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.

View Comments


  1. rob September 4th, 2008 10:13 pm

    Thanks for this! It’s an absolute joy compared to the off key one

  2. zym September 4th, 2008 11:40 pm

    lovely tune – it reminds me of one of my favourite bands – Kings of Convenience. Especially, this one

  3. binaurally September 4th, 2008 11:41 pm

    Thanks for doing a bright eyes tune! Im a huge fan and its pretty much impossible to find stuff for the uke by conor. That being said, if theres anymore Bright Eyes/Conor Oberst uke stuff floating around, please do tell! Thx!

  4. amber September 5th, 2008 7:31 am

    This is such a great song. Thanks once again! This is the first time I’ve seen that video though, it’s disgustingly sweet.

  5. zymeck September 5th, 2008 12:46 pm

    the word i would use to describe the video is mawkish

  6. Cardboardfrog September 5th, 2008 2:39 pm

    zym, good taste kings of convience are so very lovely ^^,
    this is also lovely, its got some great lyrics

  7. Chelsea September 5th, 2008 8:50 pm

    Didn’t you already cover this one before?

  8. Olivia September 6th, 2008 1:30 am

    It’s such a sweet song, and it sound beautiful on the uke. Thanks a bunch for posting it.

  9. Woodshed September 6th, 2008 7:42 am

    rob: Thanks.

    amber and zym: Beneath my rugged, badass exterior, I’m a sentimental, rom-com watching moron. I really like the video. 100 cool points to anyone who can spot the ukulele player in the video.

    binaurally: I might be tempted to see if I can get When the President Talks to God to work on the uke before the reign of terror is over.

    cbf: I never got into KoC. I’ll have to give them another listen.

    Chelsea: I remember someone asking how to play a couple of chords from the song, but I thought it deserved the full treatment.

    Olivia: You’re very welcome.

  10. Chelsea September 6th, 2008 1:20 pm

    Hey Woodshed, did you even click the link I posted? :)

  11. amber September 6th, 2008 7:08 pm

    Being a music snob, I feel compelled to say that a song from one of the best indie albums of all times ( ) is not remotely close to one of the few good songs from a band that is considered by most to be “emo”.

    I always have to defend NMH. They’re the new classics.

  12. Robert September 6th, 2008 7:10 pm

    Hey ,

    If you want more bright eyes chords, go to and look up bright eyes .

  13. Chelsea September 6th, 2008 7:44 pm

    Hey Amber:

    My thoughts exactly. I’m pretty disgusted by Conor Oberst’s plagiarism of Jeff Mangum — at least one record of his has a few songs that directly rip off “O Comely” and “Two Headed Boy”, and it disappoints me that people refuse to see this. That was the point I was trying to make here.

  14. newbie September 6th, 2008 8:39 pm

    Oh how I miss 1997, when only me and few others knew NMH.
    And I don’t like bright eyes.

    Now, I only came here to say that I’m currently obsessed with the wicker man ost so please please please please could you post “corn rigs” chords?
    Any wicker man song would be great though.

    P.S: pleaseeeee

  15. newbie September 6th, 2008 8:40 pm

    Damn! my snob html tag joke failed miserably

  16. Crookshankz September 7th, 2008 1:49 am

    Noob question here. This is the first time I’ve played with alt tuning and really liked the sound it gave. The handfull of songs I know on the uke also sound well with this tuning. I was wondering if there was anything that would goober up if I used this tuning primarily over my GCEA?

  17. Robert September 7th, 2008 1:55 pm

    WOW ,

    I have never seen Bright eyes as a NMH rip-off… I love both and don’t see why people are so pissed about Bright eyes, Just enjoy the music.

  18. Woodshed September 7th, 2008 3:14 pm

    Chelsea: Yes I didn’t. But I didn’t really get what you were referring to.

    Robert: That’s how the whole problem started in the first place. Auto generated uke chords have their place, but they’re often completely wrong or unhelpful. I’m completely biased, but there’s more of an art to arranging songs for uke than a computer can manage.

    newbie: I might save that for Burns Night (if I remember).

    Crookshankz: If you prefer it, go for it. Shouldn’t cause any problems.

    Robert: Yeah, I don’t really get the comparison.

  19. jackwooly September 10th, 2008 5:01 pm

    Is there a definite strumming pattern to follow?
    I’m a beginner and find it quite hard to follow at the moment with no pattern to adjust myself to but it would be such a lovely song to play.


  20. Tommacg September 14th, 2008 11:08 am

    as a huuuuuuuuuuge Bright Eyes/Conor Oberst i have to say thanks a million for putting this up!! Tom :)))))))

  21. Woodshed September 14th, 2008 2:02 pm

    Glad you liked it, Tom.

  22. Tommacg September 14th, 2008 10:06 pm

    fan…i meant say huuuuuge conor oberst FAN..!! *slaps forehead*

  23. Tom October 13th, 2008 7:11 pm

    i find it easier to just do the guitar version without a capo. even with a capo E major is possible. maybe i should uke it up.

  24. dave October 18th, 2008 8:21 am

    okay…dont wanna sound too stupid…but WHERE ARE THE CHORDS??

  25. Woodshed October 18th, 2008 8:47 am

    dave: Where it says “Bright Eyes – First Day of My Life (Chords)” in big red letters.

  26. nicole November 26th, 2008 3:43 pm

    whats the strum pattern for this?

