Fire and Rain

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 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.

The song is more or less fingerpicking 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 this song live before learning it yourself.

Fire and Rain is made up of just 3 parts - an intro, verse and a chorus. The good thing is that once you have the intro down the verse is virtually the same, just a slightly simplified version of it.

Fire and Rain is no. 21 on my Top 60 Fingerpicking Songs of ALL TIME list. If you've not seen the list be sure to check it out and sign up to my weekly email lesson so you don't miss learning any of these great fingerstyle songs.

Song Facts:

    • Key - C major
    • Tempo - 76
    • Reached no. 2 in Canada and 3 in the U.S.A
    • Broadcast Music, Inc ranked "Fire and Rain" at number 82 on its "Top 100 Songs of the Century" list
    • Carole King played piano on the song

Lesson one:

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Lesson 2:


If you have any questions or want to share anything at all then please leave a comment below.

I hope you've found this lesson useful.

  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?


    • 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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