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How to Play Black Velvet by Alannah Myles on Guitar

Black Velvet is a classic rock song by Canadian singer Alannah Myles, released in 1989. The song was a huge hit, reaching number one in several countries and winning a Grammy Award for Best Female Rock Vocal Performance. The song is about the legendary singer Elvis Presley, who was nicknamed “The King of Rock and Roll” or simply “The King”. The song describes his charisma, his music, and his impact on the world.

If you want to learn how to play Black Velvet on guitar, you will need to know some basic chords, a capo, and a strumming pattern. In this article, we will show you how to play the song using two different versions of chords: barred chords and regular chords. We will also explain the meaning of some of the lyrics and give you some tips on how to sing along.

Barred Chords

Barred chords are chords that use one finger to press down multiple strings across the fretboard. They are useful for changing keys quickly and playing songs that have a lot of sharps or flats. However, they can also be challenging for beginners, as they require more strength and accuracy in the fingers.

To play Black Velvet using barred chords, you will need to tune your guitar down a half step, so that the strings are Eb Ab Db Gb Bb Eb instead of E A D G B E. You will also need to use a capo on the first fret to match the original key of the song. The capo is a device that clamps onto the neck of the guitar and shortens the strings, raising their pitch.

The barred chords you will need are:

[Intro]
Em
(with blues fills, 8 bars)
Mmmmm     mmmm    oooooo  (ad lib)
 
 
[Verse 1]
Em
Mississippi in the middle of a dry spell
Em
Jimmy Rogers on the Victrola up high
Em
Mama's dancing - baby on her shoulder
Em
The sun is setting like molasses in the sky
Bsus4         B                 Asus4   A
The boy could sing, knew how to move  -  everything
Gsus4     G           Dsus4            D
   Always wanting more - it leaves you longing for
 
 
[Chorus]
Am                    D
Black Velvet in that little boy's smile
Am                      F            C
Black Velvet with that slow southern style
Am                     D
A new religion that'll bring you to your knees
C7     B7                 Em
Black Velvet   -   if you please
 
 
[Verse 2]
Em
Up in Memphis the music's like a heatwave
Em
White lightning, bound to drive you wild
Em
Mama's baby's in the heart of every school girl
Em
"Love Me Tender" leaves 'em cryin' in the aisles
Bsus4       B               Asus4    A
 The way he moved, it was a sin, so sweet and true
Gsus4     G        Dsus4            D
Always wanting more, he'd leave you longing for
 
 
[Chorus]
Am                    D
Black Velvet in that little boy's smile
Am                      F            C
Black Velvet with that slow southern style
Am                     D
A new religion that'll bring you to your knees
C7     B7                 Em
Black Velvet   -   if you please
 
 
[Bridge]
A                   B                         Em
Every word of every song that he sang is for you
A                  F                   C7      N.C.      B7          Em
In a flash he was gone  -  it happened so soon    -    what could you do?
 
 
[Guitar Solo]
Em
(8 bars)
 
 
[Chorus]
Am                    D
Black Velvet in that little boy's smile
Am                      F            C
Black Velvet with that slow southern style
Am                     D
A new religion that'll bring you to your knees
C7     B7                 Em
Black Velvet   -   if you please
 
Am                    D
Black Velvet in that little boy's smile
Am                      F            C
Black Velvet with that slow southern style
Am                     D
A new religion that'll bring you to your knees
C7     B7                 Em
Black Velvet   -   if you please
 
 
[Outro]
Em
If you please
Em
If you please
Em
If you please
 
Em

You can see how to play these chords in this website.

The strumming pattern for the song is:

1 2 3 4 D D U U D U

D = Downstroke U = Upstroke

You can see how to strum the song in this video.

Regular Chords

Regular chords are chords that use open strings and only press down a few strings with the fingers. They are easier to play for beginners, as they require less strength and accuracy in the fingers. However, they can also sound less full and rich than barred chords.

To play Black Velvet using regular chords, you can keep your guitar in standard tuning (E A D G B E) and use a capo on the first fret to match the original key of the song. The regular chords you will need are:

You can see how to play these chords in this website.

The strumming pattern for the song is the same as the barred chords version:

1 2 3 4 D D U U D U

You can see how to strum the song in [this video].

Lyrics and Meaning

The lyrics of Black Velvet are full of references to Elvis Presley and his music. Here are some of the meanings behind some of the lines:

  • Mississippi in the middle of a dry spell: Mississippi is the state where Elvis was born and raised. A dry spell means a period of drought or lack of rain.
  • Jimmy Rodgers on the Victrola up high: Jimmy Rodgers was an influential country singer and songwriter who was one of Elvis’ early influences. A Victrola is an old-fashioned record player with a horn-shaped speaker.
  • The sun is settin’ like molasses in the sky: Molasses is a thick, dark syrup made from sugar cane or beet juice. The sun setting like molasses means that it is slow and sticky.
  • Black velvet in that little boy’s smile: Black velvet is a soft, smooth fabric that is often used for clothing or curtains. It can also mean something that is elegant, luxurious, or mysterious. In this case, it refers to Elvis’ charming smile that captivated many fans.
  • With that slow southern style: Southern style means the way of life, culture, or accent of the people from the southern states of America. Elvis had a distinctive southern drawl and sang with a lot of soul and emotion.
  • A new religion that’ll bring you to your knees: A new religion means something that is revolutionary, powerful, or inspiring. It can also mean something that is fanatical, obsessive, or addictive. Elvis’ music had a huge impact on the world and created a loyal following of fans who adored him.
  • Love me tender, leaves ‘em cryin’ in the aisles: Love Me Tender is one of Elvis’ most famous songs, which he sang in his first movie of the same name. It is a romantic ballad that expresses his love for his co-star and future wife, Priscilla Presley. The song was so popular that it made many people cry when they heard it.
  • The way he moved it was a sin so sweet and true: The way he moved means the way Elvis danced and performed on stage. He was known for his hip-shaking and gyrating movements that were considered scandalous and provocative at the time. A sin so sweet and true means something that is wrong but irresistible and authentic.
  • Every word of every song that he sang was for you: This line suggests that Elvis’ music was personal and heartfelt, and that he sang for his fans as if they were his lovers or friends.
  • In a flash he was gone, it happened so soon: This line refers to Elvis’ sudden and tragic death at the age of 42 in 1977. He died of a heart attack caused by drug abuse and health problems. His death shocked and saddened the world, and left many fans heartbroken.

Conclusion

Black Velvet is a song that pays tribute to Elvis Presley, one of the most influential and iconic singers of all time. The song uses vivid imagery, catchy melodies, and powerful emotions to capture his essence and legacy. To play the song on guitar, you can choose between barred chords or regular chords, depending on your skill level and preference. You can also sing along with the lyrics and appreciate the meaning behind them. Black Velvet is a song that will make you feel nostalgic, inspired, and amazed by the legend of The King.

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