Guitar lesson for

The Year That Clayton Delaney Died

by Tom T. Hall  •  Lesson #132

Video lesson

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Editor’s notes

In this video I’ll show a tutorial for the the classic country intro lick heard in “The Year That Clayton Delaney Died” by Tom T. Hall. Even if you’ve never heard this song before, I’ll bet the style of this intro lick is one you feel like you’ve heard a thousand times. It uses only two chords, but requires a bit of practice to pull of… I’ll show you how it’s done, complete with some tabs and exercise to break things into small pieces.

Capo 1st fret

If you want to play along with the album version, through a capo on the 1st fret and use the chords I show here. This is how Tim T. Hall plays this song. You don’t need the capo - without it, you’ll just be a half-step lower in pitch (which is okay if you’re not playing along with his recorded version).

Chords needed

E –––3––––––––1––––1––––
B –––1–––1––––1––––0––––
G –––0–––3––––2––––0––––
D –––2–––2––––3––––0––––
A –––3–––3––––3––––2––––
E ––––––––––––1––––3––––
     C   C7   F    G7

Chord progression

Here’s the chord progression written out - 4 counts per measure. Play each line once, then repeat the whole thing for each verse.

C . . . G7 . . . C . . . C7 . . .
F . . . F  . . . C . . . C  . . .
F . . . F  . . . F . . . C  . . .
C . . . G7 . . . C . . . C  . . .

Lyrics with chords

(capo 1st fret)

    C                    G7              C      C7
I remember the year that Clayton Delaney died
     F                                                C
They said for the last two weeks that he suffered and cried
   F                                                     C
It made a big impression on me although I was a barefoot kid
     C                           G7                       C
They said he got religion at the end and I'm glad that he did

        (use same progression for each verse)

Clayton was the best guitar picker in our town
I thought he was a hero and I used to follow Clayton around
I often wondered why Clayton who seemed so good to me
Never took his guitar and made it down in Tennessee

Well daddy said he drank a lot but I could never understand
I knew he used to picked up in Ohio with a five piece band
Clayton used to tell me son you better put that old guitar away
Ain't no money in it it'll lead you to an early grave

I guess if I'd admit it Clayton taught me how to drink booze
I can see him half stoned a picking out the Lovesick Blues
When Clayton died I made him a promise I was gonna carry on somehow
I'd give a hundred dollars if he could only see me now

I remember the year that Clayton Delaney died
Nobody ever knew it but I went out in the woods and I cried
Well I know there's a lotta big preachers that know a lot more than I do
But it could be that the good Lord likes a little picking too

Yeah I remember the year that Clayton Delaney died

Strumming pattern

1  +  2  +  3  +  4  +
D     D  U     U  D  U

Intro riff

Sneak in extra strums of each chord as you’re able (I’m only showing a single strum of each here, for space reasons). Listen along to the song (or my video lesson) for context.

E ––––––––––––3––––––3–––––––––1–––––1–––––––––––3–––––––––––––––1–––––
B ––––––––––––1––––––1–––––––––0–––––0–––––––––––1–––––––––––––––0–––––
G ––––––––––––0––––––0–––––––––0–––––0–––––––––––0–––––––––––––––0–––––
D ––––––––––––2–––2––2––––1–0––0–––––0–––––––––––2–––––––––––––––0–––––
A –––––0–2–3––3–––––––––––––––––––––––––––0–2–3––3––––––3–2–0––––2–––––
E –––3––––––––––––––––––––––––––––3–––––3–––––––––––––––––––––3––3–––––
              C               G7                 C               G7

Intro riff exercises

Learning the above intro riff can be difficult, especially playing it at full speed. Here’s a way to practice the riff through breaking things into two exercise that build up the skills you’ll need to play this.

First, practice accenting these changing bass notes in a groove while strumming. Practice this on repeat. This will help establish the foundation you’ll need before you add the additional runs to and from the G chord.

E ––––––––––––3––––––3–––––––––1–––––1–––––––––––
B ––––––––––––1––––––1–––––––––0–––––0–––––––––––
G ––––––––––––0––––––0–––––––––0–––––0–––––––––––
D ––––––––––––2–––2––2––––––0––0–––––0–––––––––––
A –––––––––3––3––––––––––––––––––––––2–––––––––––
E ––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––3––3–––––––––––
              C               G7

Second, practice this bassline sequence. Try to do it in time with the song, if you can (listen along for context). Start slow, get it down, and increase your speed until you can play it at full speed.

E –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––
B –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––
G –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––
D ––––––––––––––––2–––––––1–0––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––
A –––––0–2–3––3–––––––––––––––––––––––––––0–2–3–––––––––3–2–0––––––––––
E –––3––––––––––––––––––––––––––––3–––––3–––––––––––––––––––––3––––––––
              C             G7                C               G7

WHen you’re comfortable with both exercises above, try combining them to create the full intro riff. Break that full riff into phrases (sections) if you can - don’t pretend you’ll be able to do it all at once!

Good luck!

Let me know if you have questions. I hope this was helpful.

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