Guitar lesson for

Sin City

by Gram Parsons  •  Lesson #272

Video lesson

Get the sheet music(2 pages)

  • A properly licensed, print-friendly arrangement is available for individual purchase at Musicnotes.com
  • This sheet music was designed & hand-crafted by me (David Potsiadlo) with care, providing you with everything needed to both learn and play this song.
  • On the fence? Here's a video guide I made showing the purchase & print process.
Buy at Musicnotes.com

Patreon supporters: click here to get the 50% off discount code on this purchase

Editor’s notes

Hi friends! Here’s a guitar lesson showing you how to play “Sin City” by Gram Parsons / The Flying Burrito Brothers (1969). I’ll explain the capo situation, teach you the chords, the progressions, the strumming, and even show a few ways to play the intro (tabs included).

Up until this week, I’d never heard this song. It came on via some playlist of suggested songs while driving, and immediately stuck its teeth into me. After listening to a few versions, I found that the Beck & Emmylou Harris version (from a Gram Parsons tribute) was actually the most helpful while learning the song – probably because it had the best audio quality, while also being relatively minimal with its solo acoustic guitar. Whether you want to play that version, a different Gram Parsons version, or the original Flying Burrito Brothers version, you should be set with my lesson here.

Lesson timestamps:

Play-along cover (#273)

Here’s a play-through cover of the entire song, with chords and lyrics shown as I play it.

Lyrics w/ chords

* Capo 1st fret to play with Flying Burrito Brothers (see more capo notes below)

INTRO
    E ––––––0–|–0h2–2–––––––|–3–––2–––0–––|–––––––––0–––|–2–––––––––––||
    B ––––3–––|–3–––3–––––––|–2–––2–––2–––|–3–––––––0–––|–3–––––––––––||
    G ––2–––––|–2–––2–––––––|–0–––––––––––|–0–––––––0–––|–2–––––––––––||
    D ––––––––|–0–––––––––––|–2–––––––––––|–0–––––––0–––|–0–––––––––––||
    A ––––––––|–––––––––––––|–0–––––––––––|–x–––––––x–––|–––––––––––––||
    E ––––––––|–––––––––––––|–––––––––––––|–3–––––––3–––|–––––––––––––||
        + 3 +   1 + 2 + 3 +   1 + 2 + 3 +   1 + 2 + 3 +   1 + 2 + 3 +
                D             A7            G             D
VERSE
             D                      A7             D         G
    This old town... is filled with sin... it'll swallow you in
       D                                 A7
    If you've got... some money----- to burn
            D               A7                D                 G
    Take it home... right away... you've got three years--- to pay
        D            A7          D    D7
    But Satan... is waiting his turn

CHORUS
                 G                  A7                 D
        This old earthquake's gonna leave--- me in the poor house
           G                 D             A7
        It seems like this whole town's insane
               G              A7        D           G
        On the thirty-first floor... a gold plated door
               D              A7              D
        Won't keep out... the Lord's burning rain

          D         A7            D             G
    The scientists say... it will all wash--- away
        D                        A7
    But we don't... believe any more
                 D              A7                D           G
    'Cause we've got... our recruits... and our green mohair suits
         D                 A7           D
    So please show... your I.D. at the door

                 G                  A7                 D
        This old earthquake's gonna leave--- me in the poor house
           G                 D             A7
        It seems like this whole town's insane
               G              A7        D           G
        On the thirty-first floor... a gold plated door
               D              A7              D
        Won't keep out... the Lord's burning rain

    [ instrumental verse ]

        D              A7                 D            G
    A friend... came around... tried to clean up this town
          D                        A7
    His ideas... made some people mad
             D              A7             D              G
    But he trusted... his crowd... so he spoke right out loud
         D                A7               D
    And they lost... the best friend they had

        [ chorus ]

ENDING
                   G              A7        D           G
            On the thirty-first floor... a gold plated door
                   D              A7              D
            Won't keep out... the Lord's burning rain

Capo notes

Using the chords in this lesson, you can play along with notable versions of this song by using a capo as follows:

Chord progressions

Intro:

1 + 2 + 3 + 1 + 2 + 3 + 1 + 2 + 3 + 1 + 2 + 3 +
D           A7          G           D

Verse:

1 + 2 + 3 + 1 + 2 + 3 + 1 + 2 + 3 + 1 + 2 + 3 +
D           A7          D           G
1 + 2 + 3 + 1 + 2 + 3 + 1 + 2 + 3 + 1 + 2 + 3 +
D           D           A7          A7
1 + 2 + 3 + 1 + 2 + 3 + 1 + 2 + 3 + 1 + 2 + 3 +
D           A7          D           G
1 + 2 + 3 + 1 + 2 + 3 + 1 + 2 + 3 + 1 + 2 + 3 +
D           A7          D           D7

Chorus:

1 + 2 + 3 + 1 + 2 + 3 + 1 + 2 + 3 + 1 + 2 + 3 +
G           A7          D           D
1 + 2 + 3 + 1 + 2 + 3 + 1 + 2 + 3 + 1 + 2 + 3 +
G           D           A7          A7
1 + 2 + 3 + 1 + 2 + 3 + 1 + 2 + 3 + 1 + 2 + 3 +
G           A7          D           G
1 + 2 + 3 + 1 + 2 + 3 + 1 + 2 + 3 + 1 + 2 + 3 +
D           A7          D           D

Intro tabs

My arrangement for the intro:

