20 of the Best Songs in Open D Tuning

Open D is an alternate guitar tuning that is used (if you guessed by the name) to play a D major chord without fretting. Open D tuning is D A D F# A D.

You might have noticed or heard Open D tuning somewhere by now, as it’s an alternate guitar tuning that can be found in a variety of different genres. Personally, I enjoy it more in slower and more mellow genres like country or even indie music.

The Open D is characterized by a bright and vibrant sound that just seems to fit in many different settings, hence the use in different genres.

Going further, I will share a list of 20 of the best songs in Open D tuning. Keep in mind that this is not a definitive list and are simply my choices on the subject, as other songs can easily take part on this list.

1. Bon Iver – re: Stacks

Starting the list is my favorite by a long shot and that’s Bon Iver’s song “re: Stacks”. A prime example of a nice-sounding Open D tuning song. The song was released in 2007 and was the second single from Bon Iver’s album “For Emma, Forever Ago”.

As far as difficulty is concerned, the song is pretty simplistic by nature, however, the vocals are the hardest part to nail down. Bon Iver has a unique sound and voice that is hard to replicate. This song is known by many, hence why it’s the first on the list.

2. Pearl Jam – Even Flow

Jumping genres into a more rock vibe is Pearl Jam’s “Even Flow”. The song was released in 1991. “Even Flow” is more of a power chord song. The song starts with the infamous rifts and then jumps into what we all know and love.

For those that don’t know, which would be the majority of people, this is played in Open D tuning and uses a combination of one and two-finger picking. Without a doubt, Pearl Jam are highly known worldwide for their achievements and legendary repertoire and sound.

3. Bear’s Den – Agape

Another one of my personal favorites, as I mentioned I like a more mellow sounding Open D setting is Bear’s Den with the song “Agape”. The song was released as a single in 2014. The song features all-acoustic instrumentation and a very laid-back sound.

I would say that it’s a very recognizable song by many, with the bright and uplifting sound that we’ve favored over the years. The song is a very nice example of this alternate tuning and goes to show how Open D can sound very happy and motivating.

4. The Rolling Stones – Street Fighting Man

Not many would have guessed that the legendary Rolling Stones used Open D tuning too. Their song “Street Fighting Man” was released in 1968 and features Keith Richards’ usual guitar riffs which are played in Open D tuning.

The song is often thought to be about the protests of May 1968 Paris, France. With its simplistic nature and moderate tempo, this song has been a staple for many years now. A good example of Open D tuning that is beloved by many.

5. Laura Marling – What He Wrote

A song and artist that many of you might not know, Laura Marling joins the list with her song “What He Wrote”. The song was released in 2010 on “I Speak Because I Can”. The song talks about a breakup and Marling does so in a way that is relatable but emotional.

A truly emotional setting accompanied by a beautiful-sounding Open D guitar. While not as popular as the other songs, it easily makes way into anyone’s heart with just one or two listens.

6. Mumford & Sons – The Cave

As you could tell by now, the list is filled with beautiful-sounding, mellow songs. Mumford & Sons’ song “The Cave” was released as part of the band’s debut album Sigh No More in 2010 and has since then been used in many T.V. shows and movies – which explains the reason why it is so popular.

The Open D guitar in this country-like setting is simply a sight to behold. While the band suffers a lot of controversies, the song is really catchy and sounds truly motivating.

7. Alter Bridge – Open Your Eyes

Taking a break from the mellow scene a bit we have Alter Bridge. Their song “Open Your Eyes” was released in 2004 as their first single that was part of their debut album One Day Remains.

The song generated a lot of views and listens which propelled the band further into their career. Although the distortion and rock-heavy guitar sounds are masterfully set, the song has a certain twinkle about it that just catches the listener’s attention, or maybe it’s just the Open D tuning.

8. The Black Crows – She Talks To Angels

By now you know how Open D sound just by listening to the intro here. The Black Crows join the list with their song “She Talks To Angels”. The song was released in 1990 as part of their album Shake Your Money Maker.

The band reached moderate popularity with the song. With the beautiful acoustic guitar setting, a relatively slow tempo, and mellow vocals, the song is simply beloved by many for being easy to listen to and enjoy.

9. Alt-J – Taro

Another piece that would be instantly recognizable by many. Alt-J’s song “Taro” was released in 2012 and if the song could be described with one word it would be – catchy.

The song has such amazing sounds incorporated within it that just sets it apart from most on this list. It’s unique by nature with accompanied high tones and an Open D guitar setting that is hard not to like and enjoy, especially the vocals.

10. The Tallest Man On Earth – The Gardener

Kristian Matsson also known as The Tallest Man On Earth is often associated with just the guitar and vocals. The song “The Gardener” was released in 2008 as part of the soundtrack for the film ” The Secret Life of Walter Mitty ” and is considered to be a cinematic experience.

