Sessions for Robert J. and Me And Mr. Johnson

“No one, not back then, nor today, has been able to fully reproduce Johnson’s gift to phrase guitar notes and chords so that they answered oh-so-artfully the lyrics that he sang. The size of his hands may have had something to do with the way he played. Listening to Johnson you often swear two guitarists are playing, not one. His long fingers reached for notes other guitarists can only dream of, while his penchant for slide guitar and walking bass riffs gave his style a remarkably rich language of notes, tones and sounds. No wonder people thought he made a deal with the devil.”
Robert Santelli, A Century Of The Blues [1]

When the first rumors about EC playing an entire album with only songs from one of his biggest influences came out, I thought that will be a great album. Considering the Robert Johnson tunes from the Bluesbreakers over Cream to Unplugged and his recent acoustic recording of Ramblin’ I expected something between From the Cradle (10 years ago) and Unplugged – just EC and his guitar.

Then the first audio examples came out, a few snippets of EC playing most tunes electric. For my taste it was overproduced, a bit lame, the same I thought about his recent collaboration with B.B. King (Riding With The King). I bought the album, listened twice and compared my thoughts with all the reviews that appeared in the net meanwhile. After listening day after day it grew a little, but for me it was still not that highlight. The songs are sometimes very close to the originals (including EC’s much improved voice) and it’s a fact that RJ didn’t play extended guitar solos, but I missed something. Too clean, too many good (but a bit tired sounding) musicians. EC stated that it’s impossible to play like Robert without help, but I thought this was a bit overdone.

Then everything changed…

This was all before the “Sessions For Robert J.” – CD/DVD was released. Now that I’ve listened to the CD and watched the DVD, I highly recommended everyone to get this instead of the original CD. It is much better! Why?

Nathan East is joking on the DVD: “some stuff sounds better than the record!” – and they all feel the same. It’s not only some stuff, it’s all better.

The DVD (you don’t need the CD!) contains four sessions, electric as well as acoustic. The sessions took place at 508 Park Ave in Dallas, where Robert Johnson recorded himself, and a solo session in a California hotel. He talks pretty much about his love to the Blues, about playing techniques, his skills, details about the songs – fantastic! You can watch his fingers on the fretboard and picking, often fingerstyle, and compare the different slide techniques of EC and Doyle, who hardly speaks a word, but enjoys the sessions as well and plays great. With all these new information I had to re-start the work on this page trying to get some more of RJ’s and EC’s secrets. This really took some time!

There are many websites about RJ including history and legends, so I’ll skip it and focus on the music. The first two (copyrighted) existing photos of RJ show him with 14 fret acoustic Gibson Kalamazoo with a capo at the second fret and with a 1930 Gibson L-1 from about 1930 using a thumb pick. He also played other instruments with better access notes above the 14th fret. 2008 a third photography appeared, showing him with the blues performer Johnny Shines.

I recommend to get RJ’s originals as well – all of his 29 recorded songs fit on one CD and where recorded in November 1936 and June 1937 in just five sessions, without “Pro Tools”. I’ll include some information of RJ’s originals, too. Some theoretical stuff about RJ’s music can be found here. There’s an ongoing discussion about the tunings RJ used, and about the correct pitch. A suggestion at this site is that most songs were speed up after recording for different reasons. Slowed down for about 20% they sound much more naturally. There are many transcriptions with a lot of different tunings, including a “secret tuning” (Aadd9), but if you just want to play along your record you can either use a pitch corrector, a capo or re-tune your guitar often. There seems to be no way to find which tuning he really used during his recording sessions.

All lyrics and the two existing photos are copyrighted (even the Stones had to pay) and can be found at the Delta Haze Corporation website. Read them carefully, you’ll find many familiar phrases as well as ambiguities and metaphors. Some of them are classics. There is an ongoing debate about if RJ’s work is now (from 2008 on) public domain or not, because usually the copyright ends 70 years after the artists death. At least in my/the servers country and the EU (not in the USA) it is public domain, as far as I know and without warranty.


There are several other interesting CD’s and DVD’s about Robert Johnson:

John Hammond, Jr. is the son of John Hammond, a record producer, musician and talent scout (executive producer for Stevie Ray Vaughan’s first album) for the Blues from about 1930 to 1980. Hammond had planned a Robert Johnson concert in the New York City Carnegie Hall in December 1938 [1], but it would not happen, Johnson was murdered on August, 16th that year.

“Of all Blues artists that we love, our favorites would probably be Son House, Blind Willie McTell, and Skip James – but it’s Robert Johnson who inspired and influenced us most. He was a full-ranged, truly beautiful singer; good and evil are equally present in his songs. A tagalong to Charley Patton, Son House, and Willie Brown, Johnson in most ways surpassed them all. He outsang, outplayed, and outperformed all of the greats of his time in that area of Mississippi, even though he wasn’t as popular as them”
– Jack White, guitarist of The White Stripes [1]

“Little Robert proceeded to put on a performance that left [Son] House and Brown stunned. Little Robert – his full name was Robert Johnson – was finally showing his true genius. House would later say: ‘That boy could play more Blues that [any] of us’.”
– from M. Scorseses ‘Feel Like Going Home’, [1]

Sometimes open tunings are used, giving a different sound to the songs. I try to stay with standard tuning, if possible. For the slide parts this is sometimes impossible if you want to play it with a steady baseline (like Ramblin’), but I pick out some licks which are playable without re-tuning. EC already has problems to play the RJ songs, I’m not nearly close to him, so it’s sometimes a bit simplified. If you’re new to slide guitar, take a look at my slide page. Although using the pinky to hold the slide has some advantages, I recommend to try all usable fingers (pinky, ring and middle finger) to find out which one gives you the best feeling for the string. EC uses the pinky, Doyle uses the ring finger (me too). Same for the slide material – glass and metal both have their pros and cons. Glass is smoother, but with a metal slide you can open a beer bottle.

The DVD contains two so-called “bonus tracks” (bt), they are hidden in the session II menu.

