Songnotes

the hand-crafted music library of @davidpots

 

follow Songnotes:

American Girl

Tom Petty

from the album Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers released in 1977

jump to: lyrics / notes & tabs / chord progressions / song info

Lyrics

Intro

D (see below for riff/tab)

Verse

D A Well, she was an American girl G A ...Raised on promises She couldn't help thinking that there Was a little more to life, somewhere else

Pre-Chorus

(A) D G After all it was a great big world Em With lots of places to run to A Yeah, and if she had to die... trying she (A) Had one little promise she was gonna keep

Chorus

G A ...Oh yeah... alright D Bm ...Take it easy baby... make it last all night G A D (with intro riff) ...She was... an American girl Well, it was kinda cold that night She was standing alone on her balcony Yeah, she could hear the cars roll by Out on 441, like waves crashin' on the beach And for one desperate moment there He crept back in her memory God, it's so painful, something that's so close Is still so far out of reach Oh yeah, alright Take it easy baby, make it last all night She was... an American girl

Breakdown

G . . . A . D . (see below for tab) G . . . A . D . G . . . A . D . G . . . A . . . → D

Outro

(intro riff → verse chords with jam)

Notes & Tabs

Chords Used

Here are the basic chords you'll need to play this song.

e-|---2----0----3----0----2----
B-|---3----0----0----2----3----
G-|---2----1----0----2----4----
D-|---0----2----0----2----4----
A-|--------2----2----0----2----
E-|--------0----3--------------
      D    A    G    A    Bm 

Intro Riff / Chord

Here is how you play the distinctive D chord heard in the intro (and in between many of the verses). The trick here is to mute the B string with your index finger (which should be used to play the 7th fret on the G string).

e-|---10----   <--- pinky
B-|----x----   <--- muted with index finger
G-|----7----   <--- index finger
D-|----0----
A-|---------        Listen along for the strumming pattern.
E-|---------
       D 

If you want to simulate the bassline of the recorded version while playing this riff, try playing it like this. This is by no means required / essential, but can help emulate the buildup that occurs when the full band plays it. The trick is to emphasize/voice the string containing the bass note for each chord. Again, listen along for the strumming pattern.

e-|---10----     ---10----     ---10----     ---10----
B-|----x----     ----x----     ----8----     ---10----
G-|----7----     ----9----     ----7----     ----7----
D-|----0----  →  ----0----  →  ----0----  →  ----0----
A-|---------     ---------     ---------     ---------
E-|---------     ---------     ---------     ---------
       D            D/E           D/G           D/A 

Breakdown Riff

The riff for breakdown section near the end can be shown below. Note, you could technically play the chords for this section in place of the riff. After the final A in the breakdown, you continue to the D-riff as played into the intro.

e-|---------------------|--------------------------------|-
B-|---------------------|--------------------------------|-
G-|---------------------|------------------------5-6-7---|-
D-|---------------x-x---|--------------------------------|-   x3
A-|---------------x-x---|------------------5-------------|-
E-|---3---3---3---x-x---|--3-4-5---5---5-----------------|-
      G                        A           D 
      
 -|---------------------|--------------------------------||
 -|---------------------|--------------------------------||
 -|---------------------|--------------------------------||
 -|---------------x-x---|------------------x-x-----------||   x1
 -|---------------x-x---|------------------x-x-----------||
 -|---3---3---3---x-x---|--3-4-5---5---5---x-x-----------||
      G                        A 

Chord Progressions

Verse

"Well, she was an American girl..."
| D . . . | A . . . | G . . . | A . . . | (repeat)

Pre-Chorus

"After all it was a great big world..."
| D . . . | G . . . | Em . . . | A . . . |
| A . . . | . . . . |  . . . . |

Chorus

"Oh yeah, alright, take it easy baby..."
| G . . . | A . . . | D . . . | Bm . . . |
| G . . . | A . . . | D . . . | D  . . . |

Breakdown

The tab/riff for this section is shown above
| G . . . | A . D . |
| G . . . | A . D . |
| G . . . | A . D . |
| G . . . | A . . . | → D 

Song Info

Song: American Girl
Artist: Tom Petty
Album: Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
Year: 1977
Label: Shelter

Tip Jar

Want to support Songnotes? If you would like to donate a dollar or few, that would make my day. I've spent over 1000+ hours building this site and transcribing these songs -- and happily make everything available freely. Visit my PayPal page if you'd like to toss something back my way.

Donate via PayPal

Thanks so much!

Video Lessons

Here are some of the video lessons I have made recently. I typically aim to create 3-4 lessons per month. Subscribe on YouTube to be sure you never miss a new lesson.



View my notes & tabs for Issues →

View my notes & tabs for 2U →

View my notes & tabs for Uh Huh →

View my notes & tabs for Meet Me in the Hallway →

View my notes & tabs for Stairway to Heaven →

View my notes & tabs for Wish You Were Here →

View my notes & tabs for Shape of You →

View my notes & tabs for Simple Man →

View my notes & tabs for Highwayman →

View my notes & tabs for Audition (The Fools Who Dream) →

View my notes & tabs for Strangers →

View my notes & tabs for A Lovely Night →

View my notes & tabs for this song →

Browse All Songs

Here's a list of the 173 songs I've added to the site since December 2012. Each song was added by me personally.

Songs are grouped by the year they were released.

2014
2013
2012
2011
2010
2009
2008
2006
2005
2004
2003
2002
2001
2000
1999
1998
1997
1996
1995
1994
1993
1992
1991
1990
1989
1988
1985
1984
1983
1982
1981
1980
1977
1975
1974
1972
1971
1970
1969
1968
1967
1965
1964
1961
1960
1958
1957

About

My name is David Potsiadlo, and I created Songnotes to share my collection of guitar tabs, chords, and lyrics for my favorite songs.

Since I started playing guitar over 10 years ago, I've often been frustrated by the preponderance of mediocre and incomplete song tabs littered across the internet. To combat this, I started keeping my own collection of notes for each song I learn -- always taking the extra time to make sure accuracy and completeness are never compromised. Years later, my collection grew to the point where I knew I had to share it online with fellow aspiring musicians.

In December 2012, I began designing & developing a website that became Songnotes. Here, I share my personal collection of hand-crafted music notation with all those online. I hope you enjoy.

You can also view my personal website or follow me on Twitter / Dribbble / GitHub / LinkedIn.