Nothing Compares 2 U

by Chris Cornell • Lesson #339 • Dec 12, 2020

Video lesson

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Editor’s notes

Hey friends! In this guitar lesson I’ll teach you how to play Nothing Compares 2 U, as played in the acoustic style of Chris Cornell (from his 2015 cover he did for Sirius XM). You may know this song from Prince’s 1985 version, or the mega-hit by Sinead O’Connor from 1990. My lesson will show you the chord shapes, explain the progressions, demonstrate the strumming patterns, and finally show you the intro riff (tab included). I’ll also do a full playthrough at the end, so you can see how it sounds when all put together. I hope you enjoy!

Video timestamps:

  • 0:00 Preview & lesson summary
  • 2:19 Chord shapes needed
  • 4:20 Chord progressions w/ basic strum
  • 10:40 Intermediate & adv. strum patterns
  • 15:47 Intro riff, with tab
  • 20:43 Full playthrough w/ lyrics

Lyrics with chords

  | C | G/B | Am | C G |   x2 [see PDF for tab]

  C                            G/B
  ...It's been seven hours and fifteen days
  Am                                C    Csus4 C G
  ...Since you took your love away
  C                         G/B
  ...I go out all night and sleep all day
  Am                                C    Csus4 C G
  ...Since you took your love away

  C                                   G/B
  ...Since you been gone I can do whatever I want
  Am                                C    Csus4 C G
  ...I can see whoever I choose
  C                                 G/B
  ...I can eat my dinner in a fancy restaurant
      Am                           E
  But nothing... nothing can take away these blues

             Bb         F       Bb            F        G
      'Cause nothing compares..... nothing compares....... to you...

  C                          G/B
  ...It's been so lonely without you here
  Am                                C    Csus4 C G
  ...Like a bird without a song
  C                                G/B
  ...Nothing can stop these lonely tears from falling
           Am                 F
  Tell me..... where did I go wrong

  C                                  G/B
  ...I could put my arms around any girl I choose
  Am                                    C    Csus4 C G
  ...But it'd just remind me of you
  C                                         G/B
  ...I went to the doctor and guess what he told me (guess what he told me)
           Am                                        E
  He said, boy you better try to have fun, no matter what you do, but he's a fool

             Bb         F       Am            G        G
      'Cause nothing compares..... nothing compares....... to you...

      | C    | G/B  | Am | C G |
      | C    | G/B  | Am | E   |
      | Bb F | Am G | Em | G   |

  C                                     G/B
  All the flowers that you planted mama..... in your back yard
  Am                              C    Csus4 C G
  ...All died when you went away
  C                                       G/B
  ...I know that living with you baby was sometimes hard
  Am                                     E
  ....But I'm willing to give it another try----

             Bb         F       Am            G        G
      'Cause nothing compares..... nothing compares....... to you...
             Bb         F       Am            G        G
      'Cause nothing compares..... nothing compares....... to you...
      Em           G (let final chord ring) you....

Chord progressions

[ See PDF for diagram ]

Chord shapes

Here’s the tab format for all the chords needed. For the B-flat you can either do x1333x or alternatively go up to the 6th fret and play 688766 (which I find easier, a lot of the time).

e ––0––––0––––3––––0––––3––––0––––0–––  ––x––––6––  ––x–––1––
B ––1––––1––––0––––1––––0––––0––––0–––  ––3––––6––  ––1–––1––
G ––0––––0––––0––––2––––0––––1––––0–––  ––3––––7––  ––2–––2––
D ––2––––3––––0––––2––––0––––2––––2–––  ––3––––8––  ––3–––3––
A ––3––––3––––2––––0––––2––––2––––2–––  ––1––––8––  ––3–––3––
E ––––––––––––––––––––––3––––0––––0–––  –––––––6––  ––x–––1––
    C  Csus4 G/B   Am   G    E    Em      Bb   Bb     F   F

Strumming patterns

Here’s the two patterns I recommend learning. The first is this basic pattern, which you can use as a baseline pattern during the verses when singing. It’s okay if you occasionally fancy this up, of course – but this is a good foundation. Remember, 62 beats per minute for the quarter notes.

1 e + a 2 e + a 3 e + a 4 e + a
D       d   d u D       d   d u      "DOWN... down, down-up-DOWN... down, down-up"  (etc)

The fancier strum, which you hear in the first 3 measures of the intro sequence, is as follows. You can also use this during the verse, but don’t let this overpower (or distract you from) your singing.

1 e + a 2 e + a 3 e + a 4 e + a
D       d   d u   u d     u d u      "DOWN... down, down-up, up-down... up-down-up" (etc)

Intro riff

Simple version

When learning the intro sequence, I recommend starting out with this simple approach where you’re not too worried about exact details of rhythm just yet. Big picture, you’ll want to get used to the following sequence – and it’s really the Csus4 chord (in the first and fourth measure) which give the distinction to things here.

[ See PDF for diagram ]

Full version

Once you have the basic feel of this down (and start to get comfortable w/ the physical switch to & from the Csus4), you can bring in the full strumming. The first three measures will use the “main” strumming pattern, while measure #4 will slightly change things given the chord change that happens (from C to G) midway through the measure. I play it as follows, which I’m pretty sure is how Cornell plays it in the opening of his cover:

[ See PDF for diagram ]

Notable versions of this song

Prince (1985 original version):

Sinead O’Connor (1990 hit version):

Jon Pardi (country power ballad version):

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