Heart of Life

Heart of Life (Live Acoustic)
Heart of Life Guitar Lesson

This song offered one of the biggest inspirations in this series…for me at least. Don’t get me wrong, the song had a nice message. I think the best part of this song is the way he plays a simple melody over the pluck and chuck groove in the bass. That defined a long series of explorations in improvisation and songwriting for me. I wrote a number of songs that use that technique, and I’ve spent a good deal of time developing exercises and theories on how to expand the basic idea that I got out of this song. A few other songs exhibit this idea to a limited degree, but I would say that this song really sowed the seed of the concept of two part improvisation for me.

As is typical of John Mayer songs, there are a lot of thumb-around voicing all over the neck, and the picking hand has a unique set of challenges that really only exist in this song. Thankfully, I’ve found ways to expand the ideas in this song to get some of the most useful and expansive improvisation techniques, so you’ll be glad you learned this song if you go on to study the two part improvisation section. Just get ready to a run for your money, this one stands out in terms of challenges for technique.

I will present a slightly altered version of this song here in the series. This is yet another case where I recommend going out and buying the official score for this song. Seeing the voicings that John actually uses in the chorus is very insightful. I will print the version of the chorus that I use. My version will follow the vocal melody pretty much exactly, at least in certain sections. This is just as the chorus in ‘Stop This Train’ does. It is a good way to practice the melodic techniques on hand, and it makes this song work as a stand-alone solo guitar piece if you don’t do the singing thing. You’ll have to rearrange the sections a bit from how they are written in the score, but I have faith that if you know that song you’ll be able to figure it out…unless for some reason you can’t, then shoot me an email and I’ll explain. And apologize. But first explain.

 Short Score/Jon Swift’s version

 Long Score/Album Version

Pluck and Chuck Guitar Series