COPPERHEAD ROAD by Steve Earle
“Copperhead Road” is the most popular tune from Steve Earle, which can be attested to the fact that he’s still out there playing it! And who can blame him? For such a simple song with just two chords and great little riff bit, this sure is a fun one to play.
This tune is perfect for beginners as most of the tune is just a D chord, apart from a short hang where it switches to G for a few bars. Even the riff is played over a D chord, so it’s a nice way to practice adding in some picked notes between chords.
If you’re just starting off, you can take the strum pattern as simply as possible – just one down strum per beat. If you want to fancy it up a bit, you can begin accenting beats 2 and 4. That’s where you really start to get into the swing of the song, if you will. Again, there are a couple of variations on how you can achieve this. Just choose the one that feels most comfortable for your skill level.
Now, the riff is slightly more complicated than beginner level, but it’s not completely out of the wheelhouse! Take it slowly and focus on keeping your pick hand strong and deliberate. It might be tricky at first, as you’ll have to work on playing just the middle two strings with both down and up strums, but once you get it, you’ll be able to add it in throughout the tune as you’re playing. If you listen to the recording, you’ll notice that every time that riff pops up, it’s not exactly the same each time. Certainly keeps things interesting!