How To Play It's A Shame About Ray

by The Lemonheads

In this lesson I'm looking at a favourite song of mine from the 1990s. There are two ways you can approach playing this. There's an easy version using simple first position chords, and then there's a slightly trickier "off the record" version using a couple of interesting chord inversions. I have to admit, I always used to play this song the "easy" way, but then when I was preparing to film this lesson I had a closer listen to the recording, watched a few live videos, and discovered this great inverted E chord fingering. It's now my new favourite chord. On the record there are several acoustic and electric guitar layers and it's possible that some of these guitars are playing the easy chords and others are playing the inversions, for a thicker sound. 

A quick word about inversions...

Normally, the lowest note in a chord is the root note, the note the chord is named after. But it is possible to change the order of the notes in a chord so the lowest note is a note other than the root. This is called a chord inversion. In this song we play an E chord with a G# note in the bass, which is the 3rd of an E chord. And we do a similar thing with the D chord, putting an F# in the bass. In terms of notes used the chords are the same, but by changing the order of the notes they have a very different mood. It's also a nice way of creating a smooth bass line. For example, in the last 3 bars of the progression we get a chromatic descending bass line going from A to G# to G to F#. The normal way to signify chord inversions is to use a forward slash symbol. The basic chord comes first followed by the bass note. So E with a G# in the bass is written E/G#. And you say "E slash G#", or "E over G#". 


I've written out the chords for the song below. There's the easy version, the "proper" version and the single-note riff. Listen to the original recording to hear what goes where, and the number of repeats. Use my suggested strum as a starting point, but feel free to vary it if it sounds good.