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How To Play Lay Down Sally on Guitar

How To Play “Lay Down Sally” on Guitar

“Lay Down Sally” is a song written by Clapton, George Terry, and Marcy Levy and performed by Eric Clapton. It was released on his November 1977 album Slowhand and peaked at number three on the Billboard Hot 100 list. “Lay Down Sally” is a blues song written in the J. J. Cale style. Clapton also credited the song’s influence to other members of his band, including Carl Radle of Oklahoma, George Terry, Jamie Oldaker, and others.

Billboard magazine appreciated Marcy Levy’s backup vocals and called Clapton’s performance “low key but earthy.” Clapton’s “guitar finesse” was lauded by Cash Box. The track was a crossover country music hit, peaking at No. 26 on the Hot Country Songs list in April 1978, Clapton’s most fabulous place on the chart. “Lay Down Sally” was featured on the soundtrack of the 2013 film August: Osage County, where it was played twice as the entrance music and once again later in the film.

In this article, we are going to show you how to play “Lay Down Sally” by Eric Clapton on guitar. If you listen to the original recording of this song, there are guitars panning left and right; Clapton has done some overdubbing, and multiple guitar parts are going on at once to create the sound that we all know. We’re going to show you how we’ve kind of combined the two guitar parts into one, so you can just be like if you were one guitar player in a band how you could play it.

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Who is Eric Clapton?

Eric Patrick Clapton is a guitarist, singer, and composer from England. He is widely considered one of rock music’s most successful and influential guitarists. Clapton was voted second among the “100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time” by Rolling Stone and fourth among the “Top 50 Guitarists of All Time” by Gibson. In 2009, he was ranked fifth on Time magazine’s list of “The 10 Best Electric Guitar Players.”

Clapton, who was born in Ripley, learned to play the guitar himself as a youngster after being inspired by blues musicians. He joined the Yardbirds in 1963, replacing founder guitarist Top Topham after performing in various local bands. Clapton departed the Yardbirds in 1965 to perform with John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers, dissatisfied with the Yardbirds’ transition from blues rock to a more radio-friendly pop-rock sound. After departing Mayall after just one album, Clapton founded the power trio Cream with bassist Jack Bruce and drummer Ginger Baker, in which he performed extended blues improvisations and “arty, blues-based psychedelic pop.” After Cream disbanded in November 1968, he founded the blues rock band Blind Faith with Baker, Ric Grech, and Steve Winwood, and they released one album and went on one tour before disbanding. Clapton launched a solo career in 1970.

He also worked with Delaney & Bonnie and Derek and the Dominos, with whom he recorded “Layla,” one of his hallmark tunes, in addition to his solo career. Over the next few decades, he released several popular solo albums and tracks, including a 1974 rendition of Bob Marley’s “I Shot the Sheriff,” the country-infused Slowhand album (1977), and the pop rock of 1986’s August.

In 1991

Clapton’s anguish following the death of his son Conor in 1991 was portray in the song “Tears in Heaven,” which appeared on his Unplugged album, and he had another top-40 success with the R&B crossover “Change the World” in 1996. In 1998, he recorded the Grammy-winning single “My Father’s Eyes.” Since 1999, he has released a number of traditional blues and blues rock albums and has hosted the Crossroads Guitar Festival on a regular basis. Happy Xmas is his most recent studio album (2018).

Clapton has won 18 Grammys and the Brit Awards for Outstanding Contribution to Music.

He received a CBE in 2004 for his contributions to music. The British Academy of Songwriters, Composers, and Authors has given him four Ivor Novello Awards, including the Lifetime Achievement Award. He is the only person to have been induct into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame three times: once as a solo artist and once as a member of the Yardbirds and Cream. Clapton has sold over 280 million records worldwide in his solo career, making him one of the best-selling artists of all time. Clapton, a recovered alcoholic and drug addict, established the Crossroads Centre on Antigua in 1998 as a medical clinic for substance abusers.

How to Play “Lay Down Sally” On Guitar?

We are going to break down that main riff that’s just a vamp over an A chord, and then we’re going to get into the verse and the chorus sections. We’ll take you through a rhythm guitar part that will work for the whole song and enable you to play it on one guitar; this is sort of an approach that we would take if you were playing this on a gig with just one guitar. The three chords in this tune are A, D, and E. It’s in the key of A, and we have kind of like a little shuffle thing going on, and then you got a couple of little licks and a little bass line going with it.

