“I Can’t Help Myself (Sugar Pie Honey Bunch)” Ukulele Chords & Tutorial

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Best known as the Four Tops’ first number one single, “I Can’t Help Myself (Sugar Pie Honey Bunch)” is perhaps one of the most beloved Motown songs of all time. This classic love declaration of a song truly plays to the Four Tops’ strengths, being an incredible showcase of all four of the vocalists’ talents. What’s more, it’s got an incredible soul instrumental to boot. 

If you’re new to the ukulele and are looking for easy soul songs to adapt to the instrument, we think “I Can’t Help Myself” is a great place to start. It uses five simple, yet common chords that you’ll encounter time and again as you learn more and more songs on the instrument. The fact that it uses several different chords makes it a great opportunity to expand your chord repertoire, but the song is slow enough that learning it remains a manageable task.

Read on if you’re interested in learning to play “I Can’t Help Myself (Sugar Pie Honey Bunch)” on the ukulele. We cover all the different chords that the song uses, as well as some different strumming patterns that you might like to use to play along to the song.

Find more easy ukulele songs here >>> 57+ Easy Ukulele Songs for Beginners (using basic chords)

“I Can’t Help Myself (Sugar Pie Honey Bunch)” Ukulele Chords

As mentioned above, “I Can’t Help Myself (Sugar Pie Honey Bunch)” uses five different beginner ukulele chords. These are C, G, Dm, F, and Am.

C ukulele chord
G ukulele chord
Dm ukulele chord
F ukulele chord
Am ukulele chord

The use of both major and minor chords gives the song a sense of tension and release, as well as sustaining some balance between moments of light and dark in the harmony.

Like many other soul songs from “I Can’t Help Myself’s” era, the song follows a simple harmonic progression, with the same chords basically repeating in the same order throughout the entire piece. So, once you’ve perfected the chord changes for the first two lines, you’ll be able to play the whole song from start to finish.

Intro

The intro to “I Can’t Help Myself” is very straightforward – just a few bars of the C chord before jumping into the main chord progression with the first verse.

Verse/Chorus

The rest of the song is the same main progression repeating.

[C] Sugar pie honey bunch, you know that [G] I love you

I can’t [Dm] help myself, I love you and [F] nobody else   [G]  [Am]

[C] In and out my life (in and out my life), you come and you [G] go (you come and you go)

Leaving just your [Dm]picture behind, and I’ve kissed it a [F] thousand times   [G]  [Am]

[C] When you snap your finger, or wink your eye, I come a- [G] running to you

I’m [Dm] tied to your apron string, and there’s nothing that [F] I can do   [G]  [Am]

Solo

There’s a brief solo/instrumental part in the song that also follows the main chord progression. The instrumental is over the first part of the verse/chorus for the C and G chords, then the vocals kick back in for “I can’t help myself” and continuing with the main progression.

[C] [G]

I can’t [Dm] help myself, nooo I can’t [F] help myself   [G]  [Am]

The rest of the song continues with the same progression.

[C] Sugar pie, honey bunch (sugar pie, honey bunch), I’m weaker than a [G] man should be

I can’t [Dm] help myself, I’m a fool in [F] love you see   [G]  [Am]

Wanna [C] tell you I don’t love you, tell you that we’re through, [G] And I’ve tried

But every time I [Dm] see your face, I get all choked [F] up inside   [G]  [Am]

Bridge

The bridge stays on the C chord, before finishing out the song with the main chord progression.

[C] When I call your name, girl it starts the flame

[C] Burning in my heart, tearin’ all apart

[C] No matter how I try, my love I cannot hide, ‘cause

[C] Sugar pie, honey bunch (sugar pie, honey bunch)

You know that I’m [G] weak for you (weak for you)

Can’t [Dm] help myself, I love you and [F] nobody else   [G]  [Am]

[C] Sugar pie, honey bunch (sugar pie, honey bunch)

Do anything you [G] ask me to (ask me to)

I Can’t [Dm] help myself, I want you and [F] nobody else [G] [Am]

View the complete ukulele chord chart for “I Can’t Help Myself (Suge Pie, Honey Bunch)” here.

Ukulele Strumming Patterns for “I Can’t Help Myself

As is typical of many Motown recordings from the ‘60s, “I Can’t Help Myself” features a driving, upbeat instrumental with a strong rhythm section. Capturing this feel on the uke can be a bit tricky; while you won’t be able to replicate the body and power of a full band, you can certainly play “I Can’t Help Myself” with the same spirit and energy that the session band originally recorded it with.

One huge part of this is the strumming pattern you use to play the song. The fact that the original recording doesn’t feature any ukulele is an advantage in this sense; you can come up with or use whatever strumming pattern you want to play the song!

Below, we’ve listed a few that vary in terms of difficulty and rhythmic feel. We recommend that you give each one a go and see which you feel sounds best when playing along to “I Can’t Help Myself”. If you struggle to play them all on your first go, you can try either practicing them at a slower tempo to a metronome or coming back to them later when you’re more comfortable on the uke in general.

Strumming Pattern #1

This is a classic strumming pattern for the ukulele in general, and we feel it suits “I Can’t Help Myself” reasonably well. While it might not be as well-suited to the actual groove of the song as the strumming patterns below, it serves as a solid introduction to getting started with playing the tune on the uke to begin with.

D – U D – D U D

1 & 2 & 3 & 4 &

Strumming Pattern #2

This strumming pattern is perhaps a bit less steady than the other two described in this guide. However, we like how insistent and punchy it feels. We think it really suits the percussion in the original recording’s instrumental and serves as a nice complement to the bassline.

If you feel that this strumming pattern is too on the nose to play for the entire song, you might like to play it for part of the song – like the chorus, for example – and play another pattern for the verses. This is a good way to keep the song feeling varied and dynamic, as well as making it more interesting for yourself to play.

D – U – D U D U

1 & 2 & 3 & 4 &

Strumming Pattern #3

This is another ‘driving’ kind of strumming pattern that sounds a bit fuller than the one above. Given that it’s also got a steadier feel to it, you may find it somewhat easier to nail the timing on this one than the second strumming pattern.

D U D U D U D U

1 & 2 & 3 & 4 &

Video Tutorial

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about the author
Lizzie Westlake
A ukulele player and writer with a passion for helping others. There's nothing Lizzie loves more than sharing the joy of music, especially with kids. She also plays a variety of string and wind instruments.

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