Over the past two decades, alternative music has slowly bled and blended its way into the mainstream. The resulting music is responsible for some of pop music’s most interesting contributions. The “indie” genre is a broad term that encompasses many other genres, but its defining characteristic is its embrace of DIY (do it yourself) philosophy in terms of writing and recording music. If you’re looking for some interesting songs to learn on piano, then starting with indie music is a great choice. These songs aren’t overly produced or difficult to play. We’ve got six excellent indie piano songs to teach you in this article. We’ll provide the lyrics and chord charts. We recommend taking some time memorizing the chords and chord transitions before you jump into these songs if you’re new to the piano. Check out our recent article on piano chords and intervals if you want to learn how chords work. Ready to get started?

 

“Transatlanticism,” by Death Cab For Cutie

 

death cab
Photo credit: Kobby Dagan / Shutterstock.com

“Transatlanticism” is the title track to Death Cab For Cutie’s incredible 2003 album. Singer and principal songwriter Ben Gibbard made up the word while writing lyrics for the album. The song tells the story of the pain it feels to be in love with someone who is physically out of reach. This song starts out sparse and builds into something hugely beautiful and even celebratory. It’s one of the excellent indie piano songs to learn if you’re just beginning to learn how to construct and transition between chords.

 

 

death cab chords

death cab chords


[Verse 1]
A                      C#m                     D    F#m
The Atlantic was born today and I’ll tell you how:
A                      C#m              D    F#m
The clouds above opened up and let it out.
     A                             C#m
I was standing on the surface of a perforated sphere
         D                 F#m
When the water filled every hole.
   A                                 C#m
And thousands upon thousands made an ocean,
                    D                F#m
Making islands where no island should go.

Oh no.



[Verse 2]
A                      C#m                     D           F#m
Those people were overjoyed; they took to their boats.
A                         C#m                  D           F#m
I thought it less like a lake and more like a moat.
   A                               C#m
The rhythm of my footsteps crossing flood lands to your door have been
D                F#m
Silenced forever more.
   A                                 C#m
The distance is quite simply much too far for me to row
        D                 F#m
It seems farther than ever before

Oh no.

D           A            F#m          E
I need you so much closer (4x)

 

So come on
F#m        C#m            D           E

 

 

“Lover’s Spit,” by Broken Social Scene

 

This incredible track comes from Canadian indie rock band Broken Social Scene’s 2002 album You Forgot It In People. The album became a huge favorite for indie fans due to its masterful song craft and experimental production techniques. Like “Transatlanticism,” this song features simple and repetitive chord progressions, but the rhythm between the left and right hands is a bit more challenging.

 

broken social scene chords

broken social scene chords

 

[Intro] C    F   Am   G

[Verse 1] C            F                          Am     G
All these people drinking lover’s spit
C            F                               Am     G
They sit around and clean their face with it
C                 F                            Am     G
And they listen to teeth to learn how to quit
C         F                      Am     G
Tied to a night they never met

C             
You know it’s time
    F       Am                   G
That we grow old and do some shit
C                       F
I like it all that way
Am                      G
I like it all that way


[Verse 2] 

C            F                          Am     G
All these people drinking lover’s spit
C            F                       Am     G
Swallowing words while giving head
C              F                           Am     G
They listen to teeth to learn how to quit
C         F                         Am     G
Take some hands and get used to it


[Bridge] C    F   Am   G

 


[Verse 4] C            F                          Am     G
All these people drinking lover’s spit
C            F                               Am     G
They sit around and clean their face with it

C
You know it’s time
    F       Am                   G
That we grow old and do some shit
C                       F
I like it all that way
Am                      G
I like it all that way


[Outro]    C                F                F               G
End on C

 

“Some Things Last a Long Time,” by Daniel Johnston

 

“Some Things Last a Long Time,” was released by the enigmatic songwriter Daniel Johnston in 1990. Johnston famously suffers from schizophrenia and is a huge figure in alternative and lo-fi indie music, so a Johnston song is a must on a list of indie piano songs. This song is simple, catchy, and strangely haunting.

 

daniel johnston chords

daniel johnston chords

 

 

[Verse]      Am C/G Dsus2 F
Your picture is still on my wall, on my wall

      Am C/G Dsus2 F
The colors are bright, bright as ever
Am     C/F        Dsus2   F
Red is strong and blue is pure

[Chorus] G           F           C
Some things last a long time
G           F           C
Some things last a long time

[Verse]

      Am C/G Dsus2 F
Your picture is still on my wall, on my wall
      Am C/G Dsus2 F

The colors are bright, bright as ever

     Am     C/F        Dsus2   F
Red is strong and blue is pure

[Chorus] G           F           C
Some things last a long time
G           F           C
Some things last a long time

[Verse]

   Am C/G Dsus2 F
Your picture is still on my wall, on my wall

   Am C/G Dsus2 F
I think about you often, often

   Am     C/F        Dsus2   F
I won’t forget all the things we did

[Chorus] G           F           C
Some things last a long time
G           F           C
Some things last a long time

[Verse]

Am C/G Dsus2 F
It’s funny, but it’s true

Am C/G Dsus2 F
And it’s true, but it’s not funny

Am C/G Dsus2 F
Time comes and goes

Am C/F Dsus2 F
All of the while, I still think about you

 

[Chorus] G           F           C
Some things last a long time

G           F           C
Your picture is still on my wall, on my wall

G           F           C
The colors are bright, bright as ever

G           F           C
the things we did I can´t forget

[Chorus/Outro] G           F           C
Some things last a long time
G           F           C
Some things last a long time
G           F           C
Some things last a long time

 

“You Got Yr Cherry Bomb,” by Spoon

 

spoon
Photo credit: Rene Oonk / Shutterstock.com

This 2007 song sounds like it’s right out of the 1960’s Motown era. It’s from Spoon’s masterpiece album Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga. The band has said in interviews that they really struggled with writing this song. They apparently recorded three completely different versions of “You Got Yr. Cherry Bomb” and decided they liked this version the best. The keys in this indie pop song generally play a supporting role by filling out chords in a syncopated rhythm.