  27. Larry December 12th, 2008 4:54 am

    Thank you…
    For these tabs/chords,
    I’ve been searching the web for so long,
    and all along you’ve made it all simple and easy.
    I love this song and I’m so glad I can now play it on my little ukulele thank you!!!

    If it is possible at all, I would like to make a request if you could make chords (preferred) or tabs for the song “Officially Missing You” By Tamia.

  28. Woodshed December 14th, 2008 8:06 am

    Larry: You’re welcome.

    There are chords for it on Chordie.

  29. luke_with_a_uke January 19th, 2009 10:34 am

    this song is rad, cheers woodshed, I’ve been rained in here in my mining camp for four days n these tunes have kept me sane! kudos from Bootu Creek, Australia! :)

  30. Woodshed January 19th, 2009 10:50 am

    luke: Glad I could help keep cabin fever at bay.

  31. Kushana March 19th, 2009 8:18 pm

    I’m a beginner too and I’m interested on knowing the strum pattern. I know it’s a difficult song for a beginner, but I’m obsessed with. Pleeease, please, give us the strum pattern :_)

  32. Amy April 17th, 2009 4:32 pm

    Strum pattern, please! I’ve been watching covers on YouTube for an hour in slow mo trying to figure it out! Nobody should have to go through that…

  33. Otto von Schirach April 28th, 2009 3:56 am

    Hah, I’m wearing the same Sennheisers that are in the video right now.
    Nice up, though, thanks.

  34. Woodshed April 28th, 2009 10:02 pm

    Otto von Schirach: Sennheisers are the best. I don’t put anything else on/in my ears.

  35. Sara March 11th, 2010 1:44 pm

    Woodshed, are you deliberately avoiding the pleas for the strum pattern? I’d like to know too. Thanks a lot for ignoring us.

  36. Woodshed March 11th, 2010 7:18 pm

    Sara: All this stuff takes time. Being a dick about it isn’t going to help your cause.

  37. katrina March 11th, 2010 11:45 pm

    i love this song. i love bright eyes and neutral milk hotel and i love all y’all’s posts – call me tickled.
    i have to share though, as a thoroughly new uke player i am not sure if i would call this chord chart easy. best to you all.

  38. Sarah March 12th, 2010 11:26 am

    Hi! :)

    I’m new to uke and have decided to learn this song. I’m slowly but surely getting there with the chord formation. however I’m a little confused.

    When you mention retuning the uke do you just tune it down & play as normal? Or do I need a ‘capo’ (I’ve heard alot about these things)? In which case am I correct in thinking you tune the ukulele down, place the capo on & play the same chord patterns just x ammount of frets down?

    If anybody is in the know it would be a HUGE help

    thankyou :-) xx

  39. Sara March 12th, 2010 11:28 pm

    The least you could say was “I’m working on it.”

  40. Woodshed March 14th, 2010 4:04 pm

    Sarah: You don’t need a capo – just tune each string down a fret ( B Tuning on this page). Then you play it just as you would in normal tuning.

    Retuning is (usually) for when you want to play lower and capos are for when you want to play higher. It’d be very unusual to do both together.

  41. Sarah March 22nd, 2010 12:33 pm

    ok got it, thanks!

  42. Jazzmataz39 March 22nd, 2010 8:44 pm

    the stumming pattern i use is down down up down up

  43. Tom May 14th, 2010 2:36 pm


    Great site!! As a uke nooby I couldn’t have stumbled upon a better one and am recommending it to anybody who will listen. Keep up the good work, mr shed :)

  44. Woodshed May 15th, 2010 6:14 pm

    Tom: Thanks for spreading the word. Very much appreciated.

  45. Megan May 29th, 2010 1:17 am

    yeah I know everyone is asking about this..but WHAT IS THE STRUM PATTERN? down down up down up sounds ok, but it doesn’t fit the song just right. it seems like there should be something else for different parts of the song maybe? idk, I can’t figure it out.

  46. Megan May 29th, 2010 1:27 am

    down down up up down up sounds better to me

  47. Michele July 3rd, 2010 6:42 pm

    I came across your page a few days ago and ever since I haven’t been getting any sleep! I spend all day here. Thank you for all the time you put into this, we all appreciate it.

    Keep it up :D

  48. Woodshed July 8th, 2010 9:17 pm

    Michele: You’re very welcome. Thanks for the kind words.

  49. Sharky September 9th, 2010 9:28 am

    i’ve been a fan of ukulelehunt for a while now, easily the best place to find good tabs. i’m playing a gig next month and i’m planning on finishing with this followed by you and i with my girlfriend singing.
    just like to say thank you very much and i’ll try and link a video to you of my performance.
    thank you.

  50. Woodshed September 14th, 2010 11:31 am

    Sharky: Have fun with the performance. Look forward to seeing the video.

  51. 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

  52. 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

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

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

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

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

    Even the lyrics bear a resemblance.

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

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

  56. 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.

  57. 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!

  58. 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!

  59. 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.

  60. 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.)


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

    Sam: Thanks for the strumming pattern.

  62. 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.)

  63. 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!

  64. 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?

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

    Rachel: I’ll keep it in mind.

  66. Duncan April 14th, 2018 8:34 pm

    Great song on uke and this version is awesome. I’m 10 years late to the conversation, but strumming patterns are a matter of feel and not particularly useful when written out. Just listen to the song and play what feels right!

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