Guitar lesson for

Willin'

by Little Feat  β€’  Lesson #306

Video lesson

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Editor’s notes

Hey friends – here’s a new lesson where I teach you how to play Willin’ by Little Feat (1972). Half of this song is a rather straightforward key-of-G acoustic classic rock, while the intro & verse utilize chord shapes similar to what you heard in Blackbird to create a distinctive β€œopen” sound. Learning these together can be tricky at times, but rewarding!

In my video, I break everything down step by step, in this order:

Lyrics and chords

INTRO (see PDF for strumming guide)

    e |–––––––––––––––––|–––––––––––––––––|–––––––––––––––––|–––––––––––––––––|–
    B |––––12–––––––––––|––––10–––––––––––|–––––8–––––––7–––|–5–––––––5–––––––|–
    G |–––––0–––––––––––|–––––0–––––––––––|–––––0–––––––0–––|–0–––––––0–––––––|–
    D |–––––––––––––––––|–––––––––––––––––|–––––––––––––––––|–––––––––––––––––|–
    A |–10––––––––––––––|–9–––––––––––––––|–7–––––––––––5–––|–3–––––––3–––––––|–
    E |–––––––––––––––––|–––––––––––––––––|–––––––––––––––––|–––––––––––––––––|–
        G                 D/F#              Em         (D)    C
        1 + 2 + 3 + 4 +   1 + 2 + 3 + 4 +   1 + 2 + 3 + 4 +   1 + 2 + 3 + 4 +
  
    e–|–––––3–––––––––––|–––––––––––––––––|–––––3–––––––––––|–––––3–––––––––––||
    B–|–––––0–––––––––––|–1–––––3–––––1–––|–––––0–––––––––––|–––––0–––––––––––||
    G–|–––––0–––––––––––|–0–––––0–––––0–––|–––––0–––––––––––|–––––0–––––––––––||
    D–|–––––0–––––––––––|–2–––––4–––––2–––|–––––0–––––––––––|–––––0–––––––––––||
    A–|–––––––––––––––––|–3–––––5–––––3–––|–––––––––––––––––|–––––––––––––––––||
    E–|–3–––––––––––––––|–––––––––––––––––|–3–––––––––––––––|–3–––––––––––––––||
        G                 C     D     C     G                 G
        1 + 2 + 3 + 4 +   1 + 2 + 3 + 4 +   1 + 2 + 3 + 4 +   1 + 2 + 3 + 4 +

VERSE
              G                  D/F#
    I've been warped by the rain.... driven by the snow
        Em                      C
    I'm... drunk and dirty........ don't you know?
            G      C  D  C     G
    And I'm still............. willin'

              G               D/F#
    And I was out on the road... late at night
      Em                      C
    I see my pretty Alice in... every headlight
    G      C D C           G
    Alice.......... Dallas Alice

PRE-CHORUS
                           C              D
        And I've been from Tucson to Tucumcari
          D              G
        Tehachapi to Tonapah
               G             Am7        G/B       C
        Driven every kind of rig that's ever been made----
        C                                       D
        Driven the back roads so I wouldn't get weighed----

CHORUS
              (no chord)            C     G/B     Am7  G
            And if you give me... weed, whites, and  wine
                              D
            And you show me a  sign
                    G          C D C        G
            I'll be willin'.......... to be movin'

    [ intro riff x2 ]

    Well, I've been [G] kicked by the wind... [D/F#] robbed by the sleet
    Had my [Em] head stoved in, but I'm [C] still on my feet
    And I'm [G] still....[C D* C].... [G] willin'

    I [G] smuggled some smokes and folks from [D/F#] Mexico
    [Em] Baked by the sun [C] every time I go
    To [G] Mexico... [C D* C]... and I'm [G] still...
     
        And I've been from [C] Tucson to [D] Tucumcari
        [D] Tehachapi to [G] Tonapah
        Driven [G] every kind of [Am7] rig that's [G/B] ever been [C] made----
        [C] Driven the back roads so I wouldn't get [D] weighed----
        
              (no chord)
            And if you give me... [C] weed, [G/B] whites, [Am7] and [G] wine
            And you show me a [D] sign
            I'll be [G] willin'... [C D* C]... to be [G] movin'   [D] [G]

                                                  [...let final chord ring]

Chord shapes

β€œBlackbird”-style chords

e –––––––––––––––––––––––––––
B ––12–––10––––8––––7––––5–––  <= left ring finger
G –––0––––0––––0––––0––––0–––
D –––––––––––––––––––––––––––
A ––10––––9––––7––––5––––3–––  <= left index finger
E –––––––––––––––––––––––––––
    G    D/F#  Em   D    C

Normal open chords

e ––3–––0–––––––2–––2––––0––     e ––––––––––––––0––
B ––0–––1–––3–––3–––3––––0––     B ––0–––1–––3–––1––
G ––0–––0–––0–––2–––2––––0––     G ––0–––0–––0–––0––
D ––0–––2–––4–––0–––0––––2––     D ––0–––2–––0–––2––
A ––2–––3–––5–––––––0––––2––     A ––2–––0–––2–––3––
E ––3–––––––––––––––2––––0––     E ––3––––––––––––––
    G   C   D*  D  D/F#  Em          G  Am7 G/B  C

Strumming patterns

Main pattern I use

I prefer using this pattern as the foundation for the entire song. On the β€œ1” count only pluck the bass note of the chord you’re on, and use full strums for all remaining up & down strums.

