Bar Room Blues: “Chain of Fools”

Bar Room Blues: “Chain of Fools”

Bar Room Blues is an exclusive series of video guitar lessons by Steve “Red” Lasner covering classic blues songs from historically great guitarists like B.B. King, T-Bone Walker, Buddy Guy, and many others. A new lesson will be released each week, so be sure to subscribe and check back often! Also, if you want more guitar lessons like these, be sure to check out Red’s Guitar Sherpa class.

“Chain of Fools” is a song written by Don Covay. Aretha Franklin first released the song as a single in 1967 and subsequently it appeared on many of her albums. It reached number one on the U.S. R&B chart, staying there for four weeks, and went to number two on the pop chart in January 1968. It won the Grammy Award for Best Female R&B Vocal Performance, and later a Grammy Hall of Fame Award. In 2004, this song was ranked #249 on Rolling Stone’s list of The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. The trademark tremolo guitar licks at the introduction were played by Joe South.

“Chain Of Fools” is actually an unauthorized rewrite of the gospel song “Pains Of Life”, released earlier in 1967 by Elijah Fair & The Sensational Gladys Davis Trio. “Pains Of Life” has the same melody as the later song, as well the chorus “Pain Pain Pain”, which is echoed as “Chain Chain Chain” in the Franklin recording.

Originally in the key of C, the guitarist tuned down, I believe 2 whole steps to a C and plays an E7 shape that would be a C7 in that tuning. Most often the song is played in Cm due to the strength of the minor 3rd implied in the song. In this lesson we are in the key of Cm but I also demonstrate what might be done in C7.

In this video guitar lesson, I show you how to play this classic song on guitar in your own style. Check it out:

Video Guitar Lesson

Jam Track

chainMid2 Compressed

Bar Room Blues is an exclusive series of video guitar lessons by Steve “Red” Lasner covering classic blues songs from historically great guitarists like B.B. King, T-Bone Walker, Buddy Guy, and many others. A new lesson will be released each week, so be sure to subscribe and check back often! Also, if you want more guitar lessons like these, be sure to check out Red’s Guitar Sherpa class.