The Drugs Don’t Work chords



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 in finding a way to play that F and look beyond the seemingly impossible shape.


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.

For the second guitar, loads more chords change, for example, the G is briefly a sus4. You’ll need the full TAB for all these kinds of details.

Below you find the basic chords for guitar 1. To make it easier to follow along, I’ve also included the lyrics.


The Drugs Don’t Work chords and lyrics


Chords for The Drugs Don’t Work – Guitar 1

These are all the chords for the Intro, they will appear again for verse 2.

| C Csus2 | C Csus2 | Am Asus2 | Am Asus2 |
| Em | Fadd9 G | C Csus2 | C Csus2 |

Verse 1 is slightly different from the intro.

| C Csus2 | C G/B | Am Asus2 | Am Asus2 |
All this talk of getting old, it’s getting me down my love.
| Em | F/C G | C Csus2 | C Csus2 |
Like a cat in a bag, waiting to drown, this time I’m comin’ down.

Here’s verse 2, with lyrics.

| C Csus2 | C Csus2 | Am Asus2 | Am Asus2 |
And I hope you’re thinking of me, as you lay down on your side.
| Em | Fadd9 G | C Csus2 | C Csus2 |
Now the drugs don’t work, they just make you worse, but I know I’ll see your face again.

The chorus starts on chord III.

| Em | Fsus2 G | C Csus2 | C Csus2 |
Now the drugs don’t work, they just make you worse, but I know I’ll see your face again.

This is followed by verse 3 (same chords as verse 1) and a chorus.

Next up we have a bridge, or maybe we should call it a m8?

| F | Em | Am | G |
Cause baby, ooh, if heaven calls, I’m coming too.
| F/C | Em | Am | G |
Just like you said, you leave my life, I’m better off dead.

Finally, the outro chorus looks like this.

| Em | F/C G | C Csus2 | C Csus2 |
But if you wanna show, just let me know, and I’ll sing in your ear again.
| Em | F/C G | C Csus2 | C |
Now the drugs don’t work, they just make you worse, but I know I’ll see your face again.

The outro vamps over a C chord.

||: C Csus2 :||
I’m never going down, I’m never coming down,
no more, no more, no more, no more, no more.


The Drugs Don’t Work strumming pattern

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

I’ve transcribed it note for note 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 extensions 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 string section 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.