Georgia on my mind is a jazz standard that helped songwriter Hoagy Carmichael break into the American music scene in 1930. Carmichael went on to write many wonderful songs that are now standard jazz music repertoire, but “Georgia” is his biggest hit. Certainly also because Ray Charles produced the song into a pop/soul hit in 1960:


The Ray Charles version is in the key of G major, making it perfect for playing on acoustic guitar. When put in the correct order, the open strings of the guitar form a G major five-tone scale: G-A-H-D-E 

In this respect, one can say that G major (or the parallel key of E minor) is the “home key” of the guitar.

The first part of Georgia on my mind is mainly characterized by secondary dominantsIn the second bar, the B7 chord leads to the parallel minor chord E minor. This is followed by G7, the secondary dominant to the subdominant C major. The diminished chord on the raised IV degree (C#-diminished) leads back to the tonic G major. 

Here you can see the chords to the first part. The secondary dominants are highlighted:

In the second part, the song modulates to E minorThe guide tone line between the chords is interesting here. The first four chords (Em, C, A7) are connected by a hidden melodic line. Listen to the B-Part of the song (min. 1:14) and pay attention to the violins in the background:

  • B (Fifth of E-Minor) leads to
  • C (root of C-Major) leads to
  • C# (Third of A7) and back…

This kind of chromatic voice leading is actually happening throughout the song and shows the great attention that was put into arranging this song.

With a typical II-V cadence chain beginning again on the raised IV degree (C#m7b5 – F#7), the song finds its way back to its home key of G major. Here is the complete second part:

The SOlo Guitar Arrangement

Although the key of G major is great for a solo guitar arrangement, I chose the key of D major for this solo version of “Georgia”; partly because I based it on a version by the great guitarist Ted Greene.

In the shop you can find the Leadsheet with the chords as described above as well as the Solo Guitar Arrangement and a PDF about Jazz Chords in general:




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