Soul Man chords by Sam & Dave

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Soul Man | Chords + Lyrics

Intro (0:00)

| G | F | Bb | C D |

Verse 1 (0:19)

||: 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.

Chorus 1 (0:36)

| 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.

Verse 2 (0:53)

||: G G7 G | G G7 G :||
Got what I got, the hard way, and I make it better, each and every day.
So, honey, no don’t you fret, ’cause you ain’t seen-a, nothing yet.

Chorus 2 (1:11)

| 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

Verse 3 (1:27)

||: G G7 G | G G7 G :||
I was brought up, on a side street, yes mam! I learned how to love, before I could eat.
I was educated, at Woodstock, when I start loving, oh I can’t stop.

Chorus 3 (1:44)

| 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

Middle 8 (2:01)

| 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!)

Instrumental (2:12)

| Ab | Gb | B | Db Eb |

Outro (2:21)

||: Ab Ab7 Ab :||
I’m talking about a soul man,
I’m a soul man, and you’re a soul man.
Soul man (oh lord), soul man.
(I’m a) soul man, (and you are) soul man.
(And you’re a) soul man.

You can learn how to play Soul Man!

Soul Man is a song first made famous by Sam & Dave 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.

The first thing we do is look at the verse, I’ve included this lesson below for free so you can get going and learn how to play Soul Man yourself, it’s a standard you must know if you want to play in a Motown/Soul band, enjoy!

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Soul Man guitar lesson | Verse

One bar long, that’s all. Sounds easy, doesn’t it? Let’s spend half an hour or so on this one bar of music, digging deep into all its detail.

Here’s what the original part by Steve Cropper looks like in TAB.

Soul man chords and TAB, original version Steve Cropper.

The first beat is occupied by a G chord. It’s the top part of an E-shape played on 16th 1 and 4. This is a syncopated rhythm, ensure the rest between the notes is pronounced.

Next, over beat two we start with a rest, then play a Gb7 chord in a D shape, quickly slide this up to a G7 and play that up until beat 3.

Finally, play on fret 5, strings 1 and 3 on the upbeat. Make sure you mute string two with the flesh of the finger playing string 3. End on the initial E-shaped G.

This movement is a classic blues trick. It takes you from the D-shape to the E-shape using the 4th and 9th. Or if you want to, you could call this a C6 as I speak about in the video guitar lesson above.

The syncopated rhythm and all the little rests in this riff create a choppy-sounding, forward-moving part. This is great since it’s only one bar long on repeat!

Such a fantastic riff, surely anyone who plays this song will just learn it, just like the original, right? Well, it turns out that’s not the case…

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Soul Man | Other versions of the verse riff

In the key of E, when Steve plays with The Blues Brothers, he plays this.

Soul man chords and TAB, Blues Brothers version.

Sometimes, he adds a mute on the third 16th of beat one. When the key change, he sometimes adds the last 8th note. This is where the horns play their stab. I think it’s better to leave these notes out.

To me, the original version is the best, but we’re not looking to copy and paste, we are looking at developing guitar parts.

With this in mind, let’s take a look at what these guys play.

In the live version with Sam & Dave, we find ourselves a semitone up, Steve keeps the riff the same, looks like this.

In another live version, when there’s no Steve Cropper, the tempo is very fast and the riff has been changed quite a bit.

The first beat is now played with straight 16th notes. It’s easier to play this when the tempo is this fast, perhaps that’s why he changed it!

Soul man chords and TAB, live version Sam & Dave.

Finally, Steve plays the song in a pub and completely changes his own part!

Soul man chords and TAB, Steve Cropper solo version.

As he moves up to F, he simply plays the same shapes. Maybe, just maybe, this is how he wrote the riff originally.

After playing these five examples, it’s very likely that you, like me, feel that this seemingly perfect, certainly iconic riff, probably shouldn’t be changed. Saying that – he even changed it himself!

In the course, we next practice our D shapes. This will help with your understanding of the fretboard in general and playing the intro, instrumental, and chorus chords for Soul Man in particular.

For the complete experience, sign up here.

Soul Man’s chords and progressions

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 :||

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 |
| G | F | G | C D |

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 in the same course is Son Of A Preacher Man.

| Eb | Bb | C | D7 | Eb11 |

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 :||

Soul Man | Related pages

Soul Man – 8 guitar lessons

Soul Man, 8 guitar lessons in the course.

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 – 8 guitar lessons.

Intermediate Electric Songs

When you can play Soul Man's chords, discover more intermediate electric songs.

Learn all these Motown/Soul songs and you will have gained yourself a repertoire so you can jam or even join a working band.

Study these songs in-depth and you will map out the fretboard, master the CAGED system and learn how to design a rhythm guitar part that works in a band.

Go to Intermediate Electric Songs.

Soul Man – 5 similar tunes

When you can play Soul Man's chords, try these five tunes from the song book.

Blues Brothers

The 1980 Musical Blues Brothers tell the story of a band “on a mission from God” to raise money for an orphanage.

Tunes include Gimme Some Lovin’, Rawhide, Shake A Tailfeather, Think, Minnie The Moocher, Soul Man, and Jailhouse Rock.

Go to Blues Brothers.

Blues Brothers on the web

Listen to Blues Brothers on Spotify.

Booker T. & The M.G.’s

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, Dock Of The Bay, Ain’t No Sunshine, Soul Man, Hold On I’m Coming, Knock On Wood, and Respect.

Go to Booker T. & The M,G.’s.

Booker T. & The M.G.’s on the web

Listen to Booker T. & The M.G.’s on Spotify.

Sam & Dave

Sam & Dave was a Soul duo that made their most successful recordings with Stax house band Booker T. and The M.G.’s.

When the film The Blues Brothers was released in the cinema, it gave their career one final boost. However, neither Sam nor Dave seemed happy about it.

Go to Sam & Dave.

Sam & Dave on the web

Listen to Sam & Dave on Spotify.