Harmonica Lesson: I Wish You Would (Billy Boy Arnold)

By Liam Ward

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

Original 1955 version
Tabbed for diatonic harmonica by Liam Ward
Song key: G (C harp in 2nd position)

I Wish You Would’ is Billy Boy Arnold’s defining song: wailing harp and gruff vocals set to a driving Bo Diddley-style boogie beat. The tab I’ve provided covers the whole song, including three super-catchy licks, which you can add to your trick bag and plug into any boogie beat.

One of the great features of this song is the use of dynamics. The start of the solo almost recedes to silence, before crashing back in with the second of our catchy licks, a gritty four-draw bend. Pay close attention to these changes in intensity, because volume control is an often overlooked but highly useful skill to add an extra dimension to your playing.

Album:

There’s lots of action around holes 1, 2 and 3, making this a shining example in using minimal notes to create a variety of sounds. Note how often using just a few notes, Arnold comes up with something fresh and surprising.

Cool live version:

Some of the playing on this track is a little loose at times, so there’s lots of room for your own interpretation, and the repetitive lines between the vocals give you the chance to come up with slight alterations of a lick to keep the listener’s attention. To go beyond the basic tab, you could try moving the licks into a different octave – several of them can be played in three different octaves. Or you could add/subtract a note to slightly change the phrase.

However you choose to interpret the tune, make sure you play it nice and slow to begin with and build up from there. And most of all – enjoy!

Tell the harmonica world what you think...

(Spamcheck Enabled)