You’re Playing It Wrong

Date: December 20, 2013

posted by cropper / Comments: No Comments / Tags: There is no tags

Somehow, it took hearing the Booker T. & the M.G.s’ classic “Green Onions” on a recent television commercial to come to the embarrassing realization that I’ve been playing Steve Cropper’s rhythm guitar figure wrong for, oh, about 40 years. But, that epiphany got me thinking that there might others in the same boat.

The song begins with Booker T.’s famous F minor-based organ groove, which has been arranged for guitar in Ex. 1a. (Tip: Try playing it an octave higher.) B.T. vamps on this one-bar, I-minor-chord figure for four bars before Cropper enters and the 12-bar blues form commences. To point out another common error, the progression does not stick to a strict minor blues format, as B.T. uses the major-based IV- and V-chord moves illustrated in Examples 1b and 1c during bars 5, 6, 9, and 10. Note that even though the IV and V chords are major (Bb and C), the minor-third-to-perfect- fourth jumps in each figure reinforce an overall minor tonality. Plug these three figures into their appropriate slots in a 12-bar Fm-Fm-Fm-Fm-Bb-Bb-Fm-Fm-C-Bb- Fm-Fm progression and groove on.