Return of the Grievous Angel

by Gram Parsons • Lesson #470 • Feb 10, 2023

Description

In this week’s guitar lesson, I’ll teach you how to play Return of the Grievous Angel, the Gram Parsons country-rock classic featuring the amazing vocal harmonies of Emmylou Harris. I first heard this song about 20 years ago, and since then it’s become one of my all-time favorites. I’ll walk you through the chord shapes, explain the three different chord progressions needed, and show a few different strumming options.

Main Lesson

Playthrough (Key of G)

Here’s me singing it in Key of G (no capo). Even after removing the capo, I can’t quite capture those high notes without straining. You can hear me lower my vocals by an octave during the first chorus & refrain.

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Playthrough (Key of D)

Here’s me singing it using chord shapes in the Key of D (with capo 2). After a lot of experimentation, this is the best key for me to sing it in. The low notes aren’t too low, and the high notes are just barely manageable. I surely can’t sing like Gram, but am still happy to share this!

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How I Changed the Key to Fit My Voice

Here’s a behind-the-scenes process video showing how I changed the key from G to D, to better suit my voice. I explain the process of figuring out the equivalent of each chord, using my Chords in Each Key table from my Practical Music Theory course. If you want to try this yourself, download the key change worksheet I show in the video.

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Lesson Discussion

Jump in the conversation with other members of the Song Notes community! Post a comment about this lesson, ask a question, or even upload a video of your progress. All skill levels welcome!

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Jump in the conversation with other members of the Song Notes community! Post a comment about this lesson, ask a question, or even upload a video of your progress. All skill levels welcome!

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Licensed Song Sheet 2 pages

Follow along with my print-friendly guide for this song! It’s available for purchase at Musicnotes.com, the web’s leading provider of licensed sheet music.

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Recorded Versions of This Song

Gram Parson’s album version:

Ryan Adams & Emmylou Harris (live):

Counting Crows cover (live):

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