––––––0–|–0h2–2–––––––|–3–––2–––0–––|–––––––––0–––|–2–––––––––––||
––––3–––|–3–––3–––––––|–2–––2–––2–––|–3–––––––0–––|–3–––––––––––||
––2–––––|–2–––2–––––––|–0–––––––––––|–0–––––––0–––|–2–––––––––––||
––––––––|–0–––––––––––|–2–––––––––––|–0–––––––0–––|–0–––––––––––||
––––––––|–––––––––––––|–0–––––––––––|–x–––––––x–––|–––––––––––––||
––––––––|–––––––––––––|–––––––––––––|–3–––––––3–––|–––––––––––––||
  + 3 +   1 + 2 + 3 +   1 + 2 + 3 +   1 + 2 + 3 +   1 + 2 + 3 +
          D             A7            G             D

Longer intro tab (inspired by the “Rebel Machine” cover on YouTube):

––––––2–––2–––––––––––––––––––2–––––––––––3–––3–––––––2–––2–––––––––––––––––––2–––2–––––––2–––2––––
––––––3–––3–––––––3–––2–––––––3–––––––––––0–––0–––––––3–––3–––––––––––––––––––3–––3–––––––3–––3––––
––––––2–––2–––––––2–––2–––––––2–––––––––––0–––0–––––––2–––2–––––––––––––––––––2–––2–––––––2–––2––––
––0–––––––––––––––2–––2–––0–––––––––––––––0–––0–––0–––––––––––––––––––––––0–––––––––––0––––––––––––
––––––––––––––0–––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––0–––2–––4––––––––––––––––––––––––––––
––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––0–2–3––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––
  1 + 2 + 3 + 1 + 2 + 3 + 1 + 2 + 3 + 1 + 2 + 3 + 1 + 2 + 3 + 1 + 2 + 3 + 1 + 2 + 3 + 1 + 2 + 3 +
  D           A           D           G           D           A           D           D/A

Beck & Emmylou Harris tribute album intro tab:

––––––3–––3–––––––––––––––––––2–––––––––––3–––1–0–––––2–––2–––––––––––––––––––2–––2–––––––2–––2––––
––––––0–––0–––––––3–––2–––––––3–––––––––––0–––0–0–––––3–––3–––––––––––––––––––3–––3–––––––3–––3––––
––––––0–––0–––––––2–––2–––––––2–––––––––––0–––0–0–––––2–––2–––––––––––––––––––2–––2–––––––2–––2––––
––––––0–––0–––––––2–––2–––0–––––––––––––––0–––––––0–––––––––––––––––––––––0––––––––––––––––––––––––
––––––––––––––0–––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––0–––2–––4–––––––––––––––0––––––––––––
––3–––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––0–2–3––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––
  1 + 2 + 3 + 1 + 2 + 3 + 1 + 2 + 3 + 1 + 2 + 3 + 1 + 2 + 3 + 1 + 2 + 3 + 1 + 2 + 3 + 1 + 2 + 3 +
  G           A           D           G           D           A           D           D/A

Recordings of this song

Flying Burrito Brothers original album version:

Beck & Emmylou Harris tribute version:

Gram & Emmylou “Complete Reprise Sessions” – nice stripped down duet, one acoustic guitar:

Cover of this song by “Young America” - best I’ve seen on YouTube!

Get my lessons in your inbox!

Every couple weeks I send out an email newsletter with links to whatever new lessons I've made. Sign up here and stay in the loop!


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).

You can also support me on Patreon. For only $3/month you'll get access to a print-friendly PDF of my notes for each new lesson (view free sample).

Thanks!


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:

📝 My "song" PDFs are now individually purcasheable! I've arranged a licensing agreement with Musicnotes, a service that lets you buy sheet music. Patreon suppoters get 50% off each purchase. Get the latest info here »   (last updated July 1, 2021)

October 14, 2021

How to Tune Half-Step Down (E-Flat Tuning)

Tips & Techniques  •  Lesson #394

A quick guide to tuning all your strings down 1/2 step (E-flat tuning), which is a very common alternate tuning used in many songs.

Patreon PDF

October 2, 2021

F Chord Cheat Sheet! 7 Easier Ways to Play It

Tips & Techniques  •  Lesson #392

A quick inventory of 8 different ways to play the dreaded F chord, 7 of which are easier than the dreaded six-string barred version.

Patreon PDF

September 28, 2021

Beginner Riffs with Major 7th Arpeggios

Warm-Up Exercise  •  Lesson #390

A quick exercise where I share over 10 riffs based on a single arpeggio shape, using major 7th chord tones. Backing track included!

Patreon PDF

September 19, 2021

Key of C Major Cheat Sheet!

Tips & Techniques  •  Lesson #388

A deep dive into everything you need to know when playing in the Key of C: notes, chords, fretboard map, tips & tricks, easier ways to play the F chord, and plenty more.

Patreon PDF

September 12, 2021

Major Scale Positions & CAGED Chord Shapes

Tips & Techniques  •  Lesson #384

A deep-dive into the common positions of the major scale, and how they each relate to the CAGED chord shapes... which makes it all easier to understand!

Patreon PDF

August 29, 2021

First Electric! 8 Things I Didn't Expect

Tips & Techniques  •  Lesson #386

I recently got my 1st electric guitar, and was surprised how many things immediately confused me. Here's a quick inventory, in case it helps anyone else starting out!

Patreon PDF

Browse my all lessons

By lesson type

By song decade

By musical genre

By guitar technique

By musical key

By popular artist


← back to lesson list