Warning: Intersection Ahead

This video, and the other two "Intro and Performance" videos, will help you decide which song you'd like to tackle first in this course. If you already know which song's your favorite, go ahead and skip to that song's Intro and Performance video now. Or watch all three if you're undecided.

Notice that the three lessons coming up...

  • Bass Line: "Dust My Broom"
  • Bass Line: "Midnight Special"
  • Bass Line: "Can the Circle Be Unbroken?"

...each teach you how to play the bass line of a different song. You're going to want to choose just the lesson for your song, and skip the other two.

And whenever you come to a similar fork in the road, skip the two songs you're not learning.

And of course, once you're done learning your song, you can always come back here and learn the other two songs.

The rock song I’ve chosen, Midnight Special, probably originated in the American South around the turn of the 20th century. It’s been covered by countless folk and blues artists, but the version I first heard as a kid, and the one that inspires what I’m going to teach you, is the Creedence Clearwater Revival cover from 1969. That band rocked my world when I was fourteen, and I hope learning this song rocks yours.

So how do you take an old folk song and turn it into a rock song? Swap your old Martin guitar for a distorted electric, get yourself a bass player and drummer, and perhaps most importantly, give it a rock groove. A lot of musicians swing Midnight Special--it sounds like this (play), and while Creedence does this in the first Chorus of their version, they switch to a rock beat for the rest of the song.

In fact, the three different styles of playing they use during the first minute or so of the song represent the three main styles the song’s been performed over the years. They start out with no beat behind the vocals at all, just guitars strumming once per chord change, almost as if the singer were some prisoner in Louisiana singing through the bars of their window. Then they switch to the swing rhythm in the first Chorus, paying homage to the blues, which usually swings. And finally, they kick into their rock groove in the second chorus. So embedded in their cover of the song is a history of how the song has been performed over the 20th century: Folk, to blues, to country.

Now we’re not trying to be musical historians here, we just want to learn how to play some rock, so we’re going to stick with a rock groove for the whole song. Here’s how it’ll go.

How's it going?

Are you loving the lesson? Confused? Have a suggestion? I'd love to hear from you.

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