American Pie chords by Don McLean


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American Pie | Chords + Lyrics


Intro

| G D/F# Em | Am C | Em D Dsus4 | 2/4 Dsus2 D |
A long long time ago, I can still remember how that music used to make me smile.
| G D/F# Em | Am C | Em C | D Dsus4 D Dsus2 |
And I knew if I had my chance, that I could make those people dance, and maybe they’d be happy for a while.
| Em Am | Em Am | C Gsus4/B Am | C D |
But February made me shiver, with every paper I’d deliver, bad news on the doorstep, I couldn’t take one more step.
| G D/F# Em | C D | G D/F# Em | C D | G |
I can’t remember if I cried when I read about his widowed bride, but something touched me deep inside, the day the music died.

Chorus 1

| G C | G D | G C | G D |
So bye-bye Miss American Pie, drove my Chevy to the levee, but the levee was dry.
| G C | G D |
And them good old boys were drinking whiskey and rye, singing.
| Em | A7 | Em | D Dsus2 D | Dsus4 D Dsus2 D |
This’ll be the day that I die. This’ll be the day that I die.

Verse 1

| G | Am | C | Am | Em | D Dsus2 D | Dsus4 D Dsus2 D Dsus4 |
Did you write the Book of Love and do you have faith in God above, if the Bible tells you so.
| G D/F# | Em | Am | C | Em | Am | D Dsus2 D | Dsus4 D Dsus2 D Dsus4 |
Do you believe in rock n’ roll, can music save your mortal soul, and can you teach me how to dance real slow.
| Em | D | Em | D |
Well, I know that you’re in love with him, ’cause I saw you dancing in the gym.
| C Gsus4/B | Am | C | D Dsus4 |
You both kicked off your shoes, man I dig those rhythm & blues.
| G D/F# | Em | Am | C |
I was a lonely teenage broncin’ buck, with a pink carnation and a pickup truck,
| G D/F# | Em | C | D | G C | G D Dsus4 |
but I knew I was out of luck, the day the music died.

Chorus 2

| G C | G D | G C | G D |
So bye-bye Miss American Pie, drove my Chevy to the levee, but the levee was dry.
| G C | G D |
And them good old boys were drinking whiskey and rye, singing.
| Em | A7 | Em | D Dsus2 D | Dsus4 D Dsus2 D |
This’ll be the day that I die. This’ll be the day that I die.

Verse 2

| G | Am | C | Am | Em | D Dsus2 D | Dsus4 D Dsus2 D Dsus4 |
Now for ten years we’ve been on our own, and moss grows fat on a rolling stone, but that’s not how it used to be.
| G D/F# | Em | Am | C | Em | Am | D Dsus2 D | Dsus4 D Dsus2 D Dsus4 |
When the Jester sang for the King and Queen, in a coat, he borrowed from James Dean, in a voice that came from you and me.
| Em | D | Em | D |
Oh, and while the King was looking down, the Jester stole his thorny crown.
| C Gsus4/B | Am | C | D Dsus4 |
The courtroom was adjourned, no verdict was returned.
| G D/F# | Em | Am | C |
And while Lenin read a book on Marx, the quartet practiced in the park.
| G D/F# | Em | C | D | G C | G D Dsus4 |
And we sang dirges in the dark, the day the music died. We were singing.

Chorus 3

| G C | G D | G C | G D |
Bye-bye Miss American Pie. Drove my Chevy to the levee, but the levee was dry.
| G C | G D |
And them good old boys were drinking whiskey and rye, singing.
| Em | A7 | Em | D Dsus2 D | Dsus4 D Dsus2 D |
This’ll be the day that I die. This’ll be the day that I die.

