The Boxer chords by Simon & Garfunkel

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The Boxer | Chords + Lyrics (tune down 1/2)


| C9 | C |

Verse 1

| C (C/G) | C G/B Am Am/E |
I am just a poor boy, though my story’s seldom told.
| G | G7 G6 | C (C/G) |
I have squandered my resistance, for a pocketful of mumbles such are promises.
| C G/B Am | G F | F C | 6/4 G | 4/4 C | C |
All lies and jest, still a man hears what he wants to hear and disregards the rest, mhmm.

Verse 2

| C (C/G) | C G/B Am Am/E |
When I left my home and my family, I was no more than a boy.
| G | G7 G6 | C (C/G) |
In the company of strangers, in the quiet of a railway station running scared.
| C G/B Am Am/E | G F | F C C/G |
Laying low, seeking out the poorer quarters, where the ragged people go.
| G F | C (C/G) |
Looking for the places only they would know.

Chorus 1

| Am (Am/E) | Em |
La la lai, la la la la, la la lai. 
| Am Am/E Am7 | G C/G | C | C9 |
La la lai, la la la, la la la la la, la la la lai.

Verse 3

| C (C/G) | C G/B Am Am/E |
Asking only workman’s wages, I come looking for a job.
| G | G7 G6 | C (C/G) |
But I get no offers, just a come-on from the whores on Seventh Avenue.
| C G/B Am Am/E | G F | F C | 6/4 G G7 G6 | 4/4 C (C/G) |
I do declare there were times when I was so lonesome, I took some comfort there. La la la la la la la.


| C (C/G) | C G/B Am Am/E | G7 | G7 |
| C (C/G) | C G/B Am Am/E | G7 F | F C (/B /A) | G7 F | C (C/G) |

Chorus 2

| Am (Am/E) | Em |
La la lai, la la la la, la la lai. 
| Am Am/E Am7 | G C/G | C | C9 |
La la lai, la la la, la la la la la, la la la lai.

(Alternative live verse + extra chorus)

Verse 4

| C (C/G) | C G/B Am Am/E |
Now the years are rolling by me, they are rocking evenly.
| G | G7 G6 | C (C/G) |
And I am older than I once was and younger than I’ll be, that’s not unusual.
| C G/B Am Am/E | G F | F C C/G |
No, it isn’t strange after changes upon changes, we are more or less the same.
| G F | C (C/G) |
After changes, we are more or less the same.

Chorus 3

| Am (Am/E) | Em |
La la lai, la la la la, la la lai. 
| Am Am/E Am7 | G C/G | C | C9 |
La la lai, la la la, la la la la la, la la la lai.

Verse 5

| C (C/G) | C G/B Am Am/E |
Then I’m laying out my winter clothes, and wishing I was gone, going home.
| G | G7 G6 | C (C/G) |
Where the New York City winters aren’t bleeding me.
| Em | Am (Am/E) | 6/4 G7 | 4/4 C (C/G) | C (C/G) |
Leading me, (to) going home.

Verse 6

| C (C/G) | C G/B Am Am/E |
In the clearing stands a boxer and a fighter by his trade.
| G | G7 G6 | C (C/G) |
And he carries the reminders of every glove that laid him down or cut him ’til he cried out,
| C G/B Am Am/E | G F | F C C/G |
in his anger and his shame “I am leaving, I am leaving”, but the fighter still remains 
| G F | C (C/G) |
(yes he still remains). Mm, hm, hm.

Chorus 4

||: Am (Am/E) | Em | Am Am/E Am7 | G :|| x8
La la lai, la la la la, la la lai…


| C (C/G) | C G/B Am Am/E | G | G7 G6 | C (C/G) |
| C G/B Am Am/E | G7 F | F C (/B /A) | G F | C C/G C |

The Boxer Chords: Learn the progressions!

The Boxer Analysis + TAB T

The chords for each verse of The Boxer vary and are easiest to digest by being paired with lyrics as you’ll find above. 

Should you attempt to write a chart, you’ll discover that it will be a very long one to feature all variations.

For example, there is the use of a 6/4 bar in most, but not all verses to consider.

You’ve also got a bonus verse on the live recording which was scrapped for the studio version in order to be short enough to fit on a single, I’ve included it above.

The chords for The Boxer are in the key of C and most of the time descend like this CG/BAmG, repeat this, and then keep going down to an F.

A simplified version of The Boxer’s verse could be described as these 10 bars:

| C (I) | C G/B (V/3) Am (VI) | G (V) | G | C |
| C G/B Am | G F (IV) | F C | G F | C |

But if you played only this, you would miss all the intricate details, the alternating bass line, the 6/4 bar, and the move to Em in the verse that goes “Then I’m laying out my winter clothes…”.

The chorus is, in contrast with the verse, super simple as it first moves between chords VI and III, AmEm, and then varies it by going AmG.

With the alternating bass, and adding the intro lick at the end, we can write the Boxer’s chorus chords like this:

| Am (VI) (Am/E) | Em (III) |
| Am Am/E Am7 | G (V) C/G (I/5) |
| C (I) | C9 |

I love including the intro lick at the need of every chorus so I put that in (C9) even though it doesn’t happen every time.

Speaking of the intro, here’s TAB for what they play on the original.

The Boxer chords and TAB intro

To play along with the original recording, you must set the tuner sharp to 446Hz, then tune down a semitone.

Members get TAB like this for the verse and chorus, here’s a link to the full lesson (members only): The Boxer, guitar lesson 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.

The Boxer took 100 hours to record

The epic and complex The Boxer by Simon & Garfunkel is one of many legendary songs from this folk duo.

Released first as a single (1969) and then on their final album Bridge Over Troubled Water (1970), the duo spent an impressive 100 hours recording the song.

The big banging pistol-sounding shot you hear during the chorus is a combination of a snare drum played in an elevator shaft and someone hitting the top of a Fender Twin amp with the reverb maxed out simultaneously.

As a single, The Boxer charted in the top 10 the world over. Since its release, the song has been covered by many artists including Bob Dylan, Emmylou Harris, Neil Diamond, Bruce Hornsby, Joan Baez, and as late as 2016, Mumford and Sons.

Not to mention the countless working solo performers and duos all over the world that still play this classic, more than half a century after its release.

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About me

About Me Dan Lundholm T

This article was written by Dan Lundholm, Spytunes guitar guru. 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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