“Red Red Wine” is a song originally written, performed, and recorded by Neil Diamond in 1967.
In 1983 UB40 released a version of the song that became a big hit. While Diamond’s version was a somber acoustic treatment, UB40’s version was more upbeat and reggae flavored.
In all the verses. most of the lyrics are delivered over the D chord (V) with the final word of each line being the exception which occurs over the G chord (I).
To start the song strum the D twice using quarter notes in sync with “red red” then begin strumming G, C, D progression with the word “wine”. Much of the delivery of the last word in each line carries over the changes from G to C and finally dying out about the time we get to D.
D G C D Red red wine, G C D Go to my head G C D Make me forget that I G C D Still need her so
Verse 2 is much of the same but with a couple of exceptions.
First of all, on the 3rd line, the vocal delivery breaks the pattern previously established.
Lastly, we’ll repeat the last line which makes this verse 5 lines long instead of the 4 lines from the first verse.
G C D Red red wine, G C D It's up to you G C D All I can do I've done, G C D But memories won't go; D G C D No, memories won't go
The bridge creates a nice contrast to the verses. We begin with a full measure of the V chord, which is D, change to G for 1 measure, to C for 1 measure then to G for 1 measure. The second half is the same except we’ll end on D instead of G.
D I have sworn, G That with time, C G Thoughts of you would leave my head D G I was wrong, and I find, C D Just one thing makes me forget
This verse has 5 lines just like in the 2nd verse.
G C D Red red wine, G C D Stay close to me G C D Don't let me be alone, G C D It's tearing apart; D G C D My blue, blue heart.
Red Red Wine Chord Progression
The chords throughout all verses are G, C, D. The progression lasts for two measures before it is repeated. The bridge uses the same combination of chords, just in a different order.
Red Red Wine Strumming Pattern
The basic strumming pattern is a quarter note followed by 2 eighth notes that is repeated throughout most parts of the song.
To play it as reggae you’ll use the same chords but a different strumming pattern:
- Mute the first beat with your palm or simply don’t play it. I recommend muting it so that you don’t lose your sense of timing.
- Play the second beat, or the “off” beat in an upstroke fashion, with your pick moving from the HIGH E string up to the LOW E string.
- Do your best to avoid hitting too many notes that are not part of the particular chord or riff being played. This will allow you a more precise attack instead of
a broad strumming attack.