[ see PDF for diagram ]

Strumming the split measures

Sometimes, you’ll need to β€œsplit” a 4-count measure into two 2-count measures, which will use this pattern. This happens at the distinctive sections with the G-Am7-G/B-C walk-ups, in a few other places. For more context, see my β€œchord progression” section below, as well as my video lesson.

[ see PDF for diagram ]

For example, here’s a section of the song where such strumming is needed. I’ve shown the measures before and after for context (both of which use the β€œmain” pattern above).

[ see PDF for diagram ]

Progressions

Intro:

G                 D/F#              Em         (D)    C
1 + 2 + 3 + 4 +   1 + 2 + 3 + 4 +   1 + 2 + 3 + 4 +   1 + 2 + 3 + 4 +

G                 C     D*    C     G                 G
1 + 2 + 3 + 4 +   1 + 2 + 3 + 4 +   1 + 2 + 3 + 4 +   1 + 2 + 3 + 4 +

Verse:

"I've been warped by the rain..."
G                 D/F#              Em                C
1 + 2 + 3 + 4 +   1 + 2 + 3 + 4 +   1 + 2 + 3 + 4 +   1 + 2 + 3 + 4 +

"And I'm still..."
G                 C     D*    C     G                 G
1 + 2 + 3 + 4 +   1 + 2 + 3 + 4 +   1 + 2 + 3 + 4 +   1 + 2 + 3 + 4 +

Pre-Chorus:

"I've been from Tuscon to Tucumcari..."
C                 D                 D                 G
1 + 2 + 3 + 4 +   1 + 2 + 3 + 4 +   1 + 2 + 3 + 4 +   1 + 2 + 3 + 4 +

"Driven every kind of rig..."
G         Am7       G/B             C                 C
1 + 2 +   1 + 2 +   1 + 2 +         1 + 2 + 3 + 4 +   1 + 2 + 3 + 4 +

"Driven the backroads..."
C                   C               D                 D (let ring, stop strumming)
1 + 2 + 3 + 4 +     1 + 2 +         1 + 2 + 3 + 4 +   1

Chorus:

"Weed, whites, and wine..."
C                 G/B      Am7       <-- single strum (or bass note) only
1 + 2 + 3 + 4 +   1 + 2 +  1 + 2 +

"And you show me a sign..."
G                 G                 D                 D
1 + 2 + 3 + 4 +   1 + 2 + 3 + 4 +   1 + 2 + 3 + 4 +   1 + 2 + 3 + 4 +

"I'll be willin'..."
G                 C     D*    C     G                 G
1 + 2 + 3 + 4 +   1 + 2 + 3 + 4 +   1 + 2 + 3 + 4 +   1 + 2 + 3 + 4 +

Intro, step by step

First understand these basic chord shapes. If you’ve ever learned Blackbird (The Beatles) or A Case of You (Joni Mitchell), these are the same sort of chords those songs use. The third string (G) will always be left open and unfretted.

[ see PDF, page 4 ]

Then, look at the first half of the progression as follows. Do a single strum of each chord on the 1 count. The only exception is just before the C (fourth measure), there’s a single count of the D chord being played on the 4-count of the 3rd measure.

[ see PDF, page 4 ]

Next, we’ll bring in the second half of the intro as well. This is entirely G, with the exception of the 6th measure – which has a C-major chord sliding up 2 frets to play the D-major variation, before sliding back down.

[ see PDF, page 4 ]

Finally, let’s start to bring in the strumming pattern. Start by strumming the bass note on the β€œ1” count, and then doing a full strum of the chord on the β€œ2” count. I don’t show it here, but if you can, add an β€œup down up” on the β€œ+ 4 +” at the end of each measure. Note, certain measures deviate from this pattern, specifically the C-D*-C measure. The most important part is to play something you’re comfortable with and can maintain consistently, even if that’s a simple β€œbass DOWN bass DOWN” on the one-TWO-three-FOUR beats.

[ see PDF, page 4 ]

Lesson #265

One is this video showing you 4 tips on getting started with the Beatles classic Blackbird which uses the same chords as the intro to this one.

Lesson #249

Another is this lesson showing you 2-finger chords in the key of C, which is the same exact type of chord this lesson uses. Even though Willin’ and Blackbird are in the key of G, there’s a lot of overlap here. Joni Mitchell’s β€œA Case of You” is an example of a song using these chords thatsi n the key of C.

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