Shortly after junior school, I was just getting started in my guitar career. I was pretty much obsessed with Steve Vai and my dream was to play amazing leads and solos. Then one day, my roomate came in with a couple of his buddies and they saw me with the guitar. They said "Hey G, play us a song.
"What?? A song?? Man, I felt like a deer looking into headlights. I had gotten so used to playing leads and scales that I almost forgot what a song was.
I WAS IN A STATE OF INTENSE FEAR!
After bumbling around for a minute, I'm pretty sure I was able to remember at least one song, but man... I never wanted to be in that position again! I suddenly realized the power of having a solid repertoire that you can tap into at anytime... and how cool it is to be able to play something that your friends and family can enjoy.
So a word to the wise:
Don't get caught with your pants down, unable able to play tons of killer songs :) Follow this advice and you'll thank me later! And I've got just the ticket for you. Whenever I get a guest (especially a woman) to come over to my house and they see the guitars, The first thing they ask is "Can you play (insert popular song)?)
I've never had a girl ask me "Can you play an epic lead please?" If you want to win the girl -- learn popular songs.