When You Leave | Mark Knopfler Songbook | Chords


Now this is a masterpiece. I’ve seen a lot of people calling it a jazz song, but to be honest, I can’t see too much jazz in it. Yes, the piano plays some jazz chords here and there, the muted trumpet of course. But the core of the song is still this simple and very guitar-oriented ballad. Much like The Ragpicker’s Dream. To me When You Leave is even closer, because it reminds me the Russian romance, which is this ballad type of the song usually accompanied by guitar. With Dark Eyes being probably the most famous example. A lot of Eastern Europe in this song. If you don’t believe me, let’s try to play When You Leave as a waltz. See what I’m talking about? And it’s just one example. Anyway, back to the song. What we have here is a pretty simple, but useful kind of picking, I’d say beginner-friendly picking, because… At this point there’s nothing in the left hand. It’s the Em/D chord. And the right hand pattern is bass and the rest of the chord broken into 3 beats. And of course it’s a kind of song where you can ditch this thumb-over-the-top technique, which makes it whole lot easier. There’s a bar chord, but it’s easy. There’s not too much chords. For the verse we have: Em, Em/D, C (or Cmaj7), D/F#, G, G#dim [4x343x], Am, B7/F#, Emadd9 (this is 9th), just an Em chord with one note up. Then, essentially the Am/F# chord. It has many names, for instance F#m7b5, because if you take F#m7 and flatten the 5th, you get this chord. It’s also Am6. Because if you take Am and add 6th to it, it’s Am6. Anyway. The second verse is identical, then the middle part we actually start with F#m7b5. To sound like the record I add this C bass, but it’s optional. To familiar B7 and Em. And again, to gain some momentum you can add bass notes to basically Am chord. Then for the finish there’s Hendrix chord as I call it, actually very handy chord to grip, all it is is a B7 with added #9 if you want a proper name. From that you can go down to the simple B7. By playing first #9 and then b9. Or like on the record, with a F# in the bass. The third verse is identical to the first two, except for the ending it goes… Again, nothing too complicated, what we aim for is this bass movement from E to C#. And there’s many ways to achieve that. The easiest I can think of is Em with one finger, Em/D with one finger, and C#m7b5. Again this fancy chord which has one of the most enjoyable grips ever — [x4545x]. It’s so natural. The OTHER way is going thorough some open strings. What I like to do, because I can, I play Em/C# with my thumb and the whole voice leading is still here. So try experimenting in this part, it’s fun. Because then it’s C6/9 [x32233]. Or just play C here. Suspended B7 which can be played down here without bar. In case you wandering, the intro sequence also has this suspended B7 which is technically Am/B going to B7b9, but it’s too awkward to play on guitar. It’s Fm9 [x7577x] going to Dbmaj7 [x3545x]. I call it by real names because you can’t have capo on the piano, right? Bbm7 is [5x555x] or of course [x02010] and suspended B7. The song ends with a jazz vamp over Cmaj7 going to Emadd9. And the last chords are again Am with B in the bass and Emadd9 for the finish. All in all, despite the fact that this song has like a dozen of really fancy chords, still I’d call it an easy song, because names is just names. Who cares it’s Emadd9 if it sounds cool, right? And the fact that you can simplify most of the chords like B suspended, C6/9 and play most of it even without bar chords makes me think about this song more like of a folk ballad dressed up in jazzy clothes. Much like The Ragpicker’s Dream, as I said. I recommend to check out the chords for the song on UG. it’s easier to follow along. Don’t be afraid of all them fancy chords and thanks for watching!