Strum the Right Way in 10 Minutes

Unlock my free video

I’ve taught this lesson to 100’s of private students, and over 182,000 guitarists online. It’ll teach you:

  • The 4 Principles of Good Strumming
  • How to Read Strumming Diagrams
  • The Most Popular Strumming Pattern Ever

Get the

Strumming Video

Learn how to strum the right way in just 10 minutes.

Subscribe to my mailing list to unlock the video.
I'll never spam you or share your info.
Unsubscribe any time.

This chart will look wacky unless you
rotate your phone


American Pie

Don McLean

Chorus Strum: D   D U D   D U

              1 + 2 + 3 + 4 +

Folk Strum:   D   D U   U D U

              1 + 2 + 3 + 4 +


Chord Guide

      3    4

G:    3x0003


D:    xx0232


Em7:   020000


Am:   x02210

       32 1

C:    x32010


Em:   022000


D7:   xx0212

        1 2

A7:   x02020

        2 1

Am7:  x02010


Verse 1 (hold each chord):

     (½)          (½)            

A [G]long [D] long [Em7] time ago [Am] I can still re[C]member

                                                          (2)                       (½)                 (½)

how that [Em]music used to make me [D]smile And [G]I knew [D]if I had


[Em7]my chance that [Am]I could make those [C]people dance and


[Em]maybe they'd be [C]happy for a [D]while.


[Em]But February [Am]made me shiver [Em]With every paper [Am]I'd

           (½)                      (½)                

deliver [C]Bad news [G]on the [Am]doorstep I c[C]ouldn't take one

                        (½)                 (½)

[D]more step I [G]can't re[D]member if I [Em]cried When I [Am7]read

                                                 (½)                         (½)                            (2)

about his [D]widowed bride. But [G]something [D]touched me [Em]deep


inside The [C]day the [D7]Music [G]Died



 (½)            (½)                      (½)                     (½)                              (½)

[G]bye [C]bye Miss A[G]merican [D]Pie Drove my [G]Chevy to the

 (½)                           (½)                       (½)                                 (½)                    (½)

[C]levy But the [G]levy was [D]dry.  And them [G]good old [C]boys were

             (½)                             (½)                          

drinking [G]whiskey and [D]rye.  Singin' [Em hold]this'll be the day that


I [Am hold]die [Em hold]this'll be the day that I [D7 riff]die.


Verse 2 (w/ Folk Strum):



[G]Did you write the [Am]book of love And do [C]you have faith in


[Am]God above?  [Em]If the Bible [D]tells you so. [D riff]  Do

 (½)                (½)                                          

[G]you be[D]lieve in [Em]Rock 'n Roll?   Can [Am7]music save your


[C]mortal soul? And [Em]can you teach me [A7]how to dance [D]real




Well, I [Em hold]know that you're in [D hold]love with him 'cause I [Em

                                                                         (½)                           (½)

hold]saw you dancin' [D hold]in the gym.  You [C]both kicked [G]off your

                           (½)                     (½)                    

[D] shoes Man, I [C]dig those [G] rhythm and [D7]blues.  I was a

  (½)              (½)                               

[G]lonely [D]teenage [Em]broncin' buck With a [Am]pink carnation and a

                                (½)               (½)                 

[C]pickup truck. But [G]I knew [D]I was [Em]out of luck The [C]day the

                  (½)           (½)    (½)                        (½)

[D7]music [G]died [C] [G] I started [D7]singin'




Verse 3 (w/ Folk Strum):


[G]Now for ten years we've been [Am]on our own And [C]moss grows fat


on a [Am]rollin' stone [Em]  But that's not how it [D]used to be

                            (½)              (½)

[D riff] When the [G]jester [D]sang for the [Em]King and Queen.  In


a [Am7]coat he borrowed [C]from James Dean And a [Em]voice that


[A7]came from [D]you and me. [D riff]



Oh, and [Em hold]while the King was [D hold]looking down The [Em

                                                                           (½)                        (½)

hold]jester stole  his [D hold]thorny crown  The [C]courtroom [G] was


ad[D]journed No [C]verdict was re[D7]turned And while [G]Lennon


[D]read a [Em]book of Marx The [Am]court kept practice [C]in the park. 

