June 18, 2024


I Fall For Art

Eight Classic Rock Songs That Feature A Banjo

While attending a ball game recently, I had a minor disagreement with a fellow spectator. Our difference did not arise from a controversial managerial move or an umpire’s blown call, as one would expect at a baseball game.

The classic hit “Lola” by the Kinks came across the loudspeaker between innings, and I made a comment to my daughter that I should learn to play the banjo part in that song. A guy sitting directly behind me, presumably a musician himself, told me that there was no banjo used in “Lola.”

I insisted that there was, as I had been listening to that song for over forty years. The fellow agreed that it did sound like a banjo, but the instrument being used was a guitar.

My daughter typed a few words on her phone, and within minutes the dispute was settled. Internet research of the song proved that I was wrong, for there was no banjo listed among the credits on Lola.

The incident did, however, cause me to think of other classic rock songs that feature a banjo. Here are eight of the most well-known.

Take It Easy by the Eagles

Bernie Leadon would leave the band not long after this song hit the charts, but his picking gives this timeless classic a country appeal.

Last Child by Aerosmith

Steven Tyler is always grinning, but he is actually picking on this hit about missing down home from the Rocks album.

Old Man by Neil Young

The five strings accompanying the harmonica and acoustic guitar on this classic from Harvest are being played by James Taylor.

You Told Me by the Monkees

Headquarters is the first album on which the quartet played their own instruments, one of which was the banjo handled by Peter Tork.

Bluebird by Buffalo Springfield

The group’s second album, appropriately called Buffalo Springfield Again, spawned this single with a banjo part by Charlie Chin.

Daily Records by the Who

Any band who once turned a song dedicated to an accordion into a hit, as they did on “Squeeze Box,” also incorporated a banjo into the best track from the Face Dances album.

Honky Cat by Elton John

A song about leaving the city for the country life must include a banjo, which on this hit is picked by Davey Johnstone.

Dublin Crow by Butch Walker

The characteristic bluegrass instrument adds an Irish flavor to this single from The Spade.