You can learn how to play Soul Man by Sam & Dave!
Soul Man is a song made famous, first by Sam & Dave as a single in 1967.
Written by Isaac Hayes and backed by Stax legendary house band Booker T. & the M.G.’s, Soul Man reached the masses again in 1978 as it featured in the unforgettable film Blues Brothers.
As a guitar teacher, one of my favorite things about Soul Man is how it teaches you all the notes on the B string, without actually playing the B string!
It’s such a wonderful contradiction that makes sense, only once you start playing Soul Man.
The intro, chorus, and instrumental sections all use sliding D chord shapes, without the root. As the song change key towards the end, you really get a great workout on how to see all those chords, all over the neck.
As if that wasn’t enough, should you play this song live, you might do so following the Blues Brothers version, which is in the keys of E and F. Now you must take everything you know and transpose it – another challenge where you better know your D-shaped chords!
In the course, I show you several different ways you could play each section, this way you can design your own favorite way to play Soul Man when you eventually play it with the live band backing track in the final step.
Soul Man chords and lyrics
The intro uses D shapes, ensure you mute string 2 even though you’re visualizing the root there.
| G | F | Bb | C D |
For the guitar, the verse and outro chorus is vamping on a G/G7 and, after the key change, Ab/Ab7 chord. This is really clever as, during the outro, the rest of the band plays the chorus chords!
||: G G7 G | G G7 G :||
Coming to you, on a dusty road, good loving, I got a truckload.
And when you get it, you got something. Don’t worry, ’cause I’m coming.
The chorus uses a similar idea to the intro, although the first G is a G7. This is also where we find that legendary lick answering the phrase “play it, Steve”.
| G7 | F | G7 | G7 |
I’m a soul man. I’m a soul man
| G | F | G | C D |
I’m a soul man. I’m a soul man, and that ain’t all.
The m8 changes the key and sets us up for the instrumental and chorus a semi-tone up. Another song that uses the m8 to modulate is Son Of A Preacher Man.
| Eb | Bb |
Look, grab the rope and I’ll pull you in.
| C | D7 |
Give you hope and be your only boyfriend.
| Eb11 |
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah (yeah!)
The instrumental section is the same as the intro, just a semi-tone up.
| Ab | Gb | B | Db Eb |
The outro is a mix of the chorus and the verse. The band plays the chorus, the guitar plays the verse chords.
||: Ab Ab7 Ab :||
Course preview (Guitar Lesson – Step 2)
In the video above, starting at 2:38, you find a preview of Soul Man’s guitar lesson, it’s the beginning of step 2 of the course.
In this step, we work on how to play the verse. This is only one bar of music but as you find out in the video above, there’s more to it than just memorizing one bar!
Below, you find the TAB for what Steve Cropper plays on the original recording. In the course, you get access to a loop of the band playing this so you can practice it in context.
There are also another five examples in this step of how you can play this verse. This includes the Blues Brothers version, how Steve Cropper played it live, and more.
Soul Man – Guitar Lessons
Soul Man is a rare example of how you should stick to just a one-bar riff for a long time, this is clearly what you should do when playing the verse.
Once we hit the chorus and the M8, things get much more intricate, can you put it all together in step 8?
Go to Soul Man guitar lessons.
Soul Man – Lyrics
Coming to you, on a dusty road,
good loving, I got a truckload.
And when you get it, you got something.
don’t worry, ’cause I’m coming.
Go to Soul Man lyrics.
Booker T. & The M.G.’s – Biography
Led by piano and organ player Booker T. Jones, the Stax Records house band played behind numerous legendary artists.
Hits include Green Onions, Born Under A Bad Sign, (Sittin’ On) The Dock Of The Bay, Ain’t No Sunshine, Soul Man, Hold On I’m Coming, Knock On Wood, and Respect.
Sam & Dave – Biography
Sam & Dave were a Soul duo that made their most successful recordings with Stax house band Booker T and The MG’s.
When the film The Blues Brothers were released in the cinema, it gave their career one final boost. However, neither Sam nor Dave seemed happy about it.
Go to Sam & Dave biography.
Intermediate Electric – 13 Songs
You can learn how to play these 13 intermediate electric songs!
Be My Baby, Can I Get A Witness, Get Ready, I Heard It Through The Grapevine, Jimmy Mack, Master Blaster (Jammin’), Money (That’s What I Want), My Guy, Rescue Me, Respect, Son Of A Preacher Man, Soul Man, and You Can’t Hurry Love.
Go to Intermediate Electric Songs.