Guitar lesson for

Like a Rolling Stone

by Bob Dylan  •  Lesson #33

Video lesson

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Editor’s notes

This video is an acoustic guitar lesson for the classic rock song “Like a Rolling Stone” by Bob Dylan (1965, from his album “Highway 61 Revisited”). This video includes a playthrough, chords, tabs, and strumming patterns – showing how to play this song in standard tuning on an acoustic guitar (without a capo). I created this tutorial for Songnotes, which is my personal music lesson web project (video and text-based lessons).

Chords with lyrics

    C - Fmaj7 - C - Fmaj7

    C                    Dm
    Once upon a time you dressed so fine...
    Em                    F              G
    Threw the bums a dime in your prime... didn't you?
    C               Dm
    ...People call, say beware doll
           Em                         F              G
    You're bound to fall, you thought they were all... kidding you

    F               G
    ...You used to... laugh about
    F                      G
    ...Everybody that was... hanging out
    F          Em    Dm            C
    ...Now you don't talk so loud
    F          Em    Dm            C
    ...Now you don't seem so proud
     Dm                           F            G
    About having to be scrounging... your next meal

                      C   F   G                      C   F   G
    ....How does it feel.............. how does it feel...
                      C   F   G                      C   F   G
    To be without a home.......... like a complete unknown....
                      C   F   G
    Like a rolling stone...


    Ah, you’ve gone to the finest school
    Alright, Ms. Lonely, but you know you only used to get... juiced in it
    Nobody’s ever taught you how to live out on the street
    And now you’re gonna have to get used to it

        You said you’d never compromise
        With the mystery train, but now you realize
        He’s not selling any alibis
        As you stare into the vacuum of his eyes
        And say, do you want to, make a deal?

            How does it feel?.... How does it feel?
            To be on your own.... With no direction home
            A complete unknown... Like a rolling stone

    Ah, you never turned around to see the frowns
    On the jugglers and the clowns when they all did tricks for you
    You never understood that it ain’t no good
    You shouldn’t let other people get your kicks for you

        You used to ride on a chrome horse with your diplomat
        Who carried on his shoulder a siamese cat
        And it hard when you discovered that
        He really wasn’t where its at
        After he took for you everything he could steal

            How does it feel?............... How does it feel?
            To have (to be?) on your own.... With no direction home
            Like a complete unknown......... Like a rolling stone

    Ah, princess on the steeple, and all the pretty people
    They’re all drinking, thinking that they’ve got it made
    Exchanging all precious gifts, but you better take a diamond ring

    You better pawn it babe

        You used to be so amused
        That Napoleon in ranks, and the language that he used
        Go to him now, he calls you, you can’t refuse
        When you ain’t got nothing, you got nothing to lose
        You’re invisible now, you got no secrets to conceal

            How does it feel?.......... Ah, how does it feel?
            To be on your own.......... With no direction home
            Like a complete unknown.... Like a rolling stone

Chord progression cheat sheet


"Once upon a time you dressed so fine..."
C . . . Dm . . . Em . . . F . . .
G . . . G  . . . G  . . . G . . .

"People call, say beware doll..."
C . . . Dm . . . Em . . . F . . .
G . . . G  . . . G  . . . G . . .


"You used to laugh about..."
F . . . F . . . G . . . G . . . x2

"Now you don't talk so loud..."
F . . . Em . . . Dm . . . C . . . x2

"About having to be scrounging..."
Dm . . . Dm . . . F . . . F . . .
G  . . . G  . . . G . . . G . . .


"How does it feel..."
C . . . F . . . G . . . G . . .  x4

How to play the chords

Here are the chords you’ll need to play this song, as played in their standard voicings. For the intro, I’ll use an Fmaj7 instead of a pure F-major chord… this sounds like more like Dylan, and is also easier to pull off with the pretty quick strumming. If you’re having trouble with the F, you can play a simplified version by only playing the thinnest 4 strings OR the middle 4 strings (there’s no strict need to play all 6 strings or bust).

E ––––0––––1––––0––––1––––3––––  –––1––––0–––
B ––––1––––3––––0––––1––––0––––  –––0––––1–––
G ––––0––––2––––0––––2––––0––––  –––0––––2–––
D ––––2––––0––––2––––3––––0––––  –––0––––3–––
A ––––3–––––––––2––––3––––2––––  –––2––––3–––
E ––––––––––––––0––––1––––3––––  –––3––––––––
      C    Dm   Em   F    G         G7  Fmaj7   

You can also use barre chords to play these same chords. I’m mainly showing this so you can get a sense of how the chord shapes look when they move up the fretboard (which is a handy thing to remember when learning other songs which use any of these same chords):

E –––––(3)–––––(5)–––––(7)–––––(8)––––(10)–––
B ––––––5–––––––6–––––––8––––––10––––––12––––
G ––––––5–––––––7–––––––9––––––10––––––12––––
D ––––––5–––––––7–––––––9––––––10––––––12––––
A ––––––3–––––––5–––––––7–––––––8––––––10––––
E –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––
        C       Dm      Em      F       G

Intro strumming

Here’s how I’ll strum the intro of this song:

E –––0–––––––0–––0–0–––0––0––0––0––0–––
B –––1–––––––1–––1–1–––1––1––1––1––1–––
G –––0–––––––0–––0–0–––2––2––2––2––2–––
D –––2–––––––2–––2–2–––3––3––3––3––3–––
A –––3–––––––3–––3–3–––3––3––3––3––3–––
E –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––
     C                 Fmaj7
     1 e + a 2 e + a 3 e + a 4 e + a
     d       d   d u   u d u d u d u

For the rest of the song, I’ll typically use a pattern like this.

1 e + a 2 e + a 3 e + a 4 e + a
d   d   d   d u d   d   d   d u
>       >       >       >      

Which reads as:

DOWN  down  DOWN down up, DOWN  down  DOWN down up (etc)

Good luck!

I hope this helps, and as always let me know if you have any questions.

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