'O Susanna' Guitar Chords

Father playing guitar with son
Rebecca Nelson/Getty Images

Learn to play Stephen Foster's 'Oh Susanna' on the guitar

Chords Used: A (x02220) | E (022100) | D (xx0232)

    A                                  E
Oh I come from Alabama with a banjo on my knee,
A                              E    A
I'm going to Louisiana, my true love for to see
A                                                 E
It rained all night the day I left, the weather it was dry
A                                   E       A
The sun so hot I froze to death; Susanna, don't you cry.

D          A               E
Oh, Susanna, don't you cry for me
A                           E   A
For I come from Alabama with my banjo on my knee.

Other Verses

I had a dream the other night when everything was still,
I thought I saw Susanna coming up the hill,
The buckwheat cake was in her mouth, the tear was in her eye,
I said I'm coming from Dixieland, Susanna don't you cry.

I soon will be in New Orleans
And then I'll look around
And when I find my gal Susanna,
I'll fall upon the ground.

Performance Tips

There are multiple ways to approach strumming this song, but the most straightforward way is through a series of quick downstrums. Following the structure above, each line should have 16 short downstrums. Since each line above is really four bars of music, you can think of it as four bars, with four strums each. Because of this, you will see some lines with two chords shown that have 12 strums of the first chord and four of the second chord. Try and use your ear to determine when to switch.

The chords themselves should be pretty simple - A major, D major and E major are some of the first chords guitarists learn on the instrument. There are some cases when you need to make a quick chord change - if you're having trouble, be sure to consult this article on how to switch chords quickly.

A History of Oh Susanna

This American minstrel song written by Stephen Foster was first published in 1848. The popularity of the song at the time led to Foster becoming the first fully professional songwriter in America. The song's original lyrics were strongly racial in context - the second verse - now rarely sung - contained the "n-word."