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When you hear the title “the best guitarist of all time”, who pops into your mind first? Perhaps it’s Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, or maybe Slash. Whilst I have a lot of love for these guitarists, I think Buckethead deserves the title. His technique, speed, and songwriting are simply second to none.
Despite this, almost none of my friends and family have heard of Buckethead, and I think this is an absolute outrage. So, I’ve put together this list of the 10 best Buckethead songs so that I can spread the word.
Whether you’ve never heard of him or are a massive fan, join me on this guitar-fuelled journey!
1. Soothsayer (Dedicated to Aunt Suzie)
Those who are aware of Buckethead often know him due to his insane ability to shred the guitar at high speeds, with some people claiming that it is mindless and without any particular direction.
If I ever meet someone who thinks that, I show them this stunning track – “Soothsayer (Dedicated to Aunt Suzie)”. It’s a fantastic example of Buckethead’s songwriting capabilities, and whilst it does include a fantastic guitar solo, it’s proof that he is capable of so much more.
2. Welcome to Bucketheadland
Next up on my list of the best Buckethead songs is the classic “Welcome to Bucketheadland” – I simply couldn’t miss mentioning this one.
Buckethead has always been a conceptual musician, creating entire albums about really bizarre concepts. This is a prime example, with the album of the same name exploring an imaginary theme park based around the guitarist.
You’ve got to admire his imagination, it’s something I have never found in any other musician.
As I mentioned earlier, Buckethead has had quite the misunderstood career at times, with people believing that his music is all about fast, emotionless shredding.
Rubbish – one listen to his album Electric Tears, and the haters’ minds would be forever changed. There’s a ton of good songs on this album (and I’ll simply have to list at least one more), but one of my favorites is “Padmasana”.
This twelve-minute instrumental masterpiece is absolutely gorgeous, featuring glossy chorus-filled acoustic guitars and electric guitars that will make you want to weep. Easily one of the best Buckethead songs out there.
4. Electric Tears
Didn’t I tell you that I’d have to revisit Electric Tears? That didn’t take long. Thinking about that last track made me want to listen to “Electric Tears”, the title track of the album.
This is by far one of Buckethead’s softest songs, being composed almost entirely out of natural harmonics and modulated electric guitars. It’s incredibly atmospheric and sparse, the kind of song that needs to be appreciated in a dark room with a good pair of headphones.
5. Nottingham Lace
OK – I’ve got my point across, Buckethead is a versatile musician that can make beautiful and atmospheric music. Now, let’s take a look at something a bit heavier.
I’ve chosen one of the best Buckethead songs from his KFC era, “Nottingham Lace HQ”. Yes, you heard that right – Buckethead is totally obsessed with fried chicken, even writing this album Enter The Chicken in tribute.
It features tons of Buckethead classics such as euphoric yet heavy riffs, insane guitar solos, and a seemingly endless progression of ideas. Brilliant.
6. Hold Me Forever
Progressive rock bands have a long history of producing lengthy concept albums with songs hitting the ten-minute mark, but they have absolutely nothing on Buckethead. Just take a listen to “Hold Me Forever” for example – you’ll need to invest almost half an hour of your life to fully check it out!
Trust me though, it’s totally worth it – this is one of his many masterworks in my opinion. It makes it even more beautiful to know that Buckethead wrote this song in tribute to his ever-supportive mother, Nancy York Carroll.
7. Final Wars
If you’ve ever studied music at college, practiced with a band at a band practice room, or jammed about with friends, you’ll know that there are certain guitar riffs that always seem to pop up.
Whilst Buckethead certainly isn’t as famous as he should be in my opinion, loads of his riffs seem to have transcended his music, becoming a staple of every beginner guitarist’s initial riff collection. The opening riff to “Final Wars” is a prime example of this, tons of people will recognize it without having any idea why!
We’re already coming towards the end of my list of the best Buckethead songs, but don’t worry because I’ve saved the three best for last. First of all, it would be mental if I didn’t include “Whitewash”.
This track is yet another example of Buckethead’s quainter side, featuring beautifully picked guitar arpeggios layered over a simple and gentle drumbeat. The guitar parts are actually pretty simple for his playing ability, but he makes them sound so ethereal with his tasteful use of modulation and delay effects.
9. Big Sur Moon
This penultimate track is where it all started for me – I will always remember when I first heard “Big Sur Moon”, it’s another demonstration of Buckethead’s love for delay pedals, and boy does he know how to use them!
Something I have always found very interesting about this track is that it actually features two genuine mistakes, despite being released commercially. There’s a bum-note five seconds in and another about forty seconds in, and it’s seriously noticeable!
I’ve always found it weird that he didn’t correct his – only Buckethead could pull that off!
10. Aunt Suzie
I have always been very fond of how Buckethead expresses his love towards his family through his music. He’s written songs about his mother such as “Hold Me Forever”, and plenty of songs about his precious childhood memories.
Whilst they’re all beautiful, “Aunt Suzie” is probably my favorite – it’s truly heart-wrenching, with the explorations of guitar scales and modes being nothing short of virtuosic. I never met Buckethead’s Aunt Suzie, but I have no doubt that she’s smiling up in heaven knowing that this masterpiece was written in her name.
There are a lot of songs that sadly couldn’t make my list of the best Buckethead songs, but this simply had to be here. I think it is my favorite ever song by him – truly magnificent.
Alex is a man of many talents. He’s been playing music since he was young, and has been the main content writer at Tone Start for the past few years. Alex loves to play around with different styles of music and enjoys listening to anything from country to classical.