Elbow are a magnificent band, their proto-musical roots perhaps lie in singer Guy Garvey’s admiration of Genesis-era Peter Gabriel although the early elbow song Newborn was, he told interviewers, modelled on a song from “A Trick of the Tail”, namely Ripples, which was post-Gabriel Genesis. Nevertheless, they continue to write and play enigmatic and evocative music of which the song The Bones of You is a fine example.
Now, the ubiquitous guitar tab sites have all sorts of versions of the chords guitarist Mark Potter is purportedly playing on this song. Weird, twisted things that are almost impossible to move between without a lot of digital contortions and attendant noise. Moreover, none of the versions I saw sounded even remotely like the harmonies Potter is producing with six strings on the album or live.
So, I took a quick look at a clip of the band playing the song with the BBC Orchestra. One thing is immediately obvious, Potter, as many guitarists, is efficient. He’s not contorting, it’s just him shuttling between two simple chord shapes. Of course, it’s in an odd time signature against the main beat, as you often expect with this genre and there are some of the same open strings ringing the same notes in both chords.
The two chords which fill the song are a D6/9 chord and A minor-9, the latter with an added D (there’s an implied F# with the bass and vocal melody, giving an Am6/9. The song implies the D6/9 has an added A implying an E7sus4. However, that’s not the end of it Potter is playing with a capo at fret three, so the above discussion is up three semitones: the main chords are thus F6/9and Cm9, with their attendant passing notes C on top of the F6/9 and an A on the Cm9.
Here’s a quick snippet of me playing the two chords with capo 3, not exactly the rhythm Potter plays on The Bones of You but close enough for a demonstration.
More Classic Chords here.