Warm Up Exercise
Colter Wall's Sleeping on the Blacktop intro riff
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In this lesson I’ll show how to play the outlaw country fingerstyle groove of “Sleeping on the Blacktop” by Colter Wall. This is a straightforward, stripped down, and raw sequence that cycles between two sections: (1) a subdued repeating walk-down which builds up tension; and (2) an unleashed chorus-like drop that releases all the energy. I’ll teach you the chords (with tabs), explain the Travis picking technique, and talk through how to practice the different phrases heard throughout this sequence. This makes for a great warmup exercise, even if you’re not familiar with Colter Wall or this song in its full form.
- 0:00 Playthrough & overview
- 2:13 Chord shapes needed
- 6:04 Part 1: Walk down
- 9:21 Part 2: Main riff
- 16:21 Farewell
Capo and tuning notes
Take note that I’m playing this in standard tuning and without a capo. Colter Wall plays this song with a capo on the 2nd fret while tuned down one whole step… but I’m going to keep it straightforward and simple for now. If you’d like to eventually see a full lesson for this entire song, let me know… I might get to it one day. In the meanwhile, I trust this will do you good. Best of luck!
Other suggested videos
Here’s a great solo acoustic performance by Colter Wall – I find these sorts of clips super helpful just to watch how he plays it.
Here’s a clip from Hell or High Water, a really great 2016 movie that uses the album verison of this song. I can’t recommend this movie enough! Good stuff.
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