"Ships" by Big Country
From the Album "The Buffalo Skinners"

Tab by Colin Dawson - colin_g_dawson@hotmail.com - December 2004

Updated 24 June 2005 - subtle changes to the fretting and fingering of the solos.

Comments and corrections welcome!

For more information about Big Country visit www.bigcountry.co.uk

h = hammer
p = pull
s = slide
sd = slide down
r = let ring (sustain)

Note; Stuart Adamson played this song using a Fender Telecaster B-Bender.
Since few of us will have such a specialised and unusual instrument, we just have
to bend the strings in the normal way. It's quite playable without the B-Bender.

 

Verse 1;

            Em   D           G     C G   
Look at him now another used man

    D       C              G            Am              D           C                                 
Wearing the passing of his dignity with all the courage that he can

                Em     D             G      C G
He stood in the storm, carved out in stone

             D       C            G             Am         D  
He said I’ve worn my honesty with pride in everything I’ve done

 

     C      G     D   G
E|----------------------|
B|----------------------|
G|--------0-----0-------|
D|------2-----0-----0---|
A|0-2-3-----2-----0-----|
E|--------------------3-|

 

Chorus;

   G                      C         G
So where were you when my ship went down?

Em                    C    G
Where were you when I ran aground?

G                     C          G
Where were you when I turned it around?

Em                       C         G  
Where were you when they burned me down?

 

Chorus;

   G                      C         G
So where were you when my ship went down?

Em                    C    G
Where were you when I ran aground?

G                     C          G
Where were you when I turned it around?

Em                       C         G     
Where were you when they burned me down?

 

Note:
(The "0b2" at the end of this riff is played by plucking the open A string and
then pressing on the string between the nut and the machines to produce the bend.
The alternative to this is to pull on the tremolo or play position 5 on the
bottom E string and bend the string with your fingers)

 

  C                G       D       Em
E|-------------------------------------|
B|----8-----8----------0---------------|
G|7h9---9-9---9p7----------------------|
D|-----------------7h9---9-7s5---------|
A|-----------------------------7p5-0b2-|
E|-------------------------------------|

Verse 2;

            Em       D         G      C G
Look at her now, all tired and worn

    D     C                      G             Am         D       C      
She never thought her life would come to be so cold or so alone

                  Em            D           G      C C G
She walked in the light. Fought bondage for love

           D            C                 G                Am        D       
She said I cast off the chains that I was born with but it never was enough

     C      G     D   G
E|----------------------|
B|----------------------|
G|--------0-----0-------|
D|------2-----0-----0---|
A|0-2-3-----2-----0-----|
E|--------------------3-|

 

Chorus;

    G                      C         G
And where were you when my ship went down

Em                    C    G
Where were you when I ran aground?

G                     C          G
Where were you when I turned it around?

Em                       C         G
Where were you when they burned me down?

C                     Em
Silent souls washed upon the shores

        G                  C         D
Left to walk the sands evermore, evermore

 

Guitar solo;

 

      G                  C         G       Em           C          G
E|--------10---------------------------------7-----------------------|
B|-8-10b12--10b12b10p8-------------------8b10-8b10b8-----------------|
G|7-------------------9sd-5-7b9b7-5-7---7-----------9p7--5-7b9b7-5-7-|
D|-----------------------5-------------9----------------5------------|
A|-------------------------------------------------------------------|
E|-------------------------------------------------------------------|
                                 Oh now where were you

 

      G                  C         G       Em           C          G
E|--------10---------------------------------7-----------------------|
B|-8-10b12--10b12b10p8-------------------8b10-8b10b8-----------------|
G|7-------------------9sd-5-7b9b7-5-7---7-----------9p7--5-7b9b7-5-7-|
D|-----------------------5-------------9----------------5------------|
A|-------------------------------------------------------------------|
E|-------------------------------------------------------------------|
                       When my ship went down

 

      G                C        G    Em                  C        G
E|------------------------------------------------------------------|
B|-----------------------------------8-10-8h10p8-7------------------|
G|----7-9-7h9p7---7--7h9-9-7h9p7--7h9--------------9-7-7h9-9-7h9p7--|
D|7h9-----------9---9-----------9---------------------------------9-|
A|------------------------------------------------------------------|
E|------------------------------------------------------------------|

 

      G                C        G    Em                  C        G           C
E|--------------------------------------------------------------------------------|
B|-----------------------------------8-10-10b12b10p8-8-10b12b10p8-8-8h10-8h10p8rrr|
G|----7-9-7h9p7---7--7h9-9-7h9p7--7h9---------------9------------9----------------|
D|7h9-----------9---9-----------9-------------------------------------------------|
A|--------------------------------------------------------------------------------|
E|--------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

 

  C                G       D       Em
E|-------------------------------------|
B|----8-----8----------0---------------|
G|7h9---9-9---9p7----------------------|
D|-----------------7h9---9-7s5---------|
A|-----------------------------7p5-0b2-|
E|-------------------------------------|

 

 

Verse 3;

            Em       D          G      C G
Look at us now just chasing our lives

      D       C               G                 Am            D       C 
Make like the saviours of the planet we’re just trying to get by

                  Em              D          G       C G
You may walk the line now you may see it all through

  D        C               G                   Am                D   
I know you cry yourself to sleep at night just wondering what to do

     C      G     D   G
E|----------------------|
B|----------------------|
G|--------0-----0-------|
D|------2-----0-----0---|
A|0-2-3-----2-----0-----|
E|--------------------3-|

 

Chorus;

G                      C         G
Where were you when my ship went down

Em                    C    G
Where were you when I ran aground?

