BY VICTORIA VOX | FROM THE FALL 2023 ISSUE OF UKULELE
When preparing for my sixth-grade talent show, I remember singing Bonnie Raitt’s “Something to Talk About” into a hairbrush for an audience of stuffed animals. Ever since then, Raitt has been a favorite artist and inspiration. So, when she won Song of the Year at the 65th annual Grammy Awards last February for her song “Just Like That”—eclipsing younger and more mainstream artists—I welled up with pride. Just like that, she had beaten the music industry odds.
Raitt penned this tune after watching a news story about a woman who lost her son, donated his heart, and later met the recipient. The studio recording spotlights Raitt’s emotional vocal performance, with a Travis-picked self-accompaniment on acoustic guitar. (For more on Travis picking, see Daniel Ward’s lesson in this issue.) This arrangement, which is in the original key of D major, works best in low-G tuning. I use two main patterns—a riff on the D chord, first heard in the intro, and the Travis-style progression with the V, IV, and I chords (A, G, and D) that begins in the verse, both shown here in notation.
In general, when fingerpicking, I assign my thumb, index, middle, and ring fingers to the G, C, E, and A strings, respectively. However, with Travis picking, it’s best for the thumb to alternate between the G and C strings—just like it does on the bottom strings of the guitar—while the middle and ring fingers cover the upper two strings.
Travis picking is typically notated in a fast four, where the thumb picks in steady quarter notes, but I play/feel it in slow four, with the thumb playing eighth notes instead. Note that if you count the song in a fast four, as written here, there will be the occasional measure of 2/4, but if you halve the note values for a slow four, you will encounter time signature changes from 4/4 to 2/4 and 3/4. Either way, I would suggest taking some time to count out the measures, as I explain in the accompanying video.
Due to copyright restrictions, we are unable to post notation or tablature for this musical work. If you have a digital or physical copy of the Fall 2023 issue of Ukulele magazine you will find the music on page 38.