Me And Mr. Johnson CD (MAMJ)

  1. When You Got A Good Friend
  2. Little Queen Of Spades
  3. They’re Red Hot
  4. Me And The Devil Blues
  5. Traveling Riverside Blues
  6. Last Fair Deal Gone Down
  7. Stop Breakin’ Down Blues
  8. Milkcow’s Calf Blues
  9. Kind Hearted Woman Blues
  10. Come On In My Kitchen
  11. If I Had Possession Over Judgment Day
  12. Love In Vain
  13. 32-20 Blues
  14. Hell Hound On My Trail

Musicians

  • EC (guitar and vocals)
  • Doyle Bramhall II (guitar)
  • Andy Fairweather-Low (guitar MAMJ)
  • Jerry Portnoy (harmonica)
  • Billy Preston (Hammond organ and piano)
  • Nathan East (bass)
  • Steve Gadd (drums)
  • Jim Keltner (drums on track 5 MAMJ)
  • Pino Palladino (bass on track 5 MAMJ)
Sessions For Robert J. DVD (SFRJDVD)

Session I

  1. Intro
  2. Kind Hearted Woman Blues
  3. They’re Red Hot
  4. Hell Hound on My Trail
  5. Sweet Home Chicago
  6. When You Got a Good Friend

Session II

  1. Milkcow’s Calf Blues
  2. If I Had Possession Over Judgment Day
  3. Stop Breakin’ Down Blues

Session III

  1. Terraplane Blues
  2. Hell Hound on My Trail
  3. Me and the Devil Blues
  4. From Four Until Late
  5. Love in Vain

Session IV

  1. Ramblin’ on My Mind
  2. Stones in My Passway
  3. Love in Vain

Bonus tracks

  1. Little Queen of Spades
  2. Traveling Riverside Blues
Sessions For Robert J. CD (SFRJCD)

  1. Sweet Home Chicago
  2. Milkcow’s Calf Blues
  3. Terraplane Blues
  4. If I Had a Possession Over Judgment Day
  5. Stop Breakin’ Down Blues
  6. Little Queen of Spades
  7. Traveling Riverside Blues
  8. Me and the Devil Blues
  9. From Four Until Late
  10. Kind Hearted Woman Blues
  11. Ramblin’ on My Mind

Session I

Recorded March 15, 2004 at Hookend Manor studios in England with the band

Intro

The 30 seconds acoustic intro (in the very first menu) is a nice instrumental Blues in A (A7/D7/E7) which already covers many Robert Johnson styles (compare EC’s left hand fingerset in the beginning with the photo above!). It’s nice to improve your fingerpicking technique, especially using the thumb for the bass line. For the rhythm, which can’t be tabbed 100% correctly, listen and look carefully. It sounds easier than it is played, but once again there’s no need to copy it exactly. There are some nice fills and licks if you listen closer. A basic tab looks like:

  A7            G#7/A (=Adim7)                             D7                            A7
I-----------------5-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------I
I--/5-5-5---5-5-4-4-4-4-4--5-----4-4-----5-5-4-4-5---------1-1---1-------1--1---1-1-1----5-5-5----------I
I--/6-6-6---6-6-5-5-5-5-5--6-6---5-5-----6-6-5-5-6-6-------2-2---2-------2--2-2---2-2----6-6-6----------I
I--/5-5-5---5-5-4-4-4-4-4--5---5-4---4---5-5-4-4-5---5\3---------------------------------5-5-5----------I
I---0-----0-0---0-----0----0-----0-----0-0---------------------------------------------0-----downstroke-I
I--------------------------------------------------------2-----2---2-1-2----2-----2-2--------+pickguard-I

G#7/A         A7                   E7                   D7                                     A
I-----5-----------------------------------0-------0------------------------------3-------------5--------I
I---4---4-4---5-5-4-4-5-5\----------------0-3-0-3-3-------1-1-----0---------------3------------2--------I
I---5-----5---6-6-5-5-6-6\------------0h1---1-1-1---------2---2---2-----------2------------1-2-2--------I
I---4-----4---5-5-4-4-5-5\------------2-----------------------------2-1-0--------5-4-3-2---1-2-2--------I
I-0-0-----0-0-----0---0-downstroke----------------------------------------3-0------------0-----0--------I
I----------------------------------0----------------0-1-2---0---0---------------------------------------I

Chords:

A7 G#7/A (=Adim7) D7 E7 A

Kind Hearted Woman Blues


Recorded by RJ on monday, November 23, 1936 in San Antonio, Texas, Kind Hearted Woman (Blues) was the only Blues with a short guitar solo by RJ. It also became an EC classic for live appearances. EC plays a strat, mixing fingerstyle and pick playing, while Doyle plays the slide parts. The sessions starts with a short warm-up, then we get the slow quick change Blues in A (A7/D7/E7), you can also replace E7 by G#dim7 like RJ did.

Chords:

A7 D7 E7 G#dim7

Let’s start with one of the typical RJ intros:

I----9~--9-8--8----7---7\-------5-----5----5---0------0---0-0----I
I----8~--8-7--7--------6\-------------------------------3--------I
I-/9-------8----/7---7-------2--------------------0h1------------I
I-------------------------------5-5---4-4--3-3-2-----------------I
I--------------------------0-------------------------------------I
I----------------------------------------------------------------I

During the vocals you can slowly strum the chords (A7/D7/E7 – tip: use the fingersets from the acoustic intro – it fits well!) and throw in some fills like at 0:22 (always session CD time) and 0:31

I----------------------------------------------------------------------------I
I----------------------------8-5---5-----------------------------------------I
I---------5h6--------------------8---5h6---------later---7b(8)rb7-p5---5-----I
I----5-7------7---5-7~~------------------7---5-----------------------7---7---I
I--7------------7--------------------------7---------------------------------I
I----------------------------------------------------------------------------I
0:22                                             0:31

Note the use of the major note (6th fret) and the root note A at the end. Use the A pentatonic Blues scale at the 5th fret and above to find out more. It’s slow enough to follow. At 3:38 we have a nice one minute solo with some EC signature licks:

I-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------I
I-----13-15-15b(17)-15-13----15----13h15-15b(16)-15-13----15b(16)-15-13----15-13----13-15-15b(17)-15----I
I--14---------------------14----14---------------------14---------------14-------14---------------------I
I-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------I
I-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------I
I-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------I
3:38

I-----------------------------------15---------15-------------------------------------------------------I
I----13-------13b-----13-15-15b(17)----15b(17)----17(rb)15-13----15----13-15b(16)-13b(14)---------------I
I-14----14~~-------14-----------------------------------------14----14--------------------14~~----------I
I-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------I
I-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------I
I-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------I
                     3:44

I-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------5-------I
I--------------------------8-8-8-8-8-..-8\---17b(20)rb17--15----------13-------13-------------5--5-8----I
I--7b(8)rb7-p5---7---5-/9--9-9-9-9-9-..-9\-------------------17-14-12----12-14----14~~~\---/6-----------I
I--------------7---7-------8-8-8-8-8-..-8\--------------------------------------------------------------I
I--------------------------fast-------------------------------------------------------------------------I
I--------------------------strumming--------------------------------------------------------------------I
                                             3:51

I---7b(8)-7b(8)-7b(8)--5-----5---------------------5---8b(9)-5---------------------8b(9)-5h8p5---5-8b(9)I
I-5----------------------8-5---8-5---------------5---5---------5---5-------------5-------------8--------I
I----------------------------------7-5---7---5-7-----------------7---5b---------------------------------I
I--------------------------------------7---7----------------------------7-7/14\-------------------------I
I-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------I
I-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------I
3:56

