Guitar lesson for
Where Did You Sleep Last Night
by Nirvana • Lesson #102
Print-friendly chord sheet available for Patreon supporters
- Get the PDF here -- after clicking and logging in to Patreon, look for the file attached to the bottom of the post.
Supporting me on Patreon gives you access to the PDF for this as well as 150+ other lessons. One month minimum ($3, cancel anytime) gets you access to everything... here's a free sample. Thanks for supporting me and this project!
Note, you’ll need to tune down 1/2 step if you want to play along with Nirvana’s version (they’re using E-flat tuning). I decided to use standard tuning in my video lesson above. Take note of this in case you want to play along with Nirvana.
Chord progression used for entire song
The entire song uses this one progression, played over and over again. Here, I show 6 counts per measure. Notice that the measure with the A-major and G-major is split between those two chords (3 counts each)… every other measure has 6 counts on the chord in question.
| E . . . . . | A . . G . . | B . . . . . | E . . . . . |
You’ll want to use this pattern over and over…
Down... up down up down... up down up down... up down up down...
When counted out, it becomes the following (accent the “1” and “4” counts, both of which are downstrums).
1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + 5 + 6 + D U D U D U D U > >
How to play the chords
This song only uses these 4 chords. There are different voicings you could use for each chord below (I’ll get to that), but let’s use these as a starting point. For the A-major, I’ll typically use my index finger to barre the 2nd fret of the D/G/B strings (and not worry about playing the high E-string).
E –––0–––––––––3––––––––– B –––0––––2––––0––––4–––– G –––1––––2––––0––––4–––– D –––2––––2––––0––––4–––– A –––2––––0––––2––––2–––– E –––0–––––––––3––––––––– E A G B
For the E, you have some options. It sounds like Nirvana is playing an E5 or E “power chord” where the G string isn’t ringing… this results in a sound that is neither major nor minor. To do this, I recommend letting one of your ringers rest gently upon the G string so that it muffles the sound (mutes the string). You also could get away with playing an E-minor if you like. Or, if you want to be like the famous blues guitarist Lead Belly who first made this song famous, you can use an E7. It’s up to you.
E –––0–––0––––0––––0––– B –––0–––0––––0––––3––– G –––1–––0––––x––––1––– D –––2–––2––––2––––2––– A –––2–––2––––2––––2––– E –––0–––0––––0––––0––– E Em E5 E7
If the B gives you issues, you can do a B power-chord (B5) or do an open shape to play B7.
E ––––––––––––3–––– B –––4––––––––0–––– G –––4–––4––––2–––– D –––4–––4––––1–––– A –––2–––2––––2–––– E ––––––––––––––––– B B5 B7
Bass note exercise
If you really want to nail down the melodic, bluesey bass notes to add some flavor – start by studying this tab. Learn these notes, be able to play them in time. From here, add the full strumming when you’re able.
E |––––––––––––––|––––––––––––––|––––––––––––––|––––––––––––––|– B |––––––––––––––|––––––––––––––|––––––––––––––|––––––––––––––|– G |––––––––––––––|––––––––––––––|––––––––––––––|––––––––––––––|– D |––––––––––––––|––––––––––––––|––––––––––––––|––––––––––––––|– A |––––––––2–––––|––0–––––––––––|––2–––––––––––|––––––––––––––|– E |––0–––––––––––|––––––––3–––––|––––––––2–––––|––0–––––0–––3–|– • ◦ ◦ • ◦ ◦ • ◦ ◦ • ◦ ◦ • ◦ ◦ • ◦ ◦ • ◦ ◦ • ◦ ◦ E A G B E
Walking up to the A-major chord
The most distinctive bass note run in the song is probably walking up to the A-major chord, via this quick little lick. This is hard to pull off (it happens very quick)… the key is to use your left hand’s middle and ring fingers to play the 2nd and 3rd fret of the low-E string and then immediately playing the A-chord.
E |–––0––––––––––––––––––––––––– B |–––0––––––––––––––––––2–––––– G |–––1––––––––––––––––––2–––––– D |–––2––––––––––––––––––2–––––– A |–––2––––––––––––––––––0–––––– E |–––0–––––––––––0h2h3–––––––––
Spicing up the B-major bass note
In Nirvana’s intro (without singing) and in my video lesson, you can see how I go down to the low-E string to spice up the 2nd half of the measure with the B-major chord. I do this by using my left hand’s index finger to play the 2nd fret of the low-E string (while keeping all other fingers in place). Here’s the rough tab I use. Watch my video lesson for context!
