Joy To The World Chords – How To Play The Three Dog Night Classic

Learn to play the Joy To The World chords from the classic band Three Dog Night

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In this free lesson you will learn…

  • How to play “Joy To The World” by Three Dog Night
  • What seventh chords are and how to construct them
  • Tips for better chord transitions
  • How to practice this song effectively

How To Play The Joy To The World Chords By Three Dog Night

“Jeremiah was a bullfrog, he was a good friend of mine.”

 If you don’t already know the song, you’ve no doubt heard the lyrics of this one tossed around before.

“Joy To The World” by Three Dog Night was released in 1971 and has seen more than its fair share of success in the fifty years that it’s been out.

That’s right folks, fifty years.

This one’s definitely had a great run, and it’s extremely worth learning especially if you’re a beginner guitarist.

The Joy To The World chords are relatively easy on their own, but the real challenge with this song is getting the rhythm and pacing right.


This tune will introduce some of us to seventh chords, which are a fundamental tool that we’ll want to keep in our back pocket.

We’ll explore some quick chord changes and some relatively easy shapes while we navigate this tune, so make sure you stretch your hands before you pick up your guitar!

In this lesson, we’re going to walk you through the ins and outs of the Joy To The World chords so that you too can sing about an imaginary bullfrog and heaps of wine.

Click here to listen to it, then scroll down for a quick history on why this song is so awesome.


A Brief History On The Song

This song was recorded as a “silly tune” by Three Dog Night on their album “Naturally.”

The members recall the vocalist wanting to record a melody that he had in his head and simply singing the first words that came to mind.

Does it make sense? No.

Does it sound great? Yes.

Is that all that matters? Absolutely.

The single version of this song has sold over 5 million copies worldwide to date – an impressive feat to say the least.

Jeremiah may have been a bullfrog, but he apparently really knew how to groove.


Now that we’ve covered the bare essentials, let’s move on to the song itself and talk about some Joy To The World chords and their shapes.

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Joy To The World Chords – Understanding The Seventh Chord

As we said above, this song will introduce some of us to the concept of seventh chords, and that’s what we’re going to focus on first.

We have three main seventh chords that we’re going to run in the Joy To The World chords:




Although these chords may have unique shapes how we will learn them today, they all follow the same 4-note principle of structure:

Root note – Major 3rd – 5th – Dominant 7th.



(If you don't understand the above image please read our article "How To Read Guitar Chordboxes In 60 Seconds". It will make everything clear!)



The dominant 7th chord is unique because it doesn’t pull toward other chords in the same way something like a suspended chord does.

These chords assert their own ground in a very firm way amongst the rest of the Joy To The World chords.

Pro Tip: Try playing an arpeggio of each chord to get the full feel of the sound. This will help you train your ears to recognize the sound of this type of chord more easily.

Arpeggios are the best way to learn how each type of chord sounds, and they serve not only as great techniques for sounding out chords; but as amazing ear training devices as well.

Click here for a guide to playing arpeggios for beginners.


Joy To The World Chords – The Full Cast Of Chords

If there’s one thing that this song excels in, it’s the chord selection.

The Joy To The World chords may look like an overwhelming bunch at first, but it won’t take long for us to break them all down into digestible shapes.

Let’s start with the chords from the intro:

D – C – G – Bb

Three of these chords can be played in the open position, while the last can’t be.

The D, C and G chords are fairly straightforward, and we can play them using easy short-form versions if we’re just starting out.

The Bb chord will require us to (at the very least) make a power chord at the first fret on the A string.






There are four more Joy To The World chords in this song that we’ll want to practice before diving into the progression of this song:

F – C# – E – A

We know that a couple of you just shuddered at the sight of the F chord, but fear not – we’re here to help!

Before we go any further – if you’re concerned about the F chord, just click here and we’ll teach you how to play it.

The C# chord can be played using the same shape as the D major chord, just on the first fret instead of the second.

The E and A chords are more straightforward. Check them out below!

 F Major


E Major

A Major

Joy To The World Chords – The Progressions

This tune has a couple different chord progressions for us to play, so let’s look a little closer!

The intro that we’ve already looked at begins like this:

D – C – G – Bb




C – C# – D

These Joy To The World chords are pretty straightforward once you know them, but there’s a cool thing that happens at the end there – did you see it?

We move from C, to C#, then to D. This takes only a few steps and one chord shape.

We can accomplish this move by making a power chord at the third fret on the A string (C), then moving it up one fret to C#, then another to the fifth fret for D.


Let’s move on to the main verse section now.

We’re going to repeat the C, C#, D movement at the end of the first two lyrics before going into another progression. Listen to the track and hear how the guitarist pushes these three Joy To The World chords.