I-5h8-----5-8b(9)---5-8-5-8b(9)-5h8p5-8b(9)-5h8p5---8b(9)-5h8p5---5-------------------------------------I
I-----8-5---------8-------------------------------8-------------8---8-5h8p5---5-------------------------I
I---------------------------------------------------------------------------7---7-5-7-5---7---5---------I
I---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------5---5-----------I
I------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------7\3----I
I-----fast picking...-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------I
4:04

I--------------------17-20b(21)-17-17-17-17~~~--------------17-19-19-19-19b(22)-19-17-19-17h19p17-------I
I---------/17-17--19----------------------------20-17---20b---------------------------------------20b---I
I-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------I
I-5-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------I
I---7\3-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------I
I-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------I
4:09

I--------------------17~~--------17---------------------------------------------------------------------I
I-17-17~~----20b(22)-----20b(22)----20b(22)--20b(22)-20-17-----------------------8----------------------I
I----------------------------------------------------------19b(20)-19-17-------9---9\7-5---7---5h6------I
I------------------------------------------------------------------------19\-------------7---7-----7----I
I-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------I
I-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------I
4:18

I-----------------5-7---5~~~----------------------------------------------------------------------------I
I------5-------/7-----7-------8-5h7p5---5----------5----------------------------------------------------I
I--5h6---7~~--------------------------7---/9-9-9-----8-7-5b(6)------------------------------------------I
I--------------------------------------------------------------7\-----Got a ....------------------------I
I-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------I
I-----------------------------------------------------------------0-------------------------------------I
4:26

You can find again some major scale notes towards the end, to increase tension and to resolve it back to the root note. That’s what makes a good talking solo – it’s not the number of notes, no gimmicks, no show-off, just the right notes at the right places.

Come on in my Kitchen


This song is not on the sessions DVD, only on MAMJ and has a long history. Recorded by RJ on November 23, 1936, San Antonio, Texas this Blues is again a variation of an old traditional, first recorded as How Long Daddy How Long by Ida Cox, with Papa Charlie Jackson on banjo, in 1925 for Paramount Records. In 1928 pianist/vocalist Leroy Carr and guitarist Scrapper Blackwell recorded a version called How Long How Long Blues for Vocalion. Later versions are just called How Long How Long or with different lyrics You Got to Reap What You Sow. The song was covered Tampa Red (1928), Kokomo Arnold (1935) and Blind Lemon Jefferson (1928) to name a few and was among the first songs Robert Johnson learned.

How Long How Long again was the base of another popular Blues, Sitting on Top of the World, released 1930 by the Mississippi Sheiks, a popular Blues band. This again was covered only six month later by Charlie Patton as Some Summer Day. More covers and variations followed (Cream 1968, Clapton and Howling Wulf 1970), and among them is Robert Johnsons Come on in my Kitchen. Recorded twice in a slow and quicker version it again was covered by many other artists.

Come on in my Kitchen is an 8 bar Blues (like his predecessors) in A, played on a Dobro in open A tuning (E-A-E-A-C#-E). Chords are A/D7/E7. D7 is also played with F# as bass note. The chord progression is:

A  / A  / D7 / A
A  / E7 / D7 / A7

Chords in standard tuning:

A A7 D7 E7

The intro in standard tuning:

I-/12-12~~~--12\10-9-/12--12\10-9-----------------I
I-------------------------------------------------I
I----------------------------------14\---/5-------I
I--------------------------------------------7----I
I-------------------------------------------------I
I-------------------------------------------------I

and in open A:

I-/12-12~~--12\10----/12--12\10----------------I
I-----------------12------------12-------------I
I----------------------------------12\---/3----I
I----------------------------------------------I
I----------------------------------------------I
I----------------------------------------------I

The short solo at 1:41 in open A (easy to adjust to standard tuning, see intro):

I----/9-10-10/12~~~---/12-/12\10----/12---/12-12\10----/12------------10-/12\10-------I
I-/8-----------------------------12-/12-------------12----13------/12----------/12----I
I-----------------------------------------------------------12~~----------------------I
I---------------------------------------------------------------------------------12\-I
I-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------I
I-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------I

They’re Red Hot

Recorded by RJ on November, 27, 1936 in San Antonio, Texas, this song is a bit untypical for RJ. It’s an uptempo hokum Blues in ragtime style.

Hokum?

Etymology: probably blend of hocus-pocus and bunkum. A device used (as by showmen) to evoke a desired audience response

– says the dictionary.
Hokum Blues (also called Jug) was a popular, “dirty” Blues style around 1930, usually an uptempo kind of ragtime style with guitar, banjo and piano, strong bass and offensive lyrics without the formalized structure of the classical Blues. Tampa Red (born Hudson Woodbridge or Whittaker, 1900 – 1981, a famous Blues artist and slide player, recorded for example It Hurts Me Too) formed the Tampa Red’s Hokum Jug Band and the early Big Bill Broonzy recorded in 1930 with the Famous Hokum Boys. Memphis, Tennessee was the city for Hokum Blues back in the 1930s, with the Beale street (Beale Street Blues Boy is no one else than BB King, although not a Hokum Blues player) as it’s center. The Memphis Jug Band, the Beale Street Sheiks or Cannon’s Jug Stompers where popular bands back then.

Hot tamales and they’re red hot, yes she got’em for sale…

Now, what are tamales? The Mexican/Spanish tamales, from Nahuatl tamalli (steamed cornmeal dough) are cornmeal dough rolled with ground meat or beans seasoned usually with chili, wrapped usually in corn husks, and steamed. They were sold on street by big voiced loud crying sellers.

Back to the song. The key is C, but there’s no 12 bar Blues structure. EC’s version is close to the original, including key and chords. The chords (very fast change!) for the verse (hot tamales and…) go like

C – A7 – D7 – G7 – C

and the chords for the other part (I got a girl…in the hall) go like

C – C7 – F – Fm – C

and sound a bit like “Nobody Knows You When You’re Down And Out”, that’s because both use the cycle of fifths, in this case in the opposite direction. EC plays a Gibson semi-acoustic.

Find out your favorite chord position (you don’t need to strum all strings, four are enough) before playing it real time – it’s really hot!

Chords in standard position (use your own!):

C C7 A7 D7 G7 F Fm

After Billy’s rag piano and Jerry’s Blues harp it’s up to Doyle for a short (metal) slide guitar solo on both DVD and MAMJ CD, noted in standard tuning with MAMJ timeline:

I---------8~~-8~~--------------------------------------8--------------------------------/8-8-8-8-repeat-I
I-------8----------11/12-----------------------------8---/10-/10~~--10/11\10-/10--8~~-------------------I
I---7/9----------------------12\10--8/9--5~~-5---7/9----------------------------------------------------I
I-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------I
I---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------root note C!----I
I-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------I
2:17

I--8-8\--------------8-8-8\------------------------11p8-------------------------------------------------I
I-------11-8\6-----8---------/10--8\6-------------------11p8--------------------------------------------I
I--------------7/9--------------------7/9--------------------10p8---------------------------------------I
I------------------------------------------10~~-------------------10p8h10-------------------------------I
I------------------------------------------root----without slide, fast----------------------------------I
I------------------------------------------note---------------------------------------------------------I
2:28

That’s it!

