Learn how to play Take Me To The River in two keys!
‘Take Me To The River’ is a Blues/Soul song by Al Green.
Spy Tunes have recorded the song in two keys: Paul Cullum sings in E (as original) and Miss Al Brown sing in G.
In this first version we take advantage of the open strings an imitate the original arrangement.
Following the simple bluesy intro riff this song really goes somewhere harmonically.
This is fully explored in the Advanced Guitar Course.
Take Me To The River Chord Progression
Being a blues style song in the key of E major we can borrow chords from what Em would have used.
The Verse/Chorus is simply II: E I E D A :II
The chord D is a bVIIx but could also be seen as a borrowed V chord from Em.
The Bridge section change key as we move: I C I G I D I A I
This is a movement of fifths, like a cycle of 4th movement but backwards in Em/G.
The M8 section first find E majors VI chord as it goes: I C#m I A I C#m I A I G I B7 I
First we go between chord VI and IV before we move down to the G, again hinting the key of Em, rather than E major.
The final B7 points back to the home key of E/Em as a IIIx7 or V7.
The blending of minor and major is exceptional in ‘Take Me To The River’. Find out more in the Advanced Guitar Course.
Take Me To the River Chords Transposed
In Miss Al Brown’s version we move up to the key of G.
In general, the female voice needs to sit a bit higher than the male so don’t be surprised if this happens to you again!
Being able to change key like this without having to relearn the song should be high on your list of priorities.
The only way to get to this stage is to think in numbers.
The Advanced Guitar Course take this concept all the way.
Right hand close up videos
As you’ve seen, Take Me To River is played in two different ways, not just keys.
This is due to what the chord shapes offer us, should you want to maintain the original vibe in the key of G, simply place a capo on the third fret.
But a capo isn’t always the best solution, sometimes you can come up with a great variation on a riff by simply changing key and therefore chord shapes.
By understanding how each key signature effect the sound of a riff you can take the next step into layering guitars.
It’s not a bad place to be when the producer says: ”Can you play something like that but further up the neck?”, and you actually can!
An over all understanding of the fretboard is vital in such situations.
Switching key should be a positive journey, you should be thinking: What new things can I discover by using this shape?
Not: I need to go home and practice that!
Take Me To The River in the guitar course
Through out the course I give you several examples of how you could create a second guitar part by switching to a different area of the neck or using a capo, thinking in a new key.
In ‘Take Me To The River’ this really has been taken al the way as two versions are recorded.
You could easily create a second guitar part for the version in G by playing the version in E with a capo on fret three.
Take the Advanced Guitar Course for all the TAB and all the details.