Guitar lesson for
by Tom Petty • Lesson #113
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In this lesson I’ll teach you how to play American Girl by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, from their debut 1976 self-titled album. This will be an acoustic lesson, showing you how to emulate the sound of the full-band song with a solo acoustic guitar. I’ll teach you how to imitate the intro sound, as well as chords & strumming needed for the verse and chorus sections. There’s also a breakdown riff I’ll teach which makes for a fun break before picking things back up for the ending. Best of luck, and enjoy!
Lyrics w/ chords
INTRO CHORD E ––10––– <-- left pinky B –––x––– <-- muted by left index finger G –––7––– <-- left index finger D –––0––– A ––––––– E ––––––– VERSE D E ...Well, she was an American girl G A ...Raised on promises D E ...She couldn't help thinking that there G A Was a little more to life, somewhere else PRE-CHORUS A7 D ...After all it was a great big world G Em ...With lots of places to run to A Yeah, and if she had to die... trying she A7 Had one little promise she was gonna keep CHORUS G A ...Oh yeah... alright D Bm ...Take it easy baby... make it last all night G A D (w/ intro chord) ...She was... an American girl Well, it was kinda cold that night She was standing alone on her balcony Yeah, she could hear the cars roll by Out on 441, like waves crashin' on the beach And for one desperate moment there He crept back in her memory God, it's so painful, something that's so close Is still so far out of reach Oh yeah, alright Take it easy baby, make it last all night She was... an American girl BREAKDOWN G . . . A . D . (see below for tab) G . . . A . D . G . . . A . D . G . . . A . . . → D OUTRO (intro riff → verse chords with jam)
E ––10––– <-- left pinky B –––x––– <-- muted by left index finger G –––7––– <-- left index finger D –––0––– A ––––––– E –––––––
Chords used in verse, pre-chorus, and chorus
E ––––2––––0––––3––––0––––0––––2––––– B ––––3––––0––––0––––2––––0––––3––––– G ––––2––––1––––0––––2––––0––––4––––– D ––––0––––2––––0––––2––––2––––4––––– A –––––––––2––––2––––0––––2––––2––––– E –––––––––0––––3–––––––––0–––––––––– D E G A Em Bm
Walk-up and walk-down riff
"After all it was a great big world, with lots of places..." e –––––2––2–2–2––––2––––––––3––3–3–3–––––3–3––––3–3––––0––– B –––––3––3–3–3––––3––––––––3––3–3–3–––––3–3––––3–3––––0––– G –––––2––2–2–2––––2––––––––0––0–0–0–––––0–0––––0–0––––0––– D –––0–––––––––––0––––––––––0––0–0–0–––––0–0––––0–0––––2––– A ––––––––––––––––––––––––––2––2–2–2–––––2–2––––x–x––––2––– E ––––––––––––––––––––0–2–3––––––––––––3––––––2––––––0––––– D G G/F# Em
e ––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– B ––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– G –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––5h6h7––– D –––––––––––––––––––x–x––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– x3 A –––––––––––––––––––x–x–––––––––––––––––––––5––––––––––– E –––3–––3–––3–––––––x–x–––––3h4h5–––5–––5––––––––––––––– G A D e ––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– B ––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– G ––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– D –––––––––––––––––––x–x–––––––––––––––––––––x–x––––––––– x1 A –––––––––––––––––––x–x–––––––––––––––––––––x–x––––––––– E –––3–––3–––3–––––––x–x–––––3h4h5–––5–––5–––x–x––––––––– G A
Let me know if you have questions. I hope this was helpful.
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