8-year-olds, Dude.
December 25, 2008 9:55 PM   Subscribe

What are some good rock songs that feature simple but distinctive drumming?

My 8-year-old cousin just got a drum kit for Christmas, and he has some natural talent, and I want to encourage him as much as I can. I'm going to burn him a CD of songs to get him listening to different drumming styles and beats. I want him to hear how awesome people like Keith Moon and Bonzo and Levon Helm are, but I also want to have some songs that he can play along with relative ease. Also they need to be songs with lyrics that are appropriate for an 8-year-old.

My ulterior motive for this is so he can find a favorite band that isn't nickelback.
posted by Jon_Evil to Media & Arts (38 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Led Zeppelin is good for that, not always simple though. When the Levee Breaks, Good Times Bad Times, Fool in the Rain.
posted by zorro astor at 10:07 PM on December 25, 2008 [1 favorite]

Judas Priest and AC\DC are pretty distinctive yet would be relatively easy for a noob to start playing after some practice.

Save the Neil Pert for some other day =]

/bass player, what do I know?
posted by zephyr_words at 10:12 PM on December 25, 2008

How about early Beatles music? Ringo was a good drummer but no one ever really thought of him as being in the top ranks, including he himself.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 10:22 PM on December 25, 2008

REM's 'The Outsiders' from the Around the Sun album might work. It is a bit slow, but with a good beat, and does feature Q-Tip, so may get some cred from an 8 year old for the rap bit.
posted by AnnaRat at 10:23 PM on December 25, 2008

You'd do worse to walk through the RHCP catalog, between Irons and Smith being very solid but not terribly wacky. Start with the slinky funk attack and end up with the Hendrixy stuff with a break of Frusciante in between, and show him how the drums work with all those styles.
posted by kcm at 10:25 PM on December 25, 2008

Breeders - Last Splash - Jim MacPherson. Not crazy hard to learn stuff... but man, that's the bomb if you're learning the basics of drumming.

Saints It's a good example of when to play like a monster and when to let the rest of the band play without you.
posted by Bighappyfunhouse at 10:35 PM on December 25, 2008

Springsteen is a possibility. Glory Days, Born in the USA, Hungry Heart, Dancing in the Dark. (I think the lyrical themes are opaque enough to a kid to not be of concern.)

Also a lot of stuff from Talking Heads, especially the Stop Making Sense CD or DVD. Some songs more challenging than others of course.
posted by Fuzzy Skinner at 10:35 PM on December 25, 2008

Most of the White Stripes, e.g., Blue Orchid.
posted by Rumple at 10:39 PM on December 25, 2008 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: This is all good stuff, it's also reminding me why I love music so much.

Chocolate Pickle: Ringo is a much better drummer than everybody thinks, and does a lot of really tight fill work, even in the early stuff. Once you get to Rubber Soul, he gets crazy. Listen to the drums on She Said She Said if you ever doubt Ringo's talent.

Fuzzy Skinner: Talking Heads was a good direction to point me in, as is the Breeders. Springsteen would be, but his mom has a weird thing about the Boss (we found this out last christmas when we all got drunk and played Pass the Guitar, and she was in tears by the end of Thunder Road. Oops.)
posted by Jon_Evil at 10:50 PM on December 25, 2008 [1 favorite]

Colm Ó Cíosóig of My Bloody Valentine's drum work is dead simple but a good example of how to use drumming to complement the music rather than overpower it or disappear. And My Bloody Valentine are awesome. If he's into that, Ride's music is in the same vein but Laurence Colbert's drumming is of a totally different style, very fill-heavy and thus a bit more advanced.
posted by sinfony at 11:06 PM on December 25, 2008

Early Stereolab, like from Switched On.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 11:17 PM on December 25, 2008

My first thought for "simple but distinctive drumming" was U2's Sunday Bloody Sunday.
posted by abstractdiode at 12:19 AM on December 26, 2008

I was beaten to "When the Levee Breaks", so I'll second it.

Pearl Jam's "In My Tree" -- give him something to aim at.
posted by quarantine at 2:17 AM on December 26, 2008

"Consoler of the Lonely" from The Raconteurs latest effort is in 5/4 time (basically doubled snare hits), simple, and fun to play once you get the rhythm. Plus it has the added benefit of being recent.
posted by squorch at 2:19 AM on December 26, 2008

Also, good on you for The Big Lebowski reference.
posted by squorch at 2:21 AM on December 26, 2008

Let's see...

Twisted Sister: "We're Not Gonna Take It". Probably one of the most distinctive drum limes of the past 30 years, and any rock song sung to the tune of "O Come All Ye Faithful" gets points. :)

U2: Someone already mentioned "Sunday Bloody Sunday". "I Will Follow" from their album "Boy" is also a good choice.

Bow Wow Wow: "I Want Candy" from the album "Last of the Mohicans"

Anthrax: "Only" from the album "Sound of White Noise". Not a thrash or speed metal song at all. Drums are all but tribal.

Powerstation: "Some Like It Hot". The drumming on this album is done by Tony Thompson, a longtime David Bowie collaborator.

Killswitch Engage: "Rose of Sharyn" from the album "The End of Heartache".

Marilyn Manson: "The Beautiful People" from the album "Antichrist Superstar".

The Pretenders: "Middle of the Road" from the album "Learning To Crawl"

Skid Row: "Monkey Business" from the album "Slave To The Grind". Witness the non-ironic use of cowbell before the guitar solo!

