Take Me To The River chords by Al Green


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Take Me To The River | Chords + Lyrics


Intro

| 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

| 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

| C (Csus4) | G (Gsus4) | D5 (Dsus4) | 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

| 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

||: 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

| C (Csus4) | G (Gsus4) | D5 (Dsus4) | 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?

Instrumental

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

Middle 8

| 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

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

Verse 3

||: 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

| C (Csus4) | G (Gsus4) | D5 (Dsus4) | 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?

Outro

||: 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.


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Take Me To The River chords and progressions (course preview)

Take Me to The River 8 step by step guitar lessons

Let’s look at the chords for the first three sections of Take Me To The River, it is complex if you’re going to include the strings and horn lines as I do in the one acoustic arrangement.

Should you play it with a band, you could just pick a few of these ideas. Maybe focus on the intro and chorus licks I’ve transcribed from the original recording.

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

You’ll need TAB to make sense of all this, once you got that, you can just read the chords like this:

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

Once verse 1’s chords start, we keep it more simple. The progression used here is I – bVII – IV. The I chord is a dom7 so blues, not the major scale! The bVII chord (D) could also be called a backdoor dominant.

||: E7 | E7 D5 A5 :||

Other songs that use these chords are Back In Black, Parklife (Blur), and Get Back by the Beatles. Once you have 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 (C) – bIIIx (G), before we play the now-established bVIIx (D) – IV (A) again.

| C Csus4 C Csus2 | G Gsus4 G | D5 (Dsus4) |
| A A6 A7 A6 | A A6 A7 A6 | 2/4 A7 |

We could also describe this movement as a modal interchange from E (chord I) to Em (chord VI) which makes C chord IV and G chord I.

The whole progression is a movement of the 5ths, 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 |

The amazing middle 8 section finally embraces the key of E major (not E blues) as it moves like this:

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

In the video lesson above, I talk you through all the movements of the chords of Take Me To The River. Here’s a simple chart that sums up all the movements discussed:

Take Me To The River chord chart

For the full lesson in the course, we next look at the strings and horns so you know how these parts were built to work on one acoustic guitar.

This is followed by a further seven lessons looking at all sections with TAB and play-along loops.

Here’s a link to the complete lesson series (members only): Take Me To The River 8 step-by-step guitar lessons with TAB.

Become a member today and get unlimited access to all step-by-step guitar coursesTAB for the songbook, the Self-Eliminating Practice Routine, and the eBook Spytunes Method.

David Byrne helped Al Green make Take Me To The River a hit!

Al Green‘s awesome Take Me To The River wasn’t a hit back in 1974 when it was first released on the album Al Green Explores Your Mind. Its legendary status has come over the years, following a famous cover (more on this later).

The horn section used on the original recording was the Memphis Horns, regularly hired by Stax and therefore pals with Booker T. and the M.G.’s.

Also featured on the recording is the Memphis Strings, which together with the band playing gently or “humming” created a “late-night sound” that has been described as Southern Soul.

Released on Hi Records, they were aiming to compete with what Chess, Motown, and Stax had been doing successfully for over a decade; making black music for white radio.

It was a generally accepted idea that to achieve this, they needed to add strings, horns, and often BVs to the raw sound of the blues or as in Al Green’s case, Gospel.

Since its release in 1974, Take Me To The River has become somewhat of a standard, covered by working bands but also by other artists.

Most famously, Talking Heads (David Byrne) released a version in 1978. This version did reasonably well in the charts as a single, reaching #26 in the U.S.

David later commented: “Coincidence or conspiracy? There were at least four cover versions of this song out at the same time: Foghat, Bryan Ferry, Levon Helm (The Band), and us. More money for Mr Green’s full gospel tabernacle church, I suppose.”


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Al Green is an American gospel and soul singer who has enjoyed great popularity since the early 70s.

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