       (½)                    (½)

And [G]we sang [D]dirges [Em]in the dark The [C]day the [D7]Music

(½)               (½)    (½)                       (½)

[G]Died. [C] [G] We were [D7]singin'




Verse 4 (w/ Folk Strum):


[G]Helter-Skelter in a [Am]summer swelter The [C]Byrds flew off with a


[Am]fallout shelter.  [Em]Eight Miles High and [D]falling fast

                (½)                 (½)

[D riff] It [G]landed [D]foul out [Em]on the grass. The


[Am7]players tried [C]for a forward pass But the [Em]jester's [A7]on


the sidelines [D]in a cast. [D riff]



Now the [Em hold]half-time air was [D hold]sweet perfume While the [Em

                                                                            (½)                       (½)

hold]sergeants played a [D hold]marching tune  [C]We all got [G]up to


[D]dance But we [C]never got [D7]the chance.  'cause the [G]players


[D]tried to [Em]take the field The [Am]marching band re[C]fused to

                      (½)        (½)

yield.  Do you [G] re[D]call what [Em]was reveiled the [C]day the

                 (½)               (½)    (½)                           (½)

[D7]Music [G]Died? [C] [G] We started [D7]singin'




Verse 5 (w/ Folk Strum):


Oh, and [G]there we were all [Am]in one place A [C]generation


[Am]Lost in Space [Em]With no time left to [D]start again [D riff]


So come on, [G]Jack be nimble.  [Em]Jack be quick Jack [Am7]Flash sat


on a [C]candlestick 'cause [Em]fire is the [A7]Devil's only [D]friend



Oh, and [Em hold]as I watched him [D hold]on the stage My [Em

                                                                               (½)                    (½)

hold]hands were clenched in [D hold]fists of rage  [C]No angel [G]born in


[D]hell Could [C]break that Satan's [D7]spell  And as the [G]flames


climbed [D]high in[Em]to the night To [Am]light the sacri[C]fical rite. I

        (½)                 (½)

saw [G]Satan  [D]laughing [Em]with delight The [C]day the [D7]Music

(½)              (½)   (½)                      (½)

[G]Died [C] [G] He was [D7]singin'




Verse 6 (hold each chord):

  (½)                 (½)

I [G]met a [D]girl who sang the [Em]blues And I [Am]asked her for some

                                                                                  (2)                 (½)

[C]happy news.  But [Em]she just smiled and turned [D]away I [G]went


down [D]to the sacred [Em7]store.  Where I'd [Am]heard the music


[C]years before But the [Em]man there said the [A7]music wouldn't





And in the [Em]streets the children [Am]screamed The [Em]lovers cried,

                                                     (½)              (½)  

and the poets [Am]dreamed.  But [C]not a [G]word was [Am]spoken The

                                                                 (½)                       (½)

[C]Church bells all were [D7]broken And [G]three men [D]I


ad[Em]mire most The [Am7]Father, Son and the [G]Holy Ghost.  They

(½)                          (½)

[G]caught the [D]last train [Em]for the coast The [C]Day the [D7]Music


[G]Died.  And they were singing




(continue Chorus Strum)

They were singing

(½)            (½)                      (½)                     (½)                              (½)

[G]bye [C]bye Miss A[G]merican [D]Pie Drove my [G]Chevy to the

 (½)                           (½)                       (½)                                 (½)                    (½)

[C]levy But the [G]levy was [D]dry.  And them [G]good old [C]boys were

              (½)                           (½)                           (½)                             (½)

drinking [G]whiskey and [D]rye.  Singin' [G]this'll be the [D]day

           (½)                     (½)

that I [G hold]die [C hold] [G hold]

This file is the author's own work and represents his interpretation of this song. It's intended solely for private study, scholarship or research.