Sweet Home Chicago

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Example Pre-War Blues Video Lesson

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Overview

A seminal piece in the Robert Johnson anthology (and overall Rock anthology) Sweet Home Chicago is a great piece to learn.

It’s one of several that Johnson played in Standard tuning, and features fingerpicking without a bottleneck.

Overall, it uses some sly moves with the right and left hand that make it sound more complicated than it is.. using sleights of timing to, for instance, stick a treble side ornament in only when the bass-notes fretted work conveniently alongside it. In other words, it’s simpler than it sounds once you peel back the curtain. Hope you enjoy this one.

Workstation

Standard — EADGBE
1st Fret

Oh, baby, don’t you want to go
Oh, baby, don’t you want to go
Back to the land of California, to my sweet home Chicago

Oh, baby, don’t you want to go
Oh, baby, don’t you want to go
Back to the land of California, to my sweet home Chicago

Now one and one is two, two and two is four
I’m heavy loaded baby, I’m booked, I gotta go
Cryin’, baby, honey, don’t you want to go
Back to the land of California, to my sweet home Chicago

Now two and two is four, four and two is six
You goin’ keep on monkeyin’ ’round here friend-boy
You goin’ get your business all in a trick
But I’m cryin’, baby, honey, don’t you want to go
Back to the land of California, to my sweet home Chicago

Now six and two is eight, eight and two is ten
Friend-boy, she trick you one time she sure gon’ do it again
But I’m cryin’, hey baby, don’t you want to go
Back to the land of California, to my sweet home Chicago

I’m goin’ to California, from there to Des Moines, Iowa
Somebody will tell me that you need my help someday, cryin’
Hey, hey, baby, don’t you want to go
Back to the land of California, to my sweet home Chicago

Song History

23 November 1936
San Antonio, Texas
Vocalion 03601