Guitar lesson for
Mammas Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to be Cowboys
by Waylon Jennings • Lesson #118
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!
- 0:00 Lesson overview
- 1:28 Chords needed
- 2:29 Strumming patterns
- 6:10 Verse #1 playthrough
- 7:29 Key change in verse #2
Quite simple! Three chords only, played in the same order for the verse and the chorus. If you want to change key in the second verse, you’ll need the E A and B7 as shown below (this isn’t required though, if you’re doing a campfire version).
E –––2––––3––––0–––– –––0––––0––––2––– B –––3––––0––––2–––– –––0––––2––––0––– G –––2––––0––––0–––– –––1––––2––––2––– D –––0––––0––––2–––– –––2––––2––––1––– A ––––––––2––––0–––– –––2––––0––––2––– E ––––––––3––––––––– –––0––––––––––––– D G A7 E A B7
Here’s a few ways to approach it. For starters, think of things in groups of 3. Begin with down strums on the “1” counts only.
D = down strum U = up strum 1 + 2 + 3 + 1 + 2 + 3 + D D
From there, add smaller / weaker down strums on the “2” and “3” counts, keeping the accent (emphasis) on the “1”.
1 + 2 + 3 + 1 + 2 + 3 + D d d D d d
Then, if you desire, you can add upstrums in between the smaller down strums:
1 + 2 + 3 + 1 + 2 + 3 + D d u d u D d u d u
Said out loud, this would be “DOWN, down up down up… DOWN, down up down up… “.
Strumming with alternating bass notes
This isn’t required, but is a fun way to spice up the song a bit. Which is, alternating bass notes on the chords you strum. Examples below. See video lesson for reference.
E ––––––2–2––2–2––––––2–2––2–2––––––2–2––2–2––––––2–2––2–2––––– B ––––––3–3––3–3––––––3–3––3–3––––––3–3––3–3––––––3–3––3–3––––– G ––––––2–2––2–2––––––2–2––2–2––––––2–2––2–2––––––2–2––2–2––––– D –––0–––––––––––––––––––––––––––0––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– A –––––––––––––––––0–––––––––––––––––––––––––––0––––––––––––––– E ––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– D E ––––––3–3––3–3––––––3–3––3–3––––––3–3––3–3––––––3–3––3–3––––– B ––––––0–0––0–0––––––0–0––0–0––––––0–0––0–0––––––0–0––0–0––––– G ––––––0–0––0–0––––––0–0––0–0––––––0–0––0–0––––––0–0––0–0––––– D ––––––0–0––0–0–––0––––––––––––––––0–0––0–0–––0––––––––––––––– A ––––––2–2––2–2––––––––––––––––––––2–2––2–2––––––––––––––––––– E –––3–––––––––––––––––––––––––––3––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– G E ––––––0–0––0–0––––––0–0––0–0–––––––––0–0––0–0––––––0–0––0–0–– B ––––––2–2––2–2––––––2–2––2–2–––––––––2–2––2–2––––––2–2––2–2–– G ––––––0–0––0–0––––––0–0––0–0–––––––––0–0––0–0––––––0–0––0–0–– D ––––––2–2––2–2–––2–––––––––––––––––––2–2––2–2–––2–––––––––––– A –––0––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––0–––––––––––––––––––––––––– E ––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– A7
Lyrics w/ chords
VERSE #1 D G Cowboys ain't easy to love and they're harder to hold A7 D They'd rather give you a song than diamonds or gold D G Lone star belt buckles and old faded Levi's and each night begins a new day A7 D If you don't understand him and he don't die young, he'll probably just ride away CHORUS D G Mamas, don't let your babies grow up to be cowboys A7 Don't let 'em pick guitars or drive them old trucks A7 D Let 'em be doctors and lawyers and such D G Mamas, don't let your babies grow up to be cowboys A7 'Cause they'll never stay home and they're always alone A7 D Even with someone they love VERSE #2 E A Cowboys like smokey old pool rooms and clear mountain mornings B7 E Little warm puppies and children and girls of the night E Them that don't know him won't like him A And them that do sometimes won't know how to take him B7 He ain't wrong he's just different E But his pride won't let him do things to make you think he's right CHORUS E A Mamas, don't let your babies grow up to be cowboys B7 Don't let 'em pick guitars or drive them old trucks B7 E Let 'em be doctors and lawyers and such E A Mamas, don't let your babies grow up to be cowboys B7 'Cause they'll never stay home and they're always alone B7 E Even with someone they love
Thanks for reading! I hope this helped you. Questions? Comments? Requests? Let me know!
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 »
- Don't Think Twice, It's All Right by Bob Dylan
May 24, 2020 • Lesson #301
- Travis Picking vs. Normal Fingerstyle
May 16, 2020 • Lesson #302
- Which guitar pick I use
May 9, 2020 • Lesson #300
- I've Just Seen a Face (intro riff) by The Beatles
May 8, 2020 • Lesson #299
- I've Just Seen a Face (full song) by The Beatles
May 4, 2020 • Lesson #298
- Country Bass Line Exercise in 6/8 Time
Apr 26, 2020 • Lesson #297
- Under the Milky Way by The Church
Apr 19, 2020 • Lesson #296
- Hello in There (intro riff) by John Prine
Apr 12, 2020 • Lesson #295
- Clay Pigeons by John Prine
Apr 8, 2020 • Lesson #294
- House of the Rising Sun by The Animals (easy fingerstyle)
Mar 31, 2020 • Lesson #293
- New! Browse my lessons by category, genre, decade, and more
Mar 29, 2020 • Lesson #292