Learn How To Play American Pie
Chords and Guitar Lessons
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In the course & Complete song
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.
One of these chords is an X chord, can you spot which one?
Intro and chorus chord progressions
These 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 Gsus4/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 Gsus4/B Am | C D | 2/4 Dsus2 D |
| G D/F# Em | C D | I D/F# Em | C D | G |
American Pie – Step 1
Let’s put Don McLean’s American Pie under the microscope, we start with the chorus.
Go to American Pie Step 1.
American Pie – Step 2
Instead of memorizing it, aim to hear the movement of the chords by imagining the melody.
Go to American Pie Step 2.
American Pie – Step 3
This is played in free time, meaning you slow down and speed up for extra emotional effect.
Go to American Pie Step 3.
American Pie – Step 4
See this as me holding your hand as we play it. In the next step we start working on a 2nd guitar part, that way we can start a band.
Go to American Pie Step 4.
American Pie – Step 5
We start with the chorus as this is the easiest part of the song to play.
Go to American Pie Step 5.
American Pie – Step 6
Aim to sync this with the first guitar which is supplied as a loop for your practicing pleasure.
Go to American Pie Step 6.
American Pie – Step 7
The loops are played to a click in order to make this possible.
Go to American Pie Step 7.
American Pie – Step 8
The question is, can you make it work along with me and the singer?
Go to American Pie Step 8.
Go to American Pie Lyrics.
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.
Go to Don McLean Biography.
The intermediate songs require you to learn barre chords and pentatonic scales. This will be revolutionary for your understanding of the guitar fretboard.
Go to Intermediate Guitar Course.
Intermediate Acoustic Songs
A Change Is Gonna Come, American Pie, Angie, Babylon, Blowin’ In The Wind, Dreadlock Holiday, Fast Car, Hey There Delilah, I Can’t Stand The Rain, I’m Yours, Kiss Me, Mad World, Red, Starman, Sunny Afternoon, and Whistle For The Choir.
Go to Intermediate Acoustic Songs.
We’ll use this to map out the entire fretboard. Everything becomes easier to visualize once this foundation is laid.
Including detailed, but bite-sized explanations on how the music theory of each song is applied to the neck.
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