LA Freeway

by Guy Clark • Lesson #101 • Sep 28, 2017

Video lesson

Licensed Song Sheet 5 pages

Follow along with my print-friendly guide for this song! It’s available for purchase at, the web’s leading provider of licensed sheet music.

On the fence? Here's a guide I made showing the purchase & print process, including answers to common questions about my song sheets.

Buy at

Save 50% on this song sheet by applying the May 2024 code at Musicnotes checkout: C8A65MHA25 (click to copy). Thanks for being a Premium supporter!

Song Notes Premium includes a 50% discount code you can use when buying any of my licensed song sheets. For the current month's code, upgrade to premium or log in.

Editor’s notes

In this lesson, I’ll teach you how to play “LA Freeway” by Guy Clark. In this lesson, I focus primarily on the fingerpicking riff heard in the intro and verse of the song. I’ll explain the chord shapes needed and show you how to practice this song, step by step, to be able to play it fully. I hope this is helpful!

Video timestamps:

  • 0:00 Playthrough & greeting
  • 1:53 capo 2nd fret
  • 2:06 Simple strum-along version
  • 2:35 Riff overview
  • 5:37 Riff, step 1 (chords only)
  • 6:12 Riff, step 2 (melody notes)
  • 10:35 Riff, step 3 (bass notes)
  • 11:39 Riff, step 4 (filler notes)
  • 12:17 Some practice advice

Capo 2nd fret

To play along with Guy Clark (and my video lesson), you’ll need a capo on the 2nd fret.

Chord progressions

From a high level, the song looks like this. Three chords are all you’ll need – assuming we suppose that D, D7, and D7/F# are all the same thing. If you want a strum-along version, use these progressions and you’re good to go.


    G . . . G . . . C  . . . C  . . .
    G . . . G . . . D7 . . . D7 . . .


    G . . . D7 . . .


    C . . . D . . . G . . . C . . .
    G . . . G . . . D . . . D . . .

Chord shapes (simple)

If you want easy, simple-as-possible versions of the chords, use these shapes. These will let you strum along with the song without any problem. Note, I’ll cover the more advanced chord voicings (used for the riff further down on this page).

E –––3–––0–––2–––2––––
B –––3–––1–––3–––1––––
G –––0–––0–––2–––2––––
D –––0–––2–––0–––0––––
A –––2–––3––––––––––––
E –––3––––––––––––––––
     G   C   D   D7  

Chord shapes used in the riff

If you want play any semblance of the riff heard in the intro and verse, you’ll want to play these chords as follows. The reason why: so your hands are in the appropriate position to play the melodic notes you will need to add as per the riff. See my video lesson for reference.

E ––––––––
B –––3––––   <-- left pinky finger
G –––0––––
D –––0––––
A –––2––––   <-- left middle finger
E –––3––––   <-- left ring finger

E –––3––––   <-- left pinky finger
B –––1––––   <-- left index finger
G –––0––––
D –––2––––   <-- left middle finger
A –––3––––   <-- left ring finger
E ––––––––

E ––––––––  
B –––1––––   <-- left index finger
G –––2––––   <-- left ring finger
D –––0––––
A –––0––––
E –––2––––   <-- left middle finger

Learning the intro & verse riff

1. Understand the structure

First, understand the timing of things. You’ll be on each chord for two measures (i.e., 8 counts). Understand that the following is the core structure – or “skeleton”, if you will – of this riff. All the flourish we’ll add later is the muscle and skin, etc. Such a weird metaphor, but hey.

E ||–––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––|––3––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––|–
B ||––3––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––|––1––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––|–
G ||––0––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––|––0––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––|–
D ||––0––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––|––2––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––|–
A ||––2––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––|––3––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––|–
E ||––3––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––|–––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––|–
      G                                   C
      1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 +     1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 +

E -|–––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––|–––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––||
B -|––3––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––|––1––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––||
G -|––0––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––|––2––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––||
D -|––0––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––|––0––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––||
A -|––2––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––|––0––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––||
E -|––3––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––|––2––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––||
      G                                   D7/F#
      1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 +     1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 +

2. Add the melody notes

Using the chord shapes above as a starting point, next work on the main melody notes. Keep your left hand in the chord-shape positions. See my video for reference here.

