Chris Eldridge

Lesson >

Mississippi Valley

Counting A Crooked Tune

Hello Everyone!

We’re starting in on a new song this week - John Hartford’s unreasonably happy “Living In The Mississippi Valley.” To me this is a delightful piece of music from several different angles. But perhaps the thing that most distinguishes it is the irregular phrase lengths and how they make it feel like there are irregular numbers of beats and measures.

There are 2 ways to learn a song like this: you can do the brute force approach of just memorizing the way it all feels, irregular phrases and all (which is how I first learned it); or you can take a slightly more deliberate, analytical apprach (which for most people will probably be much quicker) where we count the different measures with different numbers of beats and try to create a structure that taps into our brains’ abilities to label and organize things. The latter approach is what I will be explaining in this lesson. So enjoy this new challenge and don’t be afraid to just sit back and count for awhile until the counting and feeling of the phrases become second nature.






Topics and/or subjects covered in this lesson:

Print Print Chords & Tab

Loop 0:00 Run-Through of Mississippi


Download the Sheet Music PDF


Loop 2:33 Breakdown of Crooked Rhythm

Loop 16:21 Practice Loop





Log in to leave a comment

Mark Bass
Mark Bass Jul 16, 2018


I have been taking your lessons thru sonicjunction for about 4 months now.  I have been playing over 20 years, and your lessons have helped more than anything I have done over all these years.  My daughter (who also plays guitar) and I will be at the Punch Brothers show tomorrow night in Charlotte, NC.  We will be at the pre-show performance and look forward to meeting you and the rest of the guys.


For now, I’m off to dig in a little more to “Church Street Blues.”

Chris Eldridge
Chris Eldridge Jul 27, 2018

Hi Mark, sorry to have missed you in Charlotte but thanks for coming and I hope we can connect in person sometime down the road!

Kip Marchetti
Kip Marchetti Jul 08, 2018

If you're here I figure you like cool guitars and Chris .... a lot. So, I ran across this today on the Fretbnoard Journal Web Site. The restoration of an old Stella guitar and Chris plays it. I hope you enjoy ... and I don't know where to post this stuff so sorry.



Chris Eldridge
Chris Eldridge Jul 08, 2018

This seems like as good a place as any!

Login popup sm Login popup banner

Member Log In

Forgot your password? Click here

New To Sonic Junction?

See Sign Up Info >

Popup close
Login popup sm

New To Sonic Junction?

Try 2 Lessons Free

Popup close