American Girl chords by Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers

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American Girl | Chords + Lyrics


| D5 (D7omit3) | D5 (D7omit3) |
||: D5 (D7omit3) :|| x6 (band)
||: D5/F# (D7omit3) | D5/E (D7omit3) | D5 (D7omit3) | D5/E (D7omit3) :|| (bass in)

Verse 1

| D | E (E7) | G | A |
Well, she was an American girl, raised on promises.
| D | E (E7) | G | A |
She couldn’t help thinkin’ that there was a little more to life, somewhere else.
| A | D (E F#) | G (F#) | E (E7) |
After all, it was a great big world, with lots of places to run to.
| A | A | A | A (E F#) |
Yeah, and if she had to die, tryin’ she, had one little promise she was gonna keep.

Chorus 1

| G | A |
Oh yeah, alright.
| D | Bm |
Take it easy baby, make it last all night (make it last all night).
| G | A |
She was, an American girl.


| D5 (D7omit3) | D5 (D7omit3) |

Verse 2

| D | E (E7) | G | A |
Well, it was kind of cold that night, she stood alone on her balcony.
| D | E (E7) | G | A |
Yeah, she could hear the cars roll by out on 441, like waves crashin’ on the beach.
| A | D (E F#) | G (F#) | E (E7) |
And for one desperate moment there, he crept back in her memory.
| A | A | A | A (E F#) |
God, it’s so painful, when something that is so close, and still so far out of reach

Chorus 2

| G | A |
Oh yeah, alright.
| D | Bm |
Take it easy baby, make it last all night (make it last all night).
| G | A |
She was, an American girl.


| D (D7) | D (D7) |
||: G5 (G#) | A5 D5 (A C D) :|| x3
| G5 (G#) | A5 |
||: D5 (D7omit3) | D5 (D7omit3) :||
||: D5 (D7omit3) | D5/E (D7omit3) | D5/G (D7omit3) | D5/A (D7omit3) :||
Ah, ha, ha (Aah).
||: D | E (E7) | G | A :|| x6 to fade
Ah, ha, ha. Oh yeah.

American Girl Chords: Learn the progressions

Tom Petty‘s legendary American Girl wasn’t a hit when first released on the debut album, instead, it would become a favourite over time as Tom and his Heartbreakers kept releasing records.

Let’s go through the chords to work out how this tune was put together. The intro starts with a D5 chord, so no 3rd. The lick is to hammer on from the b7, we can call this a D7omit3, so a D7 chord without a 3rd.

I like to write it like this:

||: D5 (D7omit3) :||

This chord lick is maintained as the bass enters, playing the 3rd – 2nd – R – 2nd, like this:

||: D5/F# (D7omit3) | D5/E (D7omit3) | D5 (D7omit3) | D5/E (D7omit3) :||

In a genius move, for the outro, the bass instead plays the verse notes over the riff, like this:

||: D5 (D7omit3) | D5/E (D7omit3) | D5/G (D7omit3) | D5/A (D7omit3) :||

American Girl’s verse chords don’t form your average progression, mainly because of the unexpected IIx chord. This is the main progression:

||: D | E (E7) | G | A :||

This is followed by chord V – I – IV – IIx – V, with some bass lines, like this:

| A | D (E F#) | G (F#) | E (E7) |
| A | A | A | A (E F#) |

The chorus introduces the VI chord, like this:

| G | A | D |
| Bm | G | A |

Play along with Tom using the video at the top of the page and things will sound very strange, this is because the song is tuned sharp. Perhaps the tape sped up, maybe they tuned to a sharp piano, who knows?

To get on the same frequency as the band, use my online guitar tuner set to 446 Hz.

American Girl Chords | Related Pages

Five similar tunes with chords and lyrics

When you can play American Girl's chords, try these five tunes from the song book.

Tom Petty tunes

Tom Petty wrote American Girl.

Tom Petty released most of his albums with his band The Heartbreakers although some solo material appeared as well.

His best-known tunes include American Girl, Free Fallin’, Learning To Fly, Into The Great Wide Open, Don’t Come Around Here No More, and I Won’t Back Down.

Tom Petty on the web

Listen to Tom Petty on Spotify.

Pop & Rock

When you can play American Girl, check out these Pop & Rock tunes as well.

Whenever a tune doesn’t fit into a specific genre, it tends to end up here, in the Pop & Rock section.

Learn tunes from Tom Petty, Eagles, Toto, Oasis, Elvis, Clapton, John Mayer, Kings Of Leon, R.E.M., Radiohead, Bruno Mars, and more.

About me | Dan Lundholm

Dan Lundholm wrote this guitar lesson on American Girl's chords.

This was a guitar lesson about American Girl chords, by Dan Lundholm. Discover more about him and learn guitar with Spytunes.

Most importantly, find out why you should learn guitar through playing tunes, not practising scales, and studying theory in isolation.


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