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[COLUMNS]

IN DEEP
by Andy Aledort
CROSSROADS
Comparing Robert Johnsons original,
solo acoustic version of Cross Road
Blues with Eric Claptons classic electric
reinterpretation of the song with Cream.

Cross Road Blues


Acous. Gtr. in open A tuning, low to high: E A E A C# E. Capo at second fret.
All music for FIGURES 1-5 sounds in the key of B, one whole step higher than written.
All tablature positions are relative to the capo.
Robert Johnsons Cross
Road Bluesbetter known as FIGURE 1 Intro
Crossroads, as recorded by Eric Slow Faster
Clapton while he was in Cream *A N.C.(E) A

12 12 12 12 12
fingerstyle, w/slide
12 12 12 12
is one of the most famous and
3

enduring songs in the blues and


X 12

4
12 12 0 X 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0

blues-rock idioms. This has been X 3 3 3 2 2 1 1 0 0

G
0 0 0
the quintessential jam tune for all 3 3 3 2 2 1 1 0 0 0
aspiring rock guitarists ever since
2:3 2:3
Claptons incredibly soulful and
virtuosic soloing was recorded
and released on the live version FIGURE
Cross1aRoad Blues is played in open FIGURE
A tuning 1b Johnson recorded two FIGURE takes1c of Cross Road Blues.



leave the sixth, 12 12 indicated in the accompanying 12
of the song from Creams 1969 Take one is the version referenced here. It begins with

(low to high, E A E A Cs E) with a capo at the sec-
12 12 12 12 12 12 12 12
A A A



bar
ond fret. To12 12 12 12this
12 tuning,
12 12 11 12 12 intro, 12 12 11 12 12 tabbed

a three-bar

Wheels of Fire album. Over the achieve


12 12 11 12 12 12 12 11 12 12 12
past four decades, it has become fifth and first strings 12 tuned 12 12
normallythe
12
low E, musical
0 0 0 0 0
12
example as Intro (see FIGURE 1). The
12 11 12 12
first
12


a rite of passage to learn every A and high E, respectivelyand tune the fourth, is played very slowly, and the tempo increases in bar 2.
single lick and phrase Clapton third and second strings up one whole step: the Bar 1 features repeated slides up to the 12th fret (12
laid down on his brilliant one-take fourth string, D, is tuned to E; the third string, G, frets higher than the capo, which in this case is actually
reading of the tune. As evidence FIGURE
is tuned2ato A, and the second string, B, is tuned to at FIGURE 2b 14th fret). On beatFIGURE
the guitars three, 3Johnson applies
of the songs enduring appeal, A(7) tuning, strumming
Cs. In this 1/2 across all the open1/2 A A7 to the
a hearty vibrato A6root
A7 note sounded D(7)at the 12th fret


strings00will

5 sound
5 3 2 0an A major chord. 5 5 3 2 0 on the third 5string,
3 3 3after 2 which
3 he slides 8 5 8and 5 8 5
John Mayer covers it on his latest 5down
5 5 5 5 5moves


3 3 3 0 3 3 3 0 3 3 3 3 3 3 5
album, Battle Studies, in a unique 0
Specific chord shapes 3 0 and 0 positions
0 3 0
are associ- 0 to open position. 00 00 5 5 5 5 5 5 5
0 3 0 3 5 5 5 5 5 5 5


0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
A brief note on slide guitar technique: 5
and appealing fashion. ated with an open tuning such 0as this one. Just as 5 strive to keep
In this installment of In Deep, Johnson employed these specific chord shapes the slide parallel with the fret and directly above the
Ill examine both Robert John- and positions, so do countless other blues gui- fretwire in2:3order 2:3
to 2:3
achieve accurate intonation 2:3 2:3 2:3
(playing
FIGURE 4 FIGURE 5

sons original version of Cross tar players when playing in this tuning. Studying in tune). Also, when applying vibrato, place the fret-

5 12 12
A 1/2 1/2
A7

3 12 12
Road Blues and Claptons Cream Johnsons style and approach will provide insight hand thumb on the back of the neck and use it as a
masterpiece. While the two ver-
into the playing5 3 2 0
of a great variety of Delta 5 3 5 5
blues fulcrum in order to execute an even
5 5 5 5 5 5
6 and5 controlled
6 6 6 6 move-


