Noah and the Whale – Five Years Time

Noah and the Whale – Five Years Time (Chords)

Sometimes you choose a job, and sometimes a job chooses you. I’m guessing when it came time for the BBC to get a correspondent to follow Greenpeace’s attempts to stop Japanese whale hunting – Jonah found himself in the latter position.

Whether or not their name came from a biblical mix-up, Noah and the Whale are part of the ultra-hip London folk scene and compatriots like Laura Marling (who crops up in this video) and Emmy the Great float in and out of the line-up.

Noah and the Whale’s Five Years Time wins the 2007 ZZ Top Award for Best Three Chord song. It’s dead simple to play. It’s just C – F – G – F all the way through.

By the looks of the Wes Anderson inspired video, they play the G-chord in a slightly more difficult way:

alternative g ukulele chord

But there’s nothing wrong with playing it the easier way.

Suggested by Cheeky Polenta

View Comments


  1. fred January 11th, 2008 12:00 am

    Nice, Ilike it. Love easy song to play,play play.

  2. Jordy January 11th, 2008 4:35 pm

    Funny… I used to play this chord progression a lot on the keyboard when I was bored. (I can’t play piano/keyboard at all…) Didn’t know it was actually an existing song…

  3. Judy January 11th, 2008 6:21 pm

    Awesome! I could use some sun, sun, sun right about now…

  4. Woodshed January 11th, 2008 6:32 pm

    I’m glad people like this song.

    Jordy: This chord progression is about a million songs. It’s about the most popular chord progression there is.

    Judy: I’m with you on that. I could definitely use trip to Hawaii right now.

  5. Jordy January 11th, 2008 8:10 pm

    I knew all those popmusicians were spying on me! That’s my chord progression! =P lol..

    I’m considering buying a Stagg Uke tomorrow to start with, so I’ll give this song a go then… Doesn’t seem all that hard… =)

  6. Woodshed January 11th, 2008 8:59 pm

    Bust out the lawyers on their asses, Jordy.

    This song is definitely a good starting point. It’s not hard at all.

  7. Jordy January 12th, 2008 1:27 pm

    I did it… bought a Uke today (el cheapo brand) tuned it, and I’m strumming it now. Sounds like shhhttt (my play, not the Uke), but I’m having great fun!!!!!! =D

    The chords are easy, but I’m having trouble making my strums sound nice. Well, can’t expect too much after 15mins of practising… =)

    Thanks for this great site/song!

  8. Woodshed January 12th, 2008 2:06 pm

    Nice one, Jordy.

    Practice really slow and easy to start with. Just do a down strum and an up strum for each chord.

    Enjoy the uke :)

  9. benjamin the tiger January 21st, 2008 5:13 pm

    we gave this song a go, once its down it sounds awesome! wicked site and a brilliant selection of songs! thank you so so much.

  10. Woodshed January 21st, 2008 7:20 pm

    You’re welcome, benjamin. Glad you like it.

  11. Brendan January 24th, 2008 5:56 am

    hmm, im a total uke noob, can someone help with the strum pattern? i just cant seem to make it sound right.

  12. Woodshed January 24th, 2008 5:42 pm

    Hi, Brendan. The main strum pattern is up, down, up for each chord.

    If you want to get fancy, after the up, down, up you can bring the side of your strumming hand (the side nearest your little finger) down on the strings to produce a click.

    Here’s me doing it slowly, then up to speed.

    Hope that helps.

  13. Aaron January 26th, 2008 4:15 pm

    I was just trying out that chord progression, and if you use the different G chord suggested above, I’ve found it helps to play the C with your pinky, then drop in on the F with your middle and ring finger, that way you can slide right up to that G chord by barring it without refingering the rest of the chord.

  14. Woodshed January 26th, 2008 8:57 pm

    Thanks for the tip, Aaron. Doing it that way makes it much easier. Someone should tell Noah and the Whale :)

  15. James April 1st, 2008 9:35 pm

    Im new to the ukulele and have been playing for a month or two and all my energy is concentrated on learning this song.

    i think im getting it all right and the slowed down version for brendan sounds perfect when i play it however i can not make it sound right up to speed just sounds rushed and like three seperate strums instead of the plowing pattern you play. i’v tried everything and have my fingers crossed you can help me solve my dilemma?