Hell Hound On My Trail (2 takes)

Recorded by RJ on June 20, 1937 in Dallas, Texas.

Back to the stratocaster again. This is a slow Blues in E (E7/A7/B7), again with some variations on the usual RJ intros and turnarounds. It starts familiar and you get another opening riff for E:

I-----4---0-3-0---0-0-0-0h2---0---0---0---0------0-0---0---0--------------------I
I-----3---2-2-2---1-1-1-1--------------------0h2---3-3-2-2-3--------------------I
I--/4---3-------2----------------------------------1---1---1------Gotta keep..--I
I------------------------------------------------switch between-----------------I
I-----------------------------5-5-4-4-3-3-2------E6 and E7----------------------I
I---------------------------0--------------------chord!-------------------------I
0:00

Some snippets from Doyle’s first slide solo (originally open E tuning, here in standard tab):

I------------------------------------------------------I
I---------8------------------------10---------8\7------I
I---7/9-9---9---/7-9-9-9\7-----/12----9-----------9~~~-I
I-9-----------9------------9------------12--9----------I
I------------------------------------------------------I
I------------------------------------------------------I

The rest is nothing new, it’s not my favorite at all…

Chords:

E7 A7 B7 B7

Sweet Home Chicago

This song is one of the most covered RJ songs. It is based on the “Old Original Kokomo Blues” by Kokomo Arnold, who developed it from Scrapper Blackwell’s “Kokomo Blues”. EC played it live several times (see Crossroads festival video, for example), other artists use it often for Blues jamming at the encore. Well known is the Blues Brothers version from one of my favorite movies.

It’s a fast, heavy Blues in E (E7/A7/B7), nothing special, that’s why it’s often used for jamming. Let’s start with the intro:

I----------------0------------------------------0-0--------------------------------------0-0--9-7--0----I
I----------------0------------------------------0-0---3/5\3--8p5~~--8p5-8p5--------------0-0--9-7--0----I
I-7h9---------------7h9-7~~~--------------------1-1---1/3\1------------------------------1-1--9-7--1----I
I-----------------------------9\7-5b------------2-2---2/4\2-----------------9\7-5b-------2-2------------I
I------------------------------------7----------2-2--------------------------------7-----2-2------------I
I---------0-0-0------------------------0-0-0...--------------------------------------0-0----------------I
0:00

I--0---------7-6-5----5-----------------------2-2---2-2-------------------------------------------------I
I--0-----5---------8b---8b--5---5-5-----------0-0---0-0-------------------------------------------------I
I--1--/6---6------------------6------7-6-5----2-2-2-----------------------------------------------------I
I------------------------------------7-6-5-2------------------------------------------------------------I
I------------------------------------5-4-3-2--2-------2--Come on...--2-2-4-4-2-2--as usual--------------I
I--------------------------------------------------------------------0-0-0-0-0-0--(see rhythm page)-----I
0:19

A typical fill playable in many variations every player has to know is:

I---------0---------I
I---------0---------I
I--2-0h1-let ring---I
I-------------------I
I-------------------I
I-------------------I
0:58

Chords:

E7 A7 B7 B7

At 2:08 it’s solo time again. It is a standard 12 bar Blues in the standard key of E, so everyone with basic knowledge should be able to play something useful. I will give you the first notes of the way EC played it, but don’t just copy it. Don’t get “tab addicted” like many beginning or intermediate players in rock music. Remember – players like EC learned playing the guitar by ear. No notes, no tab. It’s OK for the beginning, saving much time while getting the very basics, but start early and train your ear, try to speak using your guitar. Let’s start with some notes:

I-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------I
I------------------------14-14b---------------------------------------------------------14-14b----------I
I--------12b----------12-14-14b--14p12----12~~---------bass:--------------12b--------12-14-14b-12-14----I
I--12h14-----14p12-14------------------14------14p12---2p0-------------14-----14--14--------------------I
I----------------------------------------------------------2p0------------------------------------------I
I--------------------------------------------------------------0-3h4------------------------------------I
2:08

At 3:00 min we have a piano solo, 25 seconds later another guitar solo follows. To put more energy into it than the first one, it’s played an octave higher and a bit dirty like:

I-----15-17-17b(19)rb(17)b(19)rb17p15----15-----------15-17-18-17-15----17----15------------------------I
I--17---------------------------------17----17~~\--17----------------17----17----17-15------------------I
I--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------16\14-12---------I
I-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------14-12---I
I-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------I
I-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------I
3:25

I-----------------10/12 fast strumming--b(15)-12-12-------12-------repeat-and continue on your own------I
I---------------------------------------------------15-12----15-12--------------------------------------I
I-14----12h13-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------I
I----12-------14----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------I
I-------------14----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------I
I-------E major-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------I

With the last vocals we come to the end: A slide down from E#7 to E7 like

I----------I
I--4\3-----I
I--5\4-----I
I--7\6-----I
I----------I
I----------I

When You Got A Good Friend

I had finished this before the RJ Sessions DVD were released, so this is the MAMJ CD version. It contains all the basics to play the DVD version.

RJ recorded this song about his woman, who had left him, on Monday, November 23, 1936 in San Antonio, Texas. It’s both a Blues and a love song with relatively “mellow” lyrics compared to other songs. The musical form is a 12 bar Blues shuffle in the key of E, using the chords E/A/B7 (I-IV-V) and a quick change (A in the second bar). The songs contains already several RJ signature licks, together with EC’s additions. The solo on MAMJ CD is nearly identical to the “Unplugged” version of “Before You Accuse Me”, while on the Sessions DVD Doyle plays a slide solo. It’s a good song to learn the basic Blues with both rhythm and solo parts, because of the 12 bar structure and the minor pentatonic scale in the “easy” key of E.

Chords:

E A B7 B7

The intro is a standard RJ intro: playing double stops with the bass line walking down from the minor seventh (D) to the fifth (B) while keeping the high root note (E in this case) constant. This intro can be played in many different versions, easy to find out for all keys. Watching the DVD version you can see that EC’s playing it on a strat with no pick using the notes:

I------0----12----12----12------------0-----0---0---0--------2-2-----I
I------------------------------0-----------------------0---0-0-0-----I
I--------------------------------------------------------2---2-2-----I
I-/12----12-11-11-10-10----10--9-------------------------------------I
I------------------------------------/5-5-5-4-4-3-3-2--2-----2-2-----I
I--------------------------------------------------------------------I
0:00                                 0:05                         When you...

