Girl from the North Country
by Bob Dylan • Lesson #452 • Sep 10, 2022
In this week’s lesson I’ll teach you to play Girl from the North Country, as played by Bob Dylan & Johnny Cash on the 1969 album Nashville Skyline. I’ll begin by teaching the chords & basic progression (1:49), demonstrate a few strumming options (5:30), walk through a few rhythm challenges you may face when singing along (8:44), and finally show various ways you can add flair to spice things up (11:16). Thanks to all of you who requested this song — it’s been a popular submission the last few months! Enjoy.
Part 2 - Verse Melody
This extended video walks through the specific notes that are sung during the verse of the song. I’ll show you tabs, for the entire verse, matching the vocal melody – which is an enormous aid if you’re interested in singing but aren’t sure what the individual notes are.
Part 3 - Full Playthrough
Hear what it sounds like when I put it all together, from beginning to end!
Print-Friendly Song Sheet 3 pages
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Dylan & Cash’s Original Recording
Here’s the version I teach in my lesson. This is the opening track from Nashville Skyline, released by Bob Dylan in 1969. When I was in high school (late 90s), the library had a huge collection of CDs you could rent — and having just heard Dylan’s greatest hits album, I quickly moved on to explore his discography. This was one the first albums I got into… I absolutely loved its sound, and still do to his day. It was no doubt the first time I ever heard Johnny Cash as well.
Dylan’s original 1963 Recording
If you’re curious, here’s how Dylan played this song on his 1963 album The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan. Very different vibe, but great to hear for comparison.
Here’s a Keith Richards quote that he gave to Rolling Stone magazine:
While the British Invasion was going on, Bob Dylan was the man who really pulled the American point of view back into focus. At the same time, he had been drawing on Anglo-Celtic folk songs, and that’s certainly true of “Girl From the North Country”. It’s got all the elements of beautiful folk writing without being pretentious. In the lyrics and the melody, there is an absence of Bob’s later cutting edge. There’s none of that resentment. He recorded it again later with Johnny Cash, but I don’t think it’s a duo song. Bob got it right the first time.
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