Today we’re going to learn how to play Good Riddance by Greenday on guitar. To start, let’s address the obvious: this song has a bit of a confusing name.

It is officially listed in two ways: “Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)” or “Time of Your Life (Good Riddance)”. There is no clear explanation for why that is. However, I would guess that the label advocated for “Time of Your Life” as that is the recognizable line on the chorus, but the band wanted to stay with “Good Riddance” so they found a compromise. In any case, this song went on to become a big hit in the late 90’s and a Greenday favorite. Here is how to play Good Riddance by Greenday on guitar. 


Good Riddance features simple chords that most guitar players with a modicum of ability will know. The first chord is a G with the added octave. From there we move on to a Cadd9. This is basically a C with a D as one of the top notes. To switch from the G to the Cadd9, simply move your index and middle finger down one string and keep your ring and pinky fingers in the same position. We then move on to a regular D chord to complete the first section.

The second section features the chords Em, D, C, G. But this time all the chords are the normal or folk version, without any extensions added. 

For what could be considered the chorus, we’ve got Em, G, Em, G, Em, D, G. The last three chords this is where the line “I hope you have the time of your life” happens. 

All of the above is the basic nucleus of the song, with a verse and chorus. We then repeat this a few more times for the following verse and chorus. 

Strumming pattern

“Good Riddance” uses a simple strumming pattern that is quite common. It is D DU UD UD DU. Try playing it slowly at first and then build-up to the speed of the recording. Also, try emphasizing the B string if possible, just to make it sound closer to how it was recorded. Remember that the D chord is played from the fourth string down. 

Putting it together

One of the most important aspects of putting this song together is being able to play the strum pattern while changing the chords on time. On top of that, you also have to keep your place in the form. Although it is an easy strum pattern, it does stay consistent throughout the whole song, which may be tiring for some of you. Feel free to take breaks and slowly develop the stamina to play through the entire song. 

It would also help to learn the lyrics, so then you can focus exclusively on the strum pattern and chords.

Learning how to play Good Riddance by Greenday will help you further develop your sense of form. Additionally, you also get to work on a common strum pattern that you can use in many other songs. Good Riddance is a great song to add to your repertoire. It is a lot of fun to play and easy as well, as long as you practice it the right way. Remember to go slow and try to have as much fun as possible. Leave us a comment below with some of the songs you’d like to learn.