Barrett Strong delivered Motown’s first hit
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Papa Was A Rolling Stone
There are two sides to Barrett Strong’s career. The first as an artist that recorded Motown’s first hit Money (That’s What I Want) in 1959. A song that was actually written by the president of Motown, Berry Gordy.
As important as this was to kick start the label, Barrett’s strongest part of his career came in terms of the lyrics he wrote for other artists.
Perhaps most notably I Heard It Through The Grapevine, War, Wherever I Lay My Hat (That’s My Home), and Papa Was a Rollin’ Stone.
Most of Barrett’s hits were created alongside producer Norman Whitfield.
When Motown relocated from Detroit to Los Angeles, Barrett stayed behind, and even though he has remained active, the glory days were behind him the day he walked away from the Motown factory.
Barrett Strong received a Grammy Award for Best R&B Song in 1973 for Papa Was a Rollin’ Stone.
I Heard It Through The Grapevine – Step 1
This song has a very clever chord progression. The home chord, Ebm, feels different depending on what section it appears in.
I Heard It Through The Grapevine – Step 2 (Free Preview)
Sure, the order and length of the chords are different from a standard blues, but the overall feel is there. It’s just that the I chord is now a Im chord.
I Heard It Through The Grapevine – Step 3
As always, I’m giving you a bunch of examples to practice to loops. Use these as a starting point to develop your own parts.
I Heard It Through The Grapevine – Step 4
This movement of a minor chord, a dom7 a 4th up is found naturally in a II – V.
I Heard It Through The Grapevine – Step 5
I like to keep this section improvised but before I’ll let you loose to do the same, here are six examples of what you could play. Learn them first.
I Heard It Through The Grapevine – Step 6
Keep the loop on for half an hour, keep improvising for this entire time.
I Heard It Through The Grapevine – Step 7
By practicing all sections individually you know this song by now, all that is left for me to do is give you the TAB.
I Heard It Through The Grapevine – Step 8
Don’t think about it as just one performance, instead, see it as an opportunity to discover the fret board.
Money (That’s What I Want) – Step 1
This is an early Motown hit with an easy to recognize guitar riff that has been covered by many artists and bands since.
Money (That’s What I Want) – Step 2 (Free Preview)
We need to talk about and understand, Blues melody language. We will do that by looking to the king of scales, the Minor Pentatonic.
Money (That’s What I Want) – Step 3
By doing all this hard work now, when it comes to playing the solo, you won’t trip over on not knowing your shapes well enough.
Money (That’s What I Want) – Step 4
Should that not happen, pick your favorite version(s) from the ten.
Money (That’s What I Want) – Step 5
By the time you finish today, you’ll be ready to play the complete song.
Money (That’s What I Want) – Step 6
The goal is not to repeat but to constantly vary the licks, to improvise, to follow the song, to be in the moment.
Money (That’s What I Want) – Step 7
I’ll give you the TAB, but please only use this as a starting point as you too should be improvising.
Money (That’s What I Want) – Step 8
We do this as you play the entire song with a recorded live band.
Chords and Guitar Lessons
All chords are as if from the key of Eb with just one chord being different, the Eb is a minor.
Chords and Guitar Lessons
As you learn this, I’ll reveal several ways you could play this song, including how to improvise a solo.
Including detailed, but bite-sized explanations on how the music theory of each song is applied to the neck.
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