Take Me To The River

Learn How To Play Take Me To The River

Chords and Guitar Lessons

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Complete song – Acoustic guitar and vocals


This is a blues/soul/gospel song by the legend that is Al Green.

The way Take Me To The River blends chords with a bluesy feel in E, adding even more tension in the bridge to finally release harmonically in the m8 really is exceptional.

Budding song writers really should take note here how Take Me To The River’s chords create and release tension.

Chord progression

The verse chord progression is

| E7E7 D A | on repeat.

Later on, horn stabs are included which could be seen as fitting a G chord in as well.

Other songs that use these chords are Back In Black, Parklife, and Get Back. Once you experienced the sound of the I (E) – bVIIx (D) – IV (A) progression, you’ll instantly recognize it.

The bridge section uses b and x chords to wander outside the key. Using roman numerals, they spell bVIx – bIIIx, before we play the now established bVIIx – IV again, like this:

| CGDA |

This is a movement of 5th’s, like a cycle of 4th movement but backwards.

The chorus is similar to the verse, although we don’t include the D and A.
Instead we vary the E7 with an E6.

| E7  E6 E7 E | E7  E6 E |

The m8 section first finds E major’s VI chord as it moves:

C#mAC#mAGB7 |

This is the harmonic release the tension of previous sections craved.

Guitar Lessons

Take Me To The River – Step 1 (Free Preview)

In this first step, we take an overview of the chord progression which has so many important lessons in itself, especially if you want to learn more about songwriting.

We also look at the initial transcriptions of bass line, horns, and strings to get this arrangement going.

Go to Take Me To The River step 1.

Take Me To The River – Step 2

It’s time to start learning a bunch of variations on the verse.

The question is, how do we combine horns, keyboards, and bass line into a one acoustic arrangement?

Go to Take Me To The River step 2.

Take Me To The River – Step 3

In this step, we dive into the bridge and discover how it can be varied using chord extensions and bass lines.

Since the verse is varied leading into this section this is also included in all examples.

Go to Take Me To The River step 3.

Take Me To The River – Step 4

The chorus is what is put under the microscope in this step.

The horns have an important part to play here, so does the bass. Put these together and you have a part.

Go to Take Me To The River step 4.

Take Me To The River – Step 5

The final missing bits of the arrangement is here clarified. This includes the intro, m8, and outro.

If you know the previous parts well, this is not too difficult to achieve.

Go to Take Me To The River step 5.

Take Me To The River – Step 6

In this step, we start putting the entire arrangement together.

Simply play along with the TAB loops and you will complete the first half of this one acoustic guitar arrangement.

Go to Take Me To The River step 6.

Take Me To The River – Step 7

Let’s play the 2nd half of the arrangement, this includes the m8 and outro.

The verse and chorus now have all embellishments such as hammer-on, slide, mutes etc. Nail it note for note using TAB loops.

Go to Take Me To The River step 7.

Take Me To The River – Step 8

After discovering all the great secrets of this composition, you are now finally ready to play the complete song.

Play it along with me and a singer.

Go to Take Me To The River step 8.

Related Pages


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

Go to Take Me To The River lyrics.

Al Green

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 as well as covers of A Change Is Gonna Come, Unchained Melody, Light My Fire, and My Girl.

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 fret board.

Go to Advanced guitar course.


Learn how to play famous advanced songs.

Angels, Baby Won’t You Please Come Home, Blackbird, Cannonball, 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.

Go to Advanced acoustic songs.

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