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Georgia On My Mind

Guitar Lesson by Kirk Lorange


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The video with un-blurred virtual fretboard can be downloaded from a link at the top of the TAB




Georgia On My Mind - The lesson explained.


My nine year old daughter, Georgia, asked me the other day if I love this tune because her name is Georgia. I told her no, your name is Georgia because I love this tune so much.

This is my second version of this tune. I recorded a version years ago in the key of D -- in dropped D tuning -- which you can find here. This one is in G, the key that Ray Charles, the man who made this Hoagy Carmichael tune popular, used in his 1960 recording.

As usual, when I work on these arrangements, I came up with all kinds of tricky, superfluous and flowery passages that I then pared back and trimmed away. They're fun to come up with but difficult to play, and I realized long ago that if something is too difficult to nail every time, get rid of it. It's the tune that counts, the flow of the music, not technical prowess and certainly not flubbed, messy execution. I figure if I'm having trouble getting through a difficult arrangement, there's not much point teaching it.

The orchestral intro to Ray's version is sublime, and you can quickly hear that The Eagles thought so too, when they virtually stole if for the intro to Desperado. It has that achingly beautiful quality that evokes early America. I kept it in the arrangement, stripped right back to a few notes. I hope I did it justice.

There are too many versions of this tune to count, all different. Different feels, different keys, different chord progressions, different vibes. Everyone seems to have their own idea of how this tune should make you feel. I listened to Michael Bolton's completely over-the-top rendition yesterday and had to chuckle. I've always heard the song as a gentle, nostalgic longing to be back either with a girl called Georgia, or in a state called Georgia. Ray does a beautiful job of getting that feeling across and I also tried to keep wistful.

I won't go into all the details of the progression. It's in G and there are many deviations from the related chords of G. I could, for example, tell you about the second chord in the verse, the F#m, acting as a classic ii chord to the B7 acting as a V chord to the Em that follows, but I won't. The progression is the epitome of this kind of jazz/blues, including the middle 8 section. It's as pure and wonderful as it gets. Hoagy sure knew what he was doing.

Chord names: As usual, I had some trouble picking names for some of the chords. That Em/C# could be seen as some sort of dominant A chord, a first inversion, same as the Em/A ... Em slash chords seemed to make sense visually (you can see it on the fretboard), so I settle on that. The Cm7b5 could also be a G9 first inversion. I'm no expert on naming chords.

The only 'tricky' bit I kept in is the little chromatic run up and down I do at bars 19 and then at the end at bar 39. The tricky part is inserting that Cm7b5 chord shape cleanly into the flow.

I hope you enjoy this one!