Verse 3

| G | Am | C | Am |Em | D Dsus2 D | Dsus4 D Dsus2 D Dsus4 |
Helter Skelter in a summer swelter, the birds flew off with a fallout shelter, eight miles high and falling fast.
| G D/F# | Em | Am | C | Em | Am | D Dsus2 D | Dsus4 D Dsus2 D Dsus4 |
It landed foul on the grass, the players tried for a forward pass, with the Jester on the sidelines in a cast.
| Em | D | Em | D |
Now the half-time air was sweet perfume, while the Sergeants played a marching tune.
| C Gsus4/B | Am | C | D Dsus4 |
We all got up to dance, but we never got the chance.
| G D/F# | Em | Am | C |
‘Cause the players tried to take the field, the marching band refused to yield.
| G D/F# | Em | C | D | G C | G D Dsus4 |
Do you recall what was revealed, the day the music died. We started singing.

Chorus 4

| G C | G D | G C | G D |
Bye-bye Miss American Pie. Drove my Chevy to the levee, but the levee was dry.
| G C | G D |
And them good old boys were drinking whiskey and rye, singing.
| Em | A7 | Em | D Dsus2 D | Dsus4 D Dsus2 D |
This’ll be the day that I die. This’ll be the day that I die.

Verse 4

| G | Am | C | Am | Em | D Dsus2 D | Dsus4 D Dsus2 D Dsus4 |
Oh, and there we were all in one place, a generation lost in space, with no time left to start again.
| G D/F# | Em | Am | C | Em | Am | D Dsus2 D | Dsus4 D Dsus2 D Dsus4 |
So come on, Jack, be nimble, Jack be quick, Jack Flash sat on a candlestick, ’cause fire is the devil’s only friend.
| Em | D | Em | D |
Oh, and as I watched him on the stage, my hands were clenched in fists of rage.
| C Gsus4/B | Am | C | D Dsus4 |
No angel born in Hell, could break that Satan’s spell.
| G D/F# | Em | Am | C |
And as flames climbed high into the night, to light the sacrificial rite,
| G D/F# | Em | C | D | G C | G D Dsus4 |
I saw Satan laughing with delight, the day the music died.

Chorus 5

| G C | G D | G C | G D |
He was singing, bye-bye Miss American Pie. Drove my Chevy to the levee, but the levee was dry.
| G C | G D |
And them good old boys were drinking whiskey and rye, singing.
| Em | A7 | Em | D Dsus2 D | Dsus4 D Dsus2 D |
This’ll be the day that I die. This’ll be the day that I die.

Verse 5

| G D/F# Em | Am C | Em D | 2/4 Dsus2 D |
I met a girl who sang the blues and I asked her for some happy news but she just smiled and turned away.
| G D/F# Em | Am Em | Em C | Dsus4 D Dsus2 D |
I went down to the sacred store, where I’d heard the music years before but the man there said the music wouldn’t play.
| Em Am | Em Am | C Gsus4/B Am | C D | 2/4 Dsus2 D |
And in the streets the children screamed, the lovers cried and the poets dreamed. But not a word was spoken, the church bells all were broken.
| G D/F# Em | C D | G D/F# Em | C D | G |
And the three men I admire most, the Father, Son, and the Holy Ghost, they caught the last train for the coast, the day the music died. And they were singin’.

Chorus 6

| G C | G D | G C | G D |
Bye-bye Miss American Pie, drove my Chevy to the levee, but the levee was dry.
| G C | G D |
And them good old boys were drinking whiskey and rye, singing.
| Em | A7 | Em | D Dsus2 D | Dsus4 D Dsus2 D |
This’ll be the day that I die. This’ll be the day that I die. They were singing.

Chorus 7

| G C | G D | G C | G D |
Bye-bye, Miss American Pie, drove my chevy to the levy, but the levy was dry.
| G C | G D |
And them good old boys were drinking whiskey and rye.
| C D | G C G | G |
Singing this’ll be the day that I die.


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American Pie Chords: Learn the progressions


American Pie 8 step by step guitar lessons

American Pie’s many chord progressions can be tricky to remember since the same chords are repeated in lots of different ways.

Thinking of them as Roman numerals will help as every numeral has a sound. If you can tap into this, you can hear where the progression wants to move.