    Sincerely James Green

  16. Woodshed April 2nd, 2008 6:32 am

    Hi James. It’s pretty hard to tell without seeing you play. Could you send me a video with you playing it slowly and at full speed?

  17. Ukulele Muxtape | Uke Hunt May 5th, 2008 6:30 pm

    […] wrote about Noah & the Whale ealier and I love this song even more now. There’s a very healthy posh singer-songwriter scene in […]

  18. emily June 23rd, 2008 2:57 pm

    how much does a cheap ukelele cost?

  19. Woodshed June 24th, 2008 9:49 pm

    Hi, Emily. You can get a very cheap ukulele for less than $20. There’s a selection of them here: cheap ukuleles. But if you can stretch your budget to $30, you can pick up a Makala.

  20. joshua August 16th, 2008 7:01 pm

    a cheap ukulele comes at around £14

  21. Gez September 1st, 2008 2:58 pm

    can any one tell me the chord rythm to play this

  22. Rob September 1st, 2008 7:04 pm

    Gez,Try to watch the video as you mute the strings and follow the strum pattern. Dont worry about chord changes till you get the strum down.Hope that helped. Rob

  23. Woodshed September 1st, 2008 9:15 pm

    Gez: Down up for the first chord. Then up, down, up for all the rest. And, like Rob says, make sure you mute them after you’ve strummed.

  24. Gez September 1st, 2008 9:34 pm

    thanks buddy, legend ! !

  25. Woodshed September 2nd, 2008 10:46 pm

    You’re welcome, Gez.

  26. Brolin September 30th, 2008 10:46 pm
  27. sonia November 14th, 2008 5:47 am

    so, basically i started to play the ukulele because of this song, and i’m so glad i found it here online.

    i love Noah and the Whale, and now i’ve discovered that so much of the other music i listen to has ukuleles in it, and i never realized.

    woodshed, you said that maybe their name came from a Bible mix up, but i was reading an article, and they named themselves after their favourite movie, the Squid and the Whale, which was directed by Noah Baumbach, their favourite director.

    and so Noah and the Whale was formed.

  28. Woodshed November 14th, 2008 7:24 pm

    Sonia: Thanks for the info.

  29. Dede December 28th, 2008 6:25 am

    freakishly easy!!!:):D:):D

  30. Stewart January 28th, 2009 7:41 pm

    I can do everything except the transfer from the F chord to the G chord. I’ve got quite chunky fingers and that isn’t helping but has anyone got any advice on how I can make it easier?

  31. Woodshed January 28th, 2009 7:51 pm

    Stewart: Practice is always good. But one alternative would be to play the F chord with your middle and ring fingers. The you could just slide that up two frets and barre across with your index finger. Whether you’ll find that easier, I’m not sure.

  32. shimpiphany February 25th, 2009 7:21 am

    thanks for putting together this website! heads up, tho – your link to the song is broken. looks like puregroove got snapped up by a link farmer.

  33. Woodshed February 25th, 2009 8:54 am

    Thanks for the heads up, shimpiphany.

  34. TonyAzemia April 14th, 2009 1:12 pm

    Hi thanks for the chords but thing is how do i tune my ukulele to sound lie the sound what tuning is it in?

  35. Woodshed April 15th, 2009 9:51 pm

    Tony: It’s in standard tuning: gCEA.

  36. sian April 26th, 2009 11:23 am

    i dont get it :S

  37. Jamie May 13th, 2009 3:41 am

    I strum it down up down-chunk for the first c,then up down up down-chunk for all the rest

  38. Elin July 17th, 2009 5:04 pm

    I find the strum sounds good done in sections of 8 (no, you’re right, I’m not a musician xD) like this:

    C down, up, chunk
    F down, up, chunk
    G down, up, chunk
    F down, up, chunk
    C down, up, down, up, chunk
    F down, up, chunk
    G down, up, chunk
    F down, up, chunk

    I’ve listened to the song for ages trying to get the strum just right- it almost seems they vary the C randomly but I think the above pattern works well and definitely correlates to the opening bars before the singing starts, in my opinion. Sorry about the lack of technical terminology, I have NO idea about that kind of stuff *blush*

  39. Woodshed July 19th, 2009 3:41 pm

    Elin: Thanks. Nice work.

