Black Water | acoustic | rhythm & solo
An acoustic guitar lesson on how to play "Black Water'" by the Doobie Brothers from their 1974 album "What Were Once Vices Are Now Habits."
(I originally planned to do just the rhythm guitar parts but had a few people asking for the solo, so I did a separate video and tab on that.)
Black Water was the Doobie Brothers first number one hit. That really surprised me as I thought songs like Listen To the Music, China Grove and Long Train Running from their previous albums would have reached the top spot as well. The only other song of theirs that went to number one was What A Fool Believes in 1977.
The story goes that when Pat was recording tracks for The Captain and Me, in between takes he started playing this riff. He heard Ted Templeman through his headphones asking him what he just played and Pat said it was a riff he was working on. Ted said he thought it was great and that Pat should make a song out of it. That brought a smile to my face as it turned out to be their first number one hit! Never underestimate the power of a great producer!
Black Water is such a cool and unique song. While much of the focus is on the vocals, especially the breakdown, it's the guitar part behind it that's the heart of the song and really drives it along. Pat Simmons is a great guitar player and an excellent finger picker.
The song starts out with a classic 2-5 progression that just repeats, but it's the cool finger picking that makes it. While the riff isn't hard to understand, it's the feel that makes it. I came as close as I could but there's something special about the way Pat plays it.
There's two more sections after the first one and they both have their challenges. I go over all of that in the video.
I based my lesson off of the studio version which has two guitar tracks. The 2nd guitar is a bit more simplified on the first riff and plays a harmony on the 2nd one, while the third section it essentially mirrors the main part.
Here's a great video of their 2020 lock down performance. Although it's a bit different than on the album, I learned a lot from just watching Pat play in this video.
I hope you get something from the lesson and enjoy playing this classic Doobies finger picking song. Cheers
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