Guitar lesson for

Heart of Gold

by Neil Young  •  Lesson #204

Video lesson

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Video timestamps

Lyrics with chords

See my sheet music for all the lyrics, along with chords and intro tab.

Chord shapes used

Here are the main chord shapes you’ll need for this song. Even if you skip out on the Em7 chord (which I detail further below), you could replace it with a normal Em and be just fine.

E –––0–––0–––2–––3–––
B –––0–––1–––3–––0–––
G –––0–––0–––2–––0–––
D –––2–––2–––0–––0–––
A –––2–––3–––––––2–––
E –––0–––––––––––3–––
     Em  C   D   G

For the Eminor7 chord, here’s the tab - and also two different ways to position your left-hand fingers on the required notes. The consistent thing here is using your left pinky for the 3rd fret on the 2nd (B) string. For the 4th and 5th string notes, I think you could use either position shown here:

E –––0–––                             E –––0–––                   
B –––3––– <= left pinky               B –––3––– <= left pinky         
G –––0–––                             G –––0–––                
D –––2––– <= left middle      OR      D –––2––– <= left ring
A –––2––– <= left index               A –––2––– <= left middle     
E –––0–––                             E –––0–––                   
    Em7                                   Em7                   

Main riff

Aside from your normal strumming, the only real “riff” in this song is this one. This is heard in the intro, as well as the chorus sections. This is played with all downstrums!

See my sheet music for the riff tab.

If you want an absolute simplified version of this, understand here are the chords you’ll be playing along with their timing mapped out (in broad strokes). Spoken aloud, this would be 4 counts of Em (or Em7), 2 counts of D, and then 2 counts of Em. Even if you don’t play the Em7, and/or don’t play the ending lick on the final Em, you can still capture a lot of the required sound of things.

Strum pattern

If you’re just starting out, I recommend doing a single down-strum on each of the 4 counts of every measure. Practice this strumming motion without any chords at first (mute all the strings with your left hand), and when comfortable try adding the verse progression of Em-C-D-G with this pattern.

See my sheet music for the strumming pattern diagram.

From there, you can fill things out a bit by doing down-strums on every eighth note - which means on every count, but also on the “+” count between the quarter notes. However, you’ll want to keep your accented strums on the beat (signified by a “>” symbol here).

See my sheet music for the strumming pattern diagram.

And finally, to fill things out a bit more - you can add an up-strum on the sixteenth count just after the “2+” and also after the “4+”. Maintain your accented strums on the quarter note counts (each numbered beat).

See my sheet music for the strumming pattern diagram.

“And I’m getting old…”

The one section that deviates from the core on-the-beat strumming is when he sings “And I’m getting old…” – which happens in the chorus sections. It’s important to get this timing right, if you can, as it adds some nice rhythmic distinction to the song. Notice how you’re playing on the same 3 counts for each of the two measures shown here (the “1”, “1+”, and “2+” counts of each measure). You’re on the C chord for the first 5-6 counts, and then switch to the G for the final 2-3 counts. You can fill in additional strums in the back part of each measure, but the counts shown below are where you’ll want to place emphasis. And for extra credit even further, try to apply a mute of all the strings on the “2” count of each measure. See my video lesson for reference.

See my sheet music for the strumming pattern diagram.

Chord progression cheat sheet

For a bird’s eye view of the the progressions needed, here’s a write up without any lyrics.

See my sheet music for the chord progression diagram.

Good luck!

Thanks for reading! I hope this helped you.

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