  40. Haley :D August 24th, 2009 3:41 am

    I love this song <3
    Glad it’s so easy to play :D

  41. Woodshed August 24th, 2009 9:20 am

    Haley: Yeah, it’s definitely a good one for beginners.

  42. L September 23rd, 2009 10:25 pm

    Hi, I can play the cords fine, with the mutes and double strums but does anyone know a way of playing the solo on the ukulele?
    Thanks guys.

  43. hannaaah October 26th, 2009 11:14 am

    Thaaank you very much!



  44. Woodshed October 27th, 2009 5:02 pm

    hannaaah: Thanks for introducing me to dftba.

  45. Emma January 8th, 2010 8:46 pm

    Hey guys,
    This may sound stupid but on the tab does it tell you anywhere how many times to strum each chord? I got a uke for xmas and immediately thought of this song :D.
    Would appreciate the help, thanks.
    X x x

  46. Rocknowledge April 8th, 2010 12:17 am

    Hi, thanks for the chords, but lyrics are in wrong order:

    sun over our faces
    sun over our bodies
    sun all down my neck
    sun, oh what the heck

  47. No April 9th, 2010 11:58 pm

    For the strum pattern I do down up chunk up for each chord.

  48. ogattyanna May 4th, 2010 10:04 pm

    hi, i’ve never played anything before..
    i want to buy a uke and learn this song but i don’t know if i should get a tenor or soprano uke to get this sound

  49. Ukulelenoob June 22nd, 2010 7:33 pm

    When I strum my fingers are getting all cut up, what do i do? AAhhhh!!! :(

  50. BigGuitarSmallGuitar July 26th, 2010 1:46 pm

    Love this site. Just bought a Makula. Currently play the guitar and my son (1.5yrs) loves strumming it. Figured out a Uke would give the little fella a head start, since he’s interested :-) THANKS for posting this. What a great song.

  51. andy July 29th, 2010 10:24 am

    I find the G chord tricky to shift to from F too, so just use a G7 instead, easy ! Still sounds ok to my deaf old lugholes :)

  52. CrazyBlue August 3rd, 2010 4:24 pm

    This is great, I only started learning to play the uke yesterday, and this is a brilliant song to learn as a beginner. Plus great tip Andy about using G7 instead, it makes it much easier to play.

  53. Woodshed August 3rd, 2010 4:35 pm

    andy: Yeah, G7 works perfectly well in this progression.

  54. Woodshed August 3rd, 2010 5:40 pm

    CrazyBlue: Glad you’re off to a good start.

  55. Songs with Chords You Know | Ukulele Hunt August 15th, 2010 6:45 pm

    […] – Your Biggest Fan/Did It Hurt? Noah and the Whale – Five Years Time OK Go – This Too Shall Pass Paolo Nutini – High Hopes SoKo – I Will Never Love […]

  56. Noah August 31st, 2010 1:18 am

    Woodshed, I know this is a very ukulele-unrelated question, but do you know what instrument Laura Marling plays at 1:40 in this video of Noah and the Whale performing 5 Years Time?

  57. Woodshed September 1st, 2010 9:00 pm

    Noah: I think it’s a penny whistle.

  58. Lucy October 9th, 2010 6:18 pm

    I can play all the chords, but how do you strum them to make it sound like the song?

  59. Lizzie December 27th, 2010 3:39 am

    I got a uke for christmas. Not a very good one, but it’ll do for now. I love this site, and this song. Hopefully I’ll be able to play it soon.

  60. Brit December 27th, 2010 9:35 pm

    I found a nice strumming pattern was down up chunk up… little confusing at first but nice sounding.

  61. Woodshed January 1st, 2011 12:32 pm

    Brit: Thanks!

  62. Cathryn January 14th, 2011 10:02 pm

    So easy i cant play to that acctual speed.. haha :P

  63. Woodshed January 16th, 2011 10:37 am

    Cathryn: Nice work!

  64. Megan March 5th, 2011 11:41 am

    What is the strumming pattern?

  65. Woodshed March 6th, 2011 10:54 am

    Megan: Try d u x u.

