Guitar lesson for

I've Been Everywhere

by Johnny Cash  •  Lesson #170

Video lesson

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Editor’s notes

In this lesson I’ll show you how to play “I’ve Been Everywhere,” as covered by Johnny Cash. This is a fantastically fun song to learn, only requiring 3 chords. I’ll teach you the chords, demonstrate a few options with strumming, and show some riffs n’ fills you can use to spice things up throughout. I hope you enjoy!

Video timestamps:

Lyrics w/ chords

INTRO (played freely)

          E                        E
    I was toting my pack along the dusty Winnemucca road
          E                       E
    When along came a semi with a high and canvas covered load
            A7                              A7
    If your going to Winnemucca, Mack, with me you can ride
             E                               E
    And so I climbed into the cab and then I settled down inside
       B7                              (C7)             (B7)
    He asked me if I'd seen a road with so much dust and sand
                 E (let ring)                                      (walk up)
    And I said, "Listen... I've traveled every road in this here land"


        E                            E
        I've been everywhere, man... I've been everywhere, man
        A7                                    E
        Crossed the deserts bare, man... I've breathed the mountain air, man
        B7                                B7             E
        Travel, I've had my share, man... I've been everywhere

    I've been to Reno, Chicago, Fargo, Minnesota
    Buffalo, Toronto, Winslow, Sarasota
    Wichita, Tulsa, Ottawa, Oklahoma
    Tampa, Panama, Mattawa, La Paloma
    Bangor, Baltimore, Salvador, Amarillo
    Tocopilla, Pocotello, Amperdello, I'm a killer

    I've been to Boston, Charleston, Dayton, Louisiana
    Washington, Houston, Kingston, Texarkana
    Monterey, Fairaday, Santa Fe, Tollaperson
    Glen Rock, Black Rock, Little Rock, Oskaloussa
    Tennessee, Tinnesay, Chickapee, Spirit Lake
    Grand Lake, Devil's Lake, Crater Lake, for Pete's sake


    I've been to Louisville, Nashville, Knoxville, Omerback
    Shereville, Jacksonville, Waterville, Costa Rock
    Richfield, Springfield, Bakersfield, Shreveport
    Hakensack, Cadallic, Fond do Lac, Davenport
    Idaho, Jellico, Argentina, Diamondtina
    Pasadena, Catalina, see what I mean

    I've been to Pittsburgh, Parkersburg, Gravelburg, Colorado
    Ellisburg, Rexburg, Vicksburg, El Dorado
    Larimore, Adimore, Habastock, Chadanocka
    Shasta, Nebraska, Alaska, Opalacka
    Baraboo, Waterloo, Kalamazoo, Kansas City
    Sioux City, Cedar City, Dodge City, what a pity

        [chorus, end]

Chords needed

Here’s how to play the chords needed in this song. If you prefer, you can substitute a normal “A” chord instead of the “A7” - but I find the A7 captures the bluesy sound of things quite nicely.

E –––0––––0––––2–––
B –––0––––2––––0–––
G –––1––––0––––2–––
D –––2––––2––––1–––
A –––2––––0––––2–––
E –––0–––––––––––––
     E    A7   B7

Strumming pattern

Simple strum - start by strumming only on the “1” count of each 4-beat measure. This is a great way to start learning the song, especially if you want to play along but want to keep the strumming as simple as possible.

1 + 2 + 3 + 4 +

Intermediate strum - strum on each of the 4 counts, but put your accents on the “2” and “4” counts. This creates a nice back-beat that is well suited to much of Johnny Cash’s musical sound.

1 + 2 + 3 + 4 +
D   D   D   D
    >       >

Full strum - add a “down up down up” on the back half each each measure. This requires quite a bit of motion (and can become tiring!) but creates a very nice driving sound, if you can manage it.

1 + 2 + 3 + 4 +
D   D   D U D U
    >       >

Chord progressions

While this song has distinct verse and chorus sections, they both use the same chords in the same order. There’s only one minor difference between the two, which is the chorus stays on “B7” for one measure more than the verse does. For each chord named below, play one measure (4 counts). For each slash (“/”), repeat the previous chord for one measure (4 counts).


"I've been everywhere, man..."

E  /  /  /  A7  /  E  /  B7  /  /  E  /


"I've been to Reno, Chicago, Fargo, Minnesota..."

E  /  /  /  A7  /  E  /  B7  /  E  /

Riffs and licks

Here are a few fun fills you can insert into the song, as demonstrated in my video lesson. These are nice ways to occasionally mix things up while you’re otherwise strumming along. Note, both of these fills begin and end on an E-major chord.

Walk up (heard at the end of the intro):

E –––0–––|–––––––––––––––0––––        E –––0–––|–––––––––––––––0––––
B –––0–––|–––––––––––––––0––––        B –––0–––|–––––––––––––––0––––
G –––1–––|–––––––––––––––1––––        G –––1–––|–––––––––––––––1––––
D –––2–––|–––––––––1–––––2––––   or   D –––2–––|–––––––––––––––2––––
A –––2–––|–––2––4––––––––2––––        A –––2–––|–––2––4––6–––––2––––
E –––0–––|––––––––––––0––0––––        E –––0–––|––––––––––––0––0––––

Walk down (heard at the end of the chorus):

E –––0–––|––––––––––––––––––0–––
B –––0–––|––––––––––––––––––0–––
G –––1–––|––––––––––––––––––1–––
D –––2–––|––––––––––––––––––2–––
A –––2–––|–––2––0–––––––––––2–––
E –––0–––|–––––––––3––2––0––0–––

Good luck!

Let me know if you have questions. I hope this was helpful. Be sure to check out my other Johnny Cash lessons, I have a bunch!

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