American Pie

American Pie

Chords and strumming

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American Pie chords


‘American Pie’ was the first single and most successful song by American singer-songwriter Don McLean.

Telling the story of the day the music died, ‘American Pie’ has become legendary, earning the #5 spot on RIAA’s list of songs of the century.

The chord progression can be tricky to remember since the same chords seem to be repeated in lots of different ways.

Thinking of them as numbers really will help as every number has a sound. If you can tap into this, you can hear where the progression wants to move next.

You’ll learn more about hearing chord progressions like this in the intermediate course.

Intro and chorus chord progressions

Here are the intro and chorus chords:


| G D/F# Em | Am C | Em D Dsus4 | 2/4 Dsus2 D |

| G D/F# Em | Am C | Em C | D Dsus4 D Dsus2 |

| Em Am | Em Am | C Em7b5/B Am | C D |

| G D/F# Em | C D | G D/F# Em | C D | G |


| G C | G D | x3

| Em | A7 | Em | D Dsus2 D | Dsus4 D Dsus2 D |

Verse and outro chord progressions

These are the chords for the verse and the outro:


| G | Am | C | Am | C | D Dsus2 D | Dsus4 D Dsus2 D Dsus4 |
| G D/F# | Em | Am | C | Em | Am | D Dsus2 D | Dsus4 D Dsus2 D Dsus4 |

| Em | D | Em | D | C Gsus4/B | Am | C | D Dsus4 |
| G D/F# | Em | Am | C | G D/F# | Em | C | D |
| G C | G D Dsus4 |


| G D/F# Em | Am C | Em D | 2/4 Dsus2 D |
| G D/F# Em | Am Em | Em C | Dsus4 D Dsus2 D |

| Em Am | Em Am | C Em7b6/B Am | C D | 2/4 Dsus2 D |
| G D/F# Em | C D | I D/F# Em | C D | G |

You get the full lesson for ‘American Pie’, including what the chords mean and complete TAB when you take the intermediate guitar course.

Related Pages

American Pie – Don McLean

American PieA long long time ago
I can still remember how that music used to make me smile
And I knew if I had my chance
That I could make those people dance
And maybe they’d be happy for a while

For complete lyrics, go to American Pie lyrics.

Don McLean – Biography

don-mclean-thumbDon McLean is an American singer-songwriter most famous for his ’71 songs ‘American Pie’ and ‘Vincent’.

When McLean’s indie label Media Arts got sold to United Artists, he got an unexpected chance to make his second album for a major label.

To find out more, go to Don McLean biography.


Learning how to play guitar is best done through playing and learning from songs.

The intermediate songs require you to learn barre chords and pentatonic scales. This will be revolutionary for your understanding of the guitar fretboard.

To see all lessons in the intermediate course, go to Intermediate Guitar Course


All those open position chords you learned in the beginner course now become barre chords and pentatonic scales.

You’ll map out the entire fretboard at this stage. Chord progressions become easier to see once played as barre chords and little licks will start appearing in your playing.

Preview the exercises from the course here: Intermediate Guitar Lessons


Learn how to play famous intermediate songs.

‘1234’, ‘A Change Is Gonna Come’. ‘American Pie’, ‘Angie’, ‘Babylon’, ‘Beautiful’, ‘Breakfast At Tiffany’s’, ‘Dreadlock Holiday’, ‘Empire State Of Mind’, ‘Fast Car’, ‘Hey There Delilah’, ‘I Can’t Stand The Rain’, ‘I’m Yours’, ‘Kiss Me’, ‘Last Request’, ‘Mad World’, ‘Red’, ‘The Scientist’, ‘Starman’, ‘Sunny Afternoon’, and ‘Whistle For The Choir’.

To preview each song, go to Intermediate Acoustic Songs

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Including detailed, but bite-sized explanations on how the music theory of each song is applied to the neck.

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