3 3 3 3 3 3
sions are quite differentfor one acoustic guitarists.
0
0 0 0
3 3 0
3
0

ment up and12down the string with70 the 7 7 7 7 7
0 slide,
0 0 traveling
0 0 in
thing, Johnsons is solo acoustic With the capo in place at the second0fret 0 0 0 0
and even0increments above and below 0
the desired fret. The
while Claptons is in a power trio the guitar in this tuning, strumming across all center of the vibrato movement creates the perceived
2:3 2:3 2:3 2:3 2:3 2:3 2:3 2:3 2:3 2:3
settingall aspiring guitarists of the open strings will sound a concert pitch home pitch.
will find it valuable to learn the Crossroads
B major chord. When utilizing the capo, all the In bar 2, Johnson increases the tempo and performs a
techniques inherent in Johnsons fret
Elec.positions for the riffs
Guitar in standard tuning,andnochords
capo must be turnaround phrase by fretting octaves on the sixth and
original version of the song and moved 6higher up the fretboard relative to
FIGURE the 7 fourth strings simultaneously with the open third string.
FIGURE
Claptons interpretation and rear- capo position.
A For example, with the capo at D7The octave shape then descends chromatically (one
rangement.
the second fret, everything is to be played two let
1/4

ringat a time). While playing this turnaround, be aware
fret
1/2


2 2 2 2


An acoustic guitar player, John- frets higher, with the capo being thought of as of the1 specific
1 1 fingerpicking pattern,1 as the sixth, fourth
son utilized both standard and
the nut or zero
2 0 2 2 0 2 0
2 fret. In other words, any string 2 2
0and third strings are sounded 0
2 2
together while the other

0 3 3 3 3 0
open tunings. He fingerpicked picked open (unfretted by a finger) is notated strings are blocked (do not sound).
exclusively, using a thumb pick, as zero rather than 2, even though the capo is One of the nice things about using fingerpicking
and generally favored open tun- fretting
FIGURE 8a the note at the second fret. Likewise, a 8bfor this style of blues guitar playing is that the tech-
FIGURE
ings when incorporating the slide, nique offers great variation in creating a hard-driving

note played three frets above the capo is tabbed N.C.(D)

E A

0
1/2
as he does on Cross Road Blues. as 3, a note found 12 frets higher than the capo rhythmic sound. Common to the Johnson original is

0


Hes known to have used a metal is notated as 12, and so on. 0 This will take a little John Mayers use of fingerpicking on his new version
7 of 5Crossroads.
1 5 7 5 5 5
slide, which he wore on his pinkie. getting3used to, especially 2 when playing higher up 7 7Like Johnson, 7 Mayer produces 7 a very


0 2
Doing so facilitates the use of the the neck, as in this0case0 youll need to add two solid, rhythmic performance with his employment of
index, middle and ring fingers for frets to each given tab number in order to locate fingerstyle technique.
conventional fretting. As was FIGURE 8c
the intended fret. However, youll find that this is Another very important element in Johnsons perfor-
N.C.(A) (E) and forth between


standard practice for blues and the most practical system for transposing a song mance is the constant shifting back
folk musicians of the day (and

to various keys and capo positions, 5 as the tab is

a swing, or shuffle, feel, which is triplet-based, and


5 8 5 5 5
continues to be today), Johnson consistent from5 one6key to another in case7 you 5 6a straight 6 4/4-type5 feel, 6 which is duplet-based (even
7
often employed a capo to facili- choose to move the capo up or down or remove eighth notes). In this context, each 7 feel7 complements
tate playing in various keys. it altogether. the other, so strive to make the triplet-feel riffs as

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All music*Afor FIGURES 1-5 sounds in the key of B, one whole step higher than written. N.C.(E) A

12 121-5 sounds in the key of B, one whole step higher than written.
12 12
Acous. Gtr. in openw/slide
Aare
tuning, lowtotothe
high: E A E A C# E. Capo at second fret.
Slow1fingerstyle, Faster

12 12A
All tablature positions relative capo.
12 12
12 12
FIGURE Intro
3 the0 capo.
All music*Afor FIGURES
12 to
N.C.(E)

Slow 12 12 12

12 12
Slow1fingerstyle, Faster


Intro

FIGURE X

4 N.C.(E)
All tablature positions are12relative
w/slide
w/slide
12
X 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0

A 12 12 12 12 12 3 0
*A X 3 3 3 2 2 1 1 0 0 A
Faster
12 12 w/slide
G 12 12A
Intro
FIGURE *1fingerstyle, 0 X 0 0

12 12 12 12
12

4 0
X 30 30 30 2 2
0 1 1 0 0 0
N.C.(E)

