Take Me To The River chords by Al Green


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Take Me To The River | Chords + Lyrics

Intro (0:00)

| 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:

Verse 1 (0:27)

| 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.

Bridge 1 (0:43)

| 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?

Chorus 1 (0:54)

| 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.

Verse 2 (1:12)

||: 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.

Bridge 2 (1:29)

| 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?

Instrumental (1:40)

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

Middle 8 (1:57)

| 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.

Chorus 2 (2:14)

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

Verse 3 (2:31)

||: 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.

Bridge 3 (2:47)

| 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?

Outro (3:00)

||: 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.


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

Al Green‘s awesome Take Me To The River was a big hit back in 1974 when first released. Since then it has become somewhat of a standard, covered by working bands but also by other artists.

Above, you see me play it on just one acoustic guitar. There are also videos with the original recording, a cover version by Eva Cassidy, as well as a live version with Al Green, Lenny Kravitz, and B.B. King.

Below, you find two guitar lessons taken from the advanced acoustic course. The first deal with the Take Me To The River’s chords and the chord progression.

The second lesson look at what the bass, horns, and strings play on the original Al Green recording.

Having this as our starting point, we can go on and create the one acoustic guitar arrangement you saw above, enjoy!


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Take Me To The River guitar lesson | Chords and chord progressions

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, a C#m, 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.

Here’s a simple chart showing you all of Take Me To The River’s chords.


Take Me To The River chords on the stave.
Take Me To The River chord chart

Next, let’s look at the original parts played by the bass, strings, and horns. You’ll need this in order to create the one acoustic guitar arrangement.


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Take Me To The River guitar lesson | Bass, horns, and string transcriptions in TAB

Once we have the overview of the chords and chord progression you saw above, the next step is to transcribe the main characteristic parts of the song (bass, strings, and horns).

Following this, the challenge lies in combining these into parts that work on an acoustic guitar.

Here’s what the bass does during the verse and chorus.

Take Me To The River chords and bass line.
Take Me To The River bass line

Make sure you can see how the bass line is outlining an E7 chord. Notice how the play on the minor and major 3rd gives the line its bluesy feel.

Here are the horns during the chorus.

Take Me To The River chords and horns.
Take Me To The River – Basic horns for the chorus

This is a classic call-and-response technique. First, we go up, then down. The hammer-on towards the end is super important. Just like the bass line combined minor and major third for a bluesy effect, we here combine the 6 and b7 for a similar result.

As we start putting this arrangement together, you’ll discover how applying hammer-ons and slides are what will make this work.

Lastly, here’s the initial string part for the intro. A clave rhythm is used here which means that the rhythmic figure takes up two bars.

Take Me To The River chords and strings riff.
Take Me To The River – Strings part on the guitar for the intro

In the course, we next start working on how to play the verse in detail. That means combining all elements discussed above.

There are lessons discussing individual parts for the arrangement, complete with TAB loops to practice with, each section is taken apart as we discuss how to play Take Me To The River’s chords all over the neck.

Practice all of them and you’ll be able to play Take Me To The River in an improvised way, on your own, or with other musicians.

For the complete experience, sign up here.


Take Me To The River | Related pages


Take Me To The River – 8 guitar lessons

Take Me To The River, 8 guitar lessons in the course.

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.


Advanced Acoustic Songs

When you can play Take Me To The River's chords, discover more 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.


Take Me To The River | 5 similar tunes

When you can play Take Me To The River's chords, try these five tunes from the song book.

Al Green

find out more about Al Green, the man who wrote Take Me To The River's chords.

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.


Al Green on the web

Listen to Al Green on Spotify.