New Chart: “Fires of Edinburgh” by Nick Keir

The Cowgate Arch of George IV Bridge, Edinburgh, 1860 Source: National Galleries of Scotland Commons Here's a special treat for traditional music buffs: A chart for a gorgeous, epic tour of the history of Edinburgh written by the obscure Scottish songwriter Nick Keir. "Fires of Edinburgh" by Nick Keir (the first of the two songs) Transcribing this song was a ...

New Chart: “Crocodile Rock” by Elton John

30 Charts in 30 Days continues! Up next we have a paradox packaged in a bubblegum wrapper: Mr. John is yearning for those golden days of his youth, when he and Susie used to rock to…the song he just wrote. Careful, Elton–just because no one’s created a black hole while writing a song doesn’t mean it can’t happen. Here’s the …

New Chart: “Roll On, John” by Bob Dylan

Here's a chart for Bob Dylan's mythical ode to John Lennon, "Roll On, John". The song's structure--a long (7:25) series of alternating verse and chorus--is typical of his songwriting in the last decade. It has a similar feel to several of Joni Mitchell's songs on Hejira, namely "Song of Sharon," which is 8:40 of verses, one after the other. Their ...

New Chart: “June Hymn” by The Decemberists

Here's a chart of "June Hymn" by The Decemberists. What a gorgeous song. Lovely bass-strum technique on the guitar, the accordion and Wurlitzer interweave elegantly, and the lyrics are lush poetry. Plus, if you're a high school student with your eyes on a competitive college, this song, and really any Decemberists tune, makes for great SAT prep. English major rock ...

New Chart: “I Got Stripes” by Johnny Cash

Here's a chord chart for "I Got Stripes," originally written out for my student Wesley, the biggest Cash fan I know. Check out his great strumming in his Coffee Shop Jam performance. Part of what makes that groove sound so good is that he's accenting the 2nd and 4th beats of the measure, called the "backbeat." These are the beats ...

New Chart: “You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away” by The Beatles

Photo Credit: www.thebeatles.com I've just posted a chart for the Beatles tune "You've Got to Hide Your Love Away". Many Beatles songs are deceptively difficult. They may sound simple, but then halfway through the tune, BAM! Key change to C#! Or WHAM! Weird diminished chord invented by Thelonious Monk. Beatles fans who just know cowboy chords have a rougher row ...

New Chart: “In My Life” by The Beatles

Here's a chart for the beloved Beatles tune, "In My Life," often found in the lists of top songs of the last century. Fun Fact: The baroque harpsichord-sounding solo was composed and performed on piano by the Beatles' producer George Martin. He was unable to play it at full speed, so he recorded it at half-speed and then sped the ...

New Chart: “Carpetbaggers” by Johnathan Rice, as performed by Jenny Lewis

A great 3-chord country-rock tune that Johnathan Rice wrote for his girlfriend Jenny Lewis (of Rilo Kiley) to add some up-tempo material to her live show. Elvis Costello sings vocals on this too. Here's the chart. My students Erik and Leigh (father and daughter) and their friend Steve did a fun cover of this tune at my last Coffee Shop ...

New Chart: “Space Oddity” by David Bowie

Photo credit: Getty Images This strange, gorgeous, moving piece about an AWOL astronaut features fifteen chords and a challenging strum pattern I've never heard elsewhere. Here's the chart. Playing "Space Oddity" like the recording requires solid barre chord and rhythm skills, but a little creativity can make it more accessible. For example, the Folk Strum (search my site if you ...

New Chart: “Only Daddy That’ll Walk the Line” by Waylon Jennings

People who've followed my blog over the years know that my student Wesley is a big Johnny Cash fan. He was when he gave his amazing performance of Folsom Prison Blues back in 2009, and he's learned and performed several more since then. His love of Johnny Cash, and in particular his The Best of The Johnny Cash TV Show ...