A simple yet beautiful song that uses an Open D tuning and nothing but pure skilled and catchy vocals. Although not everyone’s cup of tea I would presume, this is a good example for alternate tuning.

11. Boys Like Girls – Thunder

From the first second, you can hear the beautiful-sounding Open D tuning. Boys Like Girls’ song “Thunder” was released in 2008 as part of their debut album Boys Like Girls.

The song has two versions, the first was an acoustic version when the album debuted in 2006 and the other was two years later as an official single which is this one. The song has a very teenage vibe to it, with a simple guitar riff and chord progression that is pleasant for anyone’s ears.

12. Joni Mitchell – Big Yellow Taxi

Joining the list with a more upbeat tempo and high vocals is Joni Mitchell with “Big Yellow Taxi”. The song was released as a single in 1970 and was the second single from Mitchell’s album “Ladies of the Canyon”.

“Big Yellow Taxi” is about development, where developers strip-mine hills or shorelines to sell as residential properties. Despite the backstory, the song is very pleasant with an Open D guitar, and for those who appreciate it – amazing back vocals.

13. Mumford & Sons – Broken Crown

Another appearance by Mumford & Sons, only this time with their song “Broken Crown”. The song was released in 2012 and is take a much darker tone than their previous song on the list.

You can immediately tell by the heavy theme and dark-sounding notes. It does feature their signature rhythm and vocals and does make for an interesting song in Open D that many find fascinating.

14. King Krule – Out Getting Ribs

Maybe not recognizable by many but King Krule makes the list with “Out Getting Ribs”. The song was released in 2013 and has a very slow tempo that is very easy to follow and enjoy.

With pretty unique vocals, this track is one that quickly makes its way into listeners’ hearts. The guitar is classic Open D with a bit of a dark twist for those who notice, nevertheless, it makes for an interesting example of this tuning.

15. Owen Campbell – Sunshine Road

Owen Campbell joins the ranks with the song “Sunshine Road”. The song was released in 2011 and is one of the coolest examples of Open D guitar tuning.

Just by watching the style of playing and amazing vocals is truly a sight to behold. It’s hard to dislike this song which has such a catchy and captivating tune. Although not incredibly popular, this song solidifies a spot on this list.

16. Bob Dylan – Corrina, Corrina

It’s a shame not to include the legendary Bob Dylan on an Open D tuning list. His song “Corrina, Corrina” was released in 1963 but the original version was from back in 1928 by Bo Carter.

An incredibly mellow song that just provides a relaxing atmosphere for all listeners. With the use of amazing vocals and a harmonica, this song is without a doubt favored by many throughout the world of music.

17. Fleetwood Mac – Show-Biz Blues

No Open D tuning list would be complete without Fleetwood Mac. The song “Show-Biz Blues” was released in 1969 and is another prime example of Open D guitar tuning at its finest.

With a country twang attached, this song makes for a great listener experience. The trademark vocals of Fleetwood Mac and the slide on the guitar just make it that much better for capturing the listener’s attention.

18. José González – Lovestain

Although not very popular, José González’s “Lovestain” is another good example of Open D guitar tuning. The song was released in 2003 and joined the indie-folk singers’ repertoire.

The song has many twists and turns on the guitar that makes it a whole journey to experience. Personally, I really enjoy this song because of the good-sounding vocals and use of Open D guitar tuning.

19. James Elmore – Shake Your Money Maker

We go way back with this one. James Elmore’s song “Shake Your Money Maker” was released on Argo Records in 1961.

A great little tune that takes us back in time and shows that Open D guitar tuning has no definitive time frame. If you enjoy oldies then this piece will join your arsenal pretty soon.

20. Fleetwood Mac – Like Crying

Closing off the list is another Fleetwood Mac song. The song “Like Crying” was released in 1969. It has a certain bluesy feel that just captivates anyone’s ear instantly.

The things that make this song stand out are the unique vocals and back vocals, the Open D bright-sounding guitar, and its simplistic nature. It’s a really short song that just makes you want to re-listen to it multiple times due to its short duration.

Summary

Open D tuning on guitar can be a really cool choice to make for any musician. It allows for the guitarists to explore new things and not limit themselves with standard guitar-tuning.

People all across the world use this tuning on their guitars because it’s just so satisfying to hear how good your instrument sounds on this particular type of tuning.

This list is full of songs from all over the world of music and there is a little something for everyone to enjoy. Hopefully, you will find this list enjoyable and maybe put some of these songs into your music library.

Milan Trajkovikj is a touring and recording bass guitarist who loves to share his passion for all things music.

Leave a Comment

Leave a reply

Musician Wave
Logo