The next thing is the rhythm part we need as background for the vocals. Note the quick change form, chord A (IV) in the second bar. The good thing is that we can use the riff we’ve learned at the rhythm page:

E/E6                       A/A6                  B/B6
I--------------------------------------------------------------------I
I--------------------------------------------------------------------I
I------------------------------------------0-------------------------I
I-------------------0-----2-2--4-4--2-2--4---4---4-4--6-6--4-4--6-6--I
I--2-2--4-4--2-2--4---4---0-0--0-0--0-0--0---0---2-2--2-2--2-2--2-2--I
I--0-0--0-0--0-0--0---0----------------------------------------------I

We have some nice fills between, for example the first one at 0:16 (MAMJ):

I--------------------------------I
I-/5-5\--------------------------I
I--------2-0---------------------I
I------------2-2~~---------------I
I-------------------2-4-4--------I
I-------------------0-0-0-...----I
0:16

At the end of the first verse at 0:36 (MAMJ) we have a typical turnaround. We can play the notes from the intro as well as the other ones from the rhythm page. The next verses are played the same way. At 2:10 a short solo (RJ didn’t play a solo on his version!) starts, almost the same style as the “Unplugged” solo of “Before You Accuse Me”:

I-/10-10-10-10-10-10-10---9--9--7-0-------------/10-10-10-/10-10-10-/10-10-10-/10-10-10-----10-12-------I
I-/12-12-12-12-12-12-12--10-10--9-0-------------/12-12-12-/12-12-12-/12-12-12-/12-12-12-/12-------12\10-I
I-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------I
I-----------------------------------2-4-4-2-2-----------------------------------------------------------I
I-----------------------------------0-0-0-0-0-----------------------------------------------------------I
I-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------I
 2:10

I--------------------7-6-5------------------7-6-5----5--------------------------------------------------I
I----10---8~~------5-------8b-5-----------5-------8b---8b-5~~----------------0-0-3-0--------------------I
I--9----9-------/6--------------/9~~---/6----------------------7-\4------------------0h2-0--------------I
I-------------------------------------------------------------------5h6p5h6----------------2------------I
I-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------I
I--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------0----------I
 2:20

I-0-0--------0-----------------------------------7-6-5----7---------------------------------------------I
I-----3--0-3----7h10-7h10p7--------------------5-------8b---8b-5---5-5---5-------------------0-0---0-0--I
I---------------------------9b-7b-----------/6-------------------7-----7------0-2-0-2-0------2-2---2-2--I
I---------------------------------9~~~--------------------------------------2-0-2-0-2-0-2-2-------------I
I---------------------------------------------------------------------------2---0-------2-2------2---2--I
I---------------------------------------------------------------------------0-------------0-------------I
2:28

The rest is played all this way, including the ending.

Session II

Recorded June 2, 2004 at a sound stage in Irving, Texas, with the band.

Milkcow’s Calf Blues

This is a slow 12bar Blues in A, played using some strange beat changes. Some parts sound like a slow version of Cream’s “Crossroads”. It’s played with a slide (both EC and Doyle) in open (A or A#) tuning, as always I try to get it in standard tuning. With Doyle on second guitar is even harder to follow, so you’ll get some main licks and themes to help you playing your own way instead of trying to emulate both.

I---5-/4-/4-/4------------------------------------------------5-----5-----5----0------------------------I
I---------------5-5~~-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------I
I---5-/4-/4-/4---------------3/4~~--4\2--0----------------------------------------/2-0-2-0-2------------I
I--------------------------2------------------------------7-5---5-4---4-3---3--2--/2-0-2-0-2------------I
I---------------------0-/3-----------------/3-0-/3-0~~--0-------------------------------------3b-0------I
I-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------I
0:00

The last double stops are the main riff throughout the song. When switching to the shuffle rhythm, you can use the well known lick from the rhythm tutorial, in A it looks like:

I----------------------------------I
I----------------------------------I
I----------------------------------I
I-2-2-4-4-2-2-----2-2-4-4-2-2------I
I-0-0-0-0-0-0-3h4-0-0-0-0-0-0-3h4--I
I----------------------------------I

I don’t tab the slide solo, because for standard tuning you need to play it different. Use the first two patterns of the A Blues scale (5th fret) and try to play around with the slide, at first trying to play some standard licks and then more and more sliding into the notes and switching from string to string.

Chords:

A7 D7 E7

If I Had Possession Over Judgment Day

Sounds familiar? Pretty much like “Rollin And Tumblin”? You’re right. Both share the same music and partially the same lyrics. Both McKinley Morganfield (aka Muddy Waters) and Robert Johnson are not the true author of this song. It is an old traditional Blues phrase, recorded as “Roll And Tumble” by Hambone Willie Newbern in 1929 or “It Won’t Be Long” and “Peavine” by Charlie Patton in the same year. Knowing this, I can refer to Rollin and Tumblin from the Unplugged record for the chords. The only difference is the key – A instead of G, that means simply play 2 frets higher. The main riff now goes like:

I----------------------------I
I----------------------------I
I------------5b--------5b----I
I--7-7-7-7-7----7-5-7-----7--I
I----------------------------I
I----------------------------I

Of course this song is great for open tunings, too.

Chords:

A7 D7 E7

Stop Breakin’ Down Blues

This is a heavy Blues in A with some nice slide fills. It was also covered by ZZ Top, Peter Green and The Jeff Healey Band, to name a few. The original by RJ exists in two versions with slightly different lyric, although both were recorded on June 20, 1937, in Dallas, Texas. John Lee “Sonny Boy” Williamson made it more popular with his 1945 recording. Junior Wells, Louis Myers and Johnny Young also covered it.

The intro bass line goes like:

I-------------------------------I
I-------------------------------I
I-------------------------------I
I-------------2-4-2-------2-4---I
I-------------0-0-0-3h4-0-0-0---I
I-5-5--3-2b-0-------------------I
0:00

The typical slide lick (after …breaking down) in standard tuning can be played like:

I-----5---3-5---5---3-5~~~--I
I--/5---5-----5---5---------I
I---------------------------I
I---------------------------I
I---------------------------I
I---------------------------I
0:10

The same notes without a slide look like

I----5-----5~~---5-----5~~--I
I--5---5-8-----5---5-8------I
I---------------------------I
I---------------------------I
I---------------------------I
I---------------------------I

There’s no big guitar solo, but a nice small slide guitar with some wah-wah. The crying notes at 2:33 can be played like

I----11/12~~~~--10----------------I
I------------------13-10-10-------I
I---------------------------12\---I
I---------------------------------I
I---------------------------------I
I---------------------------------I

Because Doyle plays left handed, it’s hard to follow the video. Trust your ears and use the blues scale, that makes it a lot easier!

Chords:

A7 D7 E7

Session III

Recorded at 508 Park Ave in Dallas on June 3, 2004 with Doyle.

