Fire and Rain Guitar Lesson

How to Play Fire and Rain by James Taylor (Fingerstyle Guitar Lesson)

Fire and Rain was written by James Taylor in 1970 and is one of Taylor's best-known and most successful songs. The song appears on his album Sweet Baby James and was written after his childhood friend Suzanne Schnerr committed suicide. The song is also about his struggles with addiction and coping with fame.

Fire and Rain uses fingerpicking more or less throughout, only occasionally strumming during the chorus. Taylor has a rather unorthodox style of playing the guitar and tends to grip chords unconventionally. It's entirely up to you whether you want to hold down the chords like he does or just play them as you normally would. It's well worth watching him play the song live before learning it yourself.

Alright, let's pick up our guitars and learn how to play Fire and Rain!

Song Details:

  • Capo - 3rd fret
  • Key - C major with capo (A without)
  • Tempo - 76
  • Difficulty - intermediate

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Fire and Rain Guitar Lesson

Fire and Rain is made up of just 3 parts - an intro, verse and a chorus. The good thing is that once you've learnt the intro the verse is virtually the same, just a slightly simplified version of it. Really take your time and, as always, focus on your accuracy over your speed when first starting out.

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How to Play The Chorus

The only other section of Fire and Rain is the chorus and this section is relatively straightforward. I'd certainly say that it's easier to play than the verse.

Want to learn more fingerpicking songs?

Let me know what you thought of the lesson in the comments section below. Say what you found hard/easy, what level you're at and what your fingerpicking goals are. 

Recent Song Lessons

  1. Russ left a comment on 7th February 2020 at 4:17 pm

    Great lesson! Just wondering, shouldn’t you incorporate more of the melody through the song? You don’t need it if you’re a singer but most of us aren’t so to fingerpick the melody makes the song more complete. I look forward to reading your response. Thanks for all your help!

    • Six String Fingerpicking left a comment on 8th February 2020 at 10:44 am

      Hi Russ, this one isn’t a fingerstyle arrangement, it’s just how James Taylor plays the song. Perhaps at some point I’ll do a full arrangement of it. Thanks a lot.

      • Russ left a comment on 8th February 2020 at 12:21 pm

        i Understand now. Thanks!!!

  2. Russ left a comment on 14th February 2020 at 1:32 am

    Great lesson! Anyway you can send me the outride?

    Thanks!!!

    • Russ left a comment on 14th February 2020 at 1:36 am

      Great lesson! Anyway you can send me the outro?!

      Thanks!!! 😎👍

  3. Zack left a comment on 25th March 2020 at 11:03 pm

    This is magnificent!

    • Six String Fingerpicking left a comment on 31st March 2020 at 10:49 am

      Thanks Zack.

  4. Louie Cidadao left a comment on 8th April 2020 at 4:15 pm

    This is the first time trying one of your lessons, I really look forward to looking at other songs. You do a wonderful job of explaining it.

    Thanks for letting me be a part of it.

    • Six String Fingerpicking left a comment on 12th April 2020 at 6:56 pm

      Thanks Louie, really pleased you liked it.

  5. Kellie left a comment on 7th June 2020 at 5:37 am

    James Taylor inspired me to learn to play the guitar, and I have always wanted to learn this song in particular. And now I have thanks to this great lesson. Thank you, Chris!

    • Six String Fingerpicking left a comment on 11th June 2020 at 5:36 pm

      You’re very welcome Kellie, glad you like it. This is one of my all time favourite songs.

  6. Vicky left a comment on 28th July 2020 at 8:25 pm

    Great lesson! Thank you. Can anyone explain strumming pattern in chorus bit more…i’m struggling a bit…a down/up with count would be good

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