But I Might Die Tonight

Author: Leonard Latest revision: November 7, 2021
Author’s Notes: According to Cat’s producer Paul Samwell-Smith, this song was written and recorded for Jersy Skolimowski’s film Deep End, although Cat, in a 2011 live performance, alluded to it having been written prior to that, during his breakdown with tuberculosis. As is the case with most film music, the studio recording was a last-minute job, in this case resulting in a 26-hour non-stop marathon session at Morgan Studios, with the director waiting in the wings. There is also a movie version of the track released on the movie’s official soundtrack—a snippet of the song cued at the movie’s climactic conclusion. This is probably more a piano than a guitar piece; harmonically the main spiel is about major add2 chords (Dadd2, Cadd2, and so forth). As for the guitar tracks, the Intro and Verse 1 is all Alun fingerpicking special chords up and down the neck; from Verse 2 on Cat’s rhythm guitar sets in prominently.
Each guitar tab is the author’s own work and represents his or her own interpretation of the song.
Visitors may use the guitar tabs offered here only for private study, scholarship, or research.

                 "But I Might Die Tonight"
                      by Cat Stevens
                 from the original album
               TEA FOR THE TILLERMAN (1970)
Standard tuning
(low to high) E-A-D-G-B-E

in 4/4 time (mostly)


  D*  C*    D*  C*    D*  C*    D*  C*   
| / / / / | / / / / | / / / / | / / / / | / / |


D**               C**              D**                      C**
     I don't want     to work away     doing just what they all say.
D**                      C**                 D**                       C**
     "Oh work hard, boy,     and you'll find     one day you'll have a job like mine."
A*                  G*           A*                   G*
     'Cause I know     for sure     nobody should be that poor.
A*               G*              A*                        G*
     To say yes     or sink low     because you happen to say so, say so, you say so.

D/A                 C/G              D/A                        C/G
     I don't a-want     to work away     a-doing just what they all say.
D/A                      C/G                 D/A                       C/G
     "Oh work hard, boy,     and you'll find     one day you'll have a job like mine, 
                                                      !                 !
                                                     job like mine - a job like mine."


A                  G                  A                   G
     "Oh be wise,     oh look ahead,     use your eyes,"     he said.
A                   G                 A              C/G     D/A     A   G     A   G
     "Be straight;     think right!"     But I might die to-night! | / / / / | / / / / |


 D/A   C/G    D/A   C/G    D/A   C/G    D/A    C/G           ! !     !       D
| /  /  /  / | /  /  /  / | /  /  /  / | /  / | /  /  /  / | /  /  /  / | /  /  /  / ||
  Ah.________________       Ah._____________________


  D*      C*
xxx775  xxx553
---RLI  ---RLI
---MRI  ---MRI

    D**            C**    A*      G*
xx12.11.10.0  xx10.980  xx7650  xx5430
--R .M .I .-  --R .MI-  --RMI-  --RMI-

 D/A      C/G      A       G
x00232  332010  x02220  3x0003
---IRM  RLM-I-  --IMR-  R----L

Chord fingering:      T = thumb                
                      I = index finger
                      M = middle finger
                      R = ring finger
                      L = little finger

Tablature notation:   h = hammer-on
                      p = pull-off
                      ~ = vibrato
                    [ ] = natural harmonic (Harm.)
                      / = legato slide (gliss) up the fret
                      \ = legato slide (gliss) down the fret
                      ! = accentuate part with great intensity
                      d = downward stroke
                      u = upward stroke

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