Music and Songwriting/The Songwriter's Grooves Project - A Guide to Singing and Playing Guitar/The Fingerpicking Song Series/America

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America - Simon and Garfunkel[edit | edit source]

Introductory Lesson Link

A fan favorite in the Paul Simon songbook, this song is a great chance to study Paul Simon's picking as he performs live. It's also a farely rare example of a picking song in 6/8 which makes for an adventure in its own right!

History[edit | edit source]

America from S & G's fourth studio album, Bookends (1968). Produced by the duo and Roy Halee, the song was later issued as a single in 1972 to promote the release of Simon and Garfunkel's Greatest Hits. The song was written by Paul Simon and concerns young lovers hitchhiking their way across the United States, in search of "America", in both a literal and figurative sense. It was inspired by a 1964 road trip that Simon took with his girlfriend Kathy Chitty. The song has been regarded as one of Simon's strongest songwriting efforts and one of the duo's best songs. A 2014 Rolling Stone reader's poll ranked it the group's fourth best song. (Wikipedia)

Flagship Recordings/Performances[edit | edit source]

Original Album 1968

Central Park 1981

Central Park Solo 1991

Old Friends Live 2003

On Letterman 2003

Playing tips[edit | edit source]

This song can be played a number of ways while maintaining the essence of the composition. It can be strummed with a heavy bass note of the downbeats of each bar, or it can be fingerpicked or Travis picked if desired. Though 6/8 Travis picking is fairly rare and Paul Simon hasn't been known to do it himself, it is a viable way to perform the song. The song is well-known enough that it may be worth experimenting with some different approaches in live situations.

Lessons[edit | edit source]

Intermediate[edit | edit source]

Lesson on Jon Michael Swift's Live Transcription

Tab Link

Song Stats[edit | edit source]

Notable techniques

Original Key



Key fingering

SWG Level/Sequences

Practice logs[edit | edit source]

Player Name

Previous Experience

Current Playing Level of the Song

Minutes in Practice Room

Link to Song Performance

sequence links