How to Play Where Did You Sleep Last Night by Chris Liepe (Guitar Lesson)

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Chris Liepe

Where Did You Sleep Last Night

Chris brings his ingenuity to this lesson on the American folk song called "Where Did You Sleep Last Night?" Also known as "Black Girl" or "In The Pines," this song provides a great opportunity to add a rocking classic to your set list. This lesson also tests your ability to write a creative lead.

Taught by Chris Liepe in Songs with Chris Liepe seriesLength: 26:06Difficulty: 2.5 of 5
"Where Did You Sleep Last Night" Notes

Also known by the title "In The Pines" this song's roots can be traced all the way back to the 1870s. The exact author and origin are not known. It has been covered by an early 1900s blues man by the name of Leadbelly and more famously covered by Nirvana in 1993. Many other artists have done renditions of this tune, always thinking up a slightly different twist to throw in with this catchy little melody.

The version presented to you in this lesson borrows heavily from the influences of Black Sabbath, early Soundgarden, and other heavy, post punk sounds.

Ideally, this version should be played on a humbucking guitar with a 5-way selector switch that allows you to use a single coil sound for the front half, and a humbucking bridge pickup for the solos and back half.

I have included a variety of backing tracks for you to learn with and practice to:
1. Full Mix - Listen to the way the parts blend and work together to get the wall of sound. Timing and tone are very important in achieving an ideal blend of sound.

2. No Vocal - This gives you a chance to hear the instruments in greater detail, and continue to focus on the blend.

3. Rhythm Guitars Out - Play along with the song using the provided rhythm tab. You are responsible for providing the rhythm guitar sounds.

4. Lead Guitars Out - Yes, you guessed it! Learn the solo provided, or use it as a starting point to create your own without the original solo in the way.

5. Drums and Bass Only - This track is provided for those of you that may want to bring the song into your own recording software and build your own ideas over the rhythm section.
The First Half
At its core, this song is pretty basic. It's only 4 chords (E, A, G and B7). The opening riff is best played slightly behind the beat to achieve a lazy feeling. Make sure you let the notes of the chords ring as much as possible when playing the walking bass note lines inside the riff. Also, make sure the rhythm guitar swings just a little bit. Alternate picking on the walking lines will help your accuracy. Although this song is performed in the lesson at 115 bpm, I'd recommend that you practice the opening a little slower with a metronome to ensure that you are playing cleanly.

This first half is really three sections. The first two are played twice. We have the opening chord progression with the walking lines inserted in it, then we have the basic chord progression with less walking when the vocals are in. Play the first section under the first solo, and play the second, simpler version under the vocals. The third section is the vocal/guitar call and answer. Here you are essentially outlining an Em triad and then transitioning to a B7 sound. Refer to the tablature to get the precise timing.

The Second Half
When the energy kicks in, we transition to a more driving 6/8 feel instead of the lazy feeling 3/4 groove. There are two layers that make up the sound on the recording. First, there is the heavy rhythm...

This consists of primarily power chords (chords without the 3rd scale tone in them) with the exception of the E7(#9) chord at the end of each phrase. This chord is a dominant 7th chord (1, 3, 5, and b7) with a #9, which is the same note as the minor 3rd in the scale. If you remove the major third from E7(#9), you'd just have an Em7 chord. When the major 3rd and minor 3rd are both present in a chord, the minor third is referred to as a #9. There's your theory lesson for the day!

Second, there is the high, distorted power chord lead sound...

This is essentially the same chord progression played higher up on the neck. Take note of these positions in the tablature and use them in other areas of your playing to spice up normal power chord type songs and ideas.

The 2nd Solo
I have included a measure-by-measure transcription of the entire rhythm section of the song as well as the 2nd solo. This solo will test your bending accuracy and work on your vibrato technique. Make sure you are attentive to the full step bends outlined in the tablature to get the desired effect. Playing this solo with a whammy bar will help with adding vibrato to your bends.

When building your own solos, the E minor pentatonic scale works nicely. Also, look at the tones in the E7(#9) chord outlined above to give your solo some spice beyond the straight pentatonic feel. In other words, you can use both the major and minor third in relation to an E tonal center.

That's it for this one! Enjoy, and let me know if you have any questions!

Video Subtitles / Captions


Member Comments about this Lesson

Discussions with our instructors are just one of the many benefits of becoming a member of JamPlay.

shunshun replied

how about the unplugged version by nirvanais it the same? doesnt look like it in the live one I saw in NY

thedudethedude replied

Good job - is that you singing? Sounds like the Soundgarden guy! I do this one on 12 string ala Leadbelly - great tune!