 

spoon chords

spoon chords

spoon chords

 

 

Intro:  

Am D G Em
       Am D

G                             C    
Life can be so fair let it go on and on
G                                C           C/B
I can push for good you got that cherry bomb
            
             Am         G      D  C
Blow out that cherry bomb  for me
          C      C/B        D
We lost it long ago  you and me

G                                   C
Now you know your way back from the spirit far
G                                      C            C/B
Brush your teeth for bed blow out that cherry bomb

             Am         G      D  C
Blow out that cherry bomb  for me
          C                        D
You got to know it’s on your sleeve know it’s on your sleeve
G                         C  G Am  B

Know it’s on your sleeve  

          Am               G      D      C
It was the longest day that I ever known
             C               C/B   D
I watched you start that drive     alone

             Am         G      D  C
Blow out that cherry bomb  for me
          C                  C/B    D       
It’s gonna burn right up your sleeve burn right up your sleeve

  G                              C
So there you go again out in your dressing gown
G                                 C           C/B
Get yourself to bed blow out that cherry bomb

   Am               G             D          C
Oh, life could be so fair let it go on and on
C              C/B                 D
I could pay to have, have all your cherry bomb
   Am               G             D          C
Oh, life could be so fair let it go on and on
C              C/B                 D
I could pay to have, have all your cherry bomb

Am D G Em
Am D G x2

 

“The Greatest,” by Cat Power

 

Photo credit: Christian Bertrand / Shutterstock.com

Written by Cat Power’s frontwoman and songwriter Chan Marshall in 2006, this song features a simple piano part that holds together a morose tapestry of strings, haunting backing vocals, and minimalist percussion. It’s a song that proves the piano doesn’t have to play intricate and complicated parts in order to be effective and memorable.

 

cat power chords

cat power chords

 

 

Intro:

C  Am  Em  Em

C      Am          Em
Once I wanted to be the greatest
C          Am              Em
No wind of waterfall could stall me
   F             Dm     
And then came the rush of the flood
G
Stars of night turned deep to dust

       C
Melt me down
    Am                Em
Into big black armour
        C        Am
Leave no trace of grace
            Em
Just in your honour
        C
Lower me down
   Am
To culprit south

Make ’em wash a space in town
        F
For the lead
       Dm
And the dregs of my bed
         G
I’ve been sleepin’

        F
Lower me down
      Dm
Pin me in
          G
Secure the grounds
                    C     Am    Em
For the later parade

C      Am           Em
Once I wanted to be the greatest
C            Am    Em
Two fists of solid rock
C           Am   
With brains that could explain
   Em
Any feeling

        F
Lower me down
      Dm
Pin me in
          G
Secure the grounds
       F
For the lead
       Dm
And the dregs of my bed
         G
I’ve been sleepin’
                 C   Am   Em
For the later parade

C      Am           Em
Once I wanted to be the greatest
C          Am              Em
No wind of waterfall could stall me
   F             Dm
And then came the rush of the flood
G
Stars of night turned deep to dust

 

“Two Weeks,” by Grizzly Bear

 

Grizzly Bear has written dozens of amazing songs, but even listeners who know nothing about indie music know them for the unique and infectious sound of “Two Weeks.” Released as a single in 2009, this song features simple chord progressions played staccato over a steady 4/4 rhythm. It features backing vocals from another powerhouse indie group, Beach House.

 

beach house chords

beach house chords

 

 

[Intro]
F Am C

[Verse]
F               Am   C
Save up all the days
F           Am    C
A routine relays
F               Am
Just like yesterday
 C                F     Am C
I told you I would stay


[Chorus]


         Bb      F C
Would you always
      Bb         F C
Maybe sometimes
       Bb        F C
Make it easy
         Bb      F C
Take your time


[Instrumental]
F Am C


[Verse]

 

F                Am     C
Think of all the ways

F                Am    C
Momentary phase

F                Am    C
Just like yesterday

F                  Am    C
I told you I would stay

 

F                 Am   C
Every time you try

F                Am    C

Quarter half the mile

F                Am     C
Just like yesterday

F                 Am    C
I told you I would stay


[Chorus]
         Bb      F C
Would you always
      Bb         F C
Maybe sometimes
       Bb        F C
Make it easy
         Bb      F C
Take your time

 

The indie piano songs we’ve showed you in this article are somewhat simplified to make them easier to play. This means that you should do a good amount of critical listening in order to learn exactly how each part should be played. If you need help learning these indie piano songs, we recommend taking some time to find a good piano teacher in your area. Working with an experienced teacher can take your playing to another level.

 

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