Top 20 Acoustic Guitar Intros Of All Time

1. Spaceboy – The Smashing Pumpkins.

Album: Siamese Dream

Released: 1993

Genre: Alternative Rock

This hauntingly beautiful song released off Smashing Pumpkins breakout album ‘Siamese Dream’, is truly just another level. It differs from the rest of the songs off the record, as the whole song is an acoustic ballad. The only other song like that on the album was ‘Disarm’, which actually had opened up in the intro with an electric guitar on a clean setting. ‘Spaceboy’, was about Corgan’s younger half-brother, Jesse Anderson who had special needs and disabilities. Billy Corgan had to take care of him on his own as a child, growing up in an abusive household as no one else would care for them.

2. Polly – Nirvana.

Album: Nevermind

Released: 1991

Genre: Alternative Rock

The incredibly brilliant, and horridly dark acoustic alternative anthem ‘Polly’ – is no doubt musical genius. And it’s definitely, without hesitation – one of the best acoustic guitar intros of all time. Written by Kurt Cobain, the song was loosely based on a news paper article he read about a 14 year old girl who had went to a concert and was kidnapped by a deranged rapist named Gerald Friend. The 14 year old girl, beaten and torched and assaulted – physiologically, physically, & sexually – managed to escape. She had done so by treating Gerald like he was a human being. Upon letting his guard down, he had untied her. She broke a window and left. Gerald was later arrested and still resides in prison to this day. One of the most interesting and peculiar things about ‘Polly’, is that it is written in the perspective of the criminal. Throughout the song, Cobain narrates the story and puts himself in the mind of Gerald Friend. ‘Polly’ was a major hit, which was unexpected due to it’s incredibly horrid backstory. The song was originally called ‘Hitchhiker’, and it was written in 1988. He didn’t want to put it on Nirvana’s debut ‘Bleach’, because it didn’t fit the rest of the record. He remained it Polly in 1991, upon releasing it off Nevermind. Cobain was always highly opinionated against rape, as there was an anti-rape song on each and every Nirvana album. The story of this girl really effected him. None of the anti-rape songs were as big, or in my opinion as good or as deep as ‘Polly’. None acoustic either. And Polly had an acoustic guitar intro that was so different, you knew it was Kurt who was playing. Distinctiveness at it’s finest.

3. Good Riddance (Time Of Your Life) – Green Day.

Album: Nimrod

Released: 1997

Genre: Alternative Rock

‘Good Riddance (Time Of Your Life)’, became one of the biggest anthems of the 90’s. Featured in the finale of one of the biggest sitcoms of all time ‘Seinfeld’, & became a prom, wedding, & graduation anthem in the late 90’s and early 000’s. While it played at events like weddings and proms regularly, the meanings could not be more different. The song was about lead singer Billie Joe Armstrong’s 2nd and final ex-girlfriend who dumped him. He wrote it one day after sitting on the couch with his acoustic guitar, calling it ‘Good Riddance’ – because in the end things worked out for the better for him. As he met his wife shortly after, as been with her for 25 years and has two kids. He later gave it the subtitle ‘Time Of Your Life’, as that was the famous line in the chorus that got people hooked.

4. Perfect Blue Buildings – Counting Crows.

Album: August and Everything After

Released: 1993

Genre: Rock

‘Perfect Blue Buildings’, is easily one of the most recognizable and greatest acoustic guitar intros of all time. Many misconceptions about the song are made. The true meaning is unknown. Some believe it’s about mental illness, particularly about frontman Adam Duritz’s battle with it. Others people believe it’s about being on the road a lot, and just getting homesick. Whatever it is about, it’s a great song either way – with an acoustic guitar intro like no other.

5. Just Breathe – Pearl Jam.

Album: Just Breathe – Single

Released: 2009

Genre: Rock

‘Just Breathe’, is simply one of the most beautiful acoustic songs ever. The intro brings you in immediately, with the magnificent fingerpicking done by Eddie Vedder. It’s notably the only song of the list so far that is fingerpicked. It certainly had to make the top 5, as it is not only one of my all time favorite songs by one of my all time favorite bands – but since the list is about the greatest acoustic guitar intros that was really why it made the list. There was a handful of Pearl Jam songs I could have chosen, however. ‘Daughter’, ‘Elderly Women Behind The Counter In a Small Town’, & ‘Sirens’ – are all great as well. It was difficult choosing one. For a while, I went with Daughter played in open g tuning – but settled on Just Breathe because the song has a big of an edge over Daughter. But both great songs, with phenomenal acoustic guitar intros – done by a terrific band. Oh, and ‘Just Breathe’ – is the only song so far done on a nylon stringed acoustic guitar.

6. Free Fallin – Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers.

Album: Full Moon Fever

Released: 1989

Genre: Classic Rock

One of the most iconic songs in classic rock, ‘Free Fallin’ is not only musical genius – but has an acoustic guitar intro so amazing it just had to make the list. Due to it being so recognizable, different, & distinctive – it had to make the list. The twelve string delight with the fitting chorus effect like no other, in such delicacy and delight – it proves it’s case as one of the best ever. It’s also the only one of the list so far played on a twelve string.

7. Big Empty – Stone Temple Pilots.

Album: Purple

Released: 1994

Genre: Alternative Rock

‘Big Empty’, is one of the greatest songs of all time. It’s the only song on this list as of right now that is a slide intro. Dean DeLeo in all of his greatness opens the song with a slide on an acoustic guitar. He’s the only grunge guitarist I’ve ever seen use one. One of the most iconic intros in alternative music, and greatest acoustic intros ever.

