Watch the Mountains of Illinois: 6 online guitar lesson by Tommy Emmanuel from Little by Little

This is a beautiful song that I first heard on a Chet Atkins album called Read My Lips. What a wonderful, wonderful album. So many good songs on that album. This song was written by Pat Bergeson who is another one of my favorite guitar players from around here in Nashville. Pat is an amazing composer as well and he also plays the harmonica. He's one of my favorite guitar players.

The original version that was on Chet's album, Pat and Chet played the melody like a double-line, single-line electric with a bit of sustain, distortion. It just sounded so beautiful. I always loved the song.

I just started messing with it one day and thought that to me it sounds like a gospel song, so I approached it that way as if I was a gospel piano player. So I went looking for some way of playing the song with a lot of open notes, and a way of getting some beautiful three part harmony phrases that moved around. I approached the melody in this song really like a singer.

When I teach people about playing melody it's always about thinking like a singer, not thinking like a guitar player--think like you're the singer and that the lead part is the lead vocal. A singer doesn't always sing right on the beat or wait for the changes. Sometimes a singer goes ahead and the changes follow. The singer has to take a breath. There are times when you can pause and let the melody breath a little.

I hope you like this arrangement. Note that my guitar is tuned down a tone. It's normal guitar tuning, it's just that E is a D. That also helps to really get that gospel sound, that big deep sound, that full rich array of tones and textures that you can only get those big, low, deep notes. And getting up high while still having those beautiful low notes underneath.

NOTE! Tab & notation is not available for this course - it is currently pending licensing.