Take Me To The River chords



You can learn how to play Take Me To The River by Al Green!

A fantastic blues/soul/gospel song by the legend that is Al Green is what we learn as song number 3 in the advanced acoustic course.

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 songwriters should take note here of how Take Me To The River’s chords create and release tension.


Take Me To The River chords and lyrics


Chords for Take Me To The River

| E E7 | E7 | E E6 E7 | E E7 E6 E |
| E | E7 | E7 | E7 |
| E Aadd9/E E7 | E E7 Aadd9/E | E | E7 |
I’d like to dedicate this song to little Jr Park, a cousin of mine that has gone on and we’d like to kind of carry on in his name, by saying:

| E7 | E7 D5 A5 |
I don’t know why I love you like I do,
| E7 | E7 D5 A5 |
after all these changes that you put me through.
| E7 | E7 D5 A5 |
You stole my money and my cigarettes,
| E7 | E7 D5 A5 G |
and I haven’t seen hide nor hair of you yet.

| C Csus4 C Csus2 | G Gsus4 G | D5 | A A6 A7 A6 | A A6 A7 A6 | 2/4 A7 |
I wanna know, won’t you tell me, am I in love to stay?

| E7 E6 E7 | E7 E6 |
Take me to the river, and wash me down.
| E7 E6 E | E7 E6 | E7 E6 E | E7 |
Won’t you cleanse my soul, put my feet on the ground.

||: E7 | E7 D5 A5 G5 :||
I don’t know why she treated me so bad,
Look at all those things that we could have had.
Love is a notion that I can’t forget,
my sweet sixteen I will never regret.

| C | G C/G G6 G5 | D5 Dsus4 D5 | A A6 A A6 | A A6 A7 A6 | 2/4 A7 |
I wanna know, won’t you tell me, am I in love to stay?

||: E7 E6 E7 | E7 | E7 | E7 :||

| C#m | Aadd9 | C#m | Asus2 |
Hold me, love me, please me, tease me,
| G5 | B7 | B7 B7/F# | B7 B7/F# |
till I can’t, till I can’t, take no more.

||: E7 E6 E7 | E7 | E7 | E7 :||
Take me to the river.

||: E7 | E7 D5 A5 G5 :||
I don’t know why I love you like I do,
after all the things that you put me through.
The sixteen candles burning on my wall,
turning me into the biggest fool of them all.

| C | G G6 G5 | D5 | A A6 A A6 | A A6 A7 A6 | 2/4 A7 |
I wanna know, won’t you tell me, am I in love to stay?

||: E7 E6 E7 | E7 | E7 | E7 :||
I wanna know, take me to the river.
I wanna know, I want you to dip me in the water.
I wanna know, won’t you wash me in the water.
Wash me in the water, wash me in the water.
Won’t you wash me in the water, feeling good.


Take Me To The River chord progression

The intro chords use all kinds of extensions in order to capture what the strings did on the original recording.

| E E7 | E7 | E E6 E7 | E E7 E6 E |
| E | E7 | E7 | E7 |
| E Aadd9/E E7 | E E7 Aadd9/E | E | E7 |

Verse 1’s chord progression looks like this.

||: E7 | E7 D5 A5 :||

Other songs that use these chords are Back In Black, Parklife, and Get Back by the Beatles. 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 (D) – IV (A) again.

| C Csus4 C Csus2 | G Gsus4 G | D5 |
| A A6 A7 A6 | A A6 A7 A6 | 2/4 A7 |

This is a movement of 5th’s, as a cycle of 4th movement but backward, another song that employs this is Wonderwall by Oasis.

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

| E7 E6 E7 | E7 E6 |
| E7 E6 E | E7 E6 | E7 E6 E | E7 |

Verse 2 adds a G before we return to the E throughout. This G could also be seen as an Em, it’s so quick as it appears on the 4 & beat.

||: E7 | E7 D5 A5 G5 :||

Bridge 2 has some variations in the chords.

| C | G C/G G6 G5 | D5 Dsus4 D5 |
| A A6 A A6 | A A6 A7 A6 | 2/4 A7 |

The next chorus is the same as before. The m8 section first finds E major’s VI chord as it moves:

| C#m | Aadd9 | C#m | Asus2 |
| G5 | B7 | B7 | B7 |

This is the harmonic release the tension of previous sections craved, genius!

The m8 is followed by a chorus and verse using the same chords as before. Only the bridge is once again updated with more variations to its chords.

| C | G G6 G5 | D5 |
| A A6 A A6 | A A6 A7 A6 | 2/4 A7 |

Finally, the outro chorus and end are largely the same as before, find variation by changing the shapes of the E, E6, and E7 chords.

In the course, we dissect Take Me To River over eight step-by-step guitar lessons as you get what you really need the most in order to play it, TAB.


Course preview (Guitar Lesson – Step 1)

In the first video above, starting at 3:50, you find a preview of Take Me To The River’s guitar lesson, it’s the beginning of step 1’s guitar lesson.

In this first step, we look at the progression, and what the bass line, the horns, and the string lines are. This is what we use to create the one acoustic guitar arrangement.

Below are the basic chord progressions for each section. To get the transcriptions for the bass line, the horns, and string lines, as well as access to all other guitar lessons on how to play Take Me To River, sign up here.


Take Me To The River – 8 Guitar Lessons

Take Me To The River is complex to grasp since what we attempt here is to replicate an entire soul band on just one acoustic guitar.

To get there we simply break all of it down into smaller chunks and practice along with individual loops.

Go to Take Me To The River – 8 Guitar Lessons.


Take Me To The River – Lyrics + Live performance

I 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 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.


Advanced Acoustic Songs

These songs use big chord extensions and sometimes, unique and complex chords that incorporate open strings.

Study these in-depth and you will gain a complete understanding of the fretboard, including how to build any scale, arpeggio, and chord, anywhere on the guitar.

Go to Advanced Acoustic Songs.


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.


Copyright + Comments

Studying great songs is the best way for a musician to develop, we believe displaying chords and lyrics falls under “fair use in education”.

If you are the copyright holder and do not wish to be represented in this way, or want to comment on anything in these lessons, do reach out.

Go to Contact.