Guitar lesson for

Romeo and Juliet

by Dire Straits  •  Lesson #284

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Editor’s notes

Hey there friends! Here’s my lesson for the Dire Straits song “Romeo & Juliet”. I’ll be showing you an “easy” way to pick up your guitar and play this song, specifically (1) using no capo, (2) in standard tuning, and (3) using a simplified version of the intro. All this together allows you to quickly jump into the song, hopefully keeping things accessible. As per normal, I’ll explain the chord shapes, the verse & chorus progressions, talk about strumming, and then break down the intro riff step-by-step.

Best of luck with things! Again, keep on reading for additional notes on how to play this 100% exactly like Dire Straits does. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy this lesson and the PDF chord sheet I’ve made for this song.

Lyrics with chords

    D                     (A) Bm                          A
    ...A lovestruck Romeo........ sings the streets a serenade
    D                       (A) Bm                     G
    ...Laying everybody low....... with the love song that he made
    A                       G  A                   D
    ...Finds a streetlight... steps out of the shade
                        G                          A
    Says something like... “you and me babe, how about it?”

    [D] Juliet says, “Hey, its Romeo [A] [Bm] you nearly gave me a heart attack” [A]
    [D] He’s underneath the window [A] she’s singing [Bm] hey-la, my [G] boyfriend’s back
    [A] You shouldn’t come around here [G] [A] singing up to people like [D] that
    [G] Anyway, what you gonna do [A] about it?

            D     A               Bm              G
        Juliet...... the dice was loaded from the start
              D    A               Bm            G         A    D
        And I bet.... that you exploded into my heart, and I forget
                 G     Bm             G
        ....I forget....... the movie song
        Em                                G                       (Bm)  A  D
        ...When you gonna realize, it was just that the time was wrong...... Juliet

                                                    [start intro riff on D, play 2x]

    [D] Come up on different [A] streets [Bm] both were streets of shame [A]
    [D] Both dirty, both [A] mean [Bm] yes, and the dream was [G] just the same
    [A] And I dream your dream for you [G] [A] and now your dream is [D] real
    [G] How can you look at me as if I was [A] just another one of your deals?

    When you can [D] fall for chains of silver [A] [Bm] you can fall for chains of gold [A]
    [D] You can fall for pretty strangers [A] [Bm] and the promises [G] they hold
    [A] You promised me everything [G] [A] you promised me [D] thick and thin, yeah
    [G] Now you just say, Oh Romeo, yeah... you know I [A] used to have a scene with him

        Juliet [D] ... [A] when we made [Bm] love you used to [G] cry
        Said, I [D] love you like the [A] stars above, I’ll [Bm] love you till I [G] die
        [A] There’s a [D] place for [G] us... [Bm] you know the movie [G] song
        [Em] When you gonna realize, it was [G] just that the time was [Bm] wrong [A] [D] Juliet...

    [D] I can’t do the talk [A] [Bm]... like they talk on the TV [A]
    [D] And I can’t do a love song [A] [Bm] like the way its [G] meant to be
    [A] I can’t do everything, [G] but I’ll [A] do anything for [D] you
    [G] Can’t do anything except be in [A] love with you

    [D] All I do is miss you [A] [Bm] and the way we used to be [A]
    [D] All I do is keep the [A] beat [Bm] hmmmm, the bad [G] company
    [A] All I do is kiss you [G] [A] through the bars a [D] rhyme
    [G] Juliet, I’d do the stars with you [A] anytime

        Juliet [D] ... [A] when we made [Bm] love you used to [G] cry
        Said, I [D] love you like the [A] stars above, I’ll [Bm] love you till I [G] die
        [A] There’s a [D] place for [G] us... [Bm] you know the movie [G] song
        [Em] When you gonna realize, it was [G] just that the time was [Bm] wrong [A] [D] Juliet...

    [D] A lovestruck Romeo [A] [Bm] sings the streets a serenade [A]
    [D] Laying everybody low [A] [Bm] with the love song [G] that he made
    [A] Finds a convenient streetlight [G] [A] steps out of the [D] shade
    Says something like [G] “you and me babe... [A] how about it?”

