by David Bowie
In this lesson I take you through how to play the two guitar parts found in Bowie’s classic song. The two guitarists credited as playing on this recording are Ricky Gardiner and Carlos Alomar, though I’m not sure who played which part. The structure is a bit unusual: the introduction lasts for over half the length of the entire song, and there’s not really a standard verse/chorus format. So I’ve just broken it down into 4 sections labelled A to D. After the introduction the whole thing more or less repeats with Bowie singing over the top.
In the right speaker you can hear a strummy, chord-based part. There’s some kind of tremolo effect on this guitar. To get close to this sound use a pedal or a tremolo-equipped amp and set the speed and intensity controls quite high. I’m playing this using mainly barre chords. It’s quite hard to hear exactly which chord voicings are being used on the recording, but this sounds close to me. (If you’re unsure about your barre chord shapes then check out this lesson first.)
In the other speaker is a great 6ths-based part. It reminds me of something Steve Cropper might have played on a classic soul record.
Below is my transcription. The rhythms and the placement of the slides varies quite a bit throughout, and to save time and to make it more readable, I haven’t reproduced every nuance. Just use my version as a starting point.