Chet Atkins Song Lesson Playlist

In one of our recent blog posts, we talked about Willie Nelson, who was at the forefront of the “outlaw Country” movement. Outlaw Country, as a genre, countered the imposing standards set by the increasingly popular “Nashville sound” of the 1950s. For reference, the Nashville sound was the more pop-infused successor of honky-tonk which strove to reinvigorate people’s interest in Country music. Today, in contrast, we’re highlighting one of the pioneers of the Nashville sound: Chet Atkins. Even if you are not familiar with his name, you’ve almost certainly heard a Chet Atkins song or arrangement. His recordings have been used in commercial work for half a century!

Chet Atkins is revered as one of history’s greatest guitar players (ranked No. 21 on Rolling Stone’s 100 Greatest Guitarists). He was best known for the breadth of his influence on Country music, and his distinct flavor of fingerstyle guitar playing. Chet’s style of playing was largely influenced by his lifelong idol, Merle Travis, and usually includes an alternating-thumb bass line played in conjunction with chordal melodies.

During his 54 year career, Chet Atkins produced records for big names like Elvis Presley, Dolly Parton, and Jerry Reed. He also served as inspiration for subsequent guitar legends such as Tommy Emmanuel and George Harrison. Chet won 14 GRAMMY awards (not including his GRAMMY Lifetime Achievement Award) and nine CMA Awards. These achievements are amongst many other of Chet’s impressive accolades. Most importantly, however, Chet is remembered for his music; his songs and unique arrangements are true compositional marvels. Let’s take a look at a few Chet Atkins song lessons you can take at JamPlay!

“Stephen Foster Medley” – Chet Atkins

Chet Atkins’ “Stephen Foster Medley” was his ode to the late songwriter, Stephen Foster (1826-1864), who is known as the “father” of American music. The three songs comprising this medley are “Massa’s in de Cold Ground,” “Nelly Bly,” and “Camptown Races.” The whole composition is played in open G tuning, and features a steady, alternating-thumb pattern.

In this video, JamPlay educator, Jim Deeming performs this Chet Atkins song in its entirety. For the breakdown of the song, check out Jim’s full lesson on JamPlay!

“Windy and Warm” – Chet Atkins

As the story goes, Chet Atkins was recording a decent amount of jazzy compositions during the 1950s. But there came point when Chet was interested in getting back into playing more Country-oriented songs. So, a songwriter named John Loudermilk wrote “Windy and Warm” specifically for Chet Atkins to perform!

Here, Jim Deeming performs “Windy and Warm” all the way through. For the full Chet Atkins song lesson, check out Jim’s course on JamPlay.

“Yankee Doodle Dixie” – Chet Atkins

As Jim Deeming mentions in this video lesson, this Chet Atkins song arrangement is a mashup of both “Yankee Doodle” and “Dixie.” Yes, you read that right! This mashup was originally performed by ‘Blind Tom’ Wiggins in the late 19th century, who played “Fisher’s Hornpipe” and “Yankee Doodle” simultaneously on piano while he sang “Dixie.” Chet Atkins is the first musician to have adapted the song for fingerstyle guitar.

To get the full breakdown with tab of this song, check out Jim Deeming’s course on JamPlay!

For more Song Lessons, check out! JamPlay has over 450 guitar courses from 120+ instructors, and online guitar lessons tailored to every skill level, music genre, and playing style. Click here to learn more.

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