How to Play “Lay Down Sally” – Intro – Main Riff

So, on the recording on the intro, there are definitely two guitars and one part kind of going like doing more of a bass line, and then the other ones doing more like muted A chord, and things than doing this walk down with riff. We tried to come up with a part that combines both; if you were one guy in a band, what could you play.

We are going to start with an A chord, and we are barring it because you’re going to need your third and second fingers to play the bass line. Then you’re going to go two on the E string, open E, back to two, back to the chord. So, that’s bar one.

Now comes a little descending lick. It’s going to be the 8th notes that we’re going to play the open G string, then the 5th fret on the D string, open G, fourth fret on the D string, open G, fourth fret on the D string, and then the little double stop. Then you’re going to come back, and you’re going to play the two on the G string, but you’re going to go ahead and form your A chord because you’re going to be playing an A chord right after.

We’re going to play that for the A vamp

We’re going to play that for the A vamp, and the tune just starts out vamping on that A chord, and then we kick into the form. When we play the form, we’re going to just switch to an abbreviated version of this riff; we’re just going to play the first two bars. You got two hits on the A string or on the A chord. And then that finishes the whole riff, and you start all over again. That’s the whole riff, and now it repeats that four times in the beginning.

How to Play “Lay Down Sally” – Verse – Form

After that intro, Clapton comes in with the verse singing. The melody, and for this part, you can just go to playing basic chords. So, there are only three chords. There are A, D, and E chords playing.

So, we’ve got four bars on an A chord. We’re going to play then again, then we’re going to go to the D chord, but instead of playing a basic D chord like that, we are going to do more rhythm and blues figures. So, in verse, you have A, two dead notes, and then a base note on the low E string. And it just repeats that. You do it twice when you get there; then you go to a D chord.

We’re going to play a D chord, but there’s also a little shuffle thing in that. What we are doing for the D, there is we are playing the open D string and then the second fret on the G string. Reaching with our third finger and playing the fourth fret on the G string, so it’s replacing that note on the second fret of the G string. We’re going to play two bars of D, then back to A for four bars. And the A for four bars, instead of just playing the bar, we’re going actually to do the riff from the intro.

Then we go to D again for two bars

Then we go to D again for two bars, and then we’re going to finish with two bars of E. This finishes the verse, and that leads us into the chorus, and for that, we’re going to take our D chord here, or what we are playing for D, this rhythm pattern, and we’re going to move it up two strings. So, we’re going to play the low E and the second fret of the A string.

How to Play “Lay Down Sally” – Chorus

Chorus is really just a shuffle. We’re going to learn the chorus and no new chords. We’re still going to use the A, D, and E chords but this time, for the A, we are going to play just that straight blues rhythm.

For the chorus here, we’re going to play two bars of A, two bars of D, and then two bars of E. And then back to two bars of A, and then it’s going to repeat. Then we go back to the vamp. And that vamp just stays on until Eric Clapton comes in singing, and you start the whole thing over again; you go back to the verse and the chorus.

How to Play “Lay Down Sally” – Soloing

Let’s take a look now at soloing over the A7 chord. There are a few ideas for the solo, it’s a really great solo on the record, and it’s all over one chord which is beautiful because it’s just an A vamp. You can do the main riff underneath, and we will show you a few kinds of Clapton lines. 

In the first one, what we are doing is putting our first finger on the fifth fret first string, and then we are walking down the eighth, seventh, and fifth frets on the second string. Then we do a little band on seven, five, seven, seven, five, and seven. So, it’s just kind of pulling on that note just a little bit for personality. 

Another cool line is basically the seventh fret on the third string, bend it, and then five, five, and eight on the second string, back to that seven bends on the third string, and then end with going back up to the root.

Final Thoughts

In this tutorial, we demonstrated how to play “Lay Down Sally” by Eric Clapton on guitar. This blues rock piece by The Slowhand involves only three chords: A, D, and E, as well as a few fundamental riffs. We hope you enjoyed this tutorial and learned how to play Eric Clapton’s “Lay Down Sally” on guitar. On the other hand, we added some soloing tips to enhance your solo while playing this song. Because this bar blues song needs an improvised solo which depends on who plays the guitar, this song really affects your blues music repertoire and your blues knowledge with its riffs and chord progressions in it.

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