Category Archives: Songs

LIVE 118 • Lily (Original Slack Key, 912ce)

Here is an original fingerstyle tinged slack key song I wrote a number of years ago called “Lily.”  Hope you enjoy.  

Recorded with a Taylor 912ce (Rosewood/Spruce, with Elixir Nanoweb HD Light strings) and a Neumann TLM 102 microphone. 

LIVE 100 • Jewel Ponds

This improvisation is named for the beautiful anchialine ponds you find along the leeward coast of Hawai’i Island.  These ponds are an ultra rare and pristine habitat (please do not bathe in them) that host rare tiny red shrimp – ‘ōpae ‘ula – and can have a magnificent array of turquoise and opaline colors, like jewels.  Some of these ponds are tiny indeed, almost more of a puddle than a pond, and legends tell of ponds that would mysteriously appear to someone only to vanish when visited again.  There can be no denying the strange, quiet magic of Hawai’i’s  anchialine ponds.

Recorded with a Taylor 310ce (Elixir Polyweb 80/20 Bronze) and a matched stereo pair of Shure KSM141 microphones in Holualoa, Hawai’i, 10/08/07.

LIVE 082 • Greasy Strut (Electric Guitar Demo)

Here’s a demo of a song I wrote eons ago called “Greasy Strut.” Probably recorded around 2003-04, featuring a Fender Jimmie Vaughan Stratocaster, possibly also a Peavey T-25. Had forgotten about this one; recently found the song while cleaning out an old hard drive. Not really the kind of music I’m playing these days, but it was fun to hear that harmony part again. Hope you enjoy.

SONG 205 • Million Years Ago by Adele

Million Years Ago by Adele is a song that may introduce you to some jazzy new chords as well as letting us explore different ways of playing the rhythm – namely jazzy comping and the fingerstyle pattern heard on the album. This song is firmly in intermediate territory. The chords aren’t particularly hard, but the changes are fairly quick and as mentioned some of the chords may be new. No problem though – just start out at a slower tempo and gradually work your way up to speed. I will encourage you to use your right hand fingers to play through the song even before we do the picking pattern. Million Years Ago has almost all 4-note chord voicings; using your fingers will help you to play the right strings for each chord and it also helps the jazzy comping sound better. This is a fun song to learn; please enjoy.

Part I – How to play the song, including jazzy comping

Part II – How to play the finger picking pattern

Lesson Road Map:

Part I
00:04 – Play through
00:56 – Overview
01:58 – Using your fingers / right hand finger positions
04:22 – Intro progression
09:13 – Intro play through / rhythm count
09:47 – Verse progression, with endings
17:57 – Verse play through
19:15 – Rhythm, one strum per bar
21:15 – Rhythm, jazzy comping: ‘bass / chord’
24:41 – Chorus progression, song structure
26:47 – Final thoughts

Part II
00:04 – overview
00:55 – intro progression (same right hand as in part 1)
01:49 – main picking pattern for verse / chorus
04:52 – verse play through up to 1st ending
05:54 – 1st ending to verse (also same as 1st/2nd ending for chorus)
07:50 – another way to play 1st ending
09:57 – one more way to play 1st ending (used on album)
12:37 – 2nd ending verse
16:02 – another fingering for 2nd verse ending
19:01 – verse play through
19:57 – chorus pattern (similar to verse)
20:24 – chorus play through
21:27 – another voicing of C#m7 to end the chorus

SONG 204 • Look at Miss Ohio by Gillian Welch

This is a relatively simple song, but it has some time-tested elements to look at. There are cool ‘folky’ chord grips, a bass walk-down, and a soft yet driving strum. The song structure doesn’t have a lot of moving parts, but it still works. Miss Ohio is from an album called Soul Journey, and has become a staple in the Gillian canon. (If you’re new to Gillian Welch, however, I would recommend checking out the Revelator album first.) Hope you enjoy this lesson.

Another bonus folky grip that didn’t make the video: if you want, you can leave the 5th string out of any/all G chords in this song, and it sounds fine. Use the fleshy part of your 3rd finger (which is holding down the 6th string) to mute the 5th string so it doesn’t ring out.

Also note: in some video performances, you can see that they’re playing this song with a capo on the second fret (i.e. in D instead of C). Of course, if you’re trying to sing & play the song you might want to try different keys using the capo. You could also use the capo to play along with their performances, which is good practice.

Road Map:

00:04 – Play-through & introduction
00:59 – Chords & progression (Verse, Chorus)
05:30 – Progression play-through & count
07:10 – Song structure (to Bridge)
08:17 – Bridge chords & progression
10:04 – Song structure (from Bridge to End)
11:20 – Strumming pattern – Verse & Chorus
13:19 – Strumming pattern – Bridge
14:11 – Parting thoughts

Live performance of the song:

There are a ton of people who have covered this song, including Miranda Lambert, Counting Crowes, Sarah Jarosz, and Nick Mulvey. Here is an under the-radar version from a pre-Houndmouth Katie Toupin & Matt Meyers:

SONG 203 • Barcelona by George Ezra

Continuing his series of great songs about European cities that start with the letter “B,” George Ezra gives us a moody song about Barcelona. This is a fun song on guitar, and very manageable if you know a little fingerpicking and don’t mind using an open tuning. If you have some experience on guitar and want to learn some fingerpicking and play in an open tuning for the first time, this would be a good song to try out. I teach the song in Open D, though the recorded version is in the key of F – it looks like George is tuning to open E and putting a capo on the 1st fret. I prefer to tune down to Open D, and you could put the capo on the 3rd fret to get to the key of F. (People who want to sing & play the song can experiment with different keys by moving the capo around.) This is such a fun tune that I’m really looking forward to future songs from George Ezra about Berlin, Bologna, Bordeaux, Brno, Bratislava, Brussels, Bergen… Anyway, hope you have fun with this song.

