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City of New Orleans - A Guitar Lesson.


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The video with un-blurred virtual fretboard can be downloaded from a link at the top of the TAB

City of New Orleans - The lesson explained.

Here's another of those classic 1970s folk tunes, this one by Steve Goodman: The City Of New Orleans, a song about a train. It was made famous by Arlo Guthrie and has been covered by countless artists. I have had a soft spot for since 1992, when my band opened for The Highwaymen all across Australia. Willie Nelson, who has to be the nicest dude ever, sang the lead to this.

As usual, G proved to be the best key for keeping it all compact and open-chordy. I hate barre chords as much as anyone and I always try to avoid them.

Like the 'Don't Think Twice' lesson -- which is very similar to this -- I wouldn't bother trying to make sense of the dots on the virtual fretboard. If you want to zero in on the precise patterns I play, refer to the tab. My advice is to get the basic picking pattern down, which I cover in this lesson, and then start seeing how I inserted the melody line into the pattern.

Nothing too tricky in this, and being in G, you must know most of the grips and moves by now if you've been learning my lessons. That middle section is a little odd, that A chord appears out of nowhere but really works. The A chord in G is normally Am, not major, so it sort of changes key there, from G to D. The second time through the D becomes D7, and brings us neatly back to the original key of G. Very clever.

The chorus section, bar 33 onward, is pure folk until that A chord appears again (I use what amounts to A9/C#) and then that F chord ... what a great change it is. Just two beats of it, but so cool.

I had fun putting this one together. Like all of them, it seemed almost impossible to get my fingers around at first. It didn't take long, though, before it all started settling into place, for the muscle memory to kick in and for the all-important flow to start flowing. Stick at it, don't let it beat you and keep reminding your fingers who's boss.