Keep 'Em on They Toes
by Brent Cobb • Lesson #355 • Mar 13, 2021
Print-Friendly Song Sheet 2 pages
Follow along with my print-friendly guide for this song! It’s available for purchase at Musicnotes.com, 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 Musicnotes.com
Save 50% on this song sheet by applying the March 2023 code at Musicnotes checkout: FXSDV8DUHV (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.
Hey friends! Today we’re looking at “Keep ‘Em on They Toes” by Brent Cobb, one of my absolute favorite new songs from 2020. If you haven’t heard this one, give it a listen – the combination of the witty lyrics, Cobb’s vocal style, and easy-going (yet nuanced) guitar part make it a blast to play. While normally played in the key of E (no capo, E - B7 - C#m - A), I’ll be focusing on a key of C version (capo 4, C - G - Am - F)… which enables you to play the distinctive flourish notes while strumming.
Here’s timestamps for my video lesson:
- 0:00 Preview & lesson summary
- 2:54 Capo and chords needed
- 5:00 Verse & chorus progressions
- 6:54 Strumming patterns
- 11:39 Flourish riff on each chord
- 17:00 Full playthrough w/ lyrics
If you haven’t heard this song before, give it a quick listen – I’m confident the opening verse will get its hooks in.
Lyrics and chords
Capo 4th fret using the chords below. Or play on capo, key of E (see below for more details).
See my sheet music for the lyrics with chords.
Capo 4 (key of C) or no capo (key of E)?
From watching a solo acoustic live video, Brent Cobb plays this song in the key of E, without a capo (using the chords E / B7 / C#m / A). However, I like playing it capo 4 – which lets you use key of C chords (C / G / Am/ F), and more importantly lets you play those flourish notes you hear in Cobb’s album version. It’s up to you how to approach it… but I’m teaching it capo 4 because that’s how I like to play it.
Here’s how to play the chords, for both the capo 4 version as well as the no capo version. For the F chord, you don’t need to do a full 6-string F… I often play just the middle four strings (for the chorus), or the thinnest four strings (for the verse).
No capo: Capo 4th fret: e –––0––––2––––4––––0––– e –––0––––3––––0––––1––– B –––0––––0––––5––––2––– B –––1––––0––––1––––1––– G –––1––––2––––6––––2––– G –––0––––0––––2––––2––– D –––2––––1––––6––––2––– D –––2––––0––––2––––3––– A –––2––––2––––4––––0––– A –––3––––2––––0––––3––– E –––0–––––––––––––––––– E ––––––––3–––––––––1––– E B7 C#m A C G Am F
A few options here… I think the main idea is to keep it a bit chill, casual, and low-key. Here’s two patterns: the first of which I use during the verse & the end of the chorus, while the other (a bit more bouncy) I use during the up-beat part of the chorus.
See PDF for strumming diagrams.
Adding the flourish notes during the verse
Here’s some tabs to help you play the distinctive flourish notes you hear during the verse. Two big ideas to keep in mind here. (1) These notes happen every OTHER measure, meaning after you play them – you return to a measure of normal strumming. In my chart, I use an asterisk to denote a measure played with flourish. (2) You can actually keep your D-DU-UDU strum going through both these measures… and play the flourish notes on the “U” up-strum notes of that pattern. Just make sure you keep the strum low-key & chill, only playing some of the strings (don’t overdo it). See my video lesson for reference.
See PDF for full tabs.
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).
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!
March 27, 2023
Beginner Lead Guitar with the Star Spangled Banner
March 19, 2023
Brown Eyed Girl
March 14, 2023
Major Scales in Open Position
March 10, 2023
Tips for Strumming & Singing at the Same Time
March 7, 2023
Interstate Love Song
March 2, 2023
New Course: Beginner Chord Guide!
February 24, 2023
How to Fingerpick in 3/4 Time (feat. "Amazing Grace" & John Prine)
February 13, 2023
Adam Sandler's "Grow Old With You," Without Barre Chords
Browse my all lessons
By lesson type
- Strumming & Rhythm
- Walk-Ups & Walk-Downs
- Learning Barre Chords
- Travis Picking
- Learning Chords
By musical genre
By musical key
By popular artist
- Johnny Cash
- Tyler Childers
- Tom Petty
- Neil Young
- Chris Stapleton
- Willie Nelson
- Guy Clark
- John Prine