How To Play Country Roads on Guitar
Today we’re going to learn how to play Country Roads by John Denver. Or maybe it’s best known as Take Me Home Country Roads. I’d say it’s probably his theme song, his most popular song. I really like to teach Country Roads on guitar for two reasons:
- The chords are pretty easy, and
- It uses a common song structure
That common song structure, and the song structure that makes up a majority of popular music is Verse-Chorus-Verse-Chorus-Bridge-Chorus.
Knowing the song structure and form is really helpful when you’re learning a song. Finding the pattern makes it much easier to learn it.
Country Roads Chords (Verse and Chorus)
Let's start with the chords for the verse. Check out 2:20 in the video for the strum pattern we’ll use for now. The verse chord progression is:
The C and G in parenthesis take up one measure total. You’ll play this twice per verse.
Try playing it a few times without the strum pattern, just to get used to the chord changes. Then add in the strum pattern.
That’s it for the verse! This pattern repeats twice but it doesn’t change.
The chorus of Take Me Home Country Roads uses the same chords, but in a slightly different order. You’ll play each chord twice as long as the verse. The chorus chords are:
These progressions are two of the most common chord progressions in music. The first line is called a I-V-vi-IV (one-five-six-four) progression. The second line is called a I-V-IV (one-five-four) progression. It ends back on the I (one) chord.
If you know these two progressions, you can already play hundreds (or thousands) of songs on guitar!
Country Roads Bridge Chords
The chords in the bridge are a little different. We’ll use a lot of the same chords, with one addition. The F chord. The standard version of the F chord is a bar chord. But I’m going to show you a version of the F chord without a bar.
This version is actually very similar to the C chord. Actually, let’s form it from a C chord. Fret a C chord, then move your middle finger up one string so you’re playing the third string, second fret. Then add your pinky to the fourth string, third fret.
Just play the four middle strings. You can mute the first string with your index finger. And the sixth string with your ring finger. The trick is to just barely touch them. Just enough so they don’t ring out if you pick them. You’ll need to roll your fingers just slightly.
Here are the bridge chords:
These chords will change as quickly as the verse, so one chord per measure.
Country Roads Strumming Pattern
Let's talk strumming for a little bit. You’re more than welcome to use the simple strumming pattern we looked at earlier. But if you want to take it up a notch I have a great technique to show you.
Check out 6:33 in the video to hear it.
This strum adds dynamics to the song. And it more closely reflects what John Denver actually plays in Take Me Home Country Roads.
The general idea it to not strum every chord completely with the same velocity. In my example, sometimes I’ll hit just the lower notes. Sometimes just the high notes. And then sometimes a full strum.
This is a great place to experiment. Notice that the general strum pattern doesn’t change though. It’s still the “Down, Down-Up Down-Up Down-up” pattern. But I’m changing the dynamics of each strum.
Play Along With Take Me Home Country Roads
Now that you’ve had a chance to learn all of the rhythm guitar parts to Take Me Home Country Roads, let’s play it all the way through. Skip to 8:05 in the video to play along. I’ll put the chords for each section below:
So there it is! You can now play Take Me Home Country Roads on guitar. This song is a perfect example of taking simple chords and turning them into something much greater.
If the common chord changes I talked about briefly interested you, check out this video lesson dedicated to the topic.
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Download Your Learning Tools Here
Download the lesson worksheet with lyrics, chord diagrams and more here. >> Take Me Home Country Road
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