Long Black Veil

by Johnny Cash • Lesson #523 • Nov 3, 2023


In this video I’ll teach you how to play the classic country song Long Black Veil, originally recorded by Lefty Frizzell in 1959. My lesson teaches a Key of C version which draws inspiration primarily from Johnny Cash - who recorded this song many times in his career. In addition to teaching you the chords and basic strumming, I’ll show a few tips to help you mimic Cash’s distinctive alternating bass note strumming style – which sounds great in this song. This song is an all-time favorite of mine… I hope you enjoy!

  • 0:00 Playthrough & Lesson Summary
  • 2:55 Chords
  • 3:52 Verse & Chorus
  • 6:54 Chorus “C” Rhtyhm
  • 9:20 Strumming w/ Simple Bass Note Pattern
  • 13:58 Strumming w/ Alternating Bass Notes
  • 19:21 Add’l Tips & Advice

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Print-Friendly Song Sheet 4 pages

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Extended Video Lessons

Melody Deep-Dive

In this video I’ll shine a light on the vocal melody used in this song, showing you how to play it on your guitar in open position. I’ll also show how you can add simple strums to each measure, while also playing the melody. Likewise, I’ll show you how you can play Travis-style fingerpicking while playing the melody (similar to what I teach in lesson #455).

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Play-Along Practice Track

Here’s a 4-5 minute instrumental track that plays through the same progressions this song uses, with simple drums / bass / guitar to fill things out. If you’d like to practice strumming, lead guitar, or simply playing along to a steady beat (128bpm) - I suggest using this!

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Recorded Versions of Long Black Veil

Lefty Frizzell’s original 1959 recording

Johnny Cash’s 1965 Cover from “Orange Blossom Special”

Johnny Cash’s 2003 Cover from “Unearthed”

Dave Matthews & Emmylou Harris Duet (from 1999 Johnny Cash Tribute)

This duet was first introduction to Emmylou Harris, and likewise was probably the first time I’d ever heard the name Johnny Cash! I was a huge Dave Matthews fan during my college days (1999-2003) and I’m quite grateful he turned me on to so many great songs & artists.

Comparing 10 Versions of Long Black Veil

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