Guitar lesson for

City of New Orleans

by Arlo Guthrie  •  Lesson #439

Hey there, friends! New lesson today teaching you how to play City of New Orleans — originally written/recorded by Steve Goodman (1971) before the hit covers from Arlo Guthrie (1972) and Willie Nelson (1984). You may know this song by its chorus refrain – ”Good morning, America / how are you?”. I’ve gotten many requests for this one over the years… so I’m excited to finally have this lesson for y’all!

I’m modeling my lesson after Arlo Guthrie’s version, and teaching this song in the Key of G. This mostly keeps the chords simple and straightforward… though you will have a B-minor, as well as a brief measure of F, to worry about. Fear not, I’ll show you simplified versions of both of these chords — so you’ll most definitely be able to play it even if barre chords aren’t under your belt. For strumming, I’ll likewise show you a few different options for you to pick from based on your skill level and taste. I hope you enjoy!

Video lesson timestamps:

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Join the Discussion on My Patreon Page

Members of the Song Notes community are discussing this lesson over on the Patreon post I made for it — if you’re a member, join the discussion here! You can also find handy links to the various Patreon posts I mention in the lesson, each of which has the instructional PDF available for download. Curious about Song Notes membership on Patreon? Learn more »

Capo and Tuning Notes!

My video lesson for this song uses no capo and uses chords in the key of G major. To play along with other popular versions using Key of G, here’s a tuning and capo guide for you. Note, Steve Goodman is using the Key of C… but you can play along with him, using Key of G chords, if you add capo 7.

My Lesson      No capo, standard Tuning
Arlo Guthrie   No capo, tune down 1/2 step
Willie Nelson  Capo 7
Judy Collins   Capo 4
Steve Goodman  Capo 5

Listen to Arlo Guthrie Play This Song

Album Recording

Key of F#! Or, play guitar chords in the key of G (as I show in my lesson) and tune all strings down by 1/2 step. If you need help with that, see my lesson on E-flat tuning.

Live Performance

Key of G, which is the same as my lesson. Arlo plays guitar in this video, which is cool to watch. From Farm Aid 2000.

Additional Lessons To Help With This Song

Here’s instructional lessons I’ve made teaching concepts that are useful in this song.

🎸 Playing G major chord with only 2 fingers

Lesson #83. View full lesson notes or get the Patreon PDF »

🎸 Easier Ways to Play B-minor (No Barring Required)

Lesson #431. View full lesson notes or get the Patreon PDF »

🎸 F Chord, Made Easy: 7 Alternatives to the Barred Version

Lesson #392. View full lesson notes or get the Patreon PDF »

🎸 Bass Note Strumming (Essential Technique)

Lesson #371. View full lesson notes or get the Patreon PDF »

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