It’s not even Halloween yet, so you must be wondering, ‘Where have you been with the lessons?’ and, ‘Why the hell a Christmas song?’ As some of you know, there was an equipment meltdown here at fingerstyle blues central which put things on the back burner for a while. We’re back, albeit in a limited capacity. As for the country blues style arrangement of a Christmas song just think of it this way, there aren’t many recorded Christmas blues songs worth listening too, this one has three chords and a strong melody making it fun to play, and finally, you have two months to learn it so you can impress your friends and loved ones while imbibing heavily on the ‘nog.
This arrangement has two variations for the chorus. The first has a straightforward alternating bass with melody on top. If you find the alternating bass is throwing you, brush up on some finger patterns or try approaching it with more of a Bill Broonzy style by playing a solid rhythm instead of alternating. (ex: on the E chord instead of playing strings 6-4-6-4-6-4-6-4, stay on the 6). The second has a walking bass added to make life difficult. I recommend getting the first chorus down before battling the knucklebuster second variation. As always, take it slow.
A note on the Chords used.
The chord E7(1) may be new to you, it’s a very handy position which you’ll hear often in the playing of Rev Gary Davis. Use your index finger (4th string) to mute the 5th string and you’ll never hit a wrong note. A(1) and B(2) are barre chords with the root played by the thumb. B7(3) is A(2) slid up two frets, the note on the 5th string was added to help smooth out the walking bass line. Look at page one of the transcription if you have no idea what I’m talking about.
This recording may be a little sloppy, but I feel it adds to the overall country blues feel of the piece. At any rate, that’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it.
Download the transcription here [pdf 984kb]