Everyone has that song that they turn on when they need something to lift their mood – one of those songs that can change the feel of your whole day in a matter of seconds. In this video, Ayla gets into her favorite “feel-good” song, The Boys Are Back In Town by Thin Lizzy. The chords in this 1976 tune aren’t just some standard four-chord progression. There’s some real intention behind the chords that were chosen and the mood they set. With that said, let’s get into the first piece of this song.
Quick note, if you struggle with bar chords, you might want to check out our Bar Chord Survival Guide.
We’ll also be touching on a little bit of music theory in this lesson, so if you need to brush up, dive into our Guitar Music Theory Crash Course.
The key we’ll be playing in is Ab major and for the first section of this song, there are quite a few chords you’ll need to wrap your fingers around. You’ll start with an Ab major chord and move to a C minor 7 chord. This chord change is known as a I – III (1 – 3) movement because you’re moving from the first chord in the key to the third chord in the key.
From the C minor 7, you’ll move up to a Db major chord which is the IV (4) chord of the key. Following this is a variation of the VI (6) chord called Fsus4. Using this suspended chord here adds some mystery and adventure. It tends to feel a little bit more unresolved compared to its minor counterpart.
Next, we move back to the C minor 7 and Fsus4, before going into a II – V – 1 (2 – 5 – 1) using the chords Bb minor 7, Eb9sus4 (a Stevie Wonder favorite), and Ab major.
Now for the second half of the verse, we play the same long chord progression with one change. This change includes a chord from outside of the key of Ab major. We call this a non-diatonic chord. We do this by playing our IV chord (Db major) then raising it up a minor third (three frets).
For the chorus section of The Boys Are Back In Town, the chords get a little easier but we add a short riff between changes. The chords are Bb minor 7, Db major, and Ab major, which can be played either as full chords or as power chords to sound more like the original recording. Between the first two chords, you can add the iconic little riff, but it’s not entirely necessary to nail the feel of this part of the song.
So now that you’ve made it to the end, how does this chord progression make you feel? Are there other songs out there that you’d consider to be just as “feel-good”? Be sure to let us know in the comments on YouTube!