Terraplane Blues

It’s getting acoustic now. Doyle plays slide on a national, EC picks his Martin. The Essex Terraplane was a popular american car, introduced by Hudson in 1932.

Hudson Terraplane
Berne Williams with his Terraplane (1936). He played with Eric and the Yardbirds at the Marquee Club in 1964, both worked for Marquee Artists and were managed by Giorgio Gomelsky. His band were the “Authentics”.

As I was telling Eric last time I saw him, there used to be an old farmer whose farm backed onto the then ex world war 2 airbase of Cranfield now the farmhouse seat of technology. The Farmer, an eccentric old guy called Bill Kinns, had bought up all the old American cars from the US airmen at the end of the war he had about 40 or 50 various US cars from the 30’s through to the 50’s and you could buy them for a few pounds drive them around for a while then take them back to Bill and for few more pounds get another, I had a 38 Studebaker, A 38 Chevy, the two Hudson’s and a stunning 50 Plymouth sports Coupe. Happy Days.
Berne Williams, personal email 2007

Terraplane Blues was recorded by RJ on Nov. 13, 1936 as well as by Frank Edwards, Johnny Shines, John Lee Hooker or Howlin’ Wolf, to name a few. EC and Doyle play it in A# using a slide, you can see a capo at the 6th fret of EC’s Martin. If you want to get the original sound, tune your guitar in open A and use a capo at the first fret, like Doyle did.

Let’s start with Doyle’s intro in standard notation, a bit different because of the missing open tuning:

I--/13-/13-/13--------------------------------------------------------------------I
I--/15-/15-/15----4/5\4-2---------------------------------------------------------I
I-------------------------3----1-1-0----------rhythm------------------------------I
I------------------------------------2-2-4-4--change--8-6-8-6p8-6b--And I feel...-I
I----------------------------1-------1-1-1-1----------8-6-8-----------------------I
I---------------------------------------------------------------------------------I
0:00

If you know EC’s Crossroads riff from his Cream era, you can use it also, but you have to play it one fret higher for the main riff:

I--------------------------------4-4-4--3-3--4-----------------------I
I----------------------------/6--6-6-6--4-4--6--3-3------------------I
I-----3-1-3-1h3-1-------------------------------3-3--3-1-3-1h3-1-----I
I-----3-1-3-------------------------------------3-3--------------...-I
I--1--------------4b-1-...----------------------strum----------------I
I--------------------------------------------------------------------I
0:12

Another important note is the slide from Doyle into the root note (8th fret of the D string). There’s much more to explore using the video, but then you have to use open tuning. Beginners can play along using the standard Blues scheme and add some licks.

Me And The Devil Blues

As the devil plays a big role in the legends about RJ and his guitar skills, this is another important RJ signature Blues in the classical 12 bar form, with slight changes. EC plays it again close to the original, and it’s one of the better songs from this album. Since it contains very much “basic Blues”, it’s great for beginners and therefore I’ll discuss it a bit more detailed.

The key is A, and the lyrics are the opposite of the opening song. Nowadays you couldn’t release “And I’m goin’ to beat my woman until I get satisfied” without getting problems (even if you mention that beating does not necessarily really mean beating), but remember the song was played in juke joints way back in the 30’s of the last century.

Chords:

A7 A7 Adim7 D7 E7

OK, let’s start with the intro. A classical chromatic “hold one note and step down other notes” RJ intro, which can be played in many different variations. Starting with A7, going step wise down to E7, which leads back to A7, where the lyrics start:

I-----9--9-8--7-----7----5----5--5------0------0---0-0----------------------I
I-----8--8-7--6-6---6----------------------------3--------/5---5----5-------I
I--/9------8--7---7------------------------0h1------------/6---6----6-------I
I------------------------5--5-4--3-0-3--2-----------------/5---5----5-------I
I----------------------0-------------------------------------0----0---------I
I----------------------------------------------------0--0---Early this ....-I
0:00

The lyrics start, guitar goes to background. We have a 12 bar scheme, but we add an A diminished 7th (x0454x, one fret below A7 x0565x). The chords are:

 1    2        3            4
A7 / Adim7 / A7 - Adim7 / A7 - Adim7 - A7 - Adim7

 5    6        7            8
D7 / D7   / A7 - Adim7 / A7 - Adim7 - A7 - Adim7

 9   10   11   12
E7 / D7 / A7 / E7

At 1:45 we have a harp solo, keeping the chord progression but strumming the chords (A7: x0x989, Adim x0x878). Use this to try out your own solo. You have 12 bars, use the A Blues scale at the 5th fret. You can also try to figure out the harp solo, it also there. Finally, we have one more verse until the end.

No idea? Try this for the first 2 bars:

I---------------------------------------I
I---------------------------------------I
I----6-6-6-6--6~~~---5-7-7b-5b----------I
I-/7---------------7-----------7-7~~~---I
I---------------------------------------I
I---------------------------------------I
1:46

From Four Until Late

Most people know this one played by Cream, not knowing it’s a RJ Blues originally. It’s easy to play even in standard tuning, no need for a capo, and it’s in C. So let’s start with the intro, another variation of the standard RJ intro already described:

                   C       F
I---8-8-8-8-8---8----------0-0--1-1--1------------------------I
I-----------------8--------1-1--1-1--0--0---0-----------------I
I--------------------------0-0--2-2--0--0---0---From four...--I
I-8-----7-----6---5-------------3-3---------------------------I
I-----------------------3-------------------------------------I
I------------------------------------3----3-------------------I
0:00

The chords don’t follow the typical straight I-IV-V Blues progression, but we had something similar on the “Nobody Knows You” tune from the Unplugged or Layla album, following a bit the circle of fifth:

C - F  - C - C7
F - F  - C - A7
D7- G7 - C - C

Chords:

C C7 F D7 G7 D7 F#dim

The chord sequence is good to see when watching the DVD. Sometimes a nice fill or walking bass line is thrown in, like from C to A7:

I------0---------3-3---I
I------1---------2-2---I
I----0---------2-------I
I----------------------I
I--3-----2-1-0---------I
I----------------------I

Doyle’s short solo is completely chord based, you can play along using the chords, adding some nice bass lines, for example borrowed from “Nobody” a F#dim following the F chord.

Love In Vain (2 takes)

The second take (4th session) shows EC changing the guitar and playing a little lick which is tabbed here – nice example for the little notes “between”:

I-----------------------------------------5-7-5h7p5---5-------------------------------------------------I
I-------------------------------------5-7-----------7---8\7--5---5----------------------5-7--5----------I
I------5h6----------------------5h6-7--------------------------7---5h6----------------7--------7-5h6----I
I-5-7------7---5-7------------7-----------------------------------------7---5--7~~~---------------------I
I------------7-----7\5-4--------------------------------------------------7-----------------------------I
I------------------------5------------------------------------------------------------------------------I

I---------------------------------I
I---------------------------------I
I---------------------------------I
I--7---5-7~~~---Are you ready?----I
I----7----------------------------I
I---------------------------------I

Back to the main song:

This song is not on the Sessions-CD, although two acoustic takes were made. Love in Vain is well known as a Rolling Stones hit, again it’s originally composed and played by RJ. It’s a Blues in A, both takes are similar.