0 0 0 0

A 12 12 12 12 12
[COLUMNS] *
Slowfingerstyle,
Faster

X 3 3 3 2 2 1 1 0


fingerstyle, 12
12 12 12 12 12 2:3
12 0 X
0 G 0
12
2 1 1
0 4

0 0

2:3 0 2:3 X

12 12 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 N.C.(E) A

3 3 3 2 2 1 1


X 3 3 3 2 0 0


12 12 12
w/slide X 12

1a 12 12 12 4 1c 12 12
0 G 0
FIGURE 0
3 0 0 X 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0


2:3 X 3 3 33 33 22 22 11 11 00

A 12 12 2:3
011 011 000 0 A0 G 0
0
swinging as possible and the FIGURE FIGURE
0 X 1b
3 0 2:3 XX A 033 033 033 022 022
1a 12
12 0
12

2:3 FIGURE 0 FIGURE 4 1c0 120 12 11 12 120 120


even-eighths (also known as
1212 12 1212 12 12 2 1 12
12 1 G 12
12
FIGURE 02:3 1b3 123 123 11212 12

12
straight-eighths) riffs as hard-
FIGURE
12 12 12 12 12

1a 12 12 12 12 12 12 12 2:3 FIGURE 2:3


1b 0 0 0 0 0
1c 12 12
1aA 12 12 1bA 12 12 11 12 12
12 12 11 12 12 12
1cA 12 12 11 12 12
12 12 11 12 12 12 11 12 12

12 12
driving as you can. The clearer
12
FIGURE A 12 12 12 A 12 A
12 12 12 12
12 11 11 12
12 12
12
12 12 0 12 12
the distinction between the two
A 12 A 12 A 12

FIGURE 12 12 12 FIGURE FIGURE
12
12 12
12 12 11 12 12 12

feels, the better the song will
12 11 12 12 12
12 12 12 12 0 12 0 110 120 12 12 11 12 12

2a 12 12
12 0 2b 12 FIGURE

12 12 12 12 12 12 12 12 12 11 12 12 12 12 12 11 12 12
12 12 0 12 12
sound. (In FIGURES 1-5, which FIGURE 1a FIGURE 1b FIGURE 1c
12 12
A(7)A 12 12 12 12
12 12 12 12

12 12 12 12
12 12

FIGURE FIGURE 3 12
12 11 12 12 12
0 110 120 12 12 11 12 12 12


are notated in 12/8 meter, pairs of 12 12 12 12 12 12 12 11 12
12 12
12 12 12 12 12 12 12 12 12 2b 12
12 A A

5 5 3 2 00 8 5 8 5 8 5
even eighths notes are indicated 12 121/212 12 12 0
12 0 0 0 0 A A7 A6 A7 12 12D(7)
12 11
11 1212 12
51233 33 33 23 33
1/2

0002a53 5333 2 00 31/2012 12 12 0 0 0 12D(7)


0
FIGURE 2a 12 12 11 FIGURE FIGURE12 12 11 3 12 12 12

5 35 5 5 5 5 5
by the ratio 2:3.)
A(7)
A(7) A2b3 A73 3 3 A630 A730 FIGURE
12 3 3 3 0 0A 3 A7 A6 A7 5115125 12 5 5 5125
FIGURE 31/2 FIGURE 2b FIGURE

Johnson was recorded playing 0 0 0 0 0


0 3 0 3 0 0 5 5 5 5
8 5 5 5 8 5
5 35 5 5 5 5 5
0 5 5 3 2 0 5 5 3 2 0 5 3 3 3 2 3 8 5 5
0 3 0 0 3 0
unaccompanied, and this allowed FIGURE 0
02a3 3 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 FIGURE 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 5
D(7)

FIGURE
0 1/2 3 3 3 0 1/2
0 0 0 5
5 5 5 5 5 5 5
35 5 5 5 52:35
him to change feels freely. It also 0 5 5 3 2 0 1/2 3
A(7) 0 5 5 3 2 0 1/2 3 A 5 A7 3 3 3 A6 2
0 A7 3
0 5 8
D(7) 5 5 8 5 5 8 5 5
A(7)
000A 05 05 3 2 00 3 0 1/2
FIGURE 02a3 0 30 3 0 0 3 0 3 0 3 0 FIGURE 2b30 302:330 302:330 30 52:3
004 3 3 3 0 1/2 3 0 3 3 3 0 1/2 3
0 02:3
5 58 552:3

gave him the freedom to shorten
55 5 5 5 5 5 5
00 5 5 3 2 0 3 0 0 0 5 5 3 2 0 3 0 0 5 3 3 3 02 03 58 55 58 55

