Welcome to my lesson on how to play Brown Eyed Girl by Van Morrison on guitar. Brown Eyed Girl is a song that everybody loves. A real crowd pleaser. It’s great fun to play on guitar and the good news is, this is a beginner level song so guitar players at any level are welcome. There’s a nice little guitar riff to learn at the start which immediately identifies the song and the rest is performed with basic strumming and some open chords.
Some newer guitar players may find the riff tricky but with a little practice, you’ll get it. With Brown Eyed Girl being a beginner level song, I will be teaching it at that level so apologies to those who don’t need that level of guidance. If you want to skim and grab the vital info, that’s fine.
Brown Eyed Girl was both recorded and written by singer songwriter Van Morrison. The song was released as a single in the year 1967 and peaked at number 10 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and it would remain in the chart for 16 weeks. It’s considered to be Van Morrison’s signature song and has been covered by many artists and is still played on radio today. If you’re looking for a song to play that’s immediately recognisable and loved by all, you’re in the right place. Let’s get to it.
How to play Brown Eyed Girl by Van Morrison on guitar
Just like the Hey Ya by Outkast guitar lesson that I wrote a little while ago, this one uses just a few simple open chords and a simple strumming patter. This one has a bit more going on and has that riff too but to start with, let’s take a look at the chords that you’ll need to know. If you ever want to learn more chords, you could visit the Eat Sleep Guitar Repeat guitar chord library and if you’re very new to the guitar, I’d recommend taking a look at this lesson on the first guitar chords that any guitar player should learn.
Brown Eyed Girl guitar chords
How to play Brown Eyed Girl by Van Morrison on guitar – verse sections
We’re not going to do this in chronological order. The first thing that I want to show you is how to play the bulk of the song. Then after that, we’ll look at the riff. First, let’s take a look at how to play the verse sections.
The chord progression for the verses looks like this.
G / C / G / D x4
C / D / G / Em
C / D / G / D
This is a section that uses just a few simple chords as you can see. The trickiest part of the verse section is remembering that after 4 repeats, the progression changes but once you’ve practiced it a few times, it will stick in your head.
Another thing that you’ll need to learn is that when a chorus follows a verse, you need to stay on that final D major chord for longer. To be specific, you’d play it for 3 bars instead of 1. This means that the final part of the verse that comes before the chorus looks like this.
C / D / G / D / D / D
How to play Brown Eyed Girl by Van Morrison on guitar – strumming the verse
Now that you know the chords to the verses, you have to learn how to strum them. There are 2 different strumming patterns here which you can use. One is for the guitarist who is very new to playing and the other is for those who’re already at a comfortable strumming stage of their guitar playing journey.
If you’re the former, you can learn this song by simply playing 4 evenly spaced out downward strums per chord which would look something like this.
G G G G / C C C C / G G G G / D D D D and so on.
This will prove good practice for those who’re looking to practice those chord changes in a musical way.
For those who’re at a more advanced stage than that, ignore the above. The chord progression that you’re going to use is the good old DDU UDU or DDU UD strumming pattern which I’m sure you’re already familiar with.
The only time that you could move away from the above advice is at that pre chorus section which I mentioned. When you get to those extra bars Of D major, simply play all 8th note downward strums (8 downward strums per bar) before moving onto the chorus section. If you don’t like the feel of that, just stick with the same strumming that you were doing prior.
How to play Brown Eyed Girl by Van Morrison on guitar – the chorus
We don’t need any new strumming instructions for the chorus section. Simply continue with the strumming you were using during the verses and you’ll be fine. What does change though is the chords progression.
The chord progression for the chorus section looks like this.
G / C / G / D
As you can see, this is the same progression of chords that we use for much of the verses only in the chorus, we don’t have that change part way through. We just play the above and then move right into the next verse.
How to play Brown Eyed Girl by Van Morrison on guitar – the intro guitar riff TAB
Next, we have the intro. Why did I do it this way around? Anyway, this is a really neat little riff and it gives the song immediate identity so if you struggle at first, stick with it. You’ll get it in the end. If you do find that it’s just too difficult at this stage, you can play the chords instead. The chords for the intro are the same as those from the chorus part and are performed in the same way.
Here’s the TAB for the riff.
The guitar riff is a short one, just 4 bars long repeated. Despite appearances, there’s not much to it. The first 3 bars use the same 2 fingers, the first and second. All you need to do is shift them up and down the fretboard to match the instructions. The final bar is different but actually easier thanks to the fact that it remains in one place.
The first 3 bars used the first finger on the high E and the second on the B but that last bar uses the first finger on the G string and the fourth on the B for the first double stop. The second double stop is executed by simply making a mini bar on the seventh fret as indicated and then you play the single notes as instructed.
There’s 2 parts to this which you may find difficult. Firstly, is the shifting up and down during the first 3 bars. You’ll find that at first, you’ll miss the target. Stick at it, you’ll get it. The other thing you’ll find hard is moving from the end of the riff right into the strumming. This has to be done with precise timing and once again, you’ll need to practice it to get it just right. Definitely worth the work though.
Just a couple of other parts
There are now just 2 little things we need to discuss before you’re ready to go away and practice the song. We need to figure out what to do during the breakdown section, and also the outro.
The breakdown comes after one of the choruses and starts after the G / C / G / D progression. What I like to do here is play 1 downward strum of G major like I’m going to start strumming the next section and then instead of doing that, I mute all 6 strings and continue my strumming pattern with the muted strings until the breakdown is complete. The breakdown lasts a total of 8 bars.
If you’re in a full band situation, you’d have a second guitarist perform that little lick and then the bassist would take the lead for the breakdown but as a solo guitar player, my way just flat out works.
The other section you need to think about is the outro because the song uses a fade out.
All you need to do to make this work for you is play the chorus as normal and the add one extra bit to the end. Simply play the following chords to finish.
G / C / G / D / D / D / G
That final G isn’t strummed, just let it ring out after 1 downward strum.
How to play Brown Eyed Girl by Van Morrison on guitar – mission complete
That’s all there is to it. You’ve reached the end, well done! If you’re interested in learning some other songs, then do check out a lesson I wrote recently which teaches you how to play 3 easy guitar songs in 1 lesson. I can’t remember which songs are in there, but I can assure you that they’ve very excellent.
Hello. My name is Ryan J Mellor and I play the guitar. I’m also the creator of Eat Sleep Guitar Repeat. I’ve ben a guitarist for many years and my guitar playing has been described as “above average”. My guitar and music knowledge is somewhat impressive but most importantly, I have a passion for creating great guitar and music related content.