John Martyn For Guitar Tab

Richard Carman, Peter Evans, Arthur Dick
Wise Publications 1995, ISBN 0-7119-3753-2

"Ten great songs in easy-to-read guitar tablature & standard notation, including chord symbols, melody line & lyrics "

The book contains Angeline, Bless The Weather, Couldn't Love You More, Just Now, May You Never, One World, Over The Hill, Send Me One Line, Solid Air, Sweet Little Mystery. Credits: compiled by Peter Evans, music arranged by Arthur Dick.


Introduction by Richard Carman

The ten songs in this collection come from only six of John Martyn's albums - one each from Piece by piece, The apprentice and Grace and danger, two from Bless the weather and One world, and three from the beautiful and perhaps definitive Solid air. Not a bad introduction to one of the finest singer-songwriters to emerge in the sixties, and certainly no poor testament to the fact that, more than 25 years after the release of his first album London conversation, John is still looking great, still working as hard as ever, and still sounding wonderful.

But what songs have had to be left out! Where are John Wayne, Fisherman's Dream or Hole In The Rain - or as many others as you care to name? The fact is that, in a career spanning more than 20 albums, John has written more great songs than almost any other writer of his generation.

Any ten songs from his back catalogue would have made just as good a collection as this, but we have tried here to reflect the breadth of his work over the years, from the delicate ballads Angeline and Couldn't Love You More to the carefree classics Over The Hill and May You Never. One World and Solid Air represent some of John's best work, where soulful, beautifully crafted songs are remembered for their superb arrangements on record.

Technically John Martyn is a skilled and innovative guitarist. His slapped rhythms over complicated fingering, and his use of delay techniques both in the studio and on stage became trademarks of his craft. In concert, tortuous solos blend into perfectly discreet little phrases within the same song, while his solo acoustic work is equally inspiring. In all respects he is a guitarist's guitarist, and it is no surprise that his work over the years has attracted such luminaries as Steve Winwood, Levon Helm, Dave Gilmour, Eric Clapton, Andy Sheppard and Phil Collins, all of whom have contributed to his unique sound.

Perhaps the most personal and distinctive element in John's work is his wonderful voice. Curling its way around these melodies like a baritone sax, his rich vocals make it clear that these songs were written above all to be sung, not just to be listened to. Play them, learn them, but above all sing them! They'll repay you a thousand times.

Thanks John - and keep them coming!

The songs have short introductions too.

This beautiful love song is really laid back and should be played delicately and expressively. The guitar part (based on the piano part) has been arranged especially and is best played using thumb and fingers, rather than with a plectrum. Open strings have been used wherever possible to give a rich texture. Don't forget to let the notes ring on.

Bless The Weather
The feel of this song is established in the intro, where the two bar phrase (bars 1 and 2) is played gently on acoustic guitar with a percussive slap on the strings helping the rhythm along. It is important that the fingerstyle and slap work naturally together.

Couldn't Love You More
The unusual tuning (a chord of G6) gives this song the wonderful sonority associated with open strings. John Martyn plays fingerstyle on acoustic guitar, but also adds a percussion beat by gently slapping the strings as he hits them, on the 2nd and 4th beats. The idea is to sound the note and give it a percussive feel at the same time. Watch out for the dynamic markings - they really help to express the lyrics.

Just Now
The acoustic steel string guitar is tuned to the chord of D and then capoed at the 1st fret, putting the D chord up a semitone to Es. The TAB, in this instance, is vital to understand the fingering. Use a plectrum for this song - note the strum markings and the 'let ring' instructions.

May You Never
This John Martyn classic is played on acoustic guitar with the 6th string turned down a tone to D and then capoed on the 2nd fret. Martyn plays with great feeling and technique using a mixture of fingerstyle and percussive slap to give additional rhythm to the accompaniment.

One World
The guitar accompaniment has been especially arranged for this song and will sound good on either acoustic or electric guitar. Although written tempo 112, the song has a strong half feel which gives it a slow groove. Note the triplet phrasing [..]. As usual, allow the notes of the chord to sustain - the open string chord voicings make it easier. The electric guitar solo at 'C' has all the effects on it. A distant overdriven/ sustained sound is created with the help of an echoplex and wah-wah effect. The acoustic guitar accompaniment during the solo continues through the verse.

Over The Hill
This is quite a fast moving piece, enjoyable to play but on sight quite difficult, so practice it slowly! It is played on an acoustic guitar using a plectrum and is a mixture of single notes, often using ornaments (hammer-ons and pull-offs) and chord strums. The solo at 'C' for mandolin has been adapted for guitar and should be played with similar plectrum/ strum technique that is used for the accompaniment.

Send Me One Line
The guitar in this ballad has been especially arranged and can be played on an acoustic or electric guitar (with chorus effect). Wherever possible arrange your fingering so that the notes sustain, especially at section 'C'.

Solid Air
This song has a laid-back, almost spacey feel to it, so the acoustic guitar playing needs to be similarly gentle and relaxed. Martyn's percussive slap on the 2nd beat of the bar helps to keep the groove while the sustained minor 9th and 11th chords give the texture. Think cool!!!

Sweet Little Mystery
The guitar part has been especially arranged and can be played on an electric or acoustic guitar, using plectrum or just fingerstyle. For electric players, use a jazzy mellow sound with a little chorus. The chords have been deliberately voiced to include open strings, so finger them accordingly to allow them to sustain.

We finish with the back cover blurb:

"this superb collection of ten songs reflects the inspiring musicianship of john martyn, a unique singer-songwriter & skilled guitarist whose recording career spans more than 25 years presented in guitar tablature & standard notation, including chord symbols, melody line & lyrics"