Beans on Toast, the self-proclaimed English drunk folk singer, is one of those musicians you really wish you could meet. His music is catchy, upbeat and completely down-to-earth. He’s not afraid to call out politicians, talk about sex, drugs and alcohol, and generally tell the truth.
His manly, gravelly voice is easy to sing along with but nearly impossible to duplicate, and most of his tunes are fairly simple to play, requiring only a well-tuned acoustic guitar and a strong lead vocalist. These ten songs should be at the top of every guitarist’s must-learn list.
If you are still looking for a personal theme song, we may have found one for you. Things, from the Fishing for a Thank You album, is an all-around great song, and unlike many of Beans on Toast’s songs, it’s actually almost clean enough to be considered family-friendly.
It touches briefly on everything from love and the simple things in life to religion and politics, reminding us not to take ourselves too seriously. The folksy strum pattern utilizes a lot of upstrums and palm mutes, so Things is also a great song to learn if you want to practice these techniques.
2. Beer and a Burger
Beer and a Burger is a classic pub song, one that you have to sing aloud with whenever you hear it. Anyone who lives in a small village or anyone who simply likes to sit at the pub and have a beer can relate to it, and Beans on Toast brings his hallmark pragmatic simplicity to the lyrics in a way that almost makes you feel like he is merely having a conversation with you rather than making music.
In line with most of his songs, Beer and a Burger is a three or four chord masterpiece that doesn’t require a professional to master it.
3. Old Grunge
One of those songs that is more talking than singing, Old Grunge is a fun song for anyone who has gone through dozens of music fads, or for anyone who just loves music in general. The great thing about Old Grunge is that you can really play around with the instrumental part of it, as Beans on Toast largely has a harmonica backing him up.
Beginners can pluck out a few G’s and D’s to go along with the lyrics, and more advanced players can pick out a myriad of riffs higher up on the neck of the guitar. Get a mate to back you up on the harmonica for the real Beans on Toast sound.
4. Children of Bedford
Beans on Toast drops a pearl of wisdom in Children of Bedford, offering the most realistic advice about drugs you are likely to hear anywhere. Speaking to young and old alike, the moral is not to avoid them at all costs, but to, as Beans on Toast put it, “know what you can handle”.
In a world where marijuana is becoming more accepted every day (and legalized across the globe), the scare tactic when it comes to softer drugs is working less and less.
5. The Day That Dance Music Died
Although The Day That Dance Music Died is nothing like Don McLean’s American Pie (The Day the Music Died), it is still a great song to learn, with far fewer lyrics to keep in mind. Another tune simply about music, it makes you want to jump up and dance along for the not-quite two minutes that it lasts. It’s especially great for those techno lovers among us, and for the hippie types who love to dance in the rain, as Beans on Toast does.
If you like to play songs that become ingrained in your brain and stick around for a few days at least, then you will love to learn Life, one of Beans on Toast’s catchiest tunes. His rendition is full of different instruments, the guitar, keyboard and violin among them, so you can experiment with various instruments if you want or simply strum it on your guitar.
Play it whenever you feel upset; it is an immediate mood booster. As Beans on Toast sincerely reminds us, “Life is for singing and life is for dancing and life is for making love.”
7. MySpace Picture
It may be all about Facebook these days, but the lyrics of MySpace Picture still hold true today. If you like Beans on Toast, chances are good that you will agree with the sentiment of MySpace Picture. Beans on Toast may or may not be an anti-technology fiend, but at any rate MySpace Picture encourages us not to let social media become our primary form of socialisation.
It only requires the A, D and E chords to play, and sounds great with a female vocalist harmonising along with the chorus. You might even switch up the harmony and melody for your own unique rendition.
8. Health and Safety
Another song that can be easily strummed with a few simple chords, Health and Safety is a bit like Beans on Toast’s public service announcement, encouraging us, not to take unnecessary risks with our health and safety, but to realize that every day is a gift that could be your last.
He tells a quick story about a car accident, in a light-hearted way to make us remember that it could happen to anyone, as could any number of other health problems or accidents. Pick Health and Safety out by ear, with a little bit of back up on the keyboard.
9. Apple of Eden
A great song for those learning to finger pick, Apple of Eden is a honest look at the origin of humankind. It features the banjo, the violin and even a horn, but can be easily adapted to play on the guitar. Beans on Toast tactfully manages to look at all sides of the issue without offending, and ends with his own opinion which echoes that of many average, working class people today.
If you want to add a slower but substantial and meaningful song to your repertoire, this is the one to learn. Add a backup singer to round out the sound.
10. Don’t Believe the Bullshit
Beans on Toast has an impeccable talent for turning the thoughts of a regular bloke into an unforgettable song, and in no song has he displayed this talent better than in Don’t Believe the Bullshit. For all you rebels and revolutionaries out there, Don’t Believe the Bullshit is an anthem to stand behind, taking a candid look at such issues as politics and the economy.
It has a great strum pattern with some fun and catchy hammer-ons, and would make a great pub song to get a bunch of people to sing along with you.