On my top 10 chord progression list, American Pie’s chord can be found in three positions.

  • #1 spot – The I – IV (GC)
  • #2 spot – The IV – V (CD)
  • #10 spot – The VI – II (EmAm)

One of the chords in the song is an X chord (a chord that should have been minor but has been changed to major).

Once you’ve gotten to terms with all the chords in American Pie, the real problem reveals itself; how to play them on one acoustic guitar.

Above, you find a play-along loop of the TAB you see below. Members practise along to these kinds of loops for all sections of the tune, try it and you’ll get a taste of what it’s like to learn guitar with Spytunes.

American Pie, chorus chords and TAB, example 1.

One chord stands out here, the A7. This is the IIx I mentioned earlier.

It is very clever as the lyrics here are “this will be the day that I die”. By going to a major, rather than a minor Don McLean has created contrast – Die should have been minor (sad) but is major (happy).

Following this first example of how to play the chorus, in the full lesson, you get another example of how this could be done.

This is then followed by another 7 steps where we investigate how to play American Pie’s verse, intro, and outro before we play the complete song with a singer.

But we don’t stop there, once you can play it, we fit a capo on fret 7 and think in the key of C. There are lessons on how to play all sections in this key, including more TAB loops.

When you can play this 2nd guitar, you, me, and the singer can form an acoustic trio and play this tune together.

Here’s a link to the complete lesson series (members only): American Pie – Guitar lessons with TAB.

Become a member today and get unlimited access to all step-by-step guitar coursesTAB for the songbook, the Self-Eliminating Practice Routine, and the eBook Spytunes Method.

American Pie is the song about the day the music died!

A timeless lyrical masterpiece, American Pie weaves a poignant narrative around the life-altering moment when a young Don McLean, while working as a paperboy, discovers the tragic death of his three musical idols – Buddy Holly, Richie Valens, and The Big Bopper.

This event occurred on February 3rd, 1959, in a devastating plane crash that shook the music world to its core. Despite the various accounts of this tragedy, one portrayal stands out – Don McLean’s iconic American Pie.

McLean skillfully encapsulates the raw emotions and profound impact of the loss, whilst providing his audience with a sing-along chorus!

When questioned about the depth of his creation, McLean remarked, “It’s not analysis, it’s poetry.” This statement captures the essence of his work, emphasizing how lyrics transcend analysis.

For McLean, American Pie became more than just a song; its success was so vast he, in his own words “never had to work again”.

This iconic composition not only stands as a testament to the artistic genius of Don McLean but also serves as a tribute to the enduring spirit of Buddy Holly, Richie Valens, and The Big Bopper, ensuring that their legacy lives on through the verses of American Pie.



American Pie Chords | Related Pages


Intermediate Acoustic

There are many more Intermediate Acoustic Songs with similar chords to American Pie.

Most intermediate acoustic tunes can’t be played using just basic open-position chords. We have to move up the fretboard and play CAGED barre chords as well.

We incorporate bass lines, add licks, extend chords, and play vocal melodies. Most importantly, we’ll invent second guitar parts and play these songs together.


Five similar tunes with chords and lyrics

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

Don McLean

Don McLean wrote American Pie's chords.

Don McLean is an American singer-songwriter most famous for his ’71 songs American Pie and Vincent.

When McLean’s indie label Media Arts was sold to United Artists, he got an unexpected chance to make his second album for a major label.



Don McLean on the web

Listen to Don McLean on Spotify.

Country & Folk

When you can play American Pie, check out these Country and Folk tunes as well.

In the primarily acoustic genres of Country & Folk, you must acquire what matters the most: A repertoire. Nothing else will give you the gig.

Learn tunes by Johnny Cash, Dolly Parton, Simon & Garfunkel, Bob Dylan, Neil Young, America, Don McLean, and many more.


About me

Dan Lundholm wrote this article about American Pie's chords.

This article on American Pie’s chord was written by Dan Lundholm. Discover more about him and how learning guitar with Spytunes has evolved.

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


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