Guitar lesson for

Kodachrome

by Paul Simon  •  Lesson #20

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Editor’s notes

This is my acoustic guitar lesson for “Kodachrome” by Paul Simon. It includes my cover of the song, including the tabs, chords, and lyrics needed to play the entire song.

Lyrics & chords

INTRO

    D  . . . D  . . . G . . . G  . .  .
    Em . . . A7 . . . D . . . Em . A7 .

          ...with bassline riff while on G

VERSE
                 D       Dmaj7      D7                G (with riff)
    When I think back on all--- the crap I learned in high school
    Em               A7                  D        Em  A7
    ...It’s a wonder I can think at all
                  D       Dmaj7  D7            G (with riff)
    And though my lack of edu----cation hasn’t hurt me none
    Em                A7             D
    ...I can read the writing on the wall

CHORUS
            G       B7    Em
        Kodachrome-----------
                           Am               D
        They give us those nice----- bright colors
                         G              C
        They give us the greens----- of summers
                        A7           D               G    B7    Em
        Makes you think all----- the world’s a sunny day, oh--- yeah
                Am         D
        I got a Ni-----kon camera
                         G        C
        I love to take a pho----tograph
                      A7           D          G      Bm   Em    A7
        So mama don’t take----- my Kodachrome away

                D       Dmaj7   D7              G        G
    If you took all the girls I knew when I was single
    Em                        A7             D       Em  A7
    ...And brought them all together for one night
                  D     Dmaj7    D7          G       G
    I know they’d never match my sweet imagination
    Em                  A7                 D
    ...Everything looks worse in black and white

            G       B7    Em
        Kodachrome-----------
                           Am               D
        They give us those nice----- bright colors
                         G              C
        They give us the greens----- of summers
                        A7           D               G    B7    Em
        Makes you think all----- the world’s a sunny day, oh--- yeah
                Am         D
        I got a Ni-----kon camera
                         G        C
        I love to take a pho----tograph
                      A7           D          G      Bm   Em    A7
        So mama don’t take----- my Kodachrome away

OUTRO

                       G            Bm          Em     Em
            Mama don’t take----- my Kodachrome away
                       G            Bm          Em     Em
            Mama don’t take----- my Kodachrome away
                       G            Bm          Em     Em
            Mama don’t take----- my Kodachrome away

            (start strumming in double time!)

            G                                Bm
            Mama don’t take my Kodachrome... Mama don’t take my Kodachrome
            Em                             Em
            Mama don’t take my Kodachrome away

            G                                Bm
            Mama don’t take my Kodachrome... Leave your boy so far from home
            Em                             Em
            Mama don’t take my Kodachrome away

                        ...repeat this G-Bm-Em-Em sequence as desired, then end

This is a no capo, key of D version!

My lesson teaches you how to play this song in standard tuning, using no capo, in the key of D. If you want to play along with Paul Simon’s album version, add a capo to the 2nd fret and use the chords I show you.

Chords used

Verse chords

e |---2----3----0----0---        e |----2-----2-----2----
B |---3----0----0----2---        B |----3-----2-----1----
G |---2----0----0----0---        G |----2-----2-----2----
D |---0----0----2----2---        D |----0-----0-----0----
A |--------2----2----0---        A |---------------------
E |--------3----0--------        E |---------------------
      D    G    Em   A7                 D   Dmaj7   D7  

Chorus chords

First, the turnaround played at the beginning (and in between) of each chorus run:

e |----3-----2-----0----
B |----0-----0-----0----
G |----0-----2-----0----
D |----0-----1-----2----
A |----2-----2-----2----
E |----3-----------0----
       G     B7    Em

After the turn around, you’ll play these chords in this order:

e |----0----2----3----0----0----2----
B |----1----3----0----1----2----3----
G |----2----2----0----0----0----2----
D |----2----0----0----2----2----0----
A |----0---------2----3----0---------
E |--------------3-------------------
       Am   D    G    C    A7   D

Outro chords

e |----3-----2-----0----
B |----0-----3-----0----
G |----0-----4-----0----
D |----0-----4-----2----
A |----2-----2-----2----
E |----3-----------0----
       G     Bm    Em

Strumming patterns

I would get comfortable using this initial strumming pattern, which uses down-strums on the one and three counts only. You could play through the entire song like this, initially getting comfortable with the chord shapes and chord progressions.

1 + 2 + 3 + 4 +
D       D

The full strumming pattern I like to use is as follows. To get the best use out of this pattern, you’ll ideally want to use a palm mute on the 2 and 4 counts (which occur during the down-strum that your hand is already making during these beats), adding a slight percussive element.

