The Boxer chords



You can learn how to play The Boxer by Simon & Garfunkel!

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

Released first as a single and then on their final album Bridge Over Troubled Water, the pair 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 Reverb amp maxed out at the same time.

As a single, The Boxer charted in the top 10 the world over. Since its 1969 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.


The Boxer chords and lyrics (tune down 1/2)


| C9 | C |

| C | C G/B Am  |
I am just a poor boy, though my story’s seldom told.
| G | G | C |
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.

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

| Am | Em |
La la lai, la la la la, la la lai. 
| Am | F G | C | C |
La la lai, la la la, la la la la la, la la la lai.

| C | C G/B Am  |
Asking only workman’s wages, I come looking for a job.
| G | G | C |
But I get no offers, just a come-on from the whores on Seventh Avenue.
| C G/B Am  | G F | F C | 6/4 G | 4/4 C |
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/B Am  | G | G |
| C | C G/B Am  | G F | F C | G F | C |

| Am | Em |
La la lai, la la la la, la la lai.
| Am | F G | C | C |
La la lai, la la la, la la la la la, la la la lai.

(Alternative live verse + extra chorus)

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

| Am | Em |
La la lai, la la la la, la la lai. 
| Am | F G | C | C |
La la lai, la la la, la la la la la, la la la lai.

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

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

||: Am | Em :|| x 15
La la lai, la la la la, la la lai. 
| Am | F G |
La la lai, la la la, la la la la la, la la la lai.

| C | C G/B Am  | G | G | C |
| C Am | G F | F C | G F | C |


The Boxer chord progression

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

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

There is also the use of a 6/4 bar in most, but not all verses to consider.

Finally, there’s 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.

The chords are in the key of C major 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 | C G/B Am | G | G | C |
| C G/B Am | G F | F C | G F | C |

But if you played only this, you would miss all the intricate details, including 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 moves between chords VI and III, AmEm.

This makes the verse in major, and the chorus in minor, usually, it’s the other way around.


Simon & Garfunkel

Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel were a hugely successful American folk duo starting out as Tom & Jerry, before they adopted their more obvious choice of stage name.

Their hits include Homeward Bound, Scarborough Fair, The Boxer, Mrs. Robinson, Bridge Over Troubled Water, and American Tune.

Go to Simon & Garfunkel – Biography.


The Professional Guitarist Song Book

As a guitarist, a repertoire is the greatest asset that you can acquire.

Learn these songs and you can progress from being a bedroom player to working with acoustic duos, Jazz trios, Indie/Rock/Party bands as well as large Soul/Motown ensembles.

Go to Song Book.


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