  66. ronnie April 16th, 2011 7:47 pm

    whats the strumming on this … down up ? and if so how do u do the different strum on the 2nd F i think

  67. Helen May 1st, 2011 3:54 pm

    As mentioned above, down up chunk up for each chord has a really nice sound, and to me sounds most like the song.

  68. Teddy July 8th, 2011 9:46 pm

    Hi, erm, I don’t claim to be actually good at ukulele, and this may sound really obvious, but if you stop fretting the F chord right at the begining of the chunk you get about an extra half a beat to get to the G chord. Just thought it might help everyone who’s having trouble with that transition.>

  69. Woodshed July 9th, 2011 7:58 am

    Teddy: Yeah, you have to change chords after the X I should probably add a proper strum pattern explanation to the post.

  70. follklore August 3rd, 2011 9:14 am

    thank this helped.

    although their name isnt a biblical reference its a movie reference. mix up of ‘squid and the whale’ and the name of the director

  71. Marcos August 4th, 2011 1:02 am

    In the original song, noah and the whale use the G chord you wrote in this very page, isn’t it?

  72. Marcos August 4th, 2011 1:03 am

    P.S: You, your lessons and this page are the best!
    Thank You!

  73. Woodshed August 4th, 2011 7:50 am

    Marcos: Thanks very much! When I’ve seen them play it, they use the version shown in the post. But you can use the version shown in the chart and it will sound exactly the same.

  74. Anika January 18th, 2012 3:53 am

    i love this song! could you maybe try another song by Noah and the Whale, it’s called Mary? i believe it has a ukulele in it! (for request purposes.. armadillo?)

  75. Woodshed January 18th, 2012 6:47 am
  76. Sahds January 18th, 2012 10:50 pm

    Awesomeness. Totally wow’d my mates with this.. thanks!

  77. Woodshed January 20th, 2012 8:57 am

    Sahds: You’re welcome.

  78. Sam May 14th, 2012 9:32 pm

    I am a uke-newbie. I got one about a week ago and its not what i’d call top of the line. I’m kinda struggling with the f to g to f part, because i have long gangly fingers. Im using g7 instead as its much easier for me but its taking an annoyingly long amount of time between f and g. any tips, or just practise?

  79. Woodshed May 16th, 2012 10:44 am

    Sam: Mostly just practice, I’m afraid.

  80. Paddy July 8th, 2012 7:57 am

    Anyone know the solo?

  81. Abbey August 27th, 2012 3:53 pm

    Love the song but what’s the strumming pattern? I can’t get it right :(

  82. Amenah September 29th, 2012 7:42 pm

    I’ve been practicing the down, up, down, chunk strumming pattern all day but once I add the chords in, it doesn’t sound anything like the song. I’ve tuned my ukulele using an electronic tuner that you just clip on, but is there a way to check if I’ve gotten it right? Because I’m pretty sure it’s not supposed to sound like this!

  83. Nichola December 12th, 2012 8:32 pm

    Thanks for this! I’m trying to teach myself and everything is co complicated.
    I’ve got the strumming on it’s own it just gets hard when I add the chords. One thing I’m confused about is in the chords it says CFGFx4 So I took that to mean C U DhitU, F U DhitU, G U DhitU which is fine but when it gets to the second line the G and the F get much closer together, on what strums to I change chords?

    I really hope that makes sense… I can do the chords and the strumming but the counting is trowing me off on EVERY song I try :(

  84. Becky January 4th, 2013 7:23 am

    Awesome thanks! Nice easy and sounds great very quickly.
    To Nichola and Abbey – the strumming pattern I’m using (from listening to the youtube video) is down, up, chunk, up. Hope that helps

  85. Eliza March 10th, 2013 7:38 pm

    Hi, so I just got a ukelele and larned all the chords, but i can’t get the sound right. Is there a specific kind of ukelele you need? The one i have right now sounds like a whole octave lower than the song :(

  86. Woodshed March 11th, 2013 7:12 am

    Eliza: Just a standard ukulele. It would sound lower if you had a baritone ukulele. But not an octave lower.

  87. Jillzz September 12th, 2015 7:31 pm

    Whats the strumming pattern?

  88. Jillzz September 12th, 2015 7:34 pm

    And whats the chunk part. Beginner Here :)

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