You can learn how to play The Drugs Don’t Work by The Verve!

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 beginner 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.


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

Chord extensions

There are many chord extensions in this song, achieved by lifting a finger here and there before quickly putting it back on.

For example, the C is sometimes a Csus2. The same goes for the Am. The F is also sometimes a sus2 but also an add9 and even an F/C.

The G is briefly a sus4. You’ll need the full TAB for all these kind of details.

Strumming pattern

Perhaps surprisingly, it is the strumming pattern that is by far the most difficult, should you want to play it exactly like Richard did.

I’ve transcribed it exactly as he did it and we spend an enormous amount of time getting this right in the various steps as we learn everything about this song in the course.

Richard may have done all this by feel, you get a fantastic reading exercise out of it.

2nd guitar

Even better than the intricate strumming pattern, the gorgeous 2nd guitar has also been transcribed and recorded in the course.

Now the chord extension are even more elaborate, for example, an Am9 is used.

Working this out note for note took me a while but it was well worth it. There really is some genius part writing going on here.

We start by learning it exactly as is, before we develop it and even rewrite the end section using the strings as inspiration, now the chords become even more colorful, a Cmaj13 is used at one point!

At first glance, The Drugs Don’t Work may seem simple, but it turns out it is actually incredibly complex, all is revealed in the course, this one is a cracker!

All you have to do is practice all examples and we can play this song together with the singer in step 8.

The Drugs Don’t Work – Guitar Lessons

Playing the main part just like Richard did is not easy, there is so much variation in the strumming. To get it right, we must first work on our ability to read rhythms.

Following this, we study each section in depth using play along loops before we play the complete song. Finally, we learn the beautiful 2nd guitar as well.

Go to The Drugs Don’t Work – Guitar Lessons.

The Drugs Don’t Work – Lyrics

All 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 – Biography

Ben Harper is an American roots musician who stretched his appeal around the globe by recording covers of Sexual Healing and 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 – Biography

The 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.

Beginner Acoustic – 9 Songs

Beginner acoustic guitar songs

You can learn how to play these 9 beginner acoustic songs!

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.

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