John Mayer – Stop This Train | Song Tutorial


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Stop This Train might very well be my favorite song of all time. Wait. Haven’t I said that before? Well anyway, it’s enough for me to have put in about 20 hours of work to make this Stop This Train piano tutorial – which has become a real shiner.

Hi Guys!

Back in the day when my -then- good friend Mark introduced me to the album Heavier Things by this “new” guy John Mayer, I remember falling instantly in love. That doesn’t happen to me often, especially not with guys. So I immediately knew there was something special here.

Clarity & lifetime fandom

The song “Clarity” was the one that seemed to have gotten set to “repeat indefinitely” that summer. What a track. What a sound. What a guy.
After I’d spent some hours exploring the internet checking out this John live, I was sold hooked. This was my new favorite artist. The sheer talent of him performing on his acoustic guitar in fact hit me so deep and hard, that it managed to strike yet another nerve in my ambition to learning music myself, leveraging my drive from an interest to a passion.

Needless to say, I’ve been listening to John, following his every move (well, many of his moves), every since.

Continuum & Stop This Train

When the much anticipated album Continuum came out, Stop this Train immediately was something special to me. I’ve always loved the acoustic tunes. On this particular song however, John seemed to have outdone himself in terms of “Paul McCartney-ness” too. This wasn’t just a song. This was a story. A life’s story.

Learning Stop This Train, piano-fying (and even covering) it

My brother, back then trying to learn the guitar, was intrigued too. Particularly so, when his teacher told and showed him the difficulty of the right-hand pattern that John uses in the verse, to imitate the (not stopping) train. So he told me and showed me. Then he spent the next 6 months trying to get a grip of that damned pattern.

Fast forward a bunch of years (I’m not even sure, must be 10 or so?) to about four months ago, when I realized that although Stop This Train might still very well be at the top of my favorite songs list, I myself hadn’t ever taken the time to figure out how to play it. So I did. And, as it behooves a truly good song, it took me some time to come up with a piano part that does its insanely amazing, guitar-picking composition justice.

Before completely working it out only last month, back then I even gave covering the -in my opinion- most beautiful part of the song a shot.
First that (to get into the feel of how we’ll be approaching the song too), below it you’ll find the tutorial.

John Mayer | Stop This Train – Cover (snippet)

In this tutorial I’ll show you:

  • A piano-fied version of Johns amazing “unstoppable-train” pattern, which carries a mere two-chord verse to unmatched heights
  • The gorgeous and uncommon use of the minor-major 7th chord in the chorus, giving it the appropriate amount of melancholy
  • How the composition of this tune’s harmony-bed for the verse, chorus, intermezzo (premium only) and bridge (premium only) work and how together they form one of the greatest arrangements of contemporary music

To paraphrase John’s father, as he famously speaks in the song – don’t stop this train. Please don’t. Just let it take us all the way to goosebump city. And back.

Have fun learning how to play “Stop This Train” on piano!

Cheers, Coen.

John Mayer | Stop This Train – Tutorial

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