2:3 302:330 302:3020 030 A7 5552:358 552:358 55 582:355


FIGURE 03 FIGURE
03 5 55 55 55 55 55 55 55

53 0 3 05 5 5 2:300 300 5 56
and lengthen phrases and move A 3 A73 3 3 A6 A7 D(7)
3 1/200 5 5 3 2 0 3
1202:350312
0 00 0 0 0 0 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 00 00

3 3 3 3 FIGURE 5 5 5 5 5 5 5
12 12
in and out of even measures of
0 5 3 2 03 0
04A 0 30 3 0 31/2 3 1/2 0 3 33 3 3 3 A7 7 57 567 5 675 567 567 5 5
0 05 03 02 0
FIGURE 04 0 3 03 3 0
0 0 0 3 03 03 0
0


4/4 meter. For example, in bar 3 0 0 0 2:3 5 5 52:3
5 5 552:3 55 55 52:35

0 053 033 053 053 053 12



4A 3 3 A705 567 557 567 567 567 567
of the verse, he switches briefly FIGURE 3 0 0 00 0 0
0 0
12
12 0 0 0 0 FIGURE
0 5 52:3


0 3 2:3 2:3 2:3 0 0 50 0 2:30 0 2:3

5 12 2:3 12 2:3
FIGURE
A0 503 303 20 0 1/2 1/2 3 FIGURE
A70 506 505 2:3

to 3/4. Leaving out beats, or in 1/2 1/2
5 3 5 5
12 12 2:3
12 12
3 3 0 0 12

5 12 12
0 6 6
some cases adding them, is a 5
0 5 0 2:3 5
0 5 0 2:3
5 3 5 5 12
3 12 12


02:3 30 3 02:3 30 3 3 52:3 7 7 2:367 67 2:3
3 3 3 3
FIGURE 4 2:3 2:3 0 2:3 FIGURE

2:3 2:3 0

002:3 750 7502:3750 750 2:3750 750


technique you will hear in the 5 3 2 0 3 3 0 5 5 5 5 75 75

002:3 50 30 2:320 0 32:3 3 0 2:33 0 002:3050 0302:3050 050 0502:312 12


0 0 0 3 A7 6 5 6 6 6 06
0 0 0 0 0


A 3 3 1/2 1/2
12
3 12 12
playing of many of the great solo Crossroads
02:3 70 702:370 70 2:370 70
acoustic blues guitarists, such as
6 02:3 0 0 2:30 32:3 3 0 2:33 0 02:3FIGURE
Guitar 2:3 2:3 2:3 1/2
Elec. Guitar 3in standard 3 tuning, no capo 3 3 3 3 6 5 6 6 6 6
70 0 0
12
Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker, Crossroads
FIGURE
2:3 2:3
2:3 0 02:3 D7 2:3
Blind Blake, Blind Willie McTell Elec. A2:3 in standard tuning,
2:3 no2:3capo 2:3
and many others.
Crossroads
FIGURE 6 2:3 in standard tuning, no2:3capo 2:3FIGURE 7 let ring 2:3 1/4 2:3

Crossroads

Elec. Guitar 2:3 2:3 2:3 2 2:3
2 2 2:3 2
A D7
0 2
Guitar 3 7 D7let 3 0 2 2 2 2 2 31/2 0
Over the one chord at the begin-

Guitar D7let ring


1 1 1 1
66 A0 in22 standard FIGURE
FIGURE
Elec. 2 tuning,
0 2 0no capo 1/4
ring
2 2
Crossroads
A in2 standard
ning of the progression, Johnson 0
2 tuning, 1/4 1/2
2

FIGURE 3 FIGURE 7


1 1 1 1

uses a few different variations Elec. 0 2 0no capo
6 A0 2 0 22 0 2 0 3 FIGURE
0 2 2 2 2 2
3 7 D7let ring 2 2 2 2
on the same basic idea, or motif. 2 0 2 1/4 0 2 2 2 1/2

0 22 0 22 E0 2 0 3 3N.C.(D)
FIGURE 1 1 1 1
8a 2 8blet 0
3 3 0
Similar variations are shown in 2 2 2 2

