Charlie Daniels’ story of a roadhouse encounter gone wrong is a classic country “talkin’ blues”. The song itself simply repeats a simple eight-bar progression in C:
C C F F
G G C (C G)
Or, in numbers:
1 1 4 4
5 5 1 (1 5)
Follow strict alternate picking: downstroke on the downbeat, upstroke on the upbeat. But remember to account for things like hammer-ons, pull-offs, and slides. The slur takes the place of the pick stroke – so just as in strumming, the movement continues whether you strike the string or not. In this example, the first note is sounded by a downstroke, the second note by the slide, and the third by the next downstroke:
In this example, strike the last note of the first measure with an upstroke, sound the downbeat of the next bar with the pull-off, and strike the next note of the bar with an upstroke:
Now let’s take it lick by lick. We start with a 3-note “walkup” leading from the low G on the 6th string up to our root: G – A – B – C. (You might recognize the sound of “sol – la – ti – do” if you ever learned music using solfege syllables).
This walkup leads straight into the first lick, straight out of an open position C major scale. The second lick remains within the C chord but walks up an arpeggio to the flatted 7th, Bb, on string 3, fret 3) to imply a C7 chord before walking back down:
The C7 sets up the next chord F, and the next lick starts off echoing the opening lick on C but then adds two “outside” notes at the last beat of the first measure to add some flavor. Note the left-hand mute in the second bar of this section, indicated by an X. This means to release the left hand pressure at that moment but maintain contact with the spring, deadening the sound. You can use this same technique to create the short “staccato” notes indicated in the notion with a dot below the note head, as in the first three notes above, but letting the note ring a moment before releasing the fret hand pressure.
The next lick slides up the G string from the 2nd to the 4th fret, most comfortably using the middle finger. This sets up the other fingers for the chromatic run that follows at the beginning of the second bar. On the last beat, land of the 3rd fret G with the ring or pinky finger to set up the first note of the last phrase. Notice the picking, and the pull-off from the 1st fret D sharp to the open D string.
The song continues the same chord progression all the way through, with guitar fills throughout. But the next signature guitar line appears at the tag. Notice the use of the same riff in 2 different octaves, and the position shifts: first the pinky sliding up from fret 4 to 5 in the second bar, then a jump to the high C at the beginning of the next bar with the pinky landing on the 8th fret of the high E. Land on fret 5 with index, shift down to fret 3, and play the pull-off from fret 4 to fret 3 of the B string with middle and index.
Refer to the video below for a performance and walkthrough of the intro and outro licks. Have fun!