How To Play Kid by The Pretenders/James Honeyman-Scott
Here we have some more amazing playing from James Honeyman-Scott. As I say in the video, this song arguably contains one of the all-time great guitar solos: inventive, melodic and concise. For me, this kind of playing beats the bluesy-noodling approach to soloing nearly every time. And on top of the guitar genius of Honeyman-Scott, we also have a fantastic song with a great lyric (apparently written from the point of view of a prostitute addressing her child). There’s a lot happening on the original recording: layers of electric and acoustic guitar, alternate tunings, half-speed overdubs. I do my best to get to the bottom of how it’s all played in the video, but there are some things that are impossible to be 100% certain about. I decided to write the more complex intro and solo parts out in full, and then give you a basic chord/lyric chart for the rest of the song.
Intro and Solo
I’ve written out these two signature Honeyman-Scott parts out in full. The intro riff is a great, twangy melody based on the notes in the C major scale. The solo is in the key of E and you could think of it as being based around the E major and E major pentatonic scales. If you want to execute these parts as flawlessly as JH-S himself you’ll need to be super accurate with both your left and right hands. I’ve marked in how I would probably pick these parts, though there are other options you could try too.
This song works really well in a simple acoustic and vocal setting too (which is often said to be the test of a great song). Check out Chrissie Hynde’s unplugged performance below for a great example of how to approach this. [Update: sorry, looks like YouTube have taken down this video, will try and find another one soon.] If you just want to sing the song and strum along this is the way to go. The chord chart below outlines what’s going on. Here and on the original recording Chrissie keeps her part very simple, that way she can leave it to another guitarist or bass player to outline any more complex textures and harmonies.