Mad World chords

You can learn how to play Mad World by Tears For Fears/Gary Jules!

Mad World is a song written and first made famous by Tears For Fears in 1982. Two decades later, Gary Jules had a Christmas #1 with it as a cover.

My version is a one guitar arrangement based on Gary Jules’ piano ballad.

The song’s key center is not in the traditional natural minor (Aeolian, chord VI). Instead, Mad World’s key center is Dorian (chord II), just like I Wish and Scarborough Fair.

This is the second song in the intermediate acoustic course and already we use Mad World to examine what a mode really is.

Mad World chords and lyrics

Chords for Mad World – Guitar 1

There are relatively simple chords for Mad World, the verse is just four chords on a loop, like this.

||: Em | G | Dsus2 | A :||
All around me are familiar faces, worn out places, worn out faces.
Bright and early for their daily races, going nowhere, going nowhere.
Their tears are filling up their glasses, no expression, no expression.
Hide my head I want to drown my sorrow, no tomorrow, no tomorrow.

The intro/chorus/bridge/outro is even simpler. Now we only loop two chords.

| Em | A |
And I find it kinda funny, I find it kinda sad.
The dreams in which I’m dying, are the best I’ve ever had.
I find it hard to tell you, I find it hard to take.
| Em | A | Em | A | Em | A |
When people run in circles, It’s a very, very mad world, mad world.

All chords are from the key of D major, however, the D chord is not the home chord, instead, the Em chord is (chord II).

In the course, we learn it first as I play it in the video above, then explore how to create 2nd guitar parts using a capo on frets 2 and 5.

Course preview (Guitar Lesson – Step 1)

In the first video above, starting at 3:04, you find a preview of Mad World’s guitar lesson, it’s the beginning of step 1.

First, we discuss the feel of the minor key that Mad World has, this is then followed by a few ways you can play the verse, without a capo.

Example 1 is the basic verse (displayed below in TAB).

Mad World – Guitar Lessons

To learn how to play Mad World, we break the song down into smaller sections and practice along with loops.

This is followed by playing in all areas of the neck using the CAGED system. Finally, we design a 2nd guitar part so we can play the song together.

Go to Mad World guitar lessons.

Mad World – Lyrics

All around me are familiar faces,
worn out places, worn out faces.
Bright and early for their daily races,
going nowhere, going nowhere.

Go to Mad World lyrics.

Gary Jules – Biography

Gary Jules is an American singer-songwriter, best known for his cover of Mad World by Tears For Fears. It became the UK Christmas number one single in ’03.

Following the worldwide success, Gary Jules kept selling his own CDs on CD Baby as well as the song being released through a label.

Go to Gary Jules biography.

Tears For Fears – Biography

Tears for Fears are an English pop band that has sold more than twenty-two million albums.

With hits like Mad World, Seeds Of Love and Everybody Wants To Rule The World, Tears For Fears were one of the biggest bands around in the 80s.

Go to Tears For Fears biography.

Intermediate Acoustic – 16 Songs

Intermediate Acoustic Guitar Songs

You can learn how to play these 16 intermediate acoustic songs!

A Change Is Gonna Come, American Pie, Angie, Babylon, Blowin’ In The Wind, Dreadlock Holiday, Fast Car, Hey There Delilah, I Can’t Stand The Rain, I’m Yours, Kiss Me, Mad World, Red, Starman, Sunny Afternoon, and Whistle For The Choir.

Go to Intermediate Acoustic Songs.


Studying great songs is the best way for a musician to develop, we believe displaying chords and lyrics falls under “fair use in education”.

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