The Decemberists – The Chimbley Sweep


The Decemberists – The Chimbley Sweep (Chords)

I can’t get enough of the Decemberists’ approach to lyrics. They are full of strange and threatening characters. It’s a mystery to me why murder ballads are dying out – we’re supposed to be living a culture awash with violence. Chimbley Sweep is a little more light-hearted (but with a creepy undertow) – it could be a Mary Poppins song were it not for the blatant euphemisms – but has the usual characters and anachronistic language (‘chimbley sweep’ comes from Martin Chuzzlewit). It also happens to be an excellent strum-along ukulele song.

The original version of this song was recorded by a guitar with a capo on the first fret (as you can see in this video) which puts it almost into uke territory. If you want to play along with the record, you have to tune your uke down half a step to B-tuning (F# B Eb G#) but the chords are named as the familiar C-tuning shapes. Other than that, the chords are the first few you learn.

But I couldn’t help but make things a little tricker on myself. I prefer the sound of this chord progression played when your uke is tuned to C# (or capoed at the 1st fret). The chord shapes are a little more tricky. Try it both ways and see which you prefer.

The Decemberists – Chimbley Sweep (Chords in C# tuning)

Buy Her Majesty US UK

Learn another Decemberists song on Mike’s Ukulele Page.

Read (Decemberist guitarist) Chris Funk’s agony uncle page answering queries such as, “what gift befits a newborn monarch whose father’s untimely death (by your own hand) allowed the succession of such a young heir?” And watch him bravely defend the honour of indie music against Stephen Colbert in a guitar solo challenge.

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10 Comments

  1. Amber August 8th, 2007 8:10 am

    THANK YOU! I love The Decemberists and this is my favorite song of theirs! I can’t wait to play it.

  2. Mike August 8th, 2007 9:04 am

    I really like the sound of the capo’d/C# version. Yes, the chords are a little tricker, but the C7/Gm change is nice. Well done.

  3. Woodshed August 8th, 2007 7:55 pm

    Amber: You’re welcome. I’ve been having fun bashing out this tune.

    Mike: Thanks, Mike. The Eb/C7 change is my favourite. It seems to work much better than F/D7. I don’t know why that should be.

  4. Bob February 12th, 2008 10:32 pm

    Hey, can you do anything from The Crane Wife. I just love the Decemberists, and the Crane Wife is such a fantastic song. The Island would be great, but its kinda long!

  5. pixi June 10th, 2010 3:58 pm

    any suggestions for the strumming?

  6. Kchills July 23rd, 2010 12:24 am

    This song fits the ukulele perfectly, they are both sort of mischievous. Excellent choice!

  7. Julia January 5th, 2011 5:46 am

    Could you maybe do Sixteen Military Wives? (:

  8. Enine April 19th, 2011 4:26 pm

    Ahhh!! I can’t stop playing. I LOVE this song. Thanks a LOT! It sounds so good on my uke (eventhough I’m not that much of a good player.. ^^)

  9. Woodshed April 21st, 2011 12:08 pm

    Enine: You’re welcome. Glad you’re doing well with it.

  10. Caleb August 9th, 2011 5:35 am

    does anyone have any suggestions for strumming?

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