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When You’ve Got a Good Friend


Overview


A lesser known but still great Robert Johnson song. Conveniently, there’s little in the way of adjustments to the guitar that need to be made after Sweet Home Chicago; this uses a similar tuning and set of moves.

Again, it’s part of Johnson’s repertoire in Standard tuning using fingerpicking and no bottleneck.

The same sly moves get used, with ahead-of-its-time blues shuffles (only to really be repeated with the likes of Chuck Berry some years later), and clever treble side moves interspersed within the basslines.

Workstation


Tuning
Standard — EADGBE
Capo Position

1st Fret

Song Lyrics

When you got a good friend, that will stay right by your side
When you got a good friend, that will stay right by your side
Give her all of your spare time, love and treat her right

I mistreated my baby, and I can’t see no reason why
I mistreated my baby, but I can’t see no reason why
Every time I think about it, I just wring my hands and cry

Wonder could I bear apologize, or would she sympathize with me
Mmm mmm mmm, would she sympathize with me
She’s a brown skin woman, just as sweet as a girl friend can be

Mmm mmm, babe, I may be right ay wrong
Baby it’s yo’why opinion, oh, I may be right ay wrong
Watch your close friend, baby, then your enemies can’t do no harm

When you got a good friend, that will stay right by your side
When you got a good friend, that will stay right by your side
Give her all of your spare time, love and treat her right

Song History


Year of Recording

23 November 1936

Location

San Antonio, Texas

Record Label

Unissued on 78 rpm