Guitar lesson for

Lonesome Town

by Ricky Nelson  •  Lesson #38

Video lesson

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Editor’s notes

This video is an acoustic guitar lesson for the song “Lonesome Town” by Ricky Nelson. I’ll show you how to play it in standard tuning, using a fingerpicking approach. This lesson includes a playthrough, explanation of how to play each chord, overview of the chord progressions needed, fingerpicking basics – I cover it all! Including the difference between a shuffle vs. straight rhythm. I created this tutorial for Song Notes, which is my personal music lesson web project (video and text-based lessons).

Video timestamps:

A Nod to the Original Songwriter

Finally, I should note that this song was written by Baker Knight and not Ricky Nelson. For more info about the song, refer to its page on Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lonesome_Town

“Jack Rabbit Slims” in Pulp Fiction

Just for some cultural and cinematic flavor, here is the famous Jack Rabbit Slims tracking shot from Quentin Tarantino’s film “Pulp Fiction” – where an in-costume Ricky Nelson is playing live music as the main characters walk through the restaurant. In the film, “Lonesome Town” is played immediately after this sequence.

And here is the Jack Rabbit Slims dining scene in which Lonesome Town can be heard in the background.

Other videos

Ricky Nelson Solo Version

Here is a nice video of Ricky playing this song with just him and his guitar (no backup). You can’t quite see the guitar (to help with fingering, strumming pattern, etc) – but it is helpful nonetheless. Note that he plays this with a guitar tuned down one-half step. Also note that he may steal your girlfriend.

To get a good and clear look at someone skillfully playing this on guitar, I recommend this video by Mike Sinatra. Very well-played and well-shot acoustic performance, without any crazy changing cameras. Note, to play along with him you’ll need to use a capo on the 3rd fret in standard tuning (which would be a capo 4th fret if tuned down one-half step).

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📝 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)

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