Discover more from Notes On Guitar
😎 how to learn 500 songs
(plus: Your Body Is A Wonderland)
In 2007, I played six gigs a week:
Tuesdays at Emmett’s,
Wednesdays at Brass,
Thursdays at Dukes,
Fridays at Kirsch’s,
Saturdays were reserved for private parties.
Every time I learned a new song, I played it daily for weeks. Basically any song from that era I can still play from memory, even if I haven’t attempted it in years.
The inverse of that is the one-off.
Songs I only play a few times seem to just evaporate. I learn them for a wedding or a themed event, and then… they’re gone. A few weeks later I can’t even remember what key I sang them in or how I arranged them.
Which is why I’ve learned to mimic the conditions of 2007.
2007 nightly gigs → 2023 daily Kanban board check-in
This is the Kanban board for developing material for my solo show.
columns show the stages of development
cards move across the board as they progress
I try not to let in-progress work clog up those middle three columns
(it’s demoralizing, inefficient, and unnecessarily delays real-world feedback)
this is done in Notion, but there are lots of options…
…including low-tech solutions like post-it notes on the wall
Don’t let choosing the tech distract from the real work, which is:
keeping track of what you’re working on
playing those songs daily until they’re unforgettable
periodically moving learned songs back to the practice room (ie the IMPROVE column on my kanban board)
I loved this short riff on doing more with less:
Today we’re learning John Mayer’s Your Body Is A Wonderland.
I’ve been playing it poorly for years, completely skipping the cool bridge & guitar solo… which is why it’s in the IMPROVE column of my kanban board.
Here are links to SoundSlice TABs (& a YT vid) for:
(includes that cool electric riff too)
And in this Dropbox folder, you’ll find PDF, Sibelius, & musicXML files.
Just like with Eddie Van Halen, John Mayer’s lead playing gets all the attention.
And yeah, it’s cool, but it also means we tend to overlook their sick rhythm playing. The time feel is amazing, the parts are clever & inventive, and the songwriting is legendary.
He plays this in drop D.
the tuning opens up some cool voicings that’d be unreachable otherwise
he plays most of the Bb chord voicings with his thumb on the root note (see above, outlined in red)
his picking hand thumb provides the backbeat, slapping the bottom few strings on 2 & 4
take it slow and you’ll find it’s more intuitive than you’d expect
(and it reinforces one of my abiding beliefs: the guitar is a drum)
There are a bunch of cool layers on the studio recording.
Like this repeated electric guitar part:
(This SoundSlice has both parts.)
In the bridge, if you play what he plays on the record, it sounds empty.
You need the bass, drums, organ, etc to fill in the sound. I checked out some stripped-down live performances from over the years and came up with this:
That’s all I got this week.
See you next Wednesday.