Yes: "Changes" from the album "90125".
posted by DWRoelands at 3:06 AM on December 26, 2008

Best answer: Mama, and In the Air Tonight- Phil Collins was a drummer long before he became an irritant.

remember he is 8. You should concentrate on songs that are featured on Guitar Hero, or Rock Band. Afterall his friends will be familiar with those songs and he may be more inclined to learn them.
posted by Gungho at 4:25 AM on December 26, 2008 [3 favorites]

A lot of early Stones stuff fills the bill. "Get Off My Cloud," "Let's Spend the Night Together," etc etc. Watts, Moon, Starr -- the Big Three.
posted by Guy_Inamonkeysuit at 6:22 AM on December 26, 2008

Depeche Mode's "Personal Jesus"

(And Nickelback? ugh.)
posted by fracas at 6:39 AM on December 26, 2008

Back to Ringo, I always thought "Ticket to Ride" had the best drum track.
posted by kuujjuarapik at 7:23 AM on December 26, 2008

"In My Life" has a pretty distinctive drum track from Ringo.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 7:27 AM on December 26, 2008

Awesome music is of course awesome to listen to, but the thing about drumming is that it is also massively cool to watch. This guy does the drum bits off everything from Rush to Elvis and I think it'd brilliant to watch some of those if you'd just got a drum kit.
posted by DarlingBri at 7:30 AM on December 26, 2008

Slim Jim Phantom of The Stray Cats used to play with only a snare and a hi-hat. Those should be pretty simple.

Or if you want to instill some taste in the kid, get him started on The Velvet Underground. Moe Tucker just turned a tom-tom on its side and went 1-2-3-4 like it was a Biblical commandment.
posted by Joe Beese at 7:33 AM on December 26, 2008

Best answer: Anything and everything by The Specials. Fun music, simple drumming.
posted by baphomet at 7:40 AM on December 26, 2008

Pretty much any track on Nirvana's "Nevermind," would apply. Totally second all the Beatles recommendations, especially early Beatles -- should be relatively easy for a beginning drummer to pick up, but not so simple it's boring.

Also recommend (albums, not songs, sorry) "Green Thoughts" by the Smithereens, anything by the Ramones, "Fables of the Reconstruction," R.E.M., early Robyn Hitchcock albums (or Soft Boys), and Duran Duran tends to have some good drumming early on.
posted by jzb at 7:42 AM on December 26, 2008

Best answer: I would guess if you locked him in a room with Meet the Beatles, the Peter Gunn soundtrack, and several Bo Diddley albums, he would emerge a while later a a drummer that does not suck.
posted by timsteil at 7:44 AM on December 26, 2008 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Word. I totally forgot about Bo Diddley. That's exactly what he needs. Good job, Internet.
posted by Jon_Evil at 7:50 AM on December 26, 2008

Very distinctive and not as difficult as it sounds (I can play it and I'm no drummer): Aerosmith's Walk This Way
posted by qwerty155 at 10:05 AM on December 26, 2008

I'm so glad my sidebar now says, "baphomet got a best answer in 8-year-olds, Dude." That doesn't make me sound creepy at all.
posted by baphomet at 10:34 AM on December 26, 2008

Is he taking drum lessons? His instructor will definitely be teaching him drum concepts using modern music. Leave this to the pros, but +1 for initiative.

Side note: If his instructor isn't teaching him concepts using modern methods then find him a new one. Most 8 year olds will lose interest quickly if all they're learning is rudiments.
posted by FusiveResonance at 11:48 AM on December 26, 2008

Specifically in Judas Priest, I heard tale that some drummer first learned to play on "Living After Midnight".

Ringo kept things simple, but his value to the Beatles was immense in the early going. Early 60s stage shows had very little in terms of audio. The band could barely hear each other. But they've stated that they could feel Ringo's drumming through the floor, and that he was stone-cold perfect at keeping time.
posted by Doctor Suarez at 12:31 PM on December 26, 2008

A lot of Rolling Stones songs have pretty simple drum parts. He isn't much of a drum solo kind of guy, but is steady as a rock, so it's a good example for a beginner.
posted by fructose at 2:25 PM on December 26, 2008

By "he," I meant Charlie Watts, oops.
posted by fructose at 2:25 PM on December 26, 2008

I read "simple but distinctive drumming" and immediately thought of Maureen Tucker and only Maureen Tucker, then I got to "they need to be songs with lyrics that are appropriate for an 8-year-old." I'm stumped. FWIW, I believe Tucker learned to drum by playing along with Bo Diddley and African music. Timsteil has the best answer, but I'd add some African and Middle Eastern stuff. If you're taking suggestions for the awesome/impressive/diverse part of the mix, throw in some Lightning Bolt.

And Charlie Watts rocks, too. Check out the song "2000 Man."
posted by Bigfoot Mandala at 5:05 PM on December 26, 2008

The drummer from The National gets a bit credit 'round reviewtown for providing the band a solid foundation. Eight year old safe? Perhaps... Does the modern eight year old enjoy melancholia?
posted by megamanwich at 5:53 PM on December 26, 2008

On review, you are looking for songs.
From their newest CD, Mistaken for Strangers and Brainy would be fine examples.
posted by megamanwich at 5:56 PM on December 26, 2008

Best answer: Chuck Berry.

Any musician should have a solid foundation of Chuck Berry, no matter what instrument he or she plays.
posted by Afroblanco at 7:54 PM on December 26, 2008

Watching amateur drum cover performances of the above songs on YouTube might be useful too. It beats watching concert footage with frequent camera cutting.
posted by TheSecretDecoderRing at 2:24 PM on December 27, 2008

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