I----9-9-8-------------/12-12-12-12-12----11-11-11-11-11--10-10-10-10h12p10--9--5-5-5-5-0-----0---0-0-0-I
I----8-8-7-------------/14-14-14-14-14----13-13-13-13-13--12-12-------------10------------------3-------I
I-/9-----8--------------------------------------------------------------------------------0h1-----------I
I--------------------------14-------14-------13-------13-----12-------------11--5---4-3-2-----------2---I
I----------No, wrong!-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------I
I----------------------A chord!-------------------------------------------------------------------------I
0:00

The following rhythm guitar is the usual double stop shuffle described at the rhythm page, played in A. The short jamming solo uses EC standard acoustic licks with some nice variations, it starts like:

I---/9-9-9-9--9---------/9-9-9-9-9-------------------------------------9-9-9-8-8-8-9--2-2-2-2-----------I
I---/8-8-8-8--8---------/8-8-8-8-8--5----------------------------------8-8-8-7-7-7-8--1-1-0-1-----------I
I---/9-9-9-9--9---------/9-9-9-9-9----7-5------------------------0-----9-9-9-8-8-8-9--2-2---2-----------I
I----------------4-2-2--------------------7-7~~--4-2-2-4-4-2-2-4---4------------------------------------I
I----------------0-0-0---------------------------0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0----------------------------------------I
I-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------2-------1-2-....--I

The second take (just EC) uses the intro EC played falsely at the first take and a nice variation of the RJ standard intro:

I------9-8--7-----7-----3-----3--0---I
I------8-7--6-6---6------------------I
I--8/9---8--7---7-7--2-----------2---I
I-----------------------5-5-4-3------I
I------------------------------------I
I------------------------------------I
0:00

Chords:

A7 D7 E7

Session IV

EC and his guitar, recorded at the Hotel Casa del Mar in Santa Monica, California on August 14, 2004.

Ramblin’ on My Mind

This one is for me the highlight of the DVD. A song played so many times since the Bluesbreakers days appeared recently in a new acoustic version on several live boots. Now it’s available to everyone, even better as a DVD with an interesting intro, EC talking about singing and playing the Blues.

EC plays it in open tuning with a glass slide on the pinky, but you can also use standard tuning with or without a slide. It’s a classical Blues in E, so it’s easy to follow and play with the DVD.

I’ve tabbed it in standard tuning using a slide, for the original sound you need an open E tuning. Sometimes it’s difficult to get all notes including the bass line, but you can learn nearly all about Delta Blues with only this song.

Let’s go – you can play a single string bass line if it’s to fast for you to change between the fret positions:

I-------------------------------12~~~-------------------------------------------------------------------I
I-------12-------------10----------------------11/12-12-12-11/12-12-12-11/12-12-12-11/12\11-------------I
I-12/13-------------------12/13----------------12/13-13-13-12/13-13-13-12/13-13-13-12/13\11--12-13\-----I
I-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------I
I----------2-4-2-2-4-4-------------2-2-2-2-2------------------------------------------------------------I
I----------0-0-0-0-0-0-------------0-0-0-0-0------------------------------------------------------------I
0:00

I-----------------------------------------I
I-----------------------------------------I
I------------------------I got ramblin...-I
I-----------------------------------------I
I--5-5-4--3-3-2--5/7-7-2------------------I
I--0-0-0--0-0-0---------------------------I
0:09

The rhythm is played like described several times before, but harder to play if you use standard tuning and one finger is blocked by a slide:

        E (I)                A (IV)                 B(V)
I------------------------------------------------------------I
I------------------------------------------------------------I
I------------------------------------------------------------I
I-----------------------2-2-4-4-2-2-4-5-4----4-4-6-6-4-4-6-6-I
I--2-2-4-4-2-2-4-5-4----0-0-0-0-0-0-0--------2-2-2-2-2-2-2-2-I
I--0-0-0-0-0-0-0---------------------------------------------I

The fills and background licks are all derivatives of the main theme from the intro, sometimes wandering up or down with the slide to the IV or V. The song ends beautiful with:

I---0---0------------------------13~~~~~-I
I--------------------------11/12---------I
I--------------------12/13---------------I
I-----------0-----0----------------------I
I---5-5-4-3-2-----2----------------------I
I-------------3/4------------------------I

Chords:

E A7 B7 B7

Stones in My Passway

Another Blues with dark lyrics, combining many typical RJ licks. EC plays open tuning with a slide, as always I’ve tabbed it using standard tuning, so it’s not exactly the same. It’s a slow Blues in A with another variation of the popular intro:

I--/12-12\--3-3\-2-------------5-3-5--3h5-3-------------------I
I--/14-14\--5-5\-2--------------------------------------------I
I------------------------------2-2-2--2---2-------------------I
I-------------------2-5-5-4-2--2-2-2--2---2--I got stones...--I
I-------------------0-0-0-0-0---------------------------------I
I-------------------------------------------------------------I

The rhythm changes throughout the song and is much more complex than a simple Blues shuffle. The main theme over the song again sounds a bit like the Cream’s Crossroad version and can be played like:

I-----------------------3-3-3-2-2-3-----------------5-3-5--3h5-3----------------------------------------I
I--------------------/5-5-5-5-5-5-5----------2-2-2------------------------------------------------------I
I-----------------or----------------and then-2-2-2--2-2-2--2---2----------------------------------------I
I--5-5-5-5-4-4-5-----------------------------2-2-2--2-2-2--2---2----------------------------------------I
I-/7-7-7-7-7-7-7-----------------------------strum------------------------------------------------------I
I-----------------------0---0-0---0---------------------------------------------------------------------I

Another more simple way to play the main theme is to use the first A Blues scale pattern like:

I-------------------------------I
I-------------------------------I
I-------------------------------I
I----7-5-7-5h7-5------7-5-7...--I
I-------------------------------I
I--5-------------8b-5-----------I

For the IV(D) and V(E) just step a string higher or lower. In the middle of the song we have a short shuffle part played like:

I--------------------------I
I--2--------2--------------I
I--2--------2--------------I
I--2-----2--2-----2-....---I
I----3-4------3-4----------I
I--------------------------I

And finally we end like:

I-------------------------/5------------------I
I-2---------------------5-/5-------17~~~------I
I-2---5-5-4-4--3-2--5/6------17/18------------I
I-2---0-0-0-0--0-0-----------------------(19)-I
I---------------------------------------------I
I---------------------------------------------I

Chords:

A7 D7 E7

Bonus tracks

I tabbed the Me and Mr. Johnson version (it was before the DVD was out), but the essentials are the same.

