Today's article is about learning to play songs. As a start you should get as many recordings, song books and copies of sheet music of all of your favorite songs and start learning them one by one. This is a very important step in your learning process and it will quickly help you to become a better guitar player. In general you should start with easier songs and then once you have mastered these then go on to more complex songs.
You can either learn by ear from recordings or learn from music books, sheet music and tablature. I suggest you do a combination of both. Generally speaking you will need to train your ear as you progress in your playing, so start now and you will have a head start. Having music books, sheet music and tablature will help with your ear training, especially when you want to learn more difficult and complex songs.
You can also purchase music books, sheet music or tablature from a variety of sources. Your local music store will have is a good source. So are the larger book store chains like Borders and Barnes and Nobles. You can also purchase such items over the Internet.
You can also usually find free chord charts for songs on the Internet, either in tabular form or just with the chords written out with the words. Let's use the song "She Loves You" by the Beatles as an example. I went to Google and typed in the following search phrase...
"she loves you chords"
A list of links came up as a result. I picked the 8th listing which was the following link: She Loves You
This had a good representation of the chords of that song.
If you want to start learning by ear, then it will help a great deal if you are familiar with the different and various chord types... which it sounds like you know how to construct chords. Get really familiar with each chord type, for example you should be able to hear the difference between a major and minor chord, pick out a major 7th as compared to a dominant 7th chord. You should be able to hear an augmented chord when you hear it, etc. Also familiarize yourself with the common types of chord progressions, for example the 2-5-1 progression (both minor and major versions), the 1-6-2-5, etc.
Then as you listen to a song start by figuring out the bass notes of each chord. That will usually be the easiest thing to start with. So you listen to the song and you figure out that there is a C bass note followed by an A bass note followed by a D bass note followed by a G bass note. You just play along quietly and try to sound out each bass note when you hear a chord change.
Now once you have the bass notes then you start to listen for the chord types and also to think about common chord progressions. So you hear a C major, then an A minor... starts looking familiar, like a 1-6-2-5 progression... so you try playing a D minor and then a G7 and it sounds right.
So that is one possible approach to learning by ear... again... familiarize yourself with chord sounds and progressions, start with the bass notes then listen for chord types and progressions.