Heat Wave chords



You can learn how to play Heat Wave by Martha Reeves & The Vandellas!

Also known as (Love Is Like A) Heat Wave, this was Martha and the Vandellas first hit.

Written by the main songwriting team Holland-Dozier-Holland, it peaked at #4 in the charts in 1963 and would come to be listed as #257 on Rolling Stone magazine’s 500 Greatest Songs Of All Time.

The vocal group would go on to have more hits for Motown in Dancing In The Street, Nowhere To Run, and Jimmy Mack. Dancing In The Street is Motown’s signature song.

In total Martha and her Vandellas released ten studio albums between 1963 and 1972.

Heat Wave is a popular choice for Motown/Soul bands, let’s take a look at the chords and lyrics to find out how this one is put together so you can play it too.


Heat Wave chords and lyrics


||: Bb Bb6 Bb Bb6 Bb :|| x3
| Bb N.C (Bb C Bb G) |
||: Fm (Gbm) | Gm (Bm) | Cm (Bm) | Cm :||
| Fm (Gbm) | Gm (G) | Ab (A) | Bb |
||: Eb Ab/C Eb Ab/C Eb :|| x3

| Eb N.C (Bb C Bb G) | Fm (Gbm) | Gm (Bm) | Cm (Bm) | Cm |
Whenever I’m with him, (oh, oh, oh, oh) something inside (inside),
| Fm (Gbm) | Gm (Bm) | Cm (Bm) | Cm |
starts to burning (oh, oh, oh, oh), and I’m filled with desire.

| Fm (Gbm) | Gm (G) | Ab (A) | Bb |
Could it be a devil in me or is this the way love’s supposed to be (ah, ah, ah, ah).

||: Eb Ab/C Eb Ab/C Eb :|| x7
It’s like a heatwave, burning in my heart (like heat wave).
I can’t keep from cryin’ (heat wave), it’s tearing me apart.

| Eb N.C (Bb C Bb G) | Fm (Gbm) | Gm (Bm) | Cm (Bm) | Cm |
Whenever he calls my name. Soft, slow, sweet and plain,
| Fm (Gbm) | Gm (Bm) | Cm (Bm) | Cm |
right then, right there, I feel that burning flame.

| Fm (Gbm) | Gm (G) | Ab (A) | Bb |
Has high blood pressure got a hold on me or is this the way love’s supposed to be? (Ah, ah, ah, ah).

||: Eb Ab/C Eb Ab/C Eb :|| x7
It’s like a heat wave, burning in my heart (like a heat wave).
I can’t keep from crying (heat wave), It’s tearing me apart.

| Eb N.C (Bb C Bb G) | Fm | Gm | Cm | Cm |
Oh-oh-oh-oh-oh. Ooh, heat wave.
| Fm | Gm | Cm | Cm |
Oh-oh-oh-oh-oh. Ooh, heat wave.
| Fm (Gbm) | Gm (G) | Ab (A) | Bb |
||: Eb Ab/C Eb Ab/C Eb :|| x7

| Eb N.C (Bb C Bb G) | Fm (Gbm) | Gm (Bm) | Cm (Bm) | Cm |
Sometimes I stare in space, tears all over my face.
| Fm (Gbm) | Gm (Bm) | Cm (Bm) | Cm |
I can’t explain it, don’t understand it, I ain’t never felt like this before.

| Fm (Gbm) | Gm (G) | Ab (A) | Bb |
Now that funny feeling has me amazed, don’t know what to do, my head’s in a haze. (Ah, ah, ah, ah).

||: Eb Ab/C Eb Ab/C Eb :|| x7
It’s like a heatwave (heat wave), burning in my heart (like heat wave).
I can’t keep from cryin’ (heat wave), it’s tearing me apart.

| Eb N.C (Bb C Bb G) | Fm (Gbm) | Gm (Bm) | Cm (Bm) | Cm |
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah (but it’s all right, girl). Oh, oh. (Go ahead, girl).
| Fm (Gbm) | Gm (Bm) | Cm (Bm) | Cm |
Yeah, yeah. (Well, it’s all right, girl). Oh (Can’t miss it, that’s love, girl).

| Fm (Gbm) | Gm (G) | Ab (A) | Bb |
I feel it, burning (don’t pass up this chance), right here in my heart (it sounds like a true romance)

||: Eb Ab/C Eb Ab/C Eb :||
Don’t you know it’s like a heat wave?


Heat Wave chord progression

The intro is a BbBb6 (chord V) for three bars, played in the same way as we’ll hear during the chorus later one, although then, it’s using different chords.

This is followed by the verse and bridge chords, the verse having sliding chords a semitone below. I’ve indicated this by putting the slid chord in brackets, like this.

||: Fm (Gbm) | Gm (Bm) | Cm (Bm) | Cm :||

Next, we play the bridge progression, very similar to the verse at first, finished off with a IV – V.

| Fm (Gbm) | Gm (G) | Ab (A) | Bb |

Finally, we play the chorus chords, but only for three bars, when it’s the chorus later on it’s for seven bars.

||: Eb Ab/C Eb Ab/C Eb :|| x3

This intro, disregarding the opening Bb – Bb6, is the entire song.

We start with a verse, then a bridge, then that chorus for seven bars.

The only new part is that as the verse starts, we stop on an Eb, not a Bb, play the bass line and start a verse again.

The entire song is just this pattern five times.

||: Fm (Gbm) | Gm (Bm) | Cm (Bm) | Cm :||
| Fm (Gbm) | Gm (G) | Ab (A) | Bb |
||: Eb Ab/C Eb Ab/C Eb :|| x7
| Eb N.C (Bb C Bb G) |


The Funk Brothers

Motown’s house band didn’t have an official name, only they knew they were the Funk Brothers.

The band played on pretty much everything Motown released until ’72 when they relocated to Los Angeles and the band found a note on the hit factory door.

Go to The Funk Brothers – Biography.


Berry Gordy

Berry Gordy is the man behind the hit factory that was Motown. The idea behind the label came from working in a car factory.

Housing the label, the studio, and a house band all in the same building proved to be a masterstroke as Berry set out to discover the greatest superstars of our time.

Go to Berry Gordy – Biography.


Holland-Dozier-Holland

Lamont Dozier and brothers Eddie and Brian Holland were Motown’s main songwriting team in Motown’s hit factory during the 60s.

Their hits are so many and their influence is so great it is a mystery how their names are not more widely known.

Go to Holland-Dozier-Holland – Biography.


Martha and the Vandellas

Martha met her Vandellas as she was a secretary at Motown’s hit factory where her soon-to-be backing singers sang for Marvin Gaye.

Together they had seven years of hits including Jimmy Mack, Nowhere To Run, and perhaps Motown’s biggest hit of them all in Dancing In The Street.

Go to Martha and the Vandellas – Biography.


The Professional Guitarist Song Book

As a guitarist, a repertoire is the greatest asset that you can acquire.

Learn these songs and you can progress from being a bedroom player to working with acoustic duos, Jazz trios, Indie/Rock/Party bands as well as large Soul/Motown ensembles.

Go to Song Book.


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