La Grange begins with a classic blues boogie riff in the style of John Lee Hooker’s Boogie Chillun, Slim Harpo’s Shake Your Hips, and Canned Heat’s Shake and Boogie. It’s an often-copied guitar style which has made it’s way to Van Halen’s Hot for Teacher among others. The riff is one of the classic riffs in rock n’ roll and has made its way onto numerous lists including Q Magazine’s 100 Greatest Guitar Tracks in 2005. Its success led it onto Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock soundtrack which reintroduced the song to a whole new generation of wanna be guitarists.
La Grange was written about a notorious brothel outside of La Grange, Texas called The Chicken Ranch which was the subject of a Broadway musical in 1978 called The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, which was later adapted to film 1982.
The riff begins with an open A5 power chord, playing the second fret of the D and the G on upbeats and plucking the open A string on some of the downbeats. The guitar part then moves up to the fifth fret of the D and G, while maintaining the open A. This is an A minor seventh chord without the 5th (Am7no5). To finish the riff off, the fifth frets are pulled off to reveal the 2nd fret again before it loops.
You’re watching HowtoPlayAnySong.com. My name Joe Wiles with the Rock and Roll Conservatory and we’re going to take a look a ZZ Top’s La Grange.
The interesting thing about this song is it was written about a brothel just out side of La Grange, Texas. The brothel was also the subject of a Broadway play and film called “The Best Little Whore House in Texas,” but we’re going to learn a couple key riffs in this video. We’re going to look at the introductory riff as well as the verse riff. Let’s get started.
We’re about to learn the introduction to ZZ Top’s “La Grange.” It starts on the 2nd fret of the D and G. Oh, we’re going to use our fingers for this, so put down your pick. So you’re going to hit these on the upbeats, one and two and three and – it’s all in the ups. Sounds like this. One.
Then we’re going to hit the low A string with our thumb. Then we’re going to go up to the 5th fret of the D, back to the low A. Now we’re going to hit the 5th fret of the D and the G.
Then we’re going to hit the low A. Then we’ll hit the 5th fret of the D and G again, but then pull it off to the 2nd fret. Sounds a little complicated. It’s not that hard. I promise. It sounds like this slowly.
It’s that easy. All right, let’s try that to speed. Here we go. One, two, one, two, three, four. And I could just go on forever.
Now the verse is a little bit easier than the intro, it’s not finger picking in fact you can use a pick for this part. It’s an open A string, 2nd fret D, 2nd fret G. We’re going to do that with the same rhythm on all up strums.
Now at the end of it we’re just going to go 3 on the A string, then 5 on the A string, and repeat. It sounds like this slowly. Here we go to speed, one, two, one, two, three, four.
Well I hope you learned something and thank you for watching. Make sure you send us requests on the songs you want to learn. I’ll see you next time.