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I Can't Make You Love Me - Fingerstyle Lesson.

Guitar Lesson by Kirk Lorange

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

Here's my arrangement of this beautiful song 'I Can't Make You Love Me'. The great Bonnie Raitt first sang it back in the early 90's and it's been covered by many, including George Michael, Prince and Adele. The song was written by a couple of Nashville writers and has been voted one of the best songs ever by many music publications. I have to agree. Musically, it's simple and straight to the point, lyrically ... well, who could possibly argue that it's not the best unrequited love song ever?

This is, yet again, in the key of G, and I use dropped D tuning. I like to be able to play a low D whenever a V chord comes along, and in this tune there's also a second inversion I chord (G/D at bars 10 and 33) that really works well with that low D ringing underneath.

The chords are all related chords from  the key of G but the ii and vi chords (Am and Em) both use suspensions in a couple of  spots, which removes the 'minor-ness'. The Em7 becomes E7sus4 and the Am becomes Asus2. In both cases the minor third has been 'suspended', replaced with a 4 and 2 respectively. Very cool, I reckon.

The biggest challenge I found when coming up with an arrangement is the slow tempo. You'd think it would make it easier but in fact it's quite difficult to keep the flow going at slower tempos. There's a lot more time for things to go wrong, like strings buzzing, or for ringing strings to get choked off, or for fluctuations in the tempo to occur. Apart from that, it's quite straight forward. The only thing to look out for is that bass note in the Em chords in the chorus part. You'll notice in the video that use my thumb to grab the E bass note (which is at fret 2 in Dropped D, remember) the first and third time the chord appears, but I use my second finger the second time. I usually don't curl my thumb over the edge of the fringer board like that but in this case it was the only way I could keep the all-important flow (the music!) from being interrupted. You may find it easier to just stick with the second finger but if you try, you'll see why I decided on the thumb.

The other thing you'll need to work on are all the hammer-ons and slide-ins. To emulate the beautiful keyboard part that Bruce Hornsby plays on Bonnie's version, I added those in to the part. Most are in the bass line and while they're not really integral to the arrangement, they do add to the feel. I also added that downward slide in the bass line (end of bars 14 and 37) to hint at the beautiful fretless bass part on the record. The feel is in the detail.

I hope you enjoy learning this one as it's a pleasure to play once you get it down.