In this lesson, I am going to show you how to play “I Will Follow You Into The Dark” by Death Cab For Cutie.
If you already know how to play the most commonly used open position chords and can strum in time well….and you just want the chord chart with the lyrics, then click here.
Is your chord vocabulary not super strong yet or do you have trouble strumming and changing chords?
Then let me walk you through, step-by-step, through the chords and strumming for I Will Follow You Into The Dark.
If you want to get to the level where it takes minutes and not days/weeks/months to learn songs then, the name of the game is to “remove layers of restriction.”
We do this by breaking down songs into all of the areas where we have to devote brain power and then we practice to remove the “layer of restriction”…so that you are free to just play the song and not have to think about things like technique.
I’m going to break down this song like so:
-I will show you what chords are used in the song
-I will show you how to break down the song into sections to make memorizing the whole thing easier.
-I will show you how to isolate problem chord changes and how to practice them
-I will show you how to “place” the chords in time with the song
-I will show you the strumming pattern to the song & put the whole thing together
The first step in learning “I Will Follow You Into The Dark” is to make sure that you know how to play all of the chords in the song first.
If you don’t know how to play the following chords, you need to start here. If you know them all, then proceed to the next section.
The song requires the use of a capo at the 5th fret and has the following chords. When you use a capo, we refer to the name of chords by “shape” of the chord and not by what they actually are.
All chords are relative to the capo.
I know for a lot of newer guitar players, chords like the F and the Fm can be extremely difficult to play.
If that’s the case for you, try playing those chords in the following ways. Not gonna lie, they’re still a bit tricky and do involve using the “barre” technique, but they could be an option for you.
Now that you have familiarized yourself with the chords that appear in the songs, you’ll want to organize them into sections, because the chord progressions repeat throughout the song.
There are 2 main sections (Chorus & Verse) to I Will Follow You Into The Dark and 2 auxiliary sections (the “Bridge” & the “Outro”)
What you want to do now is MEMORIZE the order of the chord progressions & isolate any chord changes that you find difficult to do.
For example, I know that going from C to G is tricky for a lot of newer guitar players, so spend time practicing JUST that change.
Same goes for anything involving the barre chords. Practice changing from Am to F or from C to F in isolation.
This is important work to do, because if you can get good at those changes, it not only helps you learn this song, but thousands of songs, because you are definitely going to see those chord changes many, many, many times.
But back to memorizing…
Chunking songs down into sections makes learning songs way easier because the chord changes become less daunting.
Having said that, we see that the “Chorus” progression is quite long…so…chunk that sucker down too!
Split the Chorus into 4 parts to make the memorization process easier.
1 – Am – C – F – C – G/B
2 – Am – C – G
3 – Am – C – E – Am – Am/G
4 – F – Fm – C
Got the chord progressions memorized? Great!
Now that you are free from that restriction, we can now do what I call “placing” the chords where they belong in time.
We’re not worried about rhythm or strum patterns yet, we just want to know WHEN the chords change.
Approaching learning songs like this helps develop your ear. Having good ear training makes learning and playing guitar infinitely more easy AND fun.
I have a bit of a unique way that I notate chord progressions. I like to underline the chords to show how many measures they last for.
Let’s take a look at the Chorus section
Am = 1 Measure
C = 1 Measure
F = 1 Measure
Now we have a split measure
The next C Chord lasts only 2 beats. So it starts on beat 1 and then the G/B chord happens on beat 3.
Then on the next line, we have:
Am again = 1 measure
C = 1 measure
G = 2 measures
So, what you want to do now is work through all of the progressions of the song, one at a time, to a metronome.
Make sure that when you practice playing with the metronome that you:
1 ) Don’t cheat and move to the next chord too soon. If the chord lasts for 1 measure, then you should be changing to the next chord inbetween beats 4 and the next beat 1
2 ) Strum the chord once at the correct time and check for the overall accuracy and cleanliness of the chord. If your chords sound CONSISTENTLY off, then analyze if you are hitting the right amount of strings or if there is any issues going on with your fretting hand.
The strumming pattern for “I Will Follow You Into The Dark” is one of the most common types of strummed rhythms in rock music.
I often call it the “Brown Eyed Girl” strum pattern because, well, it’s the same rhythm from “Brown Eyed Girl!” lol
Here’s how to practice this strum pattern:
1 ) Without playing your guitar…hum, count, or clap the rhythm out. This is crucial, because you need to internalize the rhythm. So many times, I see students struggle with rhythm and they think it’s a technique issue with their strumming, but really what’s happening is they just don’t have the rhythm in their ear.
2 ) Once you can “feel” the rhythm, mute the strings on your guitar with your fretting hand and try to recreate that rhythm with your strumming hand. Watch the video for clarification on doing “ghost strumming”
3 ) Play the strum pattern for each chord in the song to make sure that you are strumming the correct amount of strings. For example, when you play a C chord, the low E string should not be played.
4 ) If some of your chord changes are still giving you some problems, watch out for “the gap of doom!” What I mean by that is if you are strumming while changing chords, and a specific chord change gives you problems…DON’T STOP STRUMMING. Keep the strumming hand moving and deal with the lack of accuracy in the chord (or better yet, go back and isolate the problem chord change).
You’ve got the chords.
You’ve got the chord progressions.
You’ve got the strumming.
Now, let’s put it all together!
In the image below, I list out the order of the progressions.
One of the things you could practice away from the guitar is simply listening to the song and picturing in your head the order of these chord progressions
Again, you can click here to see the chords with the lyrics.
If you enjoyed this lesson, if you have questions about how anything goes, or you would like to request another song lesson…then hit me up in the comments section below and tell me so!
Also, check out some of my other guitar courses