Little Queen Of Spades

This Blues is at first sight about a gamblin’ woman, a card player (“queen of spades” is a card), trying to win with tricks (trimming the cards) and voodoo (mojo). But “Queen of Spades” has a second meaning, too – a black woman. Spades is an old slang for an Afro-American person, because of the black card color.

The song was recorded by RJ in June 20 1937, Dallas, Texas. Again EC’s version is close to the original, but with some more solo guitar and again more instruments. It’s a slow Chicago-style Blues in the key of A and uses some more jazz-style chords like 9th or 11th (see Third Degree). Some important chords are noted. We start with the intro:

      E7  E9
I---------7-7-7-7\--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------I
I---------7-7-7-7\--7h9-7-------7h9-7----------------------------------------8-5---5-5~~----------------I
I---------7-7-7-7\--------9-----------9-----7------------------------------------7-------(8)rb7p5-------I
I---------------------------10----------10----7~~----5---7-5--------------------------------------------I
I-5-6-7~~-0-0-0-0--------------------------------------7-----7-5-----5----------------------------------I
I----------------------------------------------------------------8-5---3h5------------------------------I
0:00

The vocals start with A7, followed by D11. Then we have some slide licks during the vocals:

I-------------5~~------------------------------------5~-------------I
I--8----------------------------------------------------------------I
I-----8\7-5--------9\7-5--------------------8\7-5--------------8\---I
I-----------7------------7-7------------5h7-------7--7---7-5-7------I
I------------------------------vocals--------------------soft-------I
I-------------------------------------------------------------------I
0:26                                   0:41

We continue this way until the songs ends with a solo starting at 4:03:

I------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------8h9----------I
I--5-5-5-8/10-10-10~~-5-5-5-8/10-10-10~~-----8-5-------------5-5-5-8/10-10-10-10--10~---10-----10-------I
I------------------------------------------------8\7--5-------------------------------------------9-7---I
I-------------------------------------------------------5-5---------------------------------------------I
I-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------I
I-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------I
4:03

I-------------------------/12-12-12-12b15-12-15-12h15p12----12------------------------------------------I
I---------/10-10-10-10-10--------------------------------15----15-13----15----13------------------------I
I--------------------------------------------------------------------14----14----12-9-------------------I
I-9h10-7------------------------------------------------------------------------------12-10----12----10-I
I-------------------------------------------------------------------very-fast---------------12----12----I
I-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------I
4:14

I-----------17--17-17-15----17-15-----17-15----repeat..--------------------------------5---------5------I
I------------------------17-------17--------17-----------15----15-15b(17)-15---------5---5-8b(9)---8-5--I
I-----------------------------------------------------------17---------------17-14\---------------------I
I-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------I
I--12\--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------I
I-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------I
4:22

I---------------------------/8b-8b-9-8b--8b-9-8b-8b--8--5------------------5-----5----------------------I
I--5------------------------/7b-7b---7b--7b---7b-7b--7----5-5-5\---\5-5-8b---5-8---5-8-5----------------I
I----7-5h7p5-7---5h6--------/7b-7b---7b--7b---7b-7b--7-----------------------------------8-7-5---7---5--I
I--------------5-----7-------------------------------------------------------------------------7---7----I
I----------------------7--------------------------------------------------------------------------------I
I------------------------8~~----------------------------------------------------------------------------I
4:30

I---------------------------------8b(10)-5-----------------7----I
I--------------------------5-8-10----------5---------------7----I
I---------------------5-7--------------------7-5h6---------7----I
I--7-5----5-------5-7------------------------------5---5b-------I
I------7---------------------------------------------5----------I
I-----------8\--------------------------------------------------I
4:40

As always, you can use the A minor Blues scale and the typical Clapton style major note adds.

Chords:

A7 D7 D11 E7 E9 E11

Traveling Riverside Blues

On Sunday, June 20, 1937, Robert Johnson recorded this slide guitar Blues. Although EC used an electric guitar, he again got close to the original sound. Some licks may sound familiar to you, but this is nothing new – even the old Blues greats “borrowed” notes from other Blues players. The Blues structure is rather simple, so it’s important how to play it, to give a special personal note to it. There are many more popular licks on this album, and they are not all from EC, sometimes even not from RJ. But the way how they are played gives always a special color to it.

This is a Blues in A# (same as Bb, two semitones below C), played with open A# (!) tuning (for example F-A#-F-A#-D-F from low to high). You can also use open A with a capo at the 1st fret, but as always, I use standard tuning, so we play it using the Blues pattern at the 6th fret. We don’t get exactly the same sound, because we don’t have open strings fitting the scale, but it works anyway. A capo at the 1st fret isn’t bad with standard tuning, too, bass notes are easier to play. The chords are A#(I), D#(IV), F(V), a bit uncommon for a Blues, like the strange rhythm and song structure. Let’s start with the distorted slide intro, which has a nice low-down sound:

I---- 13~~--13\11----13~~~--4\1--6---6---6--------6---6~~~~---------------I
I-/13-------------13------------------------------------------------------I
I---------------------------4\1-------------------------------------------I
I--------------------------------6-6-5-5-4----------8------------------/8-I
I------------------------------------------5/6-1------------if your ...---I
I-with slide--------------------------------------------------------------I
0:00

The rhythm is like a mixture of EC’s Crossroads version (which is a mixture of different Blues songs itself) and Rollin’ and Tumblin’. The typical rhythm patterns go like (start with the IV)

A# (I)                        D#(IV)                   F(V)
I-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------I
I------------------------------------------------------you should know now....--------------------------I
I-----------------------------8-6-8-6h8-6------8-6..---(two frets above D#)------10-8-10-......---------I
I--8-6-8-6h8-6-------8-6...-----------------------------------------------------------------------------I
I-----------------------------------------9b-6----------------------------------------------------------I
I--------------9b--6------------------------------------------------------------------------------------I

You can play it in both Crossroad style (like above) or Rn’T style (here noted just for the I):

I------------------I
I------------------I
I---6b-------6b----I
I-8----8-6-8----8--I
I------------------I
I------------------I

To complete it, some slide notes from the solo at 3:09:

I-----6-6-6~~\--6\---4/---------------I
I--/8--------------6----6\------------I
I---------------------------8-6-8...--I
I-------------------------------------I
I-------------------------------------I
I-------------------------------------I
3:09

You can use the high B and E strings for slide guitar, 6th fret on E is the root, 6th on B is the V, as 4th on B is the IV. Play around, get it, add your own style.

Robert Johnson. “King of the Delta Blues Singers.”
His Music struck a Chord that continues to resonate.
His Blues addressed Generations he would never know and made Poetry of his Visions and Fears.
– From Robert Johnsons gravestone, Morgan City, Mississippi