Bright Eyes – First Day of My Life

Bright Eyes – First Day of My Life (Chords)

I don’t want to be mean, but you’re all playing First Day of My Life in a daft key. But whichever key you play it in, it’s a great song.

From all the darting eyes, I’m guessing that people are just reading the guitar chords and transferring them straight to uke. The trouble is Oberst plays this song with a capo at the fourth fret. That puts it close to uke territory. I’ve written the song up for a ukulele tuned one step down (so the chord shapes used are mostly those he uses), but kept the chord names the same as standard tuning to avoid confusion. It’s much easier to play this way, you avoid the dreaded E major.

My chords are a little different to the guitar ones floating around the net in a few other ways. Some of them are chords in the song that I think they’ve missed (the Bbadd9 in the intro and the C7 at the end of the verses) and some of them have been changed to make them work better on the uke (using a C as a passing chord rather than a B note, and the Gm at “But I realise that I need you…”).

The biggest problem area in the song is the F – ? – Dm progression at the end of what I’ve called the bridge section. The guitar chords use the same progression as the verse, F – A – Dm in our terms. But I don’t think that sounds right. I think he’s playing 021200 which would be Amaj7sus4 (1200) for us. It’s fairly discordant; the A and Ab are one fret apart rather than 13 and the A note doesn’t read as the root strongly enough. It does just about work in context, but I’ve written it up as Asus4 which is a little more pleasing to the ear. Those are your choices. Try them and see which you prefer.

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  1. Ali November 25th, 2010 5:49 pm

    that sounds spot on. i always play it in c though because when i first bought a ukulele i thought it was tuned dgbe like a guitar and now ive stuck to it ever since. shouldn’t the 2nd chord be a 7th?
    I play it C E7 Amin, F G C. probably wrong tough, i usually am on these matters

  2. Ali November 25th, 2010 5:51 pm

    also, is there a chance of getting a ‘Claire De Lune’ posted? it’s the best thing since the gluten free sliced bread that I have on precription

  3. Woodshed November 27th, 2010 1:41 pm

    Ali: Thanks for the suggestion. It’s a possibility.

  4. Dopey January 25th, 2011 7:34 am

    Is this a little similar to “I still call Australia home?”.

    Even the lyrics bear a resemblance.

  5. Woodshed January 28th, 2011 10:19 am

    Dopey: Hmmm. I suppose there’s some resemblence in the chord progression.

  6. Tay April 17th, 2011 9:38 pm

    Hey Woodshed, what is the suggested strumming for this song because I am new to uke and have a hard time figuring out srumming paterns.

  7. Brit May 9th, 2011 9:54 am

    Woodshed you are a legened! Can’t express how much I love this site. I credit you with all my musical talent. I love this clip as well, almost makes me cry everytime.
    Just wondering on a strum pattern. Anything interesting you think would work? And in the PDF the shape for the Badd9 chord is confusing is it 3214?
    Keep it up!

  8. vix June 27th, 2011 8:53 pm

    would it be possible to do a video showing all the chords and tuning and stuff or point me in the right direction? that would be an amazing help. this site has been amazing too!

  9. Josh August 22nd, 2011 3:38 am

    Just saw Bright Eyes at Lolla-being a humongous Death Cab fan, I can’t believe I’ve never really given Bright Eyes a chance! This song rivals, perhaps even equals I Will Follow You Into the Dark. And that’s the highest praise I can possibly give any acoustic song, ever.

  10. Sam B August 23rd, 2011 6:27 pm

    Thanks for putting up these chords! It’s a wonderful song, and I love how it sounds on the uke.

    For people wondering about the strumming pattern, here’s what sounds good to my ear for the verses and for the end of the bridges:

    (d/h) – d – – u d u,

    where at the beginning of each line, (d/h) is a downstroke, and for the other chords in the line, it’s a hammer-on. (To me, hammering on the chords makes it sound more fluid and more like the picking pattern of the original recording, where he’s picking the bass note at each chord change.)


  11. Woodshed August 23rd, 2011 10:45 pm

    Sam: Thanks for the strumming pattern.

  12. David April 25th, 2013 12:15 pm

    This is one of the first Song I tried to learn, at first I had a really hard time on the Bb Chord and so I stopped it, and looked at other songs and now, several months later I’m comming back to this one.

    The Chords are not longer the problem, it really sounded nice and fluent till I tried to play it along with the original Song. I even googled the Piano Notes and I had suddenly a new Problem:
    The Chord Change.

    Am I right, when I think that the whole line of lyric is just one measure? So the strumming from sam says:
    d/h = 1rst Chord – d =second – – udu = third Chord?
    (in the first line its F-A-Dm for one 4/4 measure?)

    So 3 Chord Changes in one measure. Boy, thats new to me but interesting.
    But I’m not quite sure yet.

    I played it like this, and gave the last chord a whole measure extra. But its really fast this way and I’m not quite sure, if you meant it that way.

    But never the less, this is a really great Song! I really love to play it and even if you don’t turn down the uke, I think it sounds really great. Maybe not exactly like it is supposed to sound, but I like it never-the-less.(esp since I’m to lazy to turn it down all the time.:P)

    Thanks, Woodshed.(And also thanks for your book, it really helped me a lot.)

  13. karen April 30th, 2013 12:04 pm

    I play a tenor uke, would that make a difference when everything is tuned down one step?
    F, A, Dm, G7, and Asus4 all sound really wonky. Everything else sounds great. If I play it with standard tuning then the problem is inverted.

    I’m planing on playing this for my brother and his fiance at their wedding in June (they love this song) and I want it to sound great!

  14. Rachel September 7th, 2016 11:12 pm

    I think this would be really beautiful for finger picking! I can’t get it quite right though. Could you make a tab?

  15. Woodshed September 8th, 2016 12:36 pm

    Rachel: I’ll keep it in mind.

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