Chris.LiepeChris.Liepe replied

yes it is, thank you!

wayne66wayne66 replied

Hey Chris... great job playing the song... could you explain the strumming pattern you are using?

Chris.LiepeChris.Liepe replied

sorry for not getting on this sooner. As far as the strumming/rhythm... if you think in triplets 1 & a 2 & a and and focus the accents on the numbered portion of the beats as well as "a", you'll get the groove. Hope this helps!

wayne66wayne66 replied

I don't think the tab is correct either... tab starts off showing several notes being played on the high strings (1, 2, & 3) yet watching the video it appears you are playing mostly the low strings (3, 4, 5, & 6)

ckereluckckereluck replied

That's a great song and I'm trying to follow along, but I'm afraid Chris assumes far too much on the listeners. He goes thru detailed chord progressions too fast for this song, then assumes we know every chord and terminology he names. Although he's obviously an accomplished player, all in all, if the graphical slider were a physical object, it would already be worn out!

Chris.LiepeChris.Liepe replied

You are right. Your comment reinforces some of the same things that we've noticed after these first two lessons. For future lessons, I will be breaking things down much more and taking things a little slower. There will be more sections talking about what is going on (chords, scales, techniques etc...) Thanks for the feedback!!

wayne66wayne66 replied

could use some explanation of the strumming pattern as well.

dagchristiandagchristian replied

Still no hope getting the first solo tab? You guys dont read this? Got the first part down, but like to have the tab....

jboothjbooth replied

It's up now.

dagchristiandagchristian replied

Superb!! :D

dagchristiandagchristian replied

Tab for first solo?

jboothjbooth replied

Whoops, he's gonna get it to me soon to post up.

dagchristiandagchristian replied

Did I miss it?

Chris.LiepeChris.Liepe replied

no, you didn't miss it. It should be up now any day now. I forgot to include it with the rest of the tab initially.

liverwurstliverwurst replied

Still no 'First Solo'?

dagchristiandagchristian replied

Forgot us? :D

jboothjbooth replied

There it is guys, sorry about that.

jimgarveyjimgarvey replied

Wow, fantastic. I love the Nirvana version of this song and this version is also brilliant. I didn't want to be distracted from my other lessons but now........ I'm well and truly distracted :-)

gone workingone workin replied

Awesome! I never would have guessed this wasn't original. So you showed how to make something your own as well. Love the use of the bass line using the flat pick. Good right hand stuff. Very useful how the parts were broken up in the supplemental as well in your lesson so as to be listened to as well as being a backing track! And cool effects both audio and visual. I personally like the with and without distortion pedal parts in the arrangement. Lots of great stuff to learn. Also easy to play more or less, so it's a good launchpad for earlier skill levels. Very very rich lesson. Leadbelly, huh? Cool. Bravo!

nmoundnmound replied

Great Song...thanks Chris!

bdahyrtbdahyrt replied


pbrad74pbrad74 replied

Holy crap that was an awesome rendition! Love it, Chris!

Chris.LiepeChris.Liepe replied

Thanks! Be sure to check out the backing tracks in the supplemental content

liquidmantisliquidmantis replied

Nice! I had started working up the Leadbelly version a long time ago and was literally just thinking yesterday that I should get it down. Thanks for the video!

Chris.LiepeChris.Liepe replied

your welcome! enjoy!

rockerdonrockerdon replied

when can we get the tabs ?

jboothjbooth replied

in a few hours, I just have to post them.

jboothjbooth replied

Done its all up.

mgaurav5mgaurav5 replied

Nicee, thanks for this one!! :)

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Chris Liepe

About Chris Liepe View Full Biography Chris Liepe was born on September 17th, 1981 in Portland OR. His first instrument was piano which he pursued until discovering his love for the electric guitar in high school. He became fans of such groups as Soundgarden, Collective Soul and U2 inspiring him to start singing, songwriting and helping others in their musical endeavors with teaching, co-writing and album production.

Having moved to Colorado with his family, he began gigging, recording and teaching in a number of music stores as well as out of his apartment until deciding to pursue music full time. He moved to Denver, CO to complete a Bachelors in Music Technology and was then hired on by Sweetwater Productions, a division of Sweetwater Sound and one of the largest, most successful recording studios in the Midwest.

Chris spent nearly 4 years at Sweetwater as a producer, recording engineer, studio musician and writer. During this time he had the privilege of working with many artists including Augustana, Landon Pigg, Jars of Clay, and Mercy Me. He also wrote for and played on numerous independent albums and hundreds of radio/TV commercials.

Wanting to get back to his favorite State in the world (Colorado) and feeling the urge to 'go freelance', Chris moved to Greeley, CO and opened his own recording and teaching studio. He continues to write and produce music for artists and agencies and is happy to be among the proud instructors.

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