 1980s saw Ry Cooder contributing music to various films, including Crossroads, and Paris, Texas. In the latter film, Cooder used only slide guitar to create a tangible atmosphere to the film’s cinematic shots. 

Cooder has admitted that all of the guitars were tuned to the pitch of the wind blowing through the desert. It’s out-of-the-box thinking like this that helps to make Cooder a pure genius. 

“Bound For Glory” by Tedeschi Trucks Band

“Bound For Glory” by Tedeschi Trucks Band

You can listen to about anything in the Tedeschi Trucks Band catalog to hear some masterful slide playing. The song, Bound For Glory, from the band’s 2011 album, Revelator, is one that really stands out. 

This track has a laid-back funk to it, with moments of ascent in terms of energy. Every member of this 11-piece band stays in their lane, creating an organized tapestry of sound. 

Some would likely attribute this song more to its organ solos. However, Derek Trucks really brings this song home with his slide guitar solo section.

“Feelin’ Bad Blues” by Ry Cooder

“Feelin’ Bad Blues” by Ry Cooder

The 1986 film, Crossroads, has become one of the most famous music-related films of all time. It manages to perfectly fictionalize and modernize the Faustian myth that surrounds the history of Robert Johnson.

Crossroads features a young Ralph Macchio playing the lead role, who learns the ways of the blues guitar. Many scenes feature him playing guitar when in reality, it’s Ry Cooder’s playing that is being heard. 

Feelin’ Bad Blues is just one of the songs that can be found on this classic soundtrack. It can be found after the epic guitar battle scene that introduced Steve Vai to the attention of mainstream audiences.

“Walkin’ Blues” by Eric Clapton

“Walkin’ Blues” by Eric Clapton

Eric Clapton is truly a guitarist who built his career on blues music. Much of the genre’s influence on him can be heard in any decade of his career.

During the Clapton performance for the Unplugged album, he let his influences take center stage. His choosing to play the blues standard, Walkin’ Blues, showed his appreciation of 1930s blues music. 

His performance has a unique atmosphere of waking up first thing in the morning with a hint of grogginess. It’s one of those songs that is perfect for listening next to a fireplace on a chilly morning.

“My Sweet Lord” by George Harrison

“My Sweet Lord” by George Harrison

During his stint with The Beatles, George Harrison proved that he could contribute some masterful songs. While he might not have been the most popular member, he did go on to have a successful solo career. 

His song, My Sweet Lord, is one of his most recognizable, coming from the epic album, All Things Must Pass. This features some of Harrison’s signature slide guitar work, providing the song’s iconic melody.

What’s interesting is that, without an educated ear, you could easily mistake the slide for something else. It has a sort of synth-like quality, providing the right amount of bubbly pop to this sprawling folk-based tune.

“Slow Ride” by Foghat

“Slow Ride” by Foghat

If you queue up any classic rock playlist, you’re bound to hear at least one track from the band, Foghat. And, it’s almost a 70% guarantee that the song you would hear is, Slow Ride.

This 1970s song is one of the hallmarks of the decade, chock full of classic riffs and slide guitar work. In a way, the song’s slide perfectly plays into the concept of taking a slow ride up or down. 

“Seven Nation Army” by The White Stripes

“Seven Nation Army” by The White Stripes

You might be a little surprised to find the song Seven Nation Army being mentioned here. This song is usually mentioned for its signature guitar riffs and straightforward drum patterns, all usually fit for beginners. 

However, you might not readily recognize that the song’s guitar solo actually utilizes the slide. It’s just dressed up in a hefty dose of fuzz distortion to take on a sound of something completely different. 

So, while you might learn this song as a beginner, consider revisiting it after you’ve grown. The solo makes for a great entry into playing slide guitar, especially as it primarily plays the song’s melody.

“Sharp Dressed Man” by ZZ Top

“Sharp Dressed Man” by ZZ Top

ZZ Top really established itself in the 1970s by providing a unique brand of Texas blues rock. However, their success only multiplied in the 1980s with the use of music videos. 

One of the band’s biggest hits to come from the 80s is, Sharp Dressed Man. This track has a hint of a disco undertone, on which Billy Gibbons provides some slick slide playing.

His playing on this track is almost deceptive because of his smooth and clean technique. The song’s guitar solo has been routinely named one of the best by numerous media outlets.

“Layla” by Derek And The Dominoes

“Layla” by Derek And The Dominoes

Layla is perhaps one of the most famous songs in rock and roll history. Of course, the whole romantic issue between Clapton, Boyd, and Harrison, has quite a lot to do with it. 

However, it’s songs like Layla that make the Layla And Other Assorted Love Songs album such a classic. This song is permeated by the slide playing of none other than Duane Allman himself.

You can hear him doubling up on the main guitar riffs throughout the first section of the composition. During the piano part, it is Allman’s playing that peaks the entire song and provides great magnitude to the sound. 

“Highway 61 Revisited” by Johnny Winter

“Highway 61 Revisited” by Johnny Winter

Johnny Winter is a true enigma of the slide guitar technique. He is easily identifiable by his Gibson Thunderbird and his long, albino-white hair. 

This Texas blues guitarist carried on in the tradition of so many other Texas blues greats that came before him. Winter managed to make the slide tradition relevant to the sounds happening throughout the decades.

Be sure to give a listen to Highway 61 Revisited, which is a cover of the Bob Dylan classic. It was this song, along with a few select others, that allowed Winter to capture the attention of larger audiences.

Top Slide Guitar Songs, Final Thoughts

Many genres of music have employed the slide to great detail, becoming a staple feature of the Delta blues. Eventually, the slide founds its way into other sounds as music continued to evolve over the decades.

Of course, the slide has been used in a number of other ways, especially in psychedelic and ambient genres. Guitarists will always use the slide, though there aren’t as many dedicated slide players as there once were.

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