This classic hit by America is a great barre chord workout, and can be played with a very simple strum or with several varying parts.
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Here are the primary chords. Notice the use of the 5-string form of C#m at the beginning, but all the other barre chords are 6-note forms using an “E-shape” formation: The A and B at frets 5 and 7, the F#m and G#m at frets 2 and 4.
The intro rhythm features a few small variations on this down – down – down-up figure. Notice how the chord changes are consistently “pushed” or anticipated, arriving on the new chord on the last eighth note of the previous bar: the A is the last chord of measure 1, while the E is the last chord of measure 2. Notice the E-Esus4 chord fill in measure 3, played by adding the fret hand pinky to the third string at the 2nd fret. The suspended chord starts on beat “3 and” of measure 3, played with an upstroke.
Keep in mind that your strum movement should be consistent: down on the downbeat, up on the upbeat. So a single quarter note is played with a single downstroke, and a pair of eighth notes is played down-up whether you strike the strings on the downbeat or not. This way, you can produce different rhythms by simply changing where you leave space.
Take a look at the syncopated primary strum for the verse. Notice the lighter, “brushed” downstrokes on beats 2 and 4, indicated in brackets, and how we miss the strings entirely on beat 3 (a missed downstroke).
Since the bar chords do continue through the entire tune, it will take some stamina to get all the way through. Keep in mind that the goal is to keep the barre chords ringing without having to throttle the neck. We accomplish this by focusing on the fret hand fingertips instead of the barre, making sure that all the individually fingered notes are ringing and sitting comfortably. (For more on barre chord basics, read this post).
Complete video lesson below!