Can't Help Falling in Love

by Elvis Presley • Lesson #349 • Jan 30, 2021

Video lesson

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Editor’s notes

Hey friends! Here’s a guitar lesson teaching you how to play the Elvis classic “Can’t Help Falling in Love,” from his 1961 album (and film) Blue Hawaii. This lesson is focused around a beginner-friendly, strummed version of the song – aimed to make things as approachable as possible. I’ll be using no capo in my video lesson, just to ensure those of you without capos can play along – but note you’ll need to add a capo on 2nd fret (and use the chords I show) to play along with Elvis’ album version. I’ll also explain simple ways to play some of the more tricky chords (F and B7), and likewise show you a handful of strumming patterns – some of which are great if strumming gives you trouble. Thanks to all of you who requested this classic song… I hope you enjoy!

Video timestamps:

  • 0:00 Preview & lesson summary
  • 2:17 Chord shapes needed
  • 4:35 Chord progressions
  • 8:03 Strumming patterns
  • 14:24 Full playthrough

Capo 2nd fret

To play along with the Elvis version, add a capo on the 2nd fret and use the chords I show here. Without a capo, you’ll need to play in the key of D to play along with Elvis. You can still use the chords I show with no capo, but note you’ll be out of tune with the Elvis version.

Chord shapes

Here’s the chord shapes needed. Note, if the F and/or B7 chords are giving you trouble – you don’t need to play any of the notes that are in parentheses. For example, the simplest way to play F chord is by only pushing down on the 4th, 3rd, and 2nd strings as shown below. Likewise, for the B7, you can only worry about playing the middle four strings.

e –––0–––0––––0––––3–––(1)––(2)–––0––––1–––
B –––1–––0––––1––––0––––1––––0––––2––––3–––
G –––0–––0––––2––––0––––2––––2––––0––––2–––
D –––2–––2––––2––––0––––3––––1––––2––––0–––
A –––3–––2––––0––––2–––(3)–––2––––0––––––––
E –––––––0–––––––––3–––(1)–––––––––––––––––
     C   Em   Am   G    F    B7   A7   Dm

Chord progressions

Here’s the measure-by-measure progressions used for the entire song, which has a verse and bridge section. The diagram below is broken into measures, each of which has 6 full beats.

Verse:

"Wise men say..."
| C       | Em      | Am      | Am      |
| F       | C       | G       | G       |

"But I can't help..."
| F       | G       | Am      | F       |
| C       | G       | C       | C       |

Bridge:

"Like a river flows..."
| Em      | B7      | Em      | B7      |
| Em      | B7      |

"Some things are meant to be..."
| Em      | A7      | Dm      | G       |

Strumming and rhythm

This song has 6 counts per measure. If you set your metronome to 100 bpm, this means one “click” per every 3 counts. In other words, the “1” and “4” counts would happen on the metronome beats. Visualized, this looks like this:

[ See PDF for diagram ]

To strum the song, the most beginner-friendly way to start is doing a down-strum only on the “1” count of each measure.

[ See PDF for diagram ]

From there, you can dial it up a bit by adding another down-strum on the “4” count. That is, do a down-strum on the “1” and “4” counts:

[ See PDF for diagram ]

To continue dialing it up, you can add even more down-strums… but make these a bit lighter, so that the “1” and “4” remain the strongest strums.

[ See PDF for diagram ]

Finally, you can add some up-strums if you wish – but again, keep these light! It’s okay if you’re only brushing the thinnest few strings when you up-strum.

[ See PDF for diagram ]

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