31/4 0 2 2 2 1/22 2 3A1/2 0


FIGURE FIGURE 0

8a 0 2 0 2 2 0 2 0 3 FIGURE
1 1 1 1
FIGURES 1a1c. In FIGURE ring
2 2

3 8b 2 1 1 1 2 3
0

00
2

A
8a 0
1a, the slide is centered over the FIGURE 3 1 0

E0
1

2
2
3

38a N.C.(D)
12th fret and is vigorously wiggled 2 N.C.(D)0 0
78b
FIGURE FIGURE 8b 1/2
1/2 5 A
3 3 5 37 5 5 5 0
E200

back and forth. In FIGURE 1b, 2 5 7 7 7 7


FIGURE 0 FIGURE

8c
00 N.C.(D)
78b
E102
the slide briefly shifts between 0 0
5
5 7 5 5
2
N.C.(D) 5 A
0
the 12th and 11th frets. In FIG- 7 7 7 1/2 7

N.C.(A)
FIGURE 38a 0 FIGURE
E20
0
1/2 5 A7
1 5 7 5 5

URE 1c, the pick-hand thumb FIGURE 0
1

5 7 7 7

N.C.(A) 5 7
0
3
3 0 2 7 5 7 5 (E)5
plucks notes on the fourth string


2 5 5
0 00
2 5 7 7 7 7
05
FIGURE 8c

N.C.(A) 5 7
along with fingerpicked notes on 0 0
2
0
8c
1 5 7 5 5 5
2
8 5 (E)

7
the top two strings. FIGURE 5 6 7 5 6 5 76 7 5 6 7 7


3 0 7

Johnson follows the slide fig- 0 0 5 (E) 7 7
FIGURE 8c
N.C.(A) 5 6 5 5 8 5 7 5 6 6 7 5 6 5 (E)7
77
8c
5 8 5 5
ures at the 12th fret by moving 5



FIGURE

down to third position and fret-

5 6 5 7 5 6 6 5 6

N.C.(A) 7 (E)


ting chords conventionally, as 5 8 5 5 5

7
5 6 7 5 6 6 5 6 7

6
shown in FIGURES 2a and 2b. 5 7


5 8 5 5 5 7
In FIGURE 2a, these patterns 5 6 7 5 6 5 6
7
are played with a swing feel. In 7
FIGURE 2b, he uses these same
chord shapes but plays them with
a straight 4/4 feel.
When moving to the four chord the first and second strings at the fifth fret. giated pattern shown in FIGURE 7. Be sure to fret the
D7 in the key of AJohnson barres For a more complete understanding of John- entire D7 chord voicing throughout and allow all of the
his fret-hand index finger at the sons unique guitar mastery, I suggest listen- notes to ring through the two-bar phrase.
fifth fret (five frets up from the ing closely to takes one and two of Cross Road Clapton then returns to the main riff (FIGURE 6),
capo, which is actually the seventh Blues. Along with the parts demonstrated here, which he plays twice, then moves to the five chord, E,
fret) and uses the slide to sound a you will find wonderful variations on similar chord over which he plays the very simple riff shown in FIG-
note three frets higher on the high shapes and patterns, all of which keep the music URE 8a. Following the C-to-A pull-off on the A string, a
E string to create a D7 chord voic- sounding vibrant and spontaneous. first-position E chord rings through the rest of the bar.
ing (FIGURE 3). When moving back As stated earlier, the Clapton/Cream version The 12-bar section is then wrapped up with a two-bar
to the one chord, he changes his of Crossroads is played on electric guitar in single-note lick, depicted in FIGURE 8b. This is a clas-
melodic pattern slightly, along the standard tuning. Although the two versions of sic Clapton line, played in fifth position, starting with a
lines of FIGURE 4, which is also the song sound quite different, Clapton based C-to-Cs hammer-on on the G string. This lick is based on
played with a straight 4/4 feel. his primary riff on his study of the Johnson origi- the A minor pentatonic scale (A C D E G), with the minor
There is an additional way to nal. As shown in FIGURE 6, Clapton sounds an third, C, replaced with the major third, Cs.
play on the one chord in this tun- open A, followed by an A-to-G pull-off movement When soloing on this version of Crossroads, Claptons
ing, as shown in FIGURE 5. Here, on the G string. This very simple melodic element basic approach is to alternate freely between A minor
the high root, flat seventh and is found in a very similar form in Johnsons ver- pentatonic and A major pentatonic (A B Cs E Fs), a tech-
fifthA, G and E, respectivelyare sion, as exemplified by the pattern played in bar nique popularized by his blues guitar heroes, including
sounded simultaneously. On beat 2 of FIGURE 4. B.B. King, Freddie King and Buddy Guy. Claptons brilliant
two, the seventh, G, moves down After playing the initial figure four times, Clap- soloing on Crossroads will be covered in more detail in
to the sixth, Fs, by barring across ton moves to the four chord, D7, with the arpeg- a future edition of In Deep.

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