Guitar lesson for

Acid Tongue

by Jenny Lewis  •  Lesson #175

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Editor’s notes

In this lesson I’ll teach you how to play “Acid Tongue” by Jenny Lewis. Chords, strumming pattern, intro tab, etc – it’s all here! This was a very dear song to me back when it came out in 2009 – and I 100% recommend the album of the same name. I hope you dig this lesson!

Chords w/ lyrics

(capo 2nd fret)

INTRO

E ––3–––––––3–3–3–3–3–––––––3–––3–3–––
B ––0–––––––0–0–1–1–0–––––––0–––0–0–––
G ––0–––––––0–0–0–0–0–––––––0–––0–0–––
D ––0–––––––0–0–2–2–0–––––––0–––0–0–––   ...play twice
A ––x–––––––x–x–x–x–x–––––––x–––x–x–––
E ––3–––––––3–3–3–3–3–––––––3–––3–3–––
    G           C   G        
    1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 +
    D       D U D U D       D   D U   

VERSE

  G                          C
I went to a cobbler to fix a hole in my shoe
            D                         C                      G     C  G
He took one look at my face and said "I can fix that hole in you"
G                             C
...I beg your pardon, I'm not looking for a cure
           D                            C                      G      C  G
I've seen enough from my friends in the depths of the God-sick blues

CHORUS

    G                  Am        G    
    ...You know I am a... liar-------
    G                  Am        G
    ...You know I am a... liar-------
    G                  Am        C            G    C  G
    ...Nobody helps a.... liar------------

       G                                   C
'Cause I've been down to Dixie and dropped acid on my tongue
         D                  C            G     C  G
Tripped upon the land 'til enough was enough
        G                        C
I was a little bit lighter and adventure on my sleeve
        D                C                G    C  G
I was a little drunk and looking for company
     G                                  C
So I found myself a sweetheart with the softest of hands
          D                    C           G      C  G
We were unlucky in love but I'd do it all again

    G                       Am         G     
    ...We built ourselves a... fire-------
    G                       Am         G     
    ...We built ourselves a... fire-------
    G                  Am        C        G     C  G
    ...You know I am a... liar-------

        G          C          G/B       Am (let ring)    G   C  G
        ...And you don't know what I've done

    G                         C
And by the rollin' river is exactly where I was
             D                    C        G      C  G
There was no snake oil cure for unlucky in love
      G                           C    
To be lonely is a habit, like smoking or taking drugs
        D                   C                  G    C  G  
And I've quit them both but man, was it rough

    G                  Am         G
    ...And now I am...... tired-----
    G                  Am         G
    ...It just made me... tired-----
    G                          Am       G
    ...Let's build ourselves a... fire-----
    G                          Am       C       G    C  G
    ...Let's build ourselves a... fire--------

                    (repeat G-C-G as desired to end)

How to play the chords

Here’s the typical positions used for each of the chords needed in this song:

E –––3––––0––––2––––0––––3–––
B –––0––––1––––3––––1––––0–––
G –––0––––0––––2––––2––––0–––
D –––0––––2––––0––––2––––0–––
A –––2––––3–––––––––0––––2–––
E –––3–––––––––––––––––––––––
     G    C    D    Am  G/B

Suggested intro chords

In spite of the chord shapes above, I would absolutely recommend learning this 2-finger way of playing a G-major for the intro of this song – as it makes the switch from G-to-C so much easier. See my video lesson for context. Technically, the C below is a “C/G”, but I’ll refer to it as a C for simplicity.

E –––3–––  <= left pinky f.    ––3–––  <= left pinky f.
B –––0–––                      ––1–––  <= left index f.
G –––0–––                      ––0–––
D –––0–––                      ––2–––  <= left middle f.
A –––x–––                      ––x–––
E –––3–––  <= left ring f.     ––3–––  <= left ring f.
     G                           C  

Using the shapes above, you can play the intro G-C-G sequence in the intro as follows:

    G           C   G                
E ––3–––––––3–3–3–3–3–––––––3–––3–3–––
B ––0–––––––0–0–1–1–0–––––––0–––0–0–––
G ––0–––––––0–0–0–0–0–––––––0–––0–0–––
D ––0–––––––0–0–2–2–0–––––––0–––0–0–––
A ––x–––––––x–x–x–x–x–––––––x–––x–x–––
E ––3–––––––3–3–3–3–3–––––––3–––3–3–––
    1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 +
    D       D U D U D       D   D U   

Strumming pattern

Here’s an easy strum to get started with. Establish your tempo (1-2-3-4), and then do downstrums on only the 1 and 3 counts.

1 + 2 + 3 + 4 +
D       D      

From there, you can mimic what Jenny Lewis plays through most of the song by doing this. Note, you’ll want to keep your accent on the 1 and 3 counts, but you’ll want to add a subtle “down up” on the “4 +” counts. See my video lesson for reference.

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

For strumming the G-C-G sequence (heard in the intro, etc) – refer to this mapping. Basically, you’ll want to maintain the 1 and 3 accented counts, but you also need an additional up-strum on the first “3 +” count, just before switching to the C. Again, see my video lesson for reference.

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

Chord progressions

Intro:

G • • C G • • • G • • C G • • •

Verse:

“I went to a cobbler...”

G • • • G • • • C • • • C • • •
D • • • C • • • G • • C G • • •

Chorus:

“We built ourselves a fire...”

Am • • • Am • • • G • • • G • • •
Am • • • Am • • • G • • • G • • •
Am • • • Am • • • C • • • C • • •

Leaving all strings open during chord transitions

It sounds like, on the album recording of this song, the guitarist is using a technique whereby they’re releasing all of their left-hand chord fingers from each chord on the final “down up” strums before each new chord. Specifically, see the sample tab below where the * denotes that I’m picking up all my left hand fingers from the chord - just for the two strums before the next chord comes in. See my video lesson for additional reference.

    G                           *        C                           *
E ––3–––––––3–––3–3–3–––––––3–––0–0–––|––0–––––––0–––0–0–0–––––––0–––0–0––|–
B ––0–––––––0–––0–0–0–––––––0–––0–0–––|––1–––––––1–––1–1–1–––––––1–––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–––|––2–––––––2–––2–2–2–––––––2–––0–0––|–
A ––x–––––––x–––x–x–x–––––––x–––0–0–––|––3–––––––3–––3–3–3–––––––3–––0–0––|–
E ––3–––––––3–––3–3–3–––––––3–––0–0–––|–––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––|–
    1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 +   |  1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 +   
    D       D   D U D       D   D U      D       D   D U D       D   D U   

Bridge walk-down

Here’s how to play the bridge walk-down that happens midway through the song:

"And you don't know what I've done...""

E ––3––    –––0––––3––––0––––
B ––0––    –––1––––0––––1––––
G ––0––    –––0––––0––––2––––
D ––0–– => –––2––––0––––2–––– ...let the A-minor ring,
A ––2––    –––3––––2––––0––––    then return to the G
E ––3––    ––––––––––––––––––
    G         C   G/B   Am

Good luck!

Thanks for reading! I hope this helped you.

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