Guitar lesson for

Give My Love To Rose

by Johnny Cash  •  Lesson #18

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Editor’s notes

In this lesson I’ll teach you how to play “Give My Love to Rose” by Johnny Cash. Originally written in the 1950s, it was Cash’s 2003 recording of this which really caught my ear and wouldn’t let go. I’ll teach you to play it 100% like him: the chords, the walk ups, the walk downs, the strumming, and of course the lyrics. Check it out!

Johnny Cash’s versions

From 2003 (I like this one more!)

From 1950-something (full band, faster tempo, zippier)

Chords needed

Here is how to play the guitar chords used in this song. Very standard for Johnny Cash. If the B7 is new to you, don’t let it scare you away – it is a truly valuable open chord to have in your arsenal (especially if you haven’t tackled barre chords yet).

      A   E   D   B7

How to Play the Intro

Here’s the tab for the song’s intro. The trick here is to bar the 2nd fret with your index finger – at least for the first part of this riff. Once you walk totally down to the full A-chord (with the alternating bass note), you can play the typical open A.


Chord progressions

| A . . . | . . . . | . . . . | . . . . |

VERSE, first half
"I found him by the railroad tracks this morning..."
| A  . . . | E  . . . | A . . . | A . . . |
| A  . . . | E  . . . | A . . . | A . . . |
| D  . . . | D  . . . | A . . . | A . . . |
| B7 . . . | B7 . . . | E . . . | E . . . |

VERSE, second half
"He said they let me out of prison out in Frisco..."
| A . . . | E . . . | A . . . | A . . . |
| A . . . | E . . . | A . . . | A . . . |
| D . . . | D . . . | A . . . | A . . . |
| E . . . | E . . . | A . . . | A . . . |

"Give my love to Rose, please won't you mister..."
| D . . . | D . . . | A . . . | A . . . |
| E . . . | E . . . | A . . . | A . . . |
| D . . . | D . . . | A . . . | A . . . |
| E . . . | E . . . | A . . . | A . . . |

Lyrics w/ chords

  A                E                    A
I found him by the railroad tracks this morning
A                E             A (walk up)
I could see that he was nearly dead
D                             A
I knelt down beside him and I listened
        B7                              E
Just to hear the words the dying fellow said

             A             E             A
He said they let me out of prison out in Frisco
    A                   E                  A (walk up)
For ten long years I've paid for what I've done
      D                           A
I was trying to get back to Louisiana
   E                              A (walk up)
To see my Rose and get to know my son

    D                                      A (walk down)
    Give my love to Rose, please won't you mister
    E                                  A                       (walk up)
    Take her all my money, tell her to buy some pretty clothes
    D                                 A        (walk down)
    Tell my boy that daddy's so proud of him
        E                               A      (intro riff x1)
    And don't forget to give my love to Rose

                ...repeat the same verse & chorus chords for next sections

Won't you tell 'em I said thanks for waiting for me
Tell my boy to help his mom at home
Tell my Rose to try to find another
'Cause it ain't right that she should live alone

Mister, here's a bag with all my money
It won't last them long, though it goes
God bless you for finding me this morning
Now, don't forget to give my love to Rose

    Give my love to Rose, please won't you mister
    Take her all my money, tell her to buy some pretty clothes
    Tell my boy that daddy's so proud of him
        E              (let chord ring)               A
    And don't forget to give my love to.............. Rose

                              ( intro riff x1 leading up to final A )

How to Play the Walk-Ups and Walk-Downs

Here’s how you play the various walk-ups and walk-downs heard in this song. Note, I’m basing these partially off Johnny Cash’s original 1960 version of this song, but also off the 2002 version also by Cash (from the “American IV” album). The 2002 version is much more sparse – no accompanying lead guitar or bass. As such, the 2002 version is more “true” in my opinion to what a solo interpretation of this song should be. You’ll notice in the 1960 version, Cash’s lead guitarist is playing walk-ups and walk-downs much more liberally – between most chords in fact. I’m not reflecting all of those here, because I think that is too much for a solo performer to play while performing this song. Again this is my humble opinion.

From A to D:

      A               D

From A to E:

      A               E

Quick note – in the “A to E” version directly above, note that he plays the 3rd fret on the low E string – this is not typical for the usual Johnny Cash walkdown of this type. You’ll want to bend the 3rd fret a bit, if you like, to give it that bluesy sound it wants to have.

General Johnny Cash Strumming Pattern

If this is the first Johnny Cash song you’re learning, you should get familiar with the typical strumming pattern he uses (which applies to this song). Specifically, that of the alternating bass note. Here’s the pattern shown for each of the main chords used in this song.

For the A chord:


For the D chord:


For the E chord:


For the B7 chord:


Good luck!

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