Very often, when talking about music, the simple things are those that work best, and the song Love Me Do by The Beatles is a great example of simple but effective. Today, I want to teach you how to play like John Lennon did on this memorable track, and to do this, I’ve provided you with the tabs and videos for your practice, where you will play with me first and then alone on the backing track. In each video, the tabs are shown to facilitate your training, and you’ll also find the slow version of both the play-along and the backing track.
To follow this lesson you'll need a C harmonica.
Most of the notes you’re going to use are on the first 5 holes – in fact, everything happens on holes 3, 4, and 5 until we reach the solo. There, you should be able to play a couple of draw bending on holes 2 and 3.
The original Love Me Do recording presents a nice out-of-tune harmonica sound, and this perfectly suits this kind of song, because blues harmonica isn’t about perfection. Sometimes, it’s about ambiguous tuning, and the fact that the player doesn’t exactly hit every single note becomes an advantage, as it can make everything sound more soulful and genuine. And after all, that’s exactly why we love the blues harmonica, right?
In which key do we need to play Love Me Do? I would say G major, where every main lick ends on the root note G, hole 3 blow. Basically, you’ll play in second position, using the minor seventh note F in place of the major F sharp.
Let’s begin our analysis of the song chords. The structure for this piece is very simple: G, C, G, C, G, C, C, G. These are the chords of the main section, whereas in the solo, you’ll find: G, C, G, C, D, D, C, G, D, D, C, G, G, G, G.
The song is an alternation of the harmonica riff and the singer, and this kind of performance was very common at the time Love Me Do was composed. Often, whether it’s a harmonica, guitar, or piano, the main riff becomes the song’s trademark. Do you remember the harmonica intro of Billy Joel’s Piano Man? If you do, you know what I mean!
Let’s now take a look at the main riff – the one you find in the intro of the song and which is repeated, with slight variations, every time it introduces the singing. The notes are F, E, and D, followed by a great rhythmical four-note sequence on hole 3 blow, note G. Notice that the G note is a key note in this tonality. When playing the first two notes, you can apply a tremolo using one of your hands to close and open the back of the harmonica.
The first lick is then repeated with a variation, and you’ll play a couple of triplets, both on hole 5, first aspirating and then blowing. Each triplet lasts two beats, and this way of playing is really effective to underline the rhythm. The second lick ends like the first, repeating the G note four times.
In the third lick, we have a variation at the end, where you’ll play a quick passage 4+, 3, and then play hole 5 blow applying a ‘tr’ articulation to get that particular sound you can hear in the original song. In the last phrase, you’ll basically repeat the last part of the previous lick.
Here are the tabs for the main theme:
5, 5+, 4, 3+ 3+ 3+ 3+
5 5 5, 5+ 5+ 5+, 4, 3+ 3+ 3+ 3+
5, 5+, 4, 3+ 3+ 3+ 4+ 3
3+ 3+, 3+ 3+, 3+ 4+ 3
Here is the analysis of the harmonica solo:
The first lick is identical to the first one of the main riff. In the second lick, you’ll play 5 hole draw triplet, but in place of the second triplet, you’ll only play a single 5 blow, note E.
In the third lick, you’ll play something completely different, and this time, you’ll need to bend! On hole 3 draw, perform a double-step bend to get note A, and on hole 2 with a half-step bend to get the F sharp. In the second lick part, you’ll play another hole 2 draw bend, this time a whole tone one to get the note F naturally. Don’t worry if you can’t hold those bent notes with a perfect sound – it’s not easy and will take some time. The lick ends on hole 1 draw, note D, and is then repeated with a small variation in the beginning, where you’ll play the note B on hole 3 draw. The solo ends with a series of hole 3 blows.
The following are the solo tabs:
5, 5+, 4, 3+ 3+ 3+ 3+
5 5 5, 5+, 4, 3+ 3+ 3+ 3+
3’’, 3+ 2’, 3+, 2’’ 2+ 1
3’’, 3 3’’ 3+ 2’, 3+, 2’’ 2+ 1
3+, 3+ 3+, 3+ 3+, 3+ 4+ 3
3+ 3+ 3+ 3+
Now it’s time for you to practice using the videos. Consider that I play the main riff twice, then the complete solo part. Follow the tabs on the screen, have fun, and I’ll see you soon in another lesson!
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