Harmonica Lesson: Born In Chicago (Paul Butterfield)

By Liam Ward

Written by Liam Ward on . Posted in Blog: Harmonica Articles, Harmonica Lessons, Harmonica Players

Born in Chicago is one of the late great Paul Butterfield’s most celebrated solos, and has lots of powerful features to get your teeth into with bends, double stops and glissando among them. The solo is typical of Butterfield’s punchy, aggressive style and has a fine balance of flashy lines and tasteful space.

Born in Chicago (Paul Butterfield)
Tabbed for diatonic harmonica by Liam Ward
Song key: A (D harp* in 2nd position)
A: -2 -2 -2// -1 -2 -2→-2//→-1
B: -2 -2 -2// -1 -2 -2
C: -2// -2// -2// -2
D: -2 -3/ 4 -4/ 4 -3/ -4/→-2 -2
E: →-6 6 -5 -4 4 -3/ 4 -4/→-4→-4/→-2 -3/ -2
F: -2// -2 -34/ -2 -2// -2 -2 -2// -2→-2//→-1

*If you don’t yet have a D harmonica check out our Harmonica Packs

Studio version:

I’ve cut the solo down into what I hope are manageable chunks. There’s a great groove to this song so try to lock in with the rhythm of my playing (or the original track) – the notes are nothing without the groove. Some lines will take longer than others, and line E is especially long and complicated, but that’s what makes it so damn good! Avoid the temptation to skip over the subtleties as these make all the difference. Case in point, the difference between lines A and B is minimal but adds a lot to the solo.

Live version:

As always, practise slowly line by line before putting it all together and working on getting it up to full speed. If you want a great backing track, at the start of the video I use a Jimi Lee jam track from his album ‘Every Groove A Bluesman Needs’. Most of all, enjoy!

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