Take Me To The River

Take Me To The River

Chords and strumming

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Take Me To The River chords and strumming


‘Take Me To The River’ is a blues/soul song by Al Green.

Spy Tunes has recorded the song in two keys. Paul Cullum sings in E (as the original) and Miss Al Brown sings in G.

In this first version, we take advantage of the open strings and imitate the original arrangement.

Following the simple bluesy intro riff, this song really goes somewhere harmonically.

The way ‘Take Me To The River’ blends chords from E minor and E major is exceptional. Find out more in the advanced guitar course.

Chord progression

The verse/chorus is simply | EE D A | on repeat.

The D chord is a bVIIx but could also be seen as a borrowed V chord from the key of Em.

The bridge section changes key as it moves: | CGDA |

This is a movement of 5th’s, like a cycle of 4th movement but backward, in Em/G.

The m8 section first finds E major’s VI chord as it moves: | C#mAC#mAGB7 |

During the m8, we go in between chord VI and IV before we move down to the G, again hinting at 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.

Take Me To The River chords transposed

As you’ve seen in the two video lesson, ‘Take Me To The 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. However, 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 the open position chord shapes.

By understanding how each key signature effects the sound of a riff, you can take the next step into layering guitar parts.

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 overall 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!

The quickest way to create a second guitar part for the version in the key of G would be to play the version in E with a capo on fret three. Instead of doing that, the key of G offered other options to explore.

Take the advanced course to receive all of the TAB for both versions, don’t just learn ‘Take Me To The River’, learn from it!

Related Pages

Take Me To The River – Lyrics

Take Me To The RiverI don’t know why I love you like I do
After all these changes that you put me through
You stole my money and my cigarettes
And I haven’t seen hide nor hair of you yet
I wanna know

For complete lyrics, go to Take Me To The River lyrics.

Al Green – Biography

al-green-thumbAl Green is an American gospel and soul singer who has enjoyed great popularity since the early 70s.

Among his hits, you’ll find ‘Let’s Stay Together’ and ‘Take Me To The River’.

However, Al Green also sang many covers including ‘A Change Is Gonna Come’, ‘Unchained Melody’, ‘Light My Fire’ and ‘My Girl’.

To find out more, go to Al Green biography.


Learning how to play guitar is best done through playing and learning from songs.

The advanced songs require you to learn 7th note chords and modal scales. This will be revolutionary for your understanding of the guitar fretboard.

To see all lessons in the advanced course, go to Advanced Guitar Course


These are pretty advanced exercises. You’ll be playing 7th note chords, arpeggios and modes all over the neck.

But don’t fret – As you’ve already mapped out the fretboard with pentatonic scales and barre chords, extending the concept is actually really simple.

Preview the exercises from the course here: Advanced Guitar Lessons


Learn how to play famous advanced songs.

‘Angels’, ‘Baby Won’t You Please Come Home’, ‘Blackbird’, ‘Cannonball’, ‘Close To You’, ‘Creepin’ In’, ‘Don’t Wait Too Long’, ‘I Shot The Sheriff’, ‘Over The Rainbow’, ‘Roxanne’, ‘Scarborough Fair’, ‘Sunshine Of Your Love’, ‘Take Me To The River’, ‘Tears In Heaven’, and ‘Wish You Were Here’.

To preview each song, go to Advanced Acoustic Songs

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