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A History of I – V – vi – IV

A History of I – V – vi – IV

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You may have seen the 2009 Axis of Awesome video demonstrating that thousands of songs use the same chord progression. This particular progression, the most popular of them all, is called the I – V – vi – IV (one, five, six, four). In the key of G that’s G, D, Em and C. So without further ado, here are 39 songs in chronological order from 1969 – 2013, that you can play using those chords in that order. Many of them are not in the key of G originally but they can be! Click on any title for a link to a chart from somewhere on the interwebs!

*hint: Can’t play all of the chords? Try messing with the “transpose” button until the first chord is G!

Oh Darling Beatles, The 1969
Let it Be Beatles, The 1970
Country Roads Denver, John 1971
No Woman No Cry Marley, Bob 1974
Beast of Burden Rolling Stones, The 1978
So Lonely Police, The 1978
Don’t Stop Believing Journey 1981
Land Down Under Men at Work 1981
Sexual Healing (actually I, V, ii, IV) Gaye, Marvin 1982
Take on Me AhHa 1985
With or Without You U2 1987
Man in the Mirror Jackson, Michael 1987
We Didn’t Start the Fire Joel, Billy 1989
Right Here Waiting Marx, Richard 1989
Under the Bridge RHCP 1991
Soul to Squeeze RHCP 1991
Forever Young Alphaville 1992
Good Better Than Ezra 1993
Glycerine Bush 1994
When I Come Around Greenday 1994
Can You Feel the Love Tonight John, Elton 1994
Head Over Feet Morrissette, Alanis 1995
Push Matchbox 20 1997
All Star (actually I, V, ii, IV) Smashmouth 1999
I’m Yours Mraz, Jason 2005
You’re Beautiful Blunt, James 2005
Happy Ending Mika 2006
Tear Drops on My Guitar Swift, Taylor 2006
The Story Carlile, Brandi 2007
Stop and Stare One Republic 2007
No One Keys, Alicia 2007
Pictures of You The Last Goodnight 2008
Love Story Swift, Taylor 2008
The Show Lenka 2008
Hey Soul Sister Train 2009
Someone Like You Adele 2011
I’m on the Edge of Glory Lady Gaga 2011
We Are Never Getting Back Together Swift, Taylor 2012
Wrecking Ball Cyrus, Miley 2013

Try writing your own I, V, vi, IV hit with one of these guitar friendly keys!

I V vi IV
A E F#m D
C G Am F
D A Bm G
E B C#m A
F C Dm Bb

Dan Emery is dedicated to Coaching Personal Greatness, One Lesson At A Time. He is the founder of NYC's friendliest and fastest growing guitar schools, New York City Guitar School, Brooklyn Guitar School, Queens Guitar School and NYC Guitar School, East, and the author of the Amazon best-selling Guitar For Absolute Beginners and six other books on learning guitar and deliberate practice. He coaches new entrepreneurs through the Entrepreneurs Organization Accelerator program and especially enjoys helping other Educational Entrepreneurs. He has a Masters in Education from Columbia University Teachers College, extensive performing experience as songwriter and guitarist for The Dan Emery Mystery Band, a wife, three kids, a cat and some juggling equipment.


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