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

Intro tab

Complete intro tab (that I play in the key of D) looks like this. The “G-riff” section is also used in the verse. For the second half of this tab, bring in your choice of desired strumming patterns (for the full chords) as you prefer.

 e |----2-------2-------2-------2-------------------------------------|-
 B |----3-------3-------3-------3-------------------------------------|-
 G |----2-------2-------2-------2-------0-------0-------0-------------|-
 D |--0-------0-------0-------0---------0-----0-0-------0-----0-------|-
 A |------------------------------0-------1-2-----1-2-----1-2---------|-
 E |----------------------------------3---------------3---------3-2-1-|-
      D                               G                                 
      1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 +   

  -|--0---------------0---------------2---------------0-------0-------||
  -|--0---------------2---------------3---------------0-------2-------||
  -|--0---------------0---------------2---------------0-------0-------||
  -|--2---------------2---------------0---------------2-------2-------||
  -|--2---------------0-------------------------------2-------0-------||
  -|--0-----------------------------------------------0---------------||
      Em              A7              D               Em      A7        
      1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 +

How to practice the G-riff

G-chord finger position

e |----3---- <-- Left pinky
B |----0----
G |----0----
D |----0----
A |----2---- <-- Left middle finger
E |----3---- <-- Left ring finger
       G    

Riff Exercise #1

First, practice this – which keeps the left hand entirely still the entire time (focus on the up- and down-strum alternating with the right hand).

e |----3----   ---------------------------------------------------
B |----0----   ---------------------------------------------------
G |----0----   ---------------------------------------------------
D |----0----   ---------------0--0--------------------0-----------
A |----2----   ---------2--2--------2--2--------2--2--------------
E |----3----   ---3--3--------------------3--3--------------------
                  G
                  1  +  2  +  3  +  4  +  1  +  2  +  3  +  4  +
                  D  U  D  U  D  U  D  U  D  U  D  U  D

Riff Exercise #2

Second, practice this – only difference is how you change your 5th fret note with index and middle finger.

e |----3----   ---------------------------------------------------
B |----0----   ---------------------------------------------------
G |----0----   ---------------------------------------------------
D |----0----   ---------------0--0--------------------0-----------
A |----2----   ---------1--2--------1--2--------1--2--------------
E |----3----   ---3--3--------------------3--3--------------------
                  G
                  1  +  2  +  3  +  4  +  1  +  2  +  3  +  4  +
                  D  U  D  U  D  U  D  U  D  U  D  U  D

Riff Exercise #3

Third, add the final walk-down to that leads you into the E-minor chord which transitions you out out the riff, back into full chord strumming.

e |----3----   ------------------------------------------------------0----
B |----0----   ------------------------------------------------------0----
G |----0----   ------------------------------------------------------0----
D |----0----   ---------------0--0--------------------0--------------2----
A |----2----   ---------1--2--------1--2--------1--2-----------------2----
E |----3----   ---3--3--------------------3--3-----------3--2--1--0-------
                  G
                  1  +  2  +  3  +  4  +  1  +  2  +  3  +  4  +  1  +
                  D  U  D  U  D  U  D  U  D  U  D  U  D  U  D  U  D  U

Riff Exercise #4

Finally, if desired, on some of the up-strums you can play some of the middle strings. This lets the riff sound more “strummy”, if this is the sound you want.

e |----3----   ------------------------------------------------------0----
B |----0----   ------------------------------------------------------0----
G |----0----   ------0-----------0-----------0-----------------------0----
D |----0----   ------0--------0--0-----------0--------0--------------2----
A |----2----   ---------1--2--------1--2--------1--2-----------------2----
E |----3----   ---3-----------------------3--------------3--2--1--0-------
                  G
                  1  +  2  +  3  +  4  +  1  +  2  +  3  +  4  +  1  +
                  D  U  D  U  D  U  D  U  D  U  D  U  D  U  D  U  D  U

Chord progressions

Intro:

 D               D               G               G
 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 +
 Em              A7              D               Em      A7
 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 +

Verse:

"When I think back at all the crap I learned in high school..."
 D       Dmaj7   D7              G               G
 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 +
 Em              A7              D               Em      A7
 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 +

"And though my lack of education hasn't hurt me none..."
 D       Dmaj7   D7              G               G
 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 +
 Em              A7              D      (D7)     
 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 +

Chorus:

"Kodachrome-----, give me the nice bright colors..."
 G       B7      Em              Am              D
 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 +
 G               C               A7              D
 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 +

"I got a Nikon camera, I love to take a photograph..."
 G       B7      Em              Am              D
 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 +
 G               C               A7              D
 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 +

(no lyrics)
 G               Bm              Em              A7 (let ring)
 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 +

Outro:

"Mama don't take my Kodachrome..."
 G               Bm              Em              Em
 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 +

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