Guy Clark - L.A. Freeway
Guy Clark - Magnolia Wind
Kris Kristofferson - For The Good Times
Kris Kristofferson - Me And Bobby McGee
Kris Kristofferson - The Pilgrim, Chapter 33
Townes Van Zandt - If I Needed You
Townes Van Zandt - Pancho And Lefty
Jerry Jeff Walker - Mr. Bojangles
Lesson 1: L.A. Freeway - Guy Clark - Guitar Lesson
Guy Clark, who unfortunately passed away earlier this year, was an American country and folk singer-songwriter from Texas. He was described as ‘a king of the Texas troubadours’.
He has released more than twenty albums and his songs have been covered and recorded by numerous artists, such as Johnny Cash, David Allan Coe, Vince Gill, Ricky Skaggs, Steve Wariner, Brad Paisley, John Denver, Emmylou Harris and many more.
L.A. Freeway appears on his 1975 debut album ‘Old No.1’. and is one of the songs that helped launch his career.
The song has a simple progression and uses only three chords in the key of G, where the guitar is capoed on the second fret.
It features a beautiful signature fingerpicking melody in the intro, which keeps appearing throughout the verses as well.
Keep in mind, Guy Clark has been playing this song for over 40 years. Even though he keeps the melody mostly in the same places, he does play through the arrangement randomly and a very free style. Anyone trying to tackle this song is encouraged to do the same.
Lesson 2: Magnolia Wind
Guy Clark was one of the most revered songwriters of his generation, who went on to influence and champion many of his contemporaries.
Magnolia Wind was part of his 2002 album The Dark, which featured songwriting collaborations with other great writers. Shawn Camp was Guy's partner on Magnolia Wind.
The song is a basic 4-chord country ballad in 3/4 time, which means a simple strumming pattern, but what dresses the song up a bit is Guy's flatpicking fills between vocal phrases. These are done a bit differently throughout the song and the lesson goes into great detail about some of the options on the C and G chords. The other chords are F and Bb, both of which really need to be played as full barres.
There is also a short section on improvising a solo.
Lesson 3: For The Good Times
Kris Kristofferson’s songwriting career started in the mid-1960s when some established artists started performing his songs. For The Good Times became a hit for Ray Price in 1968, and that opened the door to Kristofferson recording his own album. The original release of Kristofferson was not successful, but a couple months later Janis Joplin’s recording of Me And Bobby McGee changed everything. Kris’s album was rereleased under that title and he became a star.
The song is a basic progression in the key of C Major, starting with a descending bass line which sets up the verse, as well as being the third line of the chorus. This lesson is done using a simple arpeggio picking pattern, and goes into detail about alternating bass note options for the chords, as well as including some common passing runs.
Lesson 4: Me And Bobby McGee
Kris Kristofferson had been a well recorded songwriter in the late 1960s and was rewarded with a contract for his own records in 1970. His first album Kristofferson did not do well upon first release but everything changed when Janis Joplin's version of Me And Bobby McGee hit the airwaves shortly agter her untimely death. The album was re-released as Me And Bobby McGee and his career took off.
The progression is a very basic I-IV-V country tune with a simple fingerpicking accompaniment in the key of A Major, then modulating up a step to B, which is not a guitar-friendly key.
This lesson goes over Kris' original version, Janis', which with more of a strumming accompaniment in the keys of G Major then A, and how Neil might play it with a Travis-picking approach.
Lesson 5: The Pilgrim, Chapter 33
Kris Kristofferson's second album, The Silver Tongued Devil And I included another handful of iconic songs with, arguably The Pilgrim, Chapter 33 being one of the best. Like many of his early songs, the accompaniment is a fairly basic fingerstyle one, mostly hitting 2 bass notes per measure with light strumming or plucking. It also steps up a key from G to A in the second verse, although Kris has played it in at least 3 different keys at various times.
Also included in the lesson is tab to the little vamp that starts the song, as well as a concluding segment featuring a classic bluegrass lick in a few different keys.
Lesson 6: If I Needed You - Townes Van Zandt - Guitar Lesson
If I Needed You is a song written by American singer-songwriter Townes Van Zandt and performed on his 1972 album ‘The Late Great Townes Van Zandt’.
Although ‘Pancho and Lefty’ is the song most associated with Townes, ‘If I Needed You’ is his most covered composition. Among them are covers by Emmylou Harris and Don Williams, Doc Watson, Guy Clark, Lyle Lovett and Mumford & Sons. It is also covered in the Belgium movie ‘The Broken Circle Breakdown’, where the Broken Circle Breakdown Bluegrass Band, including the actors Johan Heldenberg and Veerle Baetens, sing it live.
This lesson shows how Townes plays it in live performances, which can be a little different from one performance to another.
The arrangement is mostly done as a chord melody, featuring Travis style picking with the melody of the vocals incorporated. The good news is that it only includes three chords in the key of G, where the guitar is capoed on the 4th fret.
Emmylou Harris and Don Williams performed the song as a duet, making it a big hit on the country charts in 1981. A few segments of how she plays it live at the Austin City Limits and a duet cover of their version is included in this lesson.
Lesson 7: Pancho And Lefty Guitar Lesson - Townes Van Zandt
Pancho And Lefty was written by Texas songwriter Townes Van Zandt and recorded on his 1972 album The Late Great Townes Van Zandt. It has been covered by many artists, including Emmylou Harris, Steve Earle, Joan Baez, Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings. Townes always said he didn't really write the song as much as discovered and channeled it, a frequent occurrence for talented songwriters. This Campfire lesson just goes over the chord progression and encourages the student to improvise some fingerpicking patterns as the accompaniment. Some experience with alternate bass patterns is necessary to get the most out of this basic lesson.
Lesson 8: Mr. Bojangles
Mr. Bojangles, written by Jerry Jeff Walker is a classic American folk- country tune, even though the subject matter and time signature are a bit unusual. It is in 3/4 time and features a descending bass line similar to These Days by Jackson Browne and America by Paul Simon. This is a great lesson for improving the accuracy of hitting individual bass notes as part of a strumming pattern. It has been covered by hundreds of artists, most notably the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Sammy Davis Jr., and even Bob Dylan.