G                     C          G
Where were you when I turned it around?

Em                       C         G
Where were you when they burned me down?

 

Chorus;

G                      C         G
Where were you when my ship went down

Em                    C    G
Where were you when I ran aground?

G                     C          G
Where were you when I turned it around?

Em                       C         G
Where were you when they burned me down?

 

      G                  C         G       Em           C          G
E|--------10---------------------------------7-----------------------|
B|-8-10b12--10b12b10p8-------------------8b10-8b10b8-----------------|
G|7-------------------9sd-5-7b9b7-5-7---7-----------9p7--5-7b9b7-5-7-|
D|-----------------------5-------------9----------------5------------|
A|-------------------------------------------------------------------|
E|-------------------------------------------------------------------|

 

      G                  C         G       Em           C          G
E|--------10---------------------------------7-----------------------|
B|-8-10b12--10b12b10p8-------------------8b10-8b10b8-----------------|
G|7-------------------9sd-5-7b9b7-5-7---7-----------9p7--5-7b9b7-5-7-|
D|-----------------------5-------------9----------------5------------|
A|-------------------------------------------------------------------|
E|-------------------------------------------------------------------|

 

      G                C        G    Em                  C        G
E|------------------------------------------------------------------|
B|-----------------------------------8-10-8h10p8-7------------------|
G|----7-9-7h9p7---7--7h9-9-7h9p7--7h9--------------9-7-7h9-9-7h9p7--|
D|7h9-----------9---9-----------9---------------------------------9-|
A|------------------------------------------------------------------|
E|------------------------------------------------------------------|

 

      G                C        G    Em                  C        G
E|------------------------------------------------------------------|
B|-----------------------------------8-10-10b12b10p8-8-10b12b10p8-8-|
G|----7-9-7h9p7---7--7h9-9-7h9p7--7h9---------------9------------9--|
D|7h9-----------9---9-----------9-----------------------------------|
A|------------------------------------------------------------------|
E|------------------------------------------------------------------|

For the next bit of the solo I've used the following shorthand abbreviations
to make it easier to read and write;

 

2 = 12th fret
3 = 13th fret
4 = 14th fret
5 = 15th fret
6 = 16th fret
7 = 17th fret
8 = 18th fret
9 = 19th fret

 

        G                          C         G 
E|--5-7-9p5-7p5-5-9p5-7p5-5-9p5-7p5-5-7b9b7p5-5-|
B|7------------7---------7---------7---------7--|
G|----------------------------------------------|
D|----------------------------------------------|
A|----------------------------------------------|
E|----------------------------------------------|

 

      Em                      C         G
E|4-4h5p4----------------------------------|
B|-------5-3p2-3p2---2-----------2rrrr-----|
G|-----------------4---4-2h4p2-2-4b6b4p2-2-|
D|----------------------------4---------4--|
A|-----------------------------------------|
E|-----------------------------------------|

 

  G                                C           G
E|------------------2h4-5-4-2h4p2---------------------|
B|-------------2h3p2-------------5-2b3b2---2----------|
G|--------2h4p2--------------------------4---4-2rr----|
D|---2h4p2----------------------------------------4sd-|
A|2h4-------------------------------------------------|
E|----------------------------------------------------|

(Back to normal tab for this bit - no shorthand)

 

   Em                   C       G
E|----------------------------------|
B|-12rrr-12rrr-12rrrsd--------------|
G|-12b14-12b14-12b14sd--------------|
D|----------------------7b9b7p5-5rr-|
A|-----------------------------7----|
E|----------------------------------|

 

  G        C   G    Em      C   G   G     C   G    Em      C   G
E|-----------------------------------------------------------------------|
B|-----------------------------------------------------------------------|
G|-----------------------------------------------------------------------|
D|-----------------------------------------------------------------------|
A|-----------------------------------------------------------------------|
E|-----------------------------------------------------------------------|
                                Ah na where were you

 

Chorus;

   G                      C         G
So where were you when my ship went down

Em                    C    G
Where were you when I ran aground?

G                     C          G
Where were you when I turned it around?

Em                       C         G      C     G D
Where were you when they burned me down?

 

  C                G       D       Em
E|-------------------------------------|
B|----8-----8----------0---------------|
G|7h9---9-9---9p7----------------------|
D|-----------------7h9---9-7s5---------|
A|-----------------------------7p5-0b2-|
E|-------------------------------------|

 

  G      D        C                                  D     Gsus  G   Dsus   D        G
E|7------5--------3-------8-7---0-3--0-3-2----8--7---3-2------------------------------------|
B|8-8----7-7------5-------8-8---3-3--3-3-3----8--8---3-3---15b17-15-------------------------|
G|7---7--7---7----5-------7-7---2-2--2-2-2----7--7---2-2------------14b16b14p12h14-14b16rrr-|
D|-------------7----------------------------------------------------------------------------|
A|------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|
E|------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

 

 

Chords:

CHORD | E A D G B E
Am    | 0 0 2 2 1 0
C     | 3 3 2 0 1 0
C     | 3 3 5 5 5 3
D     | 2 0 0 2 3 2
D     | 5 5 7 7 7 5
Dsus  | X X 0 2 3 3
Em    | 0 2 2 0 0 0
G     | 3 5 5 4 3 3
G     | X X X 7 8 7
Gsus  | X X X 7 8 8