E |–––3–––|–––––––––––––––––––––|–––0––– B |–––0–––|–––––––4–––––––4–––––|–––0––– G |–––0–––|–––––––4–––––––4–––––|–––1––– D |–––0–––|–––––––4–––––––4–––––|–––2––– A |–––2–––|––––0––2–––––––x–––––|–––2––– E |–––3–––|–––––––––––––––2–––––|–––0––– G B B E
E A G My girl, my girl, don't lie to me B E Tell me where did you sleep last night E In the pines, in the pines A G Where the sun don't ever shine B E I would shiver the whole night through (use these same chords for the entire each verse) My girl, my girl, where will you go? I'm going where the cold wind blows In the pines, in the pines Where the sun don't ever shine I would shiver the whole night through Her husband was a hard working man Just about a mile from here His head was found in a driving wheel But his body never was found My girl, my girl, don't lie to me Tell me where did you sleep last night In the pines, in the pines Where the sun don't ever shine I would shiver the whole night through My girl, my girl, where will you go? I'm going where the cold wind blows In the pines, in the pines Where the sun don't ever shine I would shiver the whole night through My girl, my girl, don't lie to me Tell me where did you sleep last night In the pines, in the pines Where the sun don't ever shine I would shiver the whole night through My girl, my girl, where will you go? I'm going where the cold wind blows In the pines, the pines The sun don't shine I'd shiver... the whole night through
Thanks for reading! I hope this helped you.
Enjoy my lessons? Buy me a beer!
If this and my other lessons have proven helpful to you, please consider making a one-time donation to my tip jar. Contributions of any amount help make this project possible (including the many, many hours I put into it).
Subscribe to my YouTube channel
Be sure to never miss a lesson by subscribing on YouTube. I put out 2-3 new videos every week. These include full song lessons, as well as covers, practice tips, behind-the-scenes updates. Thanks!
Recent video lessons:
📝 Print-friendly PDFs now available for all new lessons I make, including all those listed below. Get a free sample »
- Banded Clovis by Tyler Childers
Mar 22, 2020 • Lesson #291
- Syncopation & Sus Chords
Mar 20, 2020 • Lesson #289
- Walk-down exercise inspired by the Turnpike Troubadours
Mar 15, 2020 • Lesson #290
- Patience by Guns N' Roses
Mar 12, 2020 • Lesson #288
- 1979 by Smashing Pumpkins (strummy play-along cover)
Feb 29, 2020 • Lesson #287
- Sweet Caroline by Neil Diamond (play-along cover)
Feb 28, 2020 • Lesson #286
- 1979 by Smashing Pumpkins
Feb 22, 2020 • Lesson #285
- Romeo and Julet by Dire Straits (Lesson #284)
Feb 15, 2020
- You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin' by Righteous Brothers (Lesson #283)
Feb 9, 2020
- Wild World by Cat Stevens (Lesson #282)
Feb 1, 2020
- Memories by Maroon 5 (Lesson #281)
Jan 26, 2020
- "In Dreams"-inspired folksy warmup riff (Lesson #278)
Jan 22, 2020
- Walk Right In by The Rooftop Singers (Lesson #277)
Jan 16, 2020
- Practicing Walk Ups & Walk Downs in G (Lesson #276)
Jan 10, 2020
- My top 12 videos of 2019
Jan 4, 2020
- "Sweet Virginia" (intro) by The Rolling Stones • (Lesson #274)
Dec 29, 2019
- "Sin City" by Gram Parsons (Lesson #272 & 273)
Dec 26, 2019
- 2-string beginner blues riffs (Lesson #271)
Dec 15, 2019
- "Have You Ever Seen the Rain" by CCR (Lesson #269 & 270)
Dec 7, 2019
- "My Favorite Picture of You" by Guy Clark (Lesson #268)
Nov 29, 2019
- 12 ways to modify the A-major chord (Lesson #267)
Nov 23, 2019
- 4 tips for learning Blackbird by The Beatles (Lesson #265)
Nov 5, 2019
- Fingerstyle Walkdown Exercise in C (Lesson #264)
Oct 27, 2019