I need to learn one song on the guitar

Here is the deal. Mrs. Lebeef and I will have been married a whopping 3 years this November. My one real job during the wedding was to put together a mix CD. The song that spoke to her the most from the CD was Nothing Without You by Steve Earle.

I, having no musical talent whatsoever, would like to learn this on the guitar and sing it to her on our anniversary this year. That gives me a little over three months to master one song. What is the best way to go about it? Should I just listen to the song over and over and try to mimic what I hear, or actually learn the chords and other guitary stuff?

Any guitarists out there who aren’t completely offended by my lack of basic knowledge in your fine art willing to help a fella out?

I’ve not been playing long and had some particular selections I wanted to learn quickly so I’m roughly with you on your stated desire. Mimicking will be tough without some knowledge of what comprises a chord. By the same token, you’ll not need to learn and certainly not master them all for one piece. My suggestion is to get a diagram of the basic chords plus the tabs for the song and just practice, practice, practice.

In the end, I suspect the mere fact you desired to do this for her will more than make up for any musical shortcomings. It’s a very nice thing you’re doing here and she will love you for the sentiment even if you vary some from Earle.

It looks like Ultimate doesn’t have it:


I’ve been looking around for the tabs and can’t seem to find them. I’ll be able to do a more robust search when I get home from work. I may end up buying a book of tabs at one of Denver’s local music shops. that may be my best bet.

Thanks, lieu, but after hearing my voice, she may not be all that happy!

I listened to the 30-second version on iTunes, and it sounds pretty doable, as long as you’re not looking to play the solo (I only heard a brief snatch of that). If I had a copy of the whole song available, I could probably figure out most or all of it.

Moving thread from IMHO to Cafe Society.

Thought I had that tab.

Carry on. Nothing to see here.

I’m not at all familiar with the song but I pulled up this clip from youtube here and if this is the one you’re after, I think it’s pretty straight forward.

With guitar in hand, I plucked out:

D / / A / / Bm / / G

D / / A / / D

Then the bridge is basically:

G / / D / / G / / D / / G / / D / / A / / D

Then the last part (second bridge?) I didn’t fully get but certainly heard A in there.

Is this the right tune?

If you need, I could probably do a fuller tab with first stanza. Let me know.

That’s not the song. The correct one is a country ballad. I can’t find it on YouTube.

Try a Bob Dylan song, like one of his early songs, dead easy to play, (and sing).

+1. Nothing to add, other than truly give it your best shot and practice. If you have talent, practice will burnish it. If you don’t, your effort will shine and win the day. Tons of luck and let us know how it goes.

I’d say your best bet is to try and figure out the basic chords to it. I don’t know that song particularly, but unless it has complex guitar parts that absolutely have to happen to make the song work, you can definitely get away with just learning the basics of how it goes.

One suggestion - with guitar in hand, listen to the tune. Try playing notes along with it (mostly on the low string). Eventually, you will find notes that sound right when played with the music. Chances are, the notes that sound best are the root notes to the chords being played (not always, but in enough situations that it is worth exploring). Then, try letting the song play again, but follow along with the chords you think may be right. You’ll probably hear right away whether your guesses were right or wrong. If you keep experimenting, I am pretty confident that you can pick it up, given time.

But really, here’s the important thing to remember. The gesture you are making is awesome. You found a song that speaks to your wife, and you are attempting to play it for her. Therefore, whether you have it down perfectly or not, you are a badass just for the effort involved. In fact, if there are imperfections when you play it for her, but you boldly soldier on anyway, that almost makes you even more of a badass. I’m sure she will love it.

So, I just talked with a friend who has actually arranged this song for a wedding before, so he knows it inside and out. It helps that he is an amazing guitarist and incredibly patient, which will come in REALLY handy.

I start work tonight.

Wish me luck!

If you’re lucky and it’s all major chords, you can tune the guitar to a major and just barre.

That’s a really lucky break. Having someone who can teach you the song is 100x easier

Discarding the mandolin and other flourishes, the song sounds like your basic open chord country ballad for the most part. So you’re picking a song that should be reasonably straight forward for a beginner.

I once taught a friend how to play some guitar, and he was doing pretty well after three months. He had hands the size of a 10 year old. If you have any musical ability at all, you should do at least as well. :slight_smile:

My recommendation would be some guitar lessons. Most of the guys that teach around here would have no problem with this request. They’d figure out the song, figure out the best/easiest way for you to play it, and teach it to you.

On preview: I see you’ve found a friend to do this for you. Even better, it’s FREE!


Free my Aunt fanny. I’ll be paying in Guinness! Although, I’ll be drinking it as well, so its a wash!

Damn. When I was teaching, I would have been pretty happy to have my students make their payment in the form of Guiness. Of course, I did take their cash and turn a substantial portion of it into Guiness later… but still…

May I suggest a substitute? “When You Say Nothing At All”. Easy to play, only 3 chords, and a beautiful song that will tug at her heartstrings.

Here’s Alison Krauss singing it

Here’s a pretty young lady teaching you how to play it.