Beirut – Gulag Orkestar

I got so many people emailing me about Beirut chords and when Saltatory was going to be back up, I decided it would be quicker just to set about tabbing the whole Beirut back catalogue.

Gulag Orkestar (Chords)

The first part of this tune is played very loosely, so it’s tricky to keep up with the chords. The Dm – A – Bb flat move is one that’s common in flamenco playing.


I couldn’t find lyrics for this song and I haven’t got a blind clue what he’s singing, so you’ll have to go without a chord chart for this one. Luckily, the chords are straightforward. They’re Ebm – Abm – Bb all the way through. The chords aren’t too difficult to play in standard tuning, but they’re made even easier if you tune up half a step or capo at the first fret. That’ll make the chord shapes Dm, Gm, A.


Dead simple chords: Dm – Gm all the way through. You can jazz it up a little and follow the mandolin by taking your index finger off for the last few strums of the chords (creating a Dsus2 and a Gsus2 respectively).

Postcards from Italy (Chords and Tab)

Mount Wroclai (Idle Days) (Chords)

This one really does require you to use a capo or tune up a fret if you’re going to play in the original key.

Rhineland (Heartland) (Chords)

More of those F and Bb add9 chords that crop up in most of Beirut’s ukulele based songs.

Scenic World (Chords)

The cheesy drum machine cracks me up every time.


Another song with that flamenco move in. The chords are A – Bb all the way through.

The Bunker

The first half of the song is G – Dm7. The second half is Gm – C – F.

The Canals of Our City

Another one with impenetrable lyrics. I’m 96% sure the first few lines are, “Wolves gone over the sea, but nod for me/Watch now, I ho lay na ho had I and no tie, no tie.” The chords make a lot more sense. They are G – Dm throughout.

After the Curtain

A tough one to get sounding right on the uke. Using the chord progression D – Gsus2 – D – Asus4 is about as much sense as I could make out of it.

That’s it for Gulag. I’m working on Flying Club Cup (which should be done by this time next week) and Lon Gisland and others (by the week after). There’s already some of that stuff up on the Beirut chords page.

View Comments


  1. Minamin February 20th, 2008 2:51 pm

    I hope the “others” include Brazil and Ederlezi (good luck with the lyrics on that one!)

  2. Mike February 20th, 2008 6:32 pm

    Wonderful stuff. I’m now inspired to listen to my Beirut collection again and sort out some tunes for the repertoire (his songs would be great for a ukulele ensemble with percussion).

  3. Woodshed February 20th, 2008 8:29 pm

    Minamin: Brazil – yes. Ederlezi – maybe not. I don’t have a decent recording of it (I’ll get off on a technicality since it isn’t a Beirut song).

    Mike: Definitely agree on that. Maybe some kazoo for the brass parts :D

  4. Mike Dickison February 20th, 2008 11:10 pm

    OH MY GOD YES. Kazoo for the brass. That’s what’s missing.

    So what would one name a ukulele ensemble that only does Beirut covers? Answers on a postcard. Or in the comments box would be fine.

  5. Woodshed February 20th, 2008 11:27 pm

    The GUGUG Orkestar? I think only uke obsessives would get the reference. And it depends on how you actually pronounce GUGUG.

  6. Nick February 21st, 2008 1:22 am

    Woah, epic post. I’ve been following the blog for a couple of months now, and I figure it’s time to finally thank you. So, thanks! I’m a big fan of what you do here. I have more to say but there is no time! New Beirut tabs!


  7. zymeck February 21st, 2008 11:12 am

    Am I then only person here who doesnt really ‘get’ Beirut?

    I got hold of a copy of Gulag Orkestar based on the strength of feeling on this site, but im afraid that it does absolutely nothing for me :(

  8. Woodshed February 21st, 2008 6:57 pm

    Nick: Thanks. There’s no need to put a stop to my carnal delights. My repulsive personality means I don’t get any anyway.

    Andy: Sorry you don’t like it. You’re not the only one. They’re one of those Marmite bands I think.

  9. jake miller September 18th, 2008 11:43 pm

    you have made my life so much better thank you this is all i play now

  10. Woodshed September 20th, 2008 3:16 pm

    Glad to hear it, Jake.

  11. Redmond March 9th, 2010 10:17 pm

    Hey, so what is the strumming pattern for the chorus on Rhineland? I can’t quite hear it on my iPod, and the pattern used on the intro seems a bit long/awkward when I play it. Thanks!

  12. Holly August 1st, 2010 9:33 pm

    I think I have come up with some of the lyrics for “The Canals of Our City.”

    What do you guys think? I’ve just been listening to the studio and live versions of the song on YouTube. He seems to change up the lyrics live, though.

    Walls gone over the sea,
    but not for me.
    Watch now, I will end
    the (hole?) that I had no time, no time.

    Tell her I didn’t know (or… I wanted to know?)
    much more than I once had (on the sea?)
    And that I … in time,
    will I know your (father?)

    You were in town,
    I know your (father?)

    Possibly something about “lay down the law” somewhere in there, too.

    That’s the best I can do. Maybe you guys can come up with something better now that I’ve given you the lyrics as I have interpreted them based on what it sounds like he is singing.

  13. Woodshed August 3rd, 2010 5:38 pm

    Holly: Thanks. I can never work out a word he says.

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