A Song for You - A Fingerstyle Guitar Lesson
Guitar Lesson by Kirk Lorange
Difficulty Rating: Intermediate-Advanced
Here's my arrangement and lesson of 'A Song for You' written by Leon Russell in the early 70s. I remember hearing it for the first time, that beautiful cascading intro into the wonderful chord progression, and then the lyrics. What a masterpiece. Leon sang it in his own inimitable way with that strange voice of his, but it didn't matter. It was instantly great to my ears. I urge you to have a listen to his original version but then really treat your ears and heart to the Ray Charles version. If that doesn't do it to you, nothing will.
I noticed that Leon recorded the original in Dm, then later on performed it in Cm as he aged. I did this one Em, it seemed to be the best key for guitar. Of course, Em is the relative minor of G, our favorite, so it all makes sense. In fact you could argue that this is in the key of G, not Em. Who cares?
I simplified that intro a bit. I will take a while to lock in all those intervals. I know it did for me, but it really is a fun section to play once you have mapped it all out.
The chord progression is a familiar sound one, vaguely reminiscent of Stairway to Heaven. That descending bass line has been used many times, dropping a semitone at a time. It all makes such perfect musical sense. The arrangement I came up with is the usual melody-chord-bassline combo and I kept it as uncluttered as I could. I use a bunch of pull-offs and hammer-ons in the piece ... I'll let you figure out where.
There are a few big jumps up the fretboard. I tried to avoid them but the positions I came up with seemed to be the easiest to grip, even if you do have to travel to get to them. I experiment with them all, with you in mind.
This is a very interesting composition in that he uses pretty much exactly the same chord for the B section as the A section, only half measures of each instead of full measures. I can't think of any other tune that does that. Where he did write a whole new section turns out to be an instrumental interlude. Genius!
I couldn't resist bring my resonator in at the end. I just had to play that melody line on the slide.