The Drugs Don’t Work

Learn How To Play The Drugs Don’t Work

Chords and Guitar Lessons

Watch This Video

Complete song – Acoustic guitar and vocals


The Drugs Don’t Work is a song by Richard Ashcroft’s band The Verve. It has also been covered by American singer-songwriter Ben Harper.

Using almost only open position chords, staying in one key with no variations, Richard has managed to write a song that sounds unique.

Don’t be fooled, to write a song having mainly simple open chords doesn’t mean it’s easy! Most songwriters would give an arm and a leg to be able to write a simple, memorable song that doesn’t sound like something else.

Perhaps writing a simple song with a strong message is actually the most difficult goal a songwriter can set.

The Drugs Don’t Work only has one difficult chord to fret, the mighty F.

You don’t have to play this as a big and painful barre chord. In the course, I’ll show you how the secret to success lies within finding a way to play that F and look beyond the seemingly impossible shape.

Chord progression

These are all the chords for the Intro, Verse and Chorus sections.

| C | C | Am | Am | Em | F G | C | C |

Before the M8, the chords move like this.

| C | Em | F G | C | C |


| F | Em | Am | G |

Chorus 4

| Em | F G | C | C |


| C | repeat until end

Guitar Lessons

The Drugs Don’t Work – Step 1 (Free Preview)

Today we start looking at a new song in The Verve’s monster hit The Drugs Don’t Work.

The chords are all from the key of C. Let’s start by looking at the chord progression and how we can extend the chords.

Go to The Drugs Don’t Work step 1.

The Drugs Don’t Work – Step 2

Let’s take a look at the strumming pattern for this song. We are dealing with a 16th note pattern at a slow pace again.

It’s the same pattern for all chords, even when there are two chords in one bar.

Go to The Drugs Don’t Work step 2.

The Drugs Don’t Work – Step 3

Today you’ll learn a bunch of 2nd guitar part ideas for The Drugs Don’t Work.

These parts are picked one note at a time.

Go to The Drugs Don’t Work step 3.

The Drugs Don’t Work – Step 4

In this last step, we fit a capo on fret five and work on playing picked and strummed parts as if in the key of G.

This then becomes a more creative 2nd guitar part that you can use when playing along with me and the singer.

Go to The Drugs Don’t Work step 4.

Related Pages


The Drugs Dont WorkAll this talk of getting old
It’s getting me down my love
Like a cat in a bag, waiting to drown
This time I’m comin’ down

Go to The Drugs Don’t Work lyrics.

Ben Harper

ben-harper-thumbBen Harper is an American roots musician who has stretched his appeal around the globe by recording covers of Marvin Gaye’s Sexual Healing and The Verve‘s The Drugs Don’t Work.

Harper’s first album, Welcome To The Cruel World (94), was followed by Fight For Your Mind only a year later.

Go to Ben Harper biography.

The Verve

the-verve-thumbThe Verve is a British rock band formed in 1989, in Wigan. Among their bigger hits, you’ll find Bitter Sweet Symphony and The Drugs Don’t Work.

Since their first debut album, A Storm In Heaven, critics have always favored The Verve as one of the best 90s British rock acts.

Go to The Verve biography.


Learning how to play guitar is best done through playing and learning from songs.

Not only will learning songs help you with switching between chords and improve your rhythm playing. Songs also hold the key to how music works theoretically.

Go to Beginner guitar course.

Beginner Acoustic Songs

You can learn how to play these beginner songs on the acoustic guitar.

Ain’t No Sunshine, The Drugs Don’t Work, One More Cup Of Coffee, Redemption Song, Rewind, Robin Hood, Talking About A Revolution, Time Of Your Life, and Wonderwall.

Go to Beginner acoustic songs.


Beginner Chord ProgressionWhat do you need to know in order to play real songs?

What exercises should you practice to warm-up and improve your technique? How do you understand and change the key of a song?

Go to Beginner guitar exercises.

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Including detailed, but bite-sized explanations on how the music theory of each song is applied to the neck.

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