by John Prine • Lesson #353 • Feb 28, 2021

Video lesson

Print-Friendly Song Sheet 3 pages

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Editor’s notes

Hey friends! Today we’re looking at Souvenirs by John Prine, a song so many of you have written in & requested over the past few months. This is a song that’s brand new to me – and in this video I’m going to show my real-time process of transcribing the 16-measure intro fingerpicking sequence. Specifically, I’ll show how I:

  • Figured out what key the song is in (1:17)
  • Figured out the chord progression & rhythm (5:16)
  • Figured out the alternating bass notes (15:07)
  • Figured out the melody notes (29:39)

To clarify, this is not a “lesson” like most of my other videos… because I haven’t fully learned this song yet! It’ll honestly take me a few weeks of practice to get it fully learned (and I can record a proper lesson then). But again, I captured this first hour of learning it (i.e. writing up the tabs) and wanted to share this with you, in case helpful. If you aren’t interested in the transcribing process and only want the PDF chord sheet, you’re in luck! I’ve made that and it’s available via the link just above.

One final note, this transcription is based off the version from John Prine’s 2000 album “Souvenirs” - where he performed many of his older hits. I learned this version because it only has one guitar, which makes it easier to hear the notes being played. This song was originally written & released in 1972.

Some of my other John Prine lessons

If you’re interested in more John Prine, you’re in luck – I have a few of his other songs learned! There are so, so, so many more I want to learn & add to this list, but for now I hope these are helpful.

Lyrics with chords

Capo 2

    D   G   G   A7
    A7  D   D   D    (play twice, see my PDF for the tab)

    D (let ring)                   G       G
    ....All the snow has turned to water
	  A7            A7                 D       D
    ....Christmas days have come and gone
    D          D              G       G   
    ....Broken toys and faded colors
    A7                A7             D       D
    ...Are all that's left to linger on

    D         D                  G           G
    ...I hate graveyards and old pawn shops
    A7          A7              D       D
    ...For they always bring me tears
    D             D                 G           G
    ...I can't forgive the way they robbed me
    A7       A7              D      D     D (walk down)
    ...Of my childhood souvenirs

        A7      A7                 D         D
        ...Memories, they can't be boughten...
             A7              A7            D     D
        They can't be won at carnivals for free
        A7                  A7       D              D       
        ...Well, it took me years to get those souvenirs
              G                   G                 A7     A7 (walk up)
        And I don't know how they slipped away from me

    [ intro riff x2 ]

    D (let ring)               G       G  A7           A7           D    D
    ...Broken hearts and dirty windows...... make life difficult to see
    D             D                   G       G  A7        A7               D    D
    ...That's why last night and this morning...... always look the same to me
    D             D                G       G  A7          A7              D     D
    ...And I hate reading old love letters...... for they always bring me tears
    D             D                 G         G  A7       A7                D    D   D (walk down)
    ...I can't forgive the way they robbed me...... of my sweetheart's souvenirs

        A7      A7                 D         D
        ...Memories, they can't be boughten...
             A7              A7            D     D
        They can't be won at carnivals for free
        A7                  A7       D              D       
        ...Well, it took me years to get those souvenirs
              G                   G                 A7     A7 (walk up)
        And I don't know how they slipped away from me

		[ intro riff x1, end on D ]

Intro tab

See my PDF for the full intro tab.

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