Tom Waits – Whistlin’ Past the Graveyard (Chords/Tab)

Tom Waits – Whistlin’ Past the Graveyard (Chords)

A Halloween song and also – since he has a new album out – a long overdue Tom Waits song (unless you count his take on the Wire theme). The chords are exactly the same for the – possibly slightly better – Screamin’ Jay Hawkins version.

Plenty more Halloween tunes in this post.

Twiddly Bits

The verses are just this riff in Bm:

Which sounds like this:


It’s a pretty generic blues riff so feel free to steal it and use it in any key you like. For example, here it is in Cm:

And here it is in Fm:

Suggested Strumming

For the chorus you can just do:

d u d u d u d u

But make sure you give it plenty of swing.

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  1. Josh Gordon October 25th, 2011 6:44 pm

    Nice! Hey, the riff is even simpler — I hold down a Bm7 instead and just twiddle between the G and E strings. (Not fair to low-G players, I know.)

  2. Ambient Doughnut October 26th, 2011 11:55 am

    I shall have a play with that later – Looks simple enough. Singing like Tom Waits will be the real challenge though!

    Just ordered the album. Very excited. Have you previewed the tracks here?

    Back in the crowd is pretty straight forward and I was strumming along by the second listen.

  3. Mike October 26th, 2011 3:55 pm

    Oh man, here’s one I never would have expected to see the chords for. Awesome choice, awesome arrangement. Thanks!

  4. Lori Fischer October 26th, 2011 5:13 pm

    Love him, can’t wait to get the words to the song and get my ukulele out. yeah baby. love it.

  5. Stuie October 27th, 2011 5:50 am

    Oooh very nice
    I’d love it if you would do a bit more on chords and the riff counter parts
    the Bm and e2 and a0 stuff is really cool
    For instance from memory trying to do some tab stuff
    Dm comes with c2 e0 e1 e3 quiet often, like with the Big Bang song by Charlie
    Could work out for a kind of “Getting started with writing tabs” or “Writing for two players”
    I dunno, I’m selfish. I just want to know :D

  6. Stephen October 28th, 2011 2:09 am

    It’s cool that you did a Tom Waits song! He’s one of my favorite singer/song writers. Another favorite is Elvis Costello (nudge nudge).

  7. Woodshed October 28th, 2011 3:39 pm

    Josh: I was thinking of tabbing it that way. Whenever I’ve done a campanella-y arrangement I get comments saying there’s an easier way to do it. There’s no winning on this one!

    Ambient: I was looking for it on Spotify and it seems it’s not going to be on there. It’s not often I buy stuff without listening on there first.

    Mike and Lori: Thanks!

    Stuie: I’ve been thinking about doing a ‘getting start with tab’ thing. So it might crop up at some point.

    Stephen: I’ve been meaning to do Elvis’s ukulele song for ages.

  8. Amy November 2nd, 2011 3:32 am

    Nice work Woodshed as usual. I love this song!

    FYI for all Tom Waits fans out there! He did a radio interview with Triple J (radio station in Australia)last week and talks about new album and a bunch of other stuff. They would have it up on their site by now. The man is amazing :D

  9. Woodshed November 2nd, 2011 10:34 am

    Amy: Thanks, I’ll check that out.

  10. Josh K-sky November 4th, 2011 1:17 am

    Thanks for the tab! For the record, “his take on the Wire theme” is the original. “Way Down in the Hole” was first released on Frank’s Wild Years.

  11. Woodshed November 4th, 2011 7:42 am

    Josh: Thanks for the info.

  12. Bensnit August 28th, 2014 11:55 am

    Really nice uke version of Tom Wait’s Time by George Welch on you tube. Check it out

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