The Isley Brothers' That Lady: Guitar Chords

The Isley Brothers
The Isley Brothers | Source

Who Is That Lady?

Well, like that other longed-for but untouchable girl on Ipanema Beach, I suppose we'll never know. Yes, That Lady oozes sex appeal , but it also oozes guitar.

The song is rightly lauded for the guitar solo by Ernest Isley. Buyers of the single version never heard much of it because it was only two-and-a-half minutes long, compared with the five-and-a-half minutes of the album version.

This gives you an idea of for how long Ernie freaks out, the fuzzbox oozing (yes, it's that word again) and melding his blues notes into what must be one of most fluid solos ever recorded. So much so in fact, that it's a difficult solo to analyse.

But that's really not the reason why I'm concentrating on the rhythm guitar here, no it's not! The rhythm guitar, which I assume is overdubbed by Ernest, is deserving of its own analysis. Instantly recognisable as the intro to the song, it is based mostly on a two-chord figure employing pull-offs and hammers.


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My Analysis Of That Lady's Guitar Chords

This is the third of my hubs written to support my online notation, with playback, at Musescore. I'll be adding a You Tube videoscore shortly.

As usual, I will feature extracts from my notation, accompanied by fretboard diagrams for those more used to tabs or who don't read music.

However, for this one it would be great if, even if notation is not your thing, you can at least use the score as a guide to the rhythm and recognise tied notes. Otherwise, if you've come this far I reckon you will probably be able to use the recording as your guide.

When I refer to a bar I mean a section four beats long. When I refer to a barre I mean barring the strings with one finger.


The Main Riff From That Lady By The Isley Brothers

I've given this a key signature of C minor, so that means that the E, A and B are flattened.

Start by fingering the Cmi7 barre chord at the 8th fret. Aim for the bottom four or five strings.


The light oval points on the fretboard diagram opposite show the normal position of the chord. The dark dots indicate where we are altering the notes. I have also marked these points on the stave diagrams.

Strum 4 times. On the 4th time, whilst sustaining the other notes, we pull-off from F to Eb with the 4th finger. (I refuse to say 'pinky'.)

Then strum another 3 times. On the 3rd time our 3rd finger is off the G (so the F is sounding instead). We are not pulling-off the G, just preparing for the next hammer. Sustain whilst hammering back on to the G, then we strum again with our 3rd finger off the G.

So we commence the next chord on the 8th quaver/quarter beat of the first bar...

Next...

Keeping the barre at the 8th fret, we now finger the Fmi7 chord, concentrating on the middle four strings of the fretboard.


So, 4 strums. On the 4th, we pull-off the high Bb to the Ab with the forth finger whilst sustaining the other notes.

Then 3 strums. On the 3rd strum we have taken our finger off the C so the low Bb sounds - (we're not pulling-off the Bb, just preparing for the next hammer). Whilst sustaining the other notes we hammer-on to the C from the low Bb.

Another 3 strums. On the 3rd we pull-off from the F to the Eb whilst sustaining the other notes.

So this is our intro and riff for the first part of the song.

Getting On With That Lady

So, our protagonist is telling us that he would love to take her home, as we move to the next part.

The BbMaj shape is shown here. Slide it down by 2 frets to get the AbMaj.
The BbMaj shape is shown here. Slide it down by 2 frets to get the AbMaj.

This starts on AbMaj at the 4th fret, for one bar, then goes up to BbMaj for one bar, and then AbMaj again for one more bar . You can use the non-barre version of the shape shown opposite for this to give your wrist a rest - if you're going to be playing the full version of That Lady, that's a lot of barring.

Look Now, But Don't Touch...

It's when we first come to the above lyrics (listen to the backing vocal timing) that the next part comes.

Each word matches with the chords shown on the stave:

The fretboard diagram shows the first chord we play...

and here is the second.

That's G7 to BbMaj. Play this twice. Then our 5th chord is the Cmi7 again at the 8th fret, which takes us back to our main riff.

The Middle Eight Of That Lady

Now we have just about come to the end of our analysis of the Isley Brothers hit. I will put in the notation for consistency...

...but, all we are doing here is to strum our Cmi7 again at the 8th fret, 3 times. Then for our forth chord just slide down one fret to Bmi7 and strum once, then one more Cmi7. Then coming in at the end of this bar we are returning to another bar of our Fmi7 pattern from the main riff at the 8th fret.

The middle 8 is repeated again at the end of the song and this is where Ernie really stretches out with his solo. I aim to do a transcription of that as well in the future, though possibly not all of it!

So that is the end of my transcription of the guitar chords from That Lady by The Isley Brothers. I hope you found it useful.

I'll be back soon with some more. Happy strumming.

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