If I Ain’t Got You chords


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If I Ain’t Got You | Chords + Lyrics


Intro

|6/8 Cmaj7 | Bm7 | Am7 | G Gmaj7 Am7 Bm7 |
| Cmaj7 | Bm7 | Am7 | G C/G |

Verse 1

| G | Em7 | Am7 | D9 C/G |
Some people live for the fortune, some people live just for the fame.
| G | G#dim7 | Am7 | D7 |
Some people live for the power, yeah. Some people live just to play the game.

Bridge 1

| Gmaj7 Am7 | Bm7 Am7 | Gmaj7 Am7 | Bm7 Bbm7 Am7 |
Some people think that the physical things, define what’s within.
| Gmaj7 Am7 | Bm7 Am7 | Gmaj7 Am7 | Bm7 |
And I’ve been there before, that life’s a bore, so full of the superficial.

Chorus 1

| Cmaj7 | Bm7 |
Some people want it all, but I don’t want nothing at all, if it ain’t
| Am7 | Gmaj7 |
you, baby. If I ain’t got you, baby. Some people want
| Cmaj7 | Bm7 |
diamond rings, some just want everything but everything means
| Am7 | Gmaj7 C/G |
nothing. If I ain’t got you, yeah.

Verse 2

| G | Em7 | Am7 | D9 |
Some people search for a fountain, promises forever young.
| G | G#dim7 | Am7 | D7 |
Some people need three dozen roses and that’s the only way to prove you love them.

Bridge 1

| Gmaj7 Am7 | Bm7 Am7 | Gmaj7 Am7 | Bm7 Bbm7 Am7 |
Hand me the world on a silver platter and what good would it be.
| Gmaj7 Am7 | Bm7 Am7 | Gmaj7 Am7 | Bm7 |
With no one to share, with no one who truly cares for me.

Chorus 2

| Cmaj7 | Bm7 |
Some people want it all but I don’t want nothing at all. If it ain’t
| Am7 | Gmaj7 |
you, baby. If I ain’t got you, baby. Some people want
| Cmaj7 | Bm7 |
diamond rings, some just want everything but everything means
| Am7 | Gmaj7 |
nothing, if I ain’t got you, you, you. Some people

Chorus 3

| Cmaj7 | Bm7 |
want it all but I don’t want nothing at all. If it ain’t
| Am7 | Gmaj7 |
you, baby. If I ain’t got you, baby, Some people want
| Cmaj7 | Bm7 |
diamond rings, some just want everything but everything means
| Am7 | Gmaj7 |
nothing. If I ain’t got you, yeah.

End

| Cmaj7 | Bm7 | Am7 | G Gmaj7 Am7 Bm7 |
If I ain’t got you with me baby, oh, ooh. Said nothing in this
| Cmaj7 | Bm7 | Am7 | Gmaj7 |
whole wide world don’t mean a thing if I ain’t got you with me, baby.


If I Ain’t Got You’s chords and progression

It’s the simplicity of If I Ain’t Got You’s chords that make it work so well. As a listener, you feel as if you know exactly what’s going to happen next. This is what makes it a hit, it feels like you’ve heard it before, and, you want to hear it again!

Let’s work through the chords to see if they can give us a clue as to why this is the case.

The intro chords are what later come up in the chorus, although during the intro, the chords are played as fast triplet arpeggios, very clever. Here are the chords:

| Cmaj7 | Bm7 | Am7 | G Gmaj7 Am7 Bm7 |
| Cmaj7 | Bm7 | Am7 | G C/G |

Starting on chord IV, we simply move down to I like this: IV – III – II – I. Then quickly up again, I – II – III only to repeat it again. It couldn’t be simpler!

The verse starts on chord I and is just like the intro/chorus simple and predictable:

| G | Em7 | Am7 | D9 C/G |
| G | G#dim7 | Am7 | D7 |

What we have here is I – VI – II – V. One of the most common progressions around. The C/G is just a passing chord, adding a simple Gospel influence.

On the second line, we change from chord VI (Em7) to a G#dim7. Again, this is very standard stuff. Notice the subtle variation of D9 the first time, and D7 the second time.

I genuinely believe that it’s the simplicity of this jazz/blues/gospel language that makes it so accessible and therefore a hit.

Most artists would have tried harder in order to prove themselves. Alicia Keys understands how to use the basics well. As she explains in the 2nd video of the playlist above, it was sticking to the basics that made it work.

The bridge moves in a similar way to Lean On Me, do compare these two tunes!

||: Gmaj7 Am7 | Bm7 Am7 | Gmaj7 Am7 | Bm7 (Bbm7 Am7) :||

The chromatic movement down only happens the first time around.

The chorus is the same as the intro, just played without those 16th note triplet arpeggios, like this:

| Cmaj7 | Bm7 | Am7 | Gmaj7 |
| Cmaj7 | Bm7 | Am7 | Gmaj7 C/G |

The outro is, again, the same as the intro.

If I Ain’t Got You’s chords really are a master class in how to write an accessible Gospel Jazz Blues in 6/8. Apart from Alicia, I can only think of Al Green and Bill Withers that can pull this off. Most artists and bands would just play too much and end up up with no hit.


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Alicia Keys

Find out more about Alicia Keys, the woman that wrote If I Ain't Got You's chords.

Alicia had instant success with her debut album Songs In Am, mainly down to its single Fallin’.

Following this, she has firmly established herself with hits such as If I Ain’t Got You, This Girl Is On Fire, and Empire State Of Mind.

Alicia Keys tunes.


Alicia Keys on the web

Listen to Alicia Keys on Spotify.