19 August 2011

Easy Beginner Guitar Song: Last Train To Clarkesville

The recent Monkees 45th anniversary tour (and it’s unfortunate demise) got me thinking back to my childhood days. The Monkees TV show was an early favourite of mine and got me several of their hits firmly stuck inside my head.


Last Train to Clarkesville is one of their memorable hits with its lively rhythm, jangly guitar lines and bright vocal harmonies. It makes for a fun guitar song that’s easy for beginner’s to learn and play.


You can play most of the song with only two easy chords. You’ll need a third chord to make it through the chorus (but if this is too hard for you I’m going to share a sneaky cheat to avoid it later in the post).


If you don’t know the song you can hear it by clicking here.


The song reached number 1 in the US Billboard chart in 1966. In 1967 it peaked at number 23 in the UK charts.


The Two Main Chords

Here are the two main chords of the song used throughout the verses.




The Verse Pattern

The verses start on a G chord and stay on it all the way up to the end of the phrase just before the “oh no, no, no” bits. There you change to a C until the end of the verse, then it’s back to G again.


A Third Chord

Every second verse or so on “And I don’t know if I’m ever coming home” a D major chord is played. On the word “home” at the end of this phrase you return to G and then it’s back into the verse pattern.



A Sneaky Trick To Skip That Third Chord And Play The Song With Only Two Chords

You might have noticed that that third chord makes only a short appearance in the song. This means that you can get away without playing it and play the song with only two chords if you want to. There are two ways to skip this D chord:


1. Leave it out altogether, stop strumming while you sing through the phrase. You could clap your hands or tap on your guitar to mark the beat while you do this.


2. Instead of play the chord you can simply bang on its root note on the open fourth string. You could hit it once and let it ring or tap it once on each beat, whatever you feel like.



Last Train To Clarkesville is a pretty cool pop tune and a lot of fun to play. I hope you’ll enjoy it and get encouragement to play more guitar, as this easy song shows, it doesn’t always have to be that hard.

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