See my sheet music for the tab.

3. Add the repeating bass note of each chord

If you want to get extra fancy, can you alternate the bass note for each chord (e.g., jump from the 6th string to 5 string, repeating over and over… this is tough but sounds great).

See my sheet music for the tab.

4. Add filler notes

Finally, insert additional filler notes where you can, if you wish. Basically, the idea is to always be playing something – to create a nice and full sound.

See my sheet music for the tab.

Unlock My Secret Stash!

Gain instant access to my library of 225 print-friendly cheat sheets! Also includes my extended video lessons, jam tracks, courses, and more.

Join Song Notes Premium

Have questions? Watch video tour »

Browse Related Lessons

Click any tag below to view other lessons I've made in that category:

Enjoy my lessons? Buy me a beer!

If this and my other lessons have proven helpful to you, please consider making a one-time donation to my tip jar. Contributions of any amount help make this project possible (including the many, many hours I put into it).

Fun & Helpful Tools I've Made

Fret Monster

Interactive fretboard map! See the patterns behind every scale in any key.


Capo Captain

An easy way to calculate key & chord combinations, for any capo location!


Key Master

See and hear the notes, chords, scales used in each of the most common keys.


Blank Tabs

Free PDF templates to download, print, and write out your own guitar tabs!


Subscribe to my YouTube channel

Be sure to never miss a lesson by subscribing on YouTube. I put out 2-3 new videos every week. These include full song lessons, as well as covers, practice tips, behind-the-scenes updates. Thanks!

Recent Lessons

  • May 10, 2024

    "Wichita Lineman" by Glen Campbell

    Let's dive into Glen Campbell's all-time classic from 1968, originally written by Jimmy Webb. I teach this with capo 5th fret, using easier-to-manage Key of C chords.

  • May 1, 2024

    Tour of My New "KeyMaster" Web Tool

    My new interactive web tool lets you see and hear the notes, chords, and common progressions in all of the most common keys. Super helpful!

  • April 24, 2024

    13 Must-Know Riffs with Droning Strings

    A handy roundup of all the songs I've taught that use droning strings... with a quick breakdown of each riff!

  • April 18, 2024

    "Moonshadow" by Cat Stevens

    Learn how to play Cat Stevens' 1971 classic! I include campfire-friendly chords and strumming, and a step-by-step breakdown of the intro fingerstyle riff.

  • April 12, 2024

    Playing Songs "Correctly" vs. When to Cut Corners

    When learning songs, are we allowed to simplify things? Do we always need to play things exactly as they're recorded? Here's some quick thoughts!

  • April 9, 2024

    Chords & Music Theory... 9 New Lessons!

    A roundup of a batch of new chord-related video lessons & PDF cheat sheets I just added to my library! Lots of good stuff here, be sure not to miss 'em.

  • March 30, 2024

    Gordon Lightfoot's "Carefree Highway"

    Learn how to play Lightfoot's 1975 classic, with plenty of tips to help simplify some of the quicker chord changes.

  • March 22, 2024

    Lead Guitar & the F1 Theme Song

    Let's look at the catchy Formula 1 theme song and learn how to play it on lead guitar...including handy trick for dealing with the key change.

  • March 15, 2023

    Pink Floyd's "Breathe" - with Simpler Chords Included

    Learn to play through Pink Floyd's 1973 classic! I'll teach the chords they use, while also showing a handful of useful simplifications and riffs to make this work on a single acoustic guitar.

  • March 6, 2024

    Q&A: 8 Tips to Avoid Muting Strings

    If you're frustrated by muffled, muted, or buzzing strings when playing chords, you're not alone! Here's 8 tips to avoid this common issue.

  • March 1, 2024

    Blues Shuffle Riffs - Using Just 2 Strings!

    A step-by-step introduction to blues shuffle riffs in open position, which are an amazingly fun-to-play way to get that blues sound with just a few fingers.

Browse All Recent Lessons →

Browse All My Lessons

By lesson type

By technique

By musical genre

By decade

By musical key

By popular artist

← back to homepage