This is one of Waits’s folkiest and most affecting songs. It’s also very adaptable. Making it great for a mixed ability group. And if Tom Waits can sing it anyone can (except me).
I’ve written it up in three levels of difficulty.
The very easiest way to play it is with just C, F and G. You can also substitute G7 for G if you prefer.
You can use this as the main strum:
d – d u
First two lines: Twice on C and F. Four times on G
Second two lines: Once on each chord until the last G where you play the strum four times.
Last line: One down strum each on F and G. Then back to the pattern until one down strum each on C – G – C – G at the end of the verse.
Together it sounds like this:
The last verse does mix up the strumming pattern. But you can easily make it fit the same pattern as the rest of the verses and I recommend doing that if you’re playing in a group.
The only difference here is your playing a G7sus4 to G7 move in place of the G at the end of the lines in the easy version. The strumming is exactly the same except on the long Gs you do the main strum twice on G7sus4 and twice on G7.
This version is based on the guitar picking in the song. I start off using one finger per string picking until bar 7 where I move my thumb to the C-string with index and middle on E and A. Back to one per string in bar 11 before changing again for the run at the end.