    [ repeat one bar each of G - A, over and over, end ]

Capo and tuning

My video is in standard tuning, no capo –– which aims to give you an accessible way to play this song with any ole’ guitar. However, if you want to play along with Dire Straits, use the chords I show and put a capo on the 3rd fret. Any for extra credit even, you’ll want to tune your guitar to open G tuning (D G D G B D). Check out Justin Sandercoe’s lesson if you want to learn how to play it in open G. Again, my lesson is a simple version (standard tuning, no capo).

Chords

Here’s how to play the 4 chords you’ll need in this song. Standard D-G-A, with a barre chord B-minor in the mix.

E –––2–––3–––0–––2–––
B –––3–––0–––2–––3–––
G –––2–––0–––2–––4–––
D –––0–––0–––2–––4–––
A –––––––2–––0–––2–––
E –––––––3–––––––––––
     D   G   A   Bm

A hint about the A-major and the B-minor chord, which are probably the trickiest chords to switch between. The trick being: get used to playing the A-major by barring the 2nd 3rd and 4th strings with your index finger (don’t play the thinnest string). This sets your index finger up for the barre position you’ll need to play the B-minor chord.

E –––––––                               E –––2–––  <== barred index finger
B –––2––– <== barred index finger       B –––3–––  <== left middle
G –––2––– <== barred index finger       G –––4–––  <== left pinky
D –––2––– <== barred index finger       D –––4–––  <== left ring
A –––0–––                               A –––2–––  <== barred index finger
E –––––––                               E –––––––
     A                                       Bm

Chord progressions

A quick note about the chord progressions. The following is a rough outline. Sometimes, such as in the first verse, certain chords (e.g., the A-major in the 1st measure of the verse) isn’t heard at all. Other chords (e.g., the G in the 5th measure of the verse) actually come on the “+” count after the “4” – but I have them on the quarter note below. Again, my aim with this lesson is to give you the general outline, and not the ultra-specific matching exactly what Dire Straits plays in all cases. To do the latter would add unnecessary difficulty, and not be required for those astute musicians among you who “hear” the nuance anyway.

Verse:

D           A   Bm          A   D           A   Bm      G
1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 +

A           G   A       D       G               A
1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 +

Chorus:

D       A       Bm      G       D       A       Bm      G   A
1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 +

D       G       Bm      G       Em              G       Bm  A   D
1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + 1

Adv. ending to the chorus:

"When you gonna realize..."
Em                  /F# G       /A  Bm    A     D
1  +  2  +  3  +  4  +  1  +  2  +  3  +  4  +  1

Learning a simplified version of the intro

Note, I’m playing this with my fingers (no pick). You can use a pick if you want, but I find the sound to be a bit too precise for the sound of this song, compared to the album version. For all chords in the intro, I’ll generally use these right-hand fingers to fingerpick the chords. This helps keep right-hand fingers from needing to switch strings, which adds difficulty. If this doesn’t work for you, surely try something else! This is just what I prefer.

E –––––––  <= right ring
B –––––––  <= right middle
G –––––––  <= right index
D –––––––  <= right thumb
A –––––––  <= right thumb      ...right thumb plays whatever is the thickest
E –––––––  <= right thumb         string of the chord being played.

Next, I recommend getting comfortable with these chord shapes played in this timing (play through it a bunch!) – this makes it much easier when you add the connecting flourish notes later. Note I’m using an A7 chord (instead of A-major) which is easier to switch to, since it only uses 2 left-hand fingers instead of 3. Also, note you’ll need your left pinky on the 3rd fret of the G – this one may be tricky at first.

[ see figure 1 of my PDF chord sheet ]

Then, add these flourish notes between the main chord shapes. The advice I have here is to take things slowly, practicing one phrase at a time until you’re comfortable. Then, begin to combine the phrases one at a time. Do this until you can play through the whole thing, slowly at first. Then pickup the speed and work on playing clean notes, adding dynamic expression, etc.

[ see figure 2 of my PDF chord sheet ]

Listen to this song!

Here’s the official album version:

A lesson with capo 3 & open-G tuning

Here’s Justin Sandercoe’s excellent lesson if you want to learn a non-simple, 100%-accurate-to-the-album version of this song. Again, it requires capo 3rd fret and open G tuning.

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