After “he was a good friend of mine,” we move into a seven chord movement as follows, giving two beats to each chord

D – D7 – G – Bb

D – A7 – D (four beats on this chord)

After this section, we finish off this verse with another three chords:

G7 – A7 – D (four beats on this chord)


Pro Tip: Take the Joy To The World chords slowly and work through them at a comfortable pace. If you’re a beginner guitarist, this section might look like a lot. By pacing yourself through it, you allow your muscle memory to keep up with you.

Let’s look at the chorus now that we’ve been sitting on these chords for a bit. Check out the lyrics with chords above:


Singin’… Joy to the world


A7                      D

All the boys and girls, now


D              D7                G             Bb

Joy to the fishes in the deep blue sea


D        A7          D      C C#  D   < (Notice the call-back to the three-step walk pattern again)

Joy to you and me


Pro Tip: Listen to the song to get a feel for the length of each of the Joy To The World chords, but we’ll give you a guide point:

The first line’s D should be held for 8 beats, the second line’s chords for 4 beats each, and 2 beats each from “Joy to the fishes” onward to the end.

Don’t forget to hit that walk-up from C to get back to the verse!

Check out the Joy To The World chords for the solo section below and listen for their changes:

D      D       A7       D


D  D7  G  Bb  D  A7  D


C  C#  D

Now that we’ve seen the majority of the song up close, let’s talk about the sections of the song and how to put it together before the key-change.


Joy To The World Chords – Sections & Measures

If we’re going to really nail this song down, we need to get ourselves comfortable with counting beats like we’ve shown above. Let’s break that down before we move on!

Counting doesn’t have to be overwhelming, and it can be pretty easy if we figure it out.

To count the Joy To The World chords, we can simply count “1- 2 – 3 – 4 -” to play along. This song is played very “straight” and on-the-beat, so we don’t need to worry about counting a division like eighth notes, for example.


Pro Tip: Before you continue, pull up the song and just listen to the chord progression in full.

Count “1 – 2 – 3 – 4 -” along with the song and listen to where the chords fall. This song’s first chord in the verse starts on a D for 8 beats, and the beats begin to divide down from there.

Listen for the movement, you’ll pick it up easily.

Our sections to the song move as follows:





Solo (discussed below)

Bridge (discussed below)



Have you taken some time to get familiar with the sections?

Good. Let’s move on to discuss the strumming patterns that go with the Joy To The World chords.


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Joy To The World Chords – The Strumming Pattern

Playing along to these chords doesn’t take much, we just need to put in place everything that we learned from the counting lesson above.

By putting that “1 -2 – 3 – 4 -” counting pattern to use, we’re able to start strumming through the Joy To The World chords with ease.

The main strumming pattern we should use over four beats in this song looks like this:

1         2         3         4

D        D         D  U   D  U

Whether you’re counting 8 beats, 4 or even 2 per chord, this strumming pattern is easy to play and works perfectly with the Joy To The World chords.


Pro Tip: This song contains some decently complex chords, but the strumming pattern can remain as it is above through the whole song.

This principle makes the Joy To The World chords and progression a “joy” for beginner guitarists who are looking to work on their chord voices.

Practice makes perfect, so take your time!

Before we discuss the best way to wrap up this song, let’s talk about how to play your way into the chord transitions, as well as the key change.


Joy To The World Chords – Nailing The Transitions & Key Change

As we’ve said, the hardest part of this song is the chords themselves.

In order to help you master the ins and outs of the Joy To The World chords, we’ve laid out a few key practice points for you below:

  • Practice these chords slowly, and pair them up to practice your transitions in a more focused manner. This will help ramp up your muscle memory’s ability to retain finger positions, making it easier to make moves between chords
  • Use arpeggios to help you sound out difficult chords. This is a great tool that helps you break down chords to their individual notes to not only play and understand them better, but to find the common points between chords.


  • Count out loud when you play through the Joy To The World chords so that you can nail down the beats where you should transition from one chord to the next. Focus on nailing that transition before moving to the next one.

Slow and steady wins the race when it comes to these Joy To The World chords, so don’t be afraid to take your time.

Now, let’s finally tackle that key change once-and-for-all.

Joy To The World Chords – The Key Change

This was a cool little thing we stumbled across when lifting the parts of this song. There’s a clever key change used as a bridge section!

After the third chorus, we find ourselves in a part of the song that sounds a bit unlike the rest of it.

This is because the Joy To The World chords step briefly out-of-key into the key of A major, using the following chords with the same strumming pattern:

E        D        A

There are only two sets of lyrics here to worry about:

“Joy to the world” and,

“All the boys and girls”

Simply strum these three chords over this section before moving back to the final chorus before the outro.

How To Improve on the Joy To The World Chords

As a final note, it’s important to remember that practicing chords in pairs is a great way to start nailing down chord shapes more effectively and committing them to memory.

Take your time, and don’t put undue pressure on yourself.

Check out the full song chart here.

This song is a long game, play it as often as you like!

Recommended Resources

If you enjoyed this lesson on how to play the Joy To The World chords, you’re going to love the other lessons we’ve got in store for you below:

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