In this lesson, we’ll cover 2 sweet delta blues licks from the songbook of Robert Johnson.
Robert Johnson had a way of making difficult music sound easy and natural but with a great deal of grit. There’s just nothing like it. Much of his music is deceptively difficult to learn. You could say that of the two Delta Slide Licks that we cover in this lesson.
Lick 1: Walkin’ Blues
Walkin’ Blues starts out with a very familiar slide intro. Twelfth fret triplets that aren’t so difficult on their own, but when you pair it with the quick little set of notes that finish up the twelfth fret work, things get a little tricky.
There’s a quick little run on the 3rd and 4th strings that is just 3 notes but it will have you picking with speed and moving the slide around with a needed precision.
The beauty of this part to me is how Johnson fluidly shifts from this part down to first position and launches into his trademark turnaround.
These two distinct parts will challenge you, even if you think you’re a reasonably adept slide player.
Lick 2: Come on in My Kitchen
This is one of my favorite Robert Johnson songs owing mostly to the slide lick played just after he sings, “it’s going to be raining outdoors.” The way the slide guitar line finishes the melody is brilliant.
Beyond sounding amazing, this little compact lick will have you sharpening your slide skills to pull it off. There’s a good bit of targeting single notes which requires a good deal of accuracy with the slide.
Plus, there’s a huge jump at the very end that lands two octaves up on the first string.
Practice these two licks over and over and try to emulate the master. You’ll find that things aren’t as easy as Mr. Johnson makes them sound.
So, grab a guitar and a slide, tune to Open G and give these two trademark licks a shot!