Christmas All Over Again Tom Petty badge

Christmas All Over Again Guitar Lesson

In the early 80’s Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers recorded a Christmas song that has become a holiday staple. While it has all the hallmarks of the season the song stands out with Petty’s laid back and less than perfect vocals. In this guitar lesson, let’s break the song “Christmas All Over Again” down and see how to play it!

…this song was written by Petty on a ukulele that George Harrison had given him

The Tom Petty song “Christmas All Over Again” is a great holiday hit for your beginner guitar lessons

Song Background

Jeff Lynne and Jimmy Iovine helped produce this tune for the charity album A Very Special Christmas. During the early and mid-’80s, many artists would collaborate for various funds and aid groups. You may recognize the name Jeff Lynne as he played in the super group with Tom in the Traveling Wilburys along with George Harrison, Bob Dylan, and Roy Orbison.

While all those artists are worth looking into further, Jeff Lynne has helped create a huge variety of songs. He also played Rotosound guitar strings and even worked with The Beatles on Anthology and once you can spot his work it becomes obvious in this Christmas hit. Here he plays the bass, bells, and more while Tom does the main guitar and vocals.

The funny thing about this song is that it’s not as gleeful for the holidays as others are, at times Petty even seems bored with certain traditions like kissing relatives. This is the perfect holiday tune for someone who isn’t that into Christmas yet they reluctantly accept the reality and go with it!

Electric Light Orchestra The Move Jeff Lynne 1970 Rotosound Electric Guitar Strings
Jeff Lynne (far left) in a photoshoot for Rotosound strings

The Chords for “Christmas All Over Again”

This song is close to the AABA format in that it is mostly repeated verses along with two brief bridges where the guitar chords change. In this case there are some added instrumental/solo sections where we sing the main hook at the end. Otherwise it is not too hard and the chords are great barre practice.


The main chord progression starts at the intro and is simply a jazz standard progression of I-vi-ii-V which is like the doo wop I-vi-IV-V. These chord sequences are so common that if you look closely they are everywhere, in this case he uses the key of A so the starting riff is A-F#m-Bm-E. These two barre chords can be hard to change but stick with it as it is used a lot in the song.

If you struggle too much you can use a capo at the second fret and play G-Em-Am-D and that will give you the same key of A chords. But it is better to practice the barre chords! Keep in mind as we mention the chords below that you will have to adjust if using the capo.

Amaj chord diagram
F#m chord diagram
Bminor chord diagram


Make sure to start and stop the song as you are learning the chords so you will know the right time to make the changes. At the verse we go back into that intro progression after playing it twice we repeat the ii-IV back and forth (Bm-E) a couple times before ending on a C7 which is the bIII7 which is a blues chord. This takes the jazzy vibe we had with the I-vi-ii-V and makes it more rocking!

And then after the C7 we repeat the hook with the main I-vi-ii-V except in a slightly different order with A-F#m-A-F#m-Bm-E. The first part is played twice to help increase the tension and blues feeling in the song. The other three verses copy this exact chord movement except at the end where we sing a refrain of the hook “it’s Christmas all over again.”

C7 chord diagram
Gm chord diagram
Dmajor chord diagram
Bmaj chord diagram


The bridge moves into heavier classic rock territory that we are used to with Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. It starts with a bvii-I (Gm-A) and then moves to a IV (D), II (B), and finally an V (E) before we move back into the same chords of the verse. Flat and minor 7ths, fourths, and major seconds are common in many vintage rock tunes and it fits perfectly in this bridge.

Keep in mind if you are using a capo that the positions of the bridge chords are not the usual. You can also play the chords in different positions on the fretboard. In fact it is great practice to play the song with a capo, without, and in low and high positions so you get to know your guitar.

Speaking of instruments, this song was written by Petty on a ukulele that George Harrison had given him (George was a uke fanatic). It is a little easier to play on that instrument with the F#m and Bm!

Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers in 2012
Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers in 2012. Photo: Jørn Gjersøe


The solo is played on the B string starting at the 10th fret, which would be A (unless you have a capo on). The solo uses the notes we have in the chords like A, B, F#, E, and even some chromatic blues notes added with the Bb. While tabs help you, it will be a lot better off if you listen and flesh it out by ear, it will take time but your playing will vastly improve.

Strumming, Tips, and Tricks

Tom Petty is known for writing easy guitar songs that are often perfect for beginners, and that’s not a bad thing, it’s unnecessary to make everything complicated. And that is one reason his songs are still so popular; they are simple pop ditties that are easy to sing along to! You don’t need to have the greatest voice, even Tom’s cracks a few times on the hard to sing bridge chords.

Your strum will be rather simple alternating and changing chords as the lyrics change, if you play along with the song and follow the timing, it shouldn’t be hard. There is a steady and driving beat if you want to follow that. It’s also possible to arpeggiate the chords so that the song sounds prettier and more refined. With the jazz progression and blues chords we have a variety of ways to approach it. Don’t get crazy at first just learn the changes and keep your strums basic.

The one problem with this song is that all the extra bells and holiday sounds add to the vibe so when you are playing it alone you need to be sure to fill the space up with your vocals and guitar. You can just use the I-vi-ii-V as filler in between for the instrumental sections of the song. If you are playing any shows or sing-alongs this is an easy tune to remember and most people know it so it’s great to have in your repertoire.

The Tom Petty song “Christmas All Over Again” is a great holiday hit for your beginner guitar lessons! There is a common progression with straightforward playing, it shouldn’t take too long to get the verse and bridge down and then you are good to go! Go check out some more Tom Petty tunes after because they are all accessible and excellent rock chord study!

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