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Neil Young "Harvest Moon" Chords and Guitar Tab

Updated: Dec 27, 2023

Neil Young Harvest Moon album cover

One of my favourite songs to play in guitar lessons with my acoustic students is "Harvest Moon" by Neil Young, especially with those students who don't mind tuning one string down, since this song is played in Drop D tuning.

If you're not familiar with Drop D, all you need to do is lower your bottom E string down to a D note. It's easily done, especially once you get the hang of it.

There are a lots of chords sheets and guitar tabs out there for "Harvest Moon" but most of them are poorly transcribed or offer too much detail that's it's not useful for your average person taking guitar lessons. If you just want to strum and sing this song, all you really need is the Intro Riff and the chords. For those of you who want to explore more, you can also learn the alternate riff in the verse, which I'm calling RIFF 2 here in my chart.

Chords in the Song

Note that the chord shapes for Em7 and G6 are unusual. This is simply because we have now tuned down the low E string so we need to compensate. The good news is that these chords are actually easy to play:

CHORDS: Em7: 220000 G6: 550000 A: x02220 A7sus4: x02030

Notice that the A chord above is actually just a regular A chord. It's not affected by the Drop D tuning.

Guitar Intro Riff

The most fun part of the song is the Intro Riff which you play four times at the top and it appears again in the verses and after the choruses.

Harvest Moon guitar tab intro

Your left hand fingers are important here. If you use your second and third fingers for the first chord above, then you can use your pinky to play the 12fret B note, and the second measure is easy as you won't need to shift.

Side note: If you watch Neil play this on the Unplugged video he uses very inefficient fingering here. I don't let my students do this in our guitar lessons!

Strumming the Verse

Neil Young changes up his strum pattern a fair bit, but in the verses you can stick to something like this which will do nicely. The tab below is written for the Em7 chord.

Harvest Moon strum pattern

At the end of the first and second lines of the verse, Young plays a different riff for the D chord. You could continue to use the Intro Riff, but if you want the variety that he has in the song, try this riff which switches from D to Dmaj7, to D/F#. I'm calling this RIFF 2 in the full chart below:

Harvest Moon guitar verse riff 2

The G6 chord is a unique chord that is often played in Drop D guitar tuning. You can use a similar strum to the Em7 we used in the first two lines of the verse:

Harvest Moon guitar strum pattern G

Second Guitar Harmonics

Finally, there is a second guitar playing this beautiful lick over the verses. Use harmonics on each of these notes to create the descending melody:

Harvest Moon guitar harmonics riff

You can download a PDF of my leadsheet for Harvest Moon using the link below. I have also copied all the lyrics and chords here in the next section.

Neil Young - Harvest Moon
Download PDF • 132KB

Harvest Moon - Neil Young

INTRO: Play RIFF 1, repeat 4x


Em7 D (RIFF 2)

Come a little bit closer, hear what I have to say

Em7 D (RIFF 2)

Just like children sleepin', we could dream this night away

G6 D (RIFF 1)

But there's a full moon rising, let's go dancing in the light

G6 D (RIFF 1)

We know where the music’s playing, let’s go out and feel the night


A7sus4 A

Because I'm still in love with you,


I wanna see you dance again,


Because I'm still in love with you,

D (RIFF 1 x4)

on this harvest moon


Em7 D (RIFF 2)

When we were strangers, I watched you from afar

Em7 D (RIFF 2)

When we were lovers, I loved you with all my heart

G6 D (RIFF 1)

But now it's gettin' late, and the moon is climbin' high

G6 D (RIFF 1)

I want to celebrate, see it shinin' in your eye

repeat CHORUS

SOLO over first two lines of VERSE chords

repeat CHORUS

END on D

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