LA Freeway

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

Video lesson

Print-Friendly 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 March 2024 code at Musicnotes checkout: H39W333H8J (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 211 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!


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

  • 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.

  • February 16, 2024

    Soulful Lead Guitar with "America the Beautiful"

    Here's a few ways to approach playing melodic lead guitar over America is Beautiful - shown both on an acoustic and electric guitar. Lots of fun!

  • February 8, 2024

    Country Honk by The Rolling Stones

    Let's learn how to play The Stones' acoustic & countrified version of Honky Tonk Women — with all the riffs included!

  • January 31, 2024

    Beginner Blues - New Course Sneak Peek!

    Watch the first three videos of my upcoming course, Beginner Blues Guitar — where I'll teach youthe 12 bar blues, dominant 7th chords, and the shuffle (swing) rhythm.

  • January 23, 2024

    Strumming with Accented Notes

    A deep-dive into this must-know intermediate strumming technique, with step-by-step exercises to get up to speed! Featuring the Green Day song Time of Your Life.

  • January 13, 2024

    Lead Guitar Finger Placement – ft. La Sitiera (The Mavericks)

    Ever find yourself learning a riff, and not being sure which fingers to use? I'll give you a few tips in this video that'll help, no matter what you're playing!

  • January 9, 2024

    Hybrid Fingerstyle - First Steps!

    Let's look at combining percussive strumming with Travis-style fingerpicking melodies. I'll show 4-5 exercises & song examples to get you started.

  • January 6, 2024

    Streets of London by Ralph McTell

    Learn how to fingerpick Ralph McTell's 1969 folk classic! I also show you how to strum it, should you want something a bit easier.

  • December 23, 2023

    Silent Night

    Learn to fingerpick & strum this holiday classic! I'll teach you how to combine the chords with the melody, as well as play it with straightforward strumming in case you want to sing it loud.

  • December 22, 2023

    Joy to the World

    Here's a few ways to combine the melody with chord shapes! Whether played fingerstyle or with a pick, this one is easy to learn and makes for great fun. Sing & normal strumming version included.

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