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How to Play Neil Young’s Heart of Gold Chord on Guitar

Neil Young is one of the most influential and prolific songwriters of his generation, and his song Heart of Gold is a classic example of his folk-rock style. The song was released in 1972 as the first single from his album Harvest, and it became his only number one hit in the US. The song features a simple but catchy melody, a harmonica solo, and lyrics that express Young’s desire to find a true and lasting love.

If you want to learn how to play Heart of Gold on guitar, you will need to know some basic chords, strumming patterns, and capo techniques. Here are some tips and resources to help you master this song.

Chords

The song is in the key of G major, but it uses a capo on the second fret to make it easier to play. This means that the chords are actually in F# major, but you can use the shapes of G major chords and transpose them up two semitones. The chords you will need are:

[Intro]
         Em7                 D        Em
e|-------0--0--0--0--0--0--|-2-----2--0----------------|
B|-------3--3--3--3--3--3--|-3-----3--0----------------|
G|-------0--0--0--0--0--0--|-2-----2--0----------------|
D|-------2--2--2--2--2--2--|-0-----0--2----------0--2--| x2
A|-------2--2--2--2--2--2--|----------2------0h2-------|
E|-0-----0--0--0--0--0--0--|----------0----------------|
 
[Harmonica Intro]
| Em C  | D  G  |
| Em C  | D  G  |
| Em C  | D  G  |
 
         Em7                 D        Em
e|-------0--0--0--0--0--0--|-2-----2--0----------------|
B|-------3--3--3--3--3--3--|-3-----3--0----------------|
G|-------0--0--0--0--0--0--|-2-----2--0----------------|
D|-------2--2--2--2--2--2--|-0-----0--2----------0--2--|
A|-------2--2--2--2--2--2--|----------2------0h2-------|
E|-0-----0--0--0--0--0--0--|----------0----------------|
 
[Verse 1]
Em          C     D            G
  I want to live,    I want to give
Em            C           D        G
  I've been a miner for a heart of gold
Em           C          D        G
  It's these expressions I never give
Em                             G
  That keep me searching for a heart of gold
C                       G
   And I'm getting old
Em                        G
  Keep me searching for a heart of gold
C                       G
   And I'm getting old
 
[Riff]
e|-----------3------------------|
B|-----------0------------------|
G|-----------0------------------|
D|-----------0------------------|
A|--3--2--0--2------------------|
E|-----------3------------------|
 
[Harmonica Solo]
| Em C  | D  G  |
| Em C  | D  G  |
| Em C  | D  G  |
| Em7   | D  Em |
 
[Verse 2]
Em             C          D              G
  I've been to Hollywood,   I've been to Redwood
Em                 C           D        G
  I've crossed the ocean for a heart of gold
Em             C        D             G
  I've been in my mind,   it's such a fine line
 
Em                              G
  That keeps me searching for a heart of gold
C                      G
   And I'm getting old
Em                              G
  That keeps me searching for a heart of gold
C                      G
   And I'm getting old
 
[Harmonica Solo]
| Em C  | D  G  |
| Em C  | D  G  |
| Em C  | D  G  |
 
[Outro]
Em7                       D        Em
  Keep me searching for a heart of gold
Em7                             D       Em
  You keep me searching and I'm growin' old
Em7                       D        Em
  Keep me searching for a heart of gold
Em                        G                  C       G
  I've been a miner for a heart of gold      ahhhhhh

Strumming

The strumming pattern for the song is fairly simple and consistent throughout. You can use a down-up-down-up pattern for each chord, with some accents on the first and third beats. For example, for the Em chord, you can strum like this:

Em: D U D U | D U D U |

You can also add some hammer-ons and pull-offs on the A string for the Em and C chords, to create some movement and interest. For example, for the Em chord, you can play like this:

Em: D U D U | D U D(h2)U(p0) |

Capo

As mentioned before, the song uses a capo on the second fret to make it easier to play. A capo is a device that clamps across the fretboard of your guitar and shortens the strings, effectively changing the key of your instrument. By using a capo, you can play songs in different keys without having to learn new chord shapes or use barre chords.

To use a capo, you simply place it on the desired fret and clamp it securely. Then, you tune your guitar normally and play as if the capo was the nut of your guitar. For example, if you place a capo on the second fret and play a G chord shape, you are actually playing an A chord.

Using a capo can help you play songs that are otherwise too high or low for your vocal range, or songs that use complex or unusual chords. It can also help you create different sounds and textures by changing the timbre and resonance of your guitar.

Conclusion

Heart of Gold is a timeless song that showcases Neil Young’s talent and emotion as a songwriter and performer. By learning how to play this song on guitar, you can enjoy its beauty and simplicity, and express your own feelings through music. With some basic chords, strumming patterns, and capo techniques, you can master this song and impress your friends and family with your guitar skills.

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