American Pie

Learn How To Play American Pie

Chords and Guitar Lessons

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In the course & Complete song


About

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.

Intro

| 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 |

Chorus

| 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.

Verse

| 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 |

Outro

| 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 |


Guitar Lessons


American Pie – Step 1

It’s time to discover how one of the world’s most legendary songs was put together.

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

In this step, we work on the (very) long chord progression that is American Pie’s verse.

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

In this step, we look at the intro and the seemingly identical outro.

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

Let’s play the entire song, all 8:46 of it along with me and a singer.

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

Let’s apply a capo and play as if in the key of C.

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

In this step, we work out how to play the verse using a capo, thinking in the key of C.

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

This is the most difficult step, your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to sync this with the “original” intro and outro.

The loops are played to a click in order to make this possible.

Go to American Pie Step 7.


American Pie – Step 8

We’ve come to the end of this American Pie dissertation. I’m going to give you a chart in the key of C, without rhythms.

The question is, can you make it work along with me and the singer?

Go to American Pie Step 8.


Related Pages


Lyrics

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

Go to American Pie Lyrics.


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.

Go to Don McLean Biography.


Course

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.

Go to Intermediate Guitar Course.


Intermediate Acoustic Songs

You can learn how to play these intermediate songs on the acoustic guitar.

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.


Exercises

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

We’ll use this to map out the entire fretboard. Everything becomes easier to visualize once this foundation is laid.

Go to Intermediate Guitar Exercises.


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

Go to Monthly Subscription.