Blues is a music of freedom so it's only appropriate to offer two iconic blues songs written and made famous by a few of the true legends of the music. The Thrill Is Gone became the only hit B.B. King had in his illustrious career. Crossroads, by legendary bluesman Robert Johnson came to wider attention when Eric Clapton and his group Cream recorded the now famous live version in 1966. Finding free tabs is a great way to strengthen your blues chops.
You Know You Done Me Wrong
B.B. King, rightfully known as the King of the Blues for his sound, style, and overall musical excellence, really shines on The Thrill Is Gone. The following printable offers the chord progression and an approximation of his phrasing of the vocal melody. For help with Adobe printables consult the Guide for Adobe Printables.
Keep in mind that when trying to notate a vocal melody, many singers use a vocal device called melisma, which is the singing of a single syllable of text while moving through many notes. So when studying the blues:
- Listen to the blues and incorporate what you hear as often and as much as possible.
- Use the blues scale, in this case the B Blues Scale - B D E F F# A B - to improvise on Thrill.
- Try playing phrases like B.B. King sings them using space and rhythm.
Standing At The Crossroads
Eric Clapton and his Cream band mates Jack Bruce and Ginger Baker were not the first Englishmen to love American blues and incorporate it into their music, but they were among the most successful. The myth of Robert Johnson is well documented, but as the story goes he went down to the crossroads in Mississippi and met the devil himself and sold him his soul so he could be the greatest guitar player. In your study of this terrific tune, go back and listen to the original version and the many subsequent recordings. The movie is fun too.
Other Resources for the Music
There are some terrific online resources to expand on the music offered here.
- Ultimate Guitar features tabs by many great blues artists like T Bone Walker and Albert King and you can search the site by song or artist to find them.
- Guitar Alliance has a nice collection of blues tabs. You'll need to register at the site to use their materials, but registration is free.
- Blues-Tabs.net contains a good collection of tabs for blues enthusiasts. All tabs are created by users as their own interpretations of the songs, so there may be some discrepancies in quality throughout the site.
- At Guitarnick.com, you get tabs, many songs to choose from, and great short instructional videos with helpful close-ups.
- Songsterr offers some great free tabs. You just have to search for blues in the sites search engine. Once you find the music, there are many songs to choose from, and you can hear simple midi versions with one click.
Play It Once With Feeling
The blues is the wellspring of inspiration for pretty much all popular American music save for country and perhaps folk music. Without the blues, there would be no jazz, no rhythm and blues, no rock and roll, no funk, no hip-hop, and no rap. Think for a minute about what American music would look like with out it. The blues is universal in its appeal, as people everywhere have suffered, been sad, or lost someone or something in their lives they loved. The blues speaks to that emotion and in the act of verbalizing, cleanses and heals the soul. Enjoy these free tabs as you continue your study of this timeless music.