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Published on June 16th, 2015 | by Sam

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Ryan Adams – Kim Solo

Ryan Adams has been an absolute favorite of mine for years, so I’m going to be a fan and post one of his songs this time around.  Believe it or not (well just believe it because it’s true) Johnny Depp plays this great solo on the song “Kim” from Adams’ latest self titled album (which I highly recommend).  The album is sort of a throw back to 1980s rock, in a good way.  I think it’s closest to what he did on Love is Hell, but a little more rock and roll edge.

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The solo is in the key of D minor and Depp uses a pretty big portion of the neck.  He starts low in the open position but quickly gets up to the 7th position.  There’s not much to say in terms of the theory behind the solo.  He really just nails a great sounding rock solo.  There are a couple spots where he hits a 9th of the Dmi chord, and that gives it some extra flavor.

Great Finish

One thing that I want to make sure to point out though is the end of the solo.  Adams starts singing around the 9th bar of the transcription, but that’s actually where the solo shines the most (in my opinion).  The lick from bar 10 on is a masterfully played lick that just sits so well in the song.  While listening to it, it just sounds good.  So my natural thought (and this shows my biases) was that there must be something REALLY COOL happening harmonically.  And of course, there isn’t.  It’s just very melodic, very in the groove.

That highlights something that is probably the most important thing to learn from this particular solo.  Play the song.  Just the song, and nothing more, nothing less.  There are so many times where you could just shred and play some cool fast stuff or crazy harmonic stuff, etc etc.  BUT most of the time it will sound so much better to JUST PLAY THE SONG.  The fact that Johnny Depp of all people (good, but no Brent Mason, Chet Atkins, or Brad Paisley) plays the solo on this album that caught my ear.  Ryan Adams is a great guitarist (I just saw him in concert and he’s REALLY good) – but Depp plays the best solo on the record!

Key takeaway

Next time you’re writing, crafting, deciding on a solo – play what sounds great to your ear and leave out all the head trash that gets in the way of creating something that is really enjoyable.  Even someone with highly trained ears (myself for example) will hear beyond the notes and to the story in the solo – the theory and harmony become secondary.

Kim Solo Ryan Adams


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