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You Are My Sunshine

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Today we'll be learning a traditional song, "You Are My Sunshine". Originally recorded in the late 1930's, it has been covered by countless singers and is familiar to virtually every one. It is a simple tune, with the same chords supporting both the verse and the chorus. Today we're looking at an old school version featuring the great Johnny Cash.

Using only 3 chords, we'll place our capo on the 2nd fret and start with a very easy strum often found in traditional music, which I call "the boom chuck". Boom is for bass and chuck is for a down strum on the treble strings! You'll also hear this technique called "the boom chick" and the "pluck and chuck"

We'll get started by learning the simple chord structure and the basic strum. If you're a beginner, this will be enough information to play the whole song. Then we'll be taking the basic version up a notch and learn to weave the melody in while keeping the rhythmic pulse going at the same time. We'll take this in easy, 2 bar phrases and build our part paying close attention to timing and proper execution. This ends up being a cool combination of finger picking and strumming. Definitely a bit more advanced, but lots of fun.

Once we've learned the fancier parts, we need to keep in mind that we have 2 jobs as the guitar player for this song. The song starts with our "solo" version, then when the vocal enters, we become part of the band as a rhythm guitar player. Dynamics are important here, we want to be graceful in our execution of both roles: leaning forward a bit with our solo intro (which repeats later in the song) and then leaning back and playing with the bass and drums to support the vocal. With practice this becomes seamless!

The overall song form is:

Intro
Verse
Chorus
Solo (like intro)
Verse
Chorus (w/ritardando at the end)

"You Are My Sunshine" is in the key of A major, in 4/4 time and played at 79 BPM cut-time, making it effectively 158 BPM.