Chris Eldridge

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Church Street Blues

Different Chordal Options

Chris Eldridge Lesson >

Church Street Blues > Different Chordal Options

This week we're embarking on something I've been excited to teach since I first started teaching here at Sonic Junction: Norman Blake's song Church Street Blues. And although Norman wrote it and recorded an absolutely sublime version, Tony Rice also has an equally iconic recording of the song. To me, Church Street Blues is the perfect song to be played and sung by one person with a flatpick and an acoustic guitar. This first week I play/teach the song itself and go over the various chordal schemes that Norman and Tony have used.

Over the course of the remaining lessons in this series we're going to look at a simple but Norman Blake-y way to play the melody, Norman's actual version, and, finally, Tony Rice's version.





Topics and/or subjects covered in this lesson:
Chris Eldridge
Church Street Blues
Tony Rice
Norman Blake

Print Print Chords & Tab

Loop 0:00 Run-Through of Church Street Blues


Lord I been hangin' out of town in that low down rain

Watchin' good time Charlie friend is drivin' me insane

Down on shady Charlotte Street the green lights look red

Wish I was back home on the farm in my feather bed.


Get myself a rockin' chair

To see if I can lose

Them thin dime hard times

Hell on Church Street blues.


Found myself a picker friend who's read yesterday's news

Folded up page twenty-one and stuck it in my shoe

Gave a nickle to the poor my good turn for the day

Folded up my own little folder threw it far away.


Lord I wish I had some guitar strings Old Black Diamond brand

I'd string up this old Martin box and go and join some band

But I guess I'll just stay right here just pick and sing a while

Try to make me a little change and give them folks a smile


Loop 3:40 Introduction to the Series of Lessons

Loop 5:53 Chord Breakdown in the Style of Norman Blake and Tony Rice


Download the Sheet Music PDF


Loop 14:12 Closing Thoughts and Outro






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Kevin Oursland
Kevin Oursland Mar 08, 2018

Hi Chris,

Great videos! Very helpful.

Can you tell me what brand of capo are you using?

Chris Eldridge
Chris Eldridge Mar 08, 2018

Hi Kevin, thank you! Glad you're getting something out of them!

My capo is an Elliott. They're expensive but as long as you don't lose them they will last you a lifetime. I've had the same one for over 20 years. Tom McKinney (the original designer of this style of capo) gave that particular capo to my dad in the 80s - my dad gave it to me when I was in high school and I still use it now. I got a second Elliot about 10 years ago when I started playing a guitar with a wider nut width. They're both great. Can't recommend them enough.

James Macklin
James Macklin Aug 26, 2017

OK Chris I just had to give it a go and ended up going at it in a bit of my own way. I stole your crosspicking licks in the 3rd break cuz they were just too cool. So this is a little bit of Norman, Tony, Eldridge, and Macklin ("one of these licks is not like the other"......) I hope you like it. 

Kip Marchetti
Kip Marchetti Aug 28, 2017

James I hope I live long enough to be able to play half that good - awesome. Very nice performance and your guitar sounds great. I have no idea if it's right wrong or otherwise - all I know is that is some great  pickin'.

James Macklin
James Macklin Aug 29, 2017

Thank you so much Kip! That means a lot. You are a great picker. Play on my friend!

Chris Eldridge
Chris Eldridge Sep 02, 2017

James, you sound so great! Love it! I really love how you're putting your own spin on it and I love the edge that you're bringing. Keep it up!

p.s. shout out to the tag that TR plays in his video that you played at the end! 

Brian Oct 15, 2017

Nice job James thougholy enjoyable 

Ted Peterson
Ted Peterson Aug 25, 2016

Great song, and you've really made your own version as well, Chris. Norman hasn't been in the best of health lately and this just sorta kinda makes me sad. 

Chris Eldridge
Chris Eldridge Sep 02, 2017

I know what you mean Ted, but it's pretty awesome that Norman put out a new record this year (and it's great!): Brushwood Songs and Stories

Chris Eldridge
Chris Eldridge Sep 02, 2017

I know what you mean Ted, but it's pretty awesome that Norman put out a new record this year (and it's great!): Brushwood Songs and Stories

Kip Marchetti
Kip Marchetti Jul 24, 2016

That run from about the 2:05 minute mark to around 2:35 is really sweet - I like that a lot.

Chris Eldridge
Chris Eldridge Jul 24, 2016

Thanks Kip!

Mark Thompson
Mark Thompson Jul 21, 2016

I really enjoyed the video of you playing Church Street Blues on the Tony Rice benefit Bourgeois guitar.

Thanks for teaching this song.

lewis Jul 18, 2016

I'm so glad you're doing this song! I transcribed Norman Blake's original a while back as a bit of a challenge and learned so much about nuance from really listing hard to it slowed down. 

Kip - another interesting lyrical thing with this song...the original Blake lyric is "I found myself a paper, friends, and read yesterday's news" and over time it's morphed into "I found myself a picker friend..."

Chris Eldridge
Chris Eldridge Jul 19, 2016

It's such a good one. We can thank Tony Rice for the new "picker" lyric.

Kip Marchetti
Kip Marchetti Jul 17, 2016

Beautiful ... and all this time I thought it was "Hello" Church Street Blues. As it turns out, my desert island needs to be a lot bigger.


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