by Ricky Nelson • Lesson #38 • Jan 7, 2017
This video is an acoustic guitar lesson for the song Lonesome Town by Ricky Nelson. I’ll show you how to play it in standard tuning, using a fingerpicking approach. This lesson includes a playthrough, explanation of how to play each chord, overview of the chord progressions needed, fingerpicking basics – I cover it all! Including the difference between a shuffle vs. straight rhythm. I created this tutorial for Song Notes, which is my personal music lesson web project (video and text-based lessons).
Free Video Lesson
- 0:00 Preview
- 2:23 About this lesson
- 3:46 How to play the chords
- 5:42 Fingerpicking basics
- 7:11 Using your thumb on the F
- 9:56 Shuffle rhythm basics
Print-Friendly Song Sheet 4 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 December 2022 code at Musicnotes checkout: K2LN3PKDTR (click to copy). Thanks for being a Premium supporter!
A Nod to the Original Songwriter
Finally, I should note that this song was written by Baker Knight and not Ricky Nelson. For more info about the song, refer to its page on Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lonesome_Town
Jack Rabbit Slims in Pulp Fiction
Just for some cultural and cinematic flavor, here is the famous Jack Rabbit Slims tracking shot from Quentin Tarantino’s film Pulp Fiction – where an in-costume Ricky Nelson is playing live music as the main characters walk through the restaurant. In the film, Lonesome Town is played immediately after this sequence.
And here is the Jack Rabbit Slims dining scene in which Lonesome Town can be heard in the background.
Ricky Nelson Solo Version
Here is a nice video of Ricky playing this song with just him and his guitar (no backup). You can’t quite see the guitar (to help with fingering, strumming pattern, etc) – but it is helpful nonetheless. Note that he plays this with a guitar tuned down one-half step. Also note that he may steal your girlfriend.
Recommended Cover Version
To get a good and clear look at someone skillfully playing this on guitar, I recommend this video by Mike Sinatra. Very well-played and well-shot acoustic performance, without any crazy changing cameras. Note, to play along with him you’ll need to use a capo on the 3rd fret in standard tuning (which would be a capo 4th fret if tuned down one-half step).
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