Sometime By Gene Thomas
An Easy Song And A Great Example Of Using
A Different Key To Simplify Playing
Sometime by Gene Thomas is a song originally released in 1961 on the Venus label. The song became a hit even though it was his first recording and his first experience in a recording studio. Information on Gene Thomas and his career can be found on the Internet. Two sites I found interesting were Gene Thomas The Original and a Wikipedia article on Gene and Debbie Neville.
Why would I write an article about this song, which many people probably do not remember or may never have heard before? Because someone asked me to.
Well, actually, they did not ask me to write an article, they sent me an email asking if I knew where they could find the chords for this song. I could not find them online, but as I was searching I did notice that someone had posted a video of the song on YouTube.com I sounded as though it contained only a few chords, so I thought I would try to pick out the chords myself. Thirty minutes later I had the lyrics, chords, and a couple guitar riffs sitting in front of me.
Unfortunately, when I tried to send the chords to my reader, the email could not be delivered. Something about a daemon failing permanently. Maybe servers need to get better daemons that only fail sometimes. ;-)
Regardless of the reason for the failure, I now had a perfectly good song, that is easy to play (once the chords are transposed and a capo is applied) plus a couple easy guitar licks. Ready to share and nowhere to go.
I also had a reader who still could not find the chords, and I could not reach my reader. So, L.A., if you are out there... this song is for you.
The Basic Structure Of The Song
Most houses have similar structures: a foundation, framing, walls, etc. Most songs also have similar structures. The song Sometime by Gene Thomas is no exception. It includes an introduction, several verses, a chorus, and a bridge. Most of these building blocks use the same chords, but they change them around slightly to keep the listener interested.
Most popular music songs, especially from the 1950's and 1960's, use only a few chords. The common pattern was to use a three chord progression, and then add a fourth or fifth chord for variety in the bridge (typically the instrumental portion of the song) and then return to the established three chord progression. This song sticks to this pattern, using only three chords while occassionally mixing them up for variety.
The three chord pattern makes songs like Sometime by Gene Thomas perfect candidates for new guitar players to learn.
The as-recorded version of the song is in the key of E. It uses a standard I, IV, V chord progression. This means that the chords used throughout the song are E, A, and B.
At this point some of you will wonder: How did he know that the song was in the key of E, and how did he know that the song uses the chord progression I, IV, V? I will answer these briefly before getting back to the song. If you are not curious about the answers, simply skip down to The Song & Its Chords, below.
How do you know the song is in the key of E? Most songs begin with the matching chord that matches the key of the song. Most songs also end with the matching chord of the key the song is written in. This rule is so prominent, you can almost always bet that the if the opening chord is E (as an example) and the closing chord is E, then the song is written in E. For now, ignore the exceptions. I discovered quickly that the opening chord to Sometime by Gene Thomas was E. (I actually discovered this by playing only one note on my low E string, and then filling in the chord later.)
How did you know that the song uses the chord progression I, IV, V? This is part trial and error, and part understanding that most pop songs use this chord progression. Once I knew that the opening chord was E, it was easy to count from 1 to 5 to see what the next chords are likely to be. Like this: E, F, G, A, B (I do this by saying out loud E, F, G, A, B, while counting 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 on my fingers. Writing it down is easy too.) Next, simply try playing the A and B chords along with chord changes in the song to see if they match. Thankfully, in this song, they do! Knowing this makes it much easier to transpose the song to a different key (more on transposing this song later).
Playing Sometime by Gene Thomas is a relatively straight-forward job of playing the I, IV, V chords along with the song to see where the fit in, and then writing all of this down. Below is how I wrote out the Introduction, First Verse, Bridge, and Chorus using these three chords.
E A B
E A B Sometimes I cry when I'm lonely E A B Sometimes I cry when I'm blue E A B Right now I'm cryin' 'cause I love you E A E I'm cryin' 'cause you don't love me too
A B E Come on and tell me if you love me A B E Won't you please answer yes or no A B E Tell me if I'm your one and only A B So I can either stay or go.
Verse 2 Chords are the same as Verse 1
The Bridge Chords Are:
A B E A B E A B E A A B B
Verse 3 Chords are the same as Verse 1
The Outro chords are A B E A B E (fading out)
A Couple Easy Riffs
When you listen to the song you can hear two guitar licks that are perfect for people who want to start playing guitar, but feel overwhelmed. The first riff occurs right at the beginning of the song. The second is repeated several times during each verse.
Riff #1, used at the beginning of Sometime by Gene Thomas, is a fairly common partial E-scale. You will hear similar partial scales in many songs, typically as a series of notes that lead the ear to the chord. In this case, the guitarist plays four eighth notes: B C# D# E. This riff is played once right at the beginning, and then repeated immediately before Verse 1.
All of these notes are in the E major scale (recall that the key of the song is E, and more specifically, E-Major). The riff ends with E. In this way, the riff leads the listeners' ear to expect to hear an E chord, and in fact the first chord of the introduction is E-Major.
Riff #2 is used several times in each verse. This riff is also a partial scale. The notes are C# D# E F# (which are also notes from the E-Major scale). When you listen the this riff you might notice the little bit of "tension" that is created by leading the listener to F# even though the current chord is B and the next chord is E. This riff is very effective in keeping the song interesting.
After you learn the chords of the song, try practicing these riffs. Then, try using similar riffs in other songs that you already know.
One downside to Sometime by Gene Thomas is that it uses the B chord. This is not a chord that most beginners learn. However, this does not mean that you cannot play the song, you simply need to find substitute chords.
How do you find substitute chords? It is easier than you might think.
Remember that the song uses the chord progression I, IV, V most of the time. Because the song is in E-Major these chords are: E, A, B. But they don't have to be, they can begin with any chord you like as long as you use the same chord number.
For example, you might want to play the song in A. This means that you will play the chords A, D, E (count the chords out as 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, beginning with A, as explained in the Verse, Chorus, & Bridge section above.
Personally, I found the song easier to play in the key of C, using the chords C, G, A. To play the song the way I did, simply replace each E chord shown with a C, each A chord shown with a G, and each B chord shown with an A.
If you transpose the song to C, as I did, and still want to play along with the recording, simply use a capo placed at fret the fifth fret.
Now Go Play!
Thanks for reading about how to play Sometime by Gene Thomas. I hope you have enjoyed it as much as I did!