Guitar lesson for

Sweet Virginia

by The Rolling Stones  •  Lesson #274

Intro guitar lesson

Here’s my lesson on how to play the intro (first 20 measures). Check back later this week for my full song lesson.

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Editor’s notes

Hey friends, here’s my lesson teaching you how to play the intro sequence to “Sweet Virginia” by the Rolling Stones, from their classic 1972 album Exile on Main Street. I’ll be focusing on the first 20 measures, which offer a great sampling of guitar technique: strumming, walking bass notes, little fills, and a few lead riffs you can imitate with a solo acoustic guitar while strumming. I’ll break all this down thoroughly in my video. Whether a relative beginner or pretty far along your guitar journey, I trust this will help take you where you want to go.

A quick final note: as per usual, I’m less interested with highlighting every single note that Keith Richards & Mick Taylor are technically playing, in all cases – as this would be quite tedious and miss the forest for the trees, in my opinion. Instead, I’ll show you the lay of the land, explain the foundation, and talk about how to approach the intro overall – so you’ll be able to pick it up and run with it, no matter your skill level.

Lesson timestamps:

Recordings of this song

Rolling Stones studio album version:

Rolling Stones live version:

Lyrics with chords

(Capo 2nd fret)

INTRO
    G      D      G  (C) G
    C      A7     G      G
    C      A7     G      G
    C      A7     G      C
    G      D      G  (C) G

VERSE
    C                     A7               G
    Wadin'... through the waste... stormy winter
    C                      A7                   G                
    And there's... not a friend... to help you through
    C                      A7                   G            C   
    Tryin'... to stop the waves... behind your eyeballs, uh huh
    G                   D                    G      (C)  G       
    Drop your reds... drop your greens and blues

    C                      A7          G                         
    Thank you... for your wine... California
    G                      A7                   G                
    Thank you... for your sweet... and bitter fruits
    G                A7               G           C              
    Yes I... got the desert... in my toenail, uh huh
    G               D              G      (C)  G                 
    And I hid the speed inside my shoe

CHORUS
            C                   A7               G               
        But come on... come on down... Sweet Virginia---
        C                  A7               G                    
        Come on... honey child... I beg of you----
        C                   A7                G            C     
        Come on... come on down... you got it in ya--- uh huh
        G                  D                  G       (C)  G     
        Got to scrape the shit right off your shoes

BREAK / SOLO
            C      A7     G      G
            C      A7     G      G
            C      A7     G      C
            G      D      G  (C) G

                            C                   A7               G
        Yeah, I want you to come on... come on down... Sweet Virginia----
                       C                 A7               G      
        I want you to come on... honey child... I beg of you----
                    C                 A7                G          C        
        I want you come on... honey child... you got it in ya, uh huh
        G                    D                    G    (C) G                
        Got to scrape that shit right off your shoes.......... one more time!

             C                  A7               G
        But come on... come on down... Sweet Virginia
        C                   A7               G                             
        Come on... come on down... I beg of you
        C                   A7                G          C                 
        Come on... come on down... you got it in ya, uh huh
        G                    D                  C        G                 
        Got to scrape that shit right off your shoes-------
                                        [let final two chords ring]

Chord progression (key of G)

Verse:

| C . . . | A7 . . . | G      G
C      A7     G      G
C      A7     G      C
G      D      G  (C) G

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