8. Heaven Beside You – Alice In Chains.

Album: Alice In Chains

Released: 1995

Genre: Alternative Rock

Also featured on ‘Top 20 Greatest Guitar Riffs Of The 90’s’ – Heaven Beside You is the epitome of awesome. With an amazing acoustic guitar intro. It was a real fight between Nutshell and Heaven Beside You for this list – but Heaven Beside You was the song that introduced me to AIN and it’s intro is more complex and distinctive. Overall, furthermore meaning – it is better. At least, in my opinion it is.

9. Song for Someone – U2.

Album: Songs of Innocence

Released: 2014

Genre: Rock

If there’s any guitarist who knows how to bring the listeners in better than The Edge of U2 – I don’t know who it is. This song in particular shows off his composition talent. And there’s very few U2 songs that feature an acoustic opening. ‘Song for Someone’, crowns them all – in my opinion.

10. My Father’s House – Bruce Springsteen.

Album: Nebraska

Released: 1982

Genre: Classic Rock

‘My Father’s House’, one of the greatest songs from Springsteen’s solo album ‘Nebraska’ – shows a different side of Bruce. Upon hitting big with The E Street Band in 1980 as their frontman, with poppy breakout album ‘The River’ in 1980 – he shortly after recorded this folksy solo album known as ‘Nebraska’. Filled with great acoustic intros, the reason I picked My Father’s House is because it is criminally underrated and most people don’t know it.

11. Blowin’ In the Wind – Bob Dylan.

Album: The Freewheelin’

Released: 1965

Genre: Folk

Bliss simplicity at it’s best. One of the greatest songs in the history of music, that’s just 3 basic chords. An amazing intro done on an acoustic, probably the most simplistic and easiest one on the list. But it’s not about complexity, it’s about quality.

12. Song for Bob Dylan – David Bowie.

Album: Hunky Dory

Released: 1971

Genre: Classic Rock

Shortly after the brilliant acoustic intro, electric guitar kicks in dominating the start of the song. Never the less, an acoustic intro is an acoustic intro – even if it’s taken over by an electric while it plays in the background.

13. Hurt – Johnny Cash.

Album: Unearthed

Released: 2003

Genre: Rock

Widely credited and considered the most depressing song in rock, ‘Hurt’ is an amazing song. The title let’s you know immediately of it’s blatant, thorough, blunt, & straight to the point meaning. One of the most beautiful songs and acoustic intros I’ve ever heard, made by one of the greatest artists in music history – who is missed everyday.

14. All We Are – Matt Nathanson.

Album: Some Mad Hope

Released: 2007

Genre: Soft Rock

One of the most optimistic songs I’ve ever heard, with an acoustic intro so delicately beautiful it fits perfectly.

15. Taylor – Jack Johnson.

Album: On and On

Released: 2003

Genre: Soft Rock

Could’ve picked any song by Johnson, but chose this was because how instantly recognizable it was and Jack’s complex progression of super difficult jazz chords used throughout the intro and song.

16. Satellite – Dave Matthews Band.

Album: Under The Table And Dreaming

Released: 1994

Genre: Rock

Again, could’ve chosen any DMB song. But I’ve always really connected with this one, and it’s super duper complicated featuring weird jazz chords. Intro is like The Police ‘Every Breath You Take’, only on an acoustic making it harder. Also features weirder, unique, & distinctive rhythms. Very hard. Very good.

17. Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown) – The Beatles.

Album: Rubber Soul

Released: 1963

Genre: Classic Rock

Another tough battle. Was a real hard fight between this and ‘Here Comes The Sun’, but this is my favorite Beatles song and it’s underground appose to ‘Here Comes The Sun’ – which is mainstream. But awesome, with breathtakingly magnificent intros – done by an amazing group of musicians.

18. Angie – The Rolling Stones.

Album: Goats Head Soup

Released: 1973

Genre: Classic Rock

Was a tough choice between this ‘Wild Horses’, which was on their previous record Sticky Fingers – but overall I think Angie’s intro is better, more recognizable, & more complex. Where as Wild Horses, which is a great song and has a great acoustic intro is just strumming basic chords.

19. Crazy Little Thing Called Love – Queen.

Album: The Game

Released: 1979

Genre: Classic Rock

Upbeat, fun song with an acoustic intro that immediately let’s you know you’re in for a good time!

20. Fall On Me – R.E.M.

Album: Life’s Rich Pageant

Released: 1986

Genre: Classic Rock

Dominated by electric but close enough. Like ‘Song for Bob Dylan’. Was going to add a Police song, but there’s not a single acoustic guitar intro done by them!

HONORABLE MENTIONS:

Hey There Delilah by Plain White T’s (Soft Rock, 2005)

Drive by Incubus (Pop Rock, 1999)

Hotel California by The Eagles (Classic Rock, 1975)

The Celestials by The Smashing Pumpkins (Alternative Rock, 2012)

Dumb by Nirvana (Grunge, 1993)

Wake Me Up When September Ends by Green Day (Alternative Rock, 2004)

Wish You Were Here by Pink Floyd (Classic Rock, 1975)

Fake Plastic Trees by Radiohead (Alternative Rock, 1995)

Babylon by David Gray (Singer/Songwriter, 1998)

93 Million Miles by Jason Mraz (Soft Rock, 2012)

To Be Without You by Ryan Adams (Soft Rock, 2017)

She Talks To Angels by The Black Crowes (Rock, 1990)

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