Part I – Picking patterns, chords, melody, playing through the song

Part II – the solo / instrumental section

Lesson road map:

Part I
00:04 – Play-through
01:12 – Introduction, difficulty level
01:51 – Tuning: Open D, tuning & capo considerations
03:42 – Picking pattern: bass pattern, finger-string assignment
06:50 – Picking pattern: basic picking pattern, rhythm count
08:42 – Verse: chord progression
09:42 – Verse: 1st string melody line
13:21 – Verse: combining 1st string melody w/ picking pattern
16:20 – Verse: play-through with rhythm count
18:09 – Chorus: chord progression
20:19 – Chorus: picking pattern, rhythm count
22:45 – Chorus: play through
23:50 – 2nd Verse is structured differently, play-through
25:00 – Song structure from 2nd chorus through outro
26:42 – Parting thoughts

Part II
00:04 – Play-through & introduction
00:59 – Structure & chord progression
01:37 – Melody notes
05:35 – Play-through of melody over the I chord
06:09 – Combining melody & picking pattern
09:30 – Rhythm & counting through the solo section
11:07 – Play-through with rhythm count
11:59 – Play-through at slower tempo (guitar only)
12:40 – Parting thoughts

Artist website:

LIVE 008 • Harvest Moon – by Neil Young

Harvest Moon is the title track from an album Neil Young put out in the early 90’s. It was an era when some of his peers were coasting along, but Neil was doing some of his best work. (Ok, not the Ditch Trilogy, but still some good stuff.) I thought it would be a fun song to arrange; hope you enjoy.

Recorded with a Taylor 412ce LTD (Rosewood/Spruce, with Elixir Nanoweb Phosphor Bronze HD gauge set) and a Neumann TLM 102 microphone.

All rights reserved to this arrangement, however students may perform the arrangement in public.

SONG 202 • Then Came The Morning by The Lone Bellow

Here is my lesson for Then Came the Morning by The Lone Bellow. This is on the hard side of beginner (there are some bar chords) and I also go through some easy side of intermediate material. The song is relatively simple, but not too straight forward: it has a 6/8 time signature, uses a capo on the 1st fret, and the song structure is a little unusual. We can also add some cool intermediate chord voicings and fills, which make the song more interesting. So overall, this one is not too hard but there are still a lot of great concepts to touch on.

Lesson road map:
0:00 – song preview / lesson overview
1:30 – time signature, basic feel / strumming, capo
3:54 – beginner intro / chorus
4:51 – beginner verse & chords
6:40 – song structure up to bridge, playing through the verse
7:56 – beginner bridge, playing through the bridge
9:35 – outro & chords
11:50 – playing trough the outro
12:27 – intermediate intro (piano pick-up phrase)
13:54 – intermediate intro / chorus chord voicings
16:17 – playing through the chorus with intermediate chords
17:15 – intermediate chorus: more things you can add
18:35 – playing through the chorus w/ intermediate chords & extras
19:09 – intermediate verse & chords
21:35 – playing through intermediate verse
22:20 – intermediate bridge, play through
23:32 – verse guitar fills, play through

band website –

“Live” video:

SONG 201 • Archie, Marry Me by Alvvays

Ok, I’ve been wanting to do a lesson on “Archie, Marry Me” by Canadian band Alvvays for a while and finally got a video together. “Archie” is a beginner level song, though anyone can have fun playing it. Since the chord progression is simple, I try to cover some basic strumming as well as a couple transitional rhythmic cues. I also cover how to play the cool intro which is not super hard, despite having what sounds like a half diminished chord. 🙂 The song is fun, catchy, and Ben Gibbard covered it.

Lesson road map:
Chords – 0:52
Strumming – 3:19
Rhythmic transitions – 4:49
Dsus2 riff – 7:20
Song structure / Bridge / Ending – 11:36
Intro riff – 14:00
Intro: variation – 18:32

band website –

Original video:

Ben Gibbard cover:

LIVE 007 • Here Comes the Sun – by The Beatles / George Harrison

One of the classic George Harrison songs from the Abbey Road album, Here Comes the Sun is a bright, happy tune that sounds great on acoustic guitar. This fingerstyle arrangement is my take on the song – instead of opting for the bright sounds of a capo-ed guitar, I went for the sonorous tones of an open tuning. Despite the lower voice, I think the arrangement still sounds sunny. Enjoy.

Recorded with a Taylor 412ce LTD (Rosewood/Spruce, with Elixir Nanoweb Phosphor Bronze HD gauge set) and a Neumann TLM 102 microphone.

All rights reserved to this arrangement, however students may perform the arrangement in public.

Fun fact – Harrison wrote this song while walking around Eric Clapton’s garden on a sunny day in spring 1969.