I became a big Terry fanboy recently…
But, why Luke?
Here are 12 reasons:
Ray Charles, Dolly Parton, Willie Nelson, Garth Brooks, Hank Williams Jr., Reba McEntire, Randy Travis, Johnny Cash, Roy Orbison, Kenny Chesney, Emmylou Harris, Neil Young…
…and that’s just a PARTIAL list of a FEW of the acts that he played and recorded with!
My first exposure to Terry McMillan was the album he did with guitar great Larry Carlton called Renegade Gentlemen. I encountered that album because JP Allen cited Cold Day in Hell as his favorite harmonica song.
Next, I encountered this video of him playing Hand It Over with Garth Brooks and Keb Mo’. From there, I discovered his gospel performances like This Train, and this version of Amazing Grace which starts sweet and serene and ends with him absolutely SHREDDING.
So now…I’m a Terry fanboy for LIFE!!!
The special moment for me in his performance with Shania Twain is actually after the last chord of the song when he plays this KILLER ending.
A couple things to note here.
On this lick, he’s playing a High G harmonica!
…and here I have people complaining that the C is shrill! LOL. Recently I noted that Walk the Line sounds better on a Low F harmonica, rather than on a standard F which sounds very shrill by comparison. BUT, the standard F harmonica is used A TON in country music, most often in 2nd position, key of C. Why?
It cuts through the mix
Requiring less air to play, and smaller mouth movements to bend, it’s EASIER TO PLAY SUPER-FAST on HIGHER KEY harmonicas (like F, or even higher, all the way to High G).
One of the coolest features of this riff, which I talk about in my Ultimate Harmonica Solo guide, is the way that he creates a climax by holding and bending the -6. He also SLIDES up into the -6 for even more dramatic effect.
Aside from that, he’s pretty much playing the blues scale. Here are the tabs again starting with a slide up to:
-6 -6 6 -4’ -4 -5 -4 -4’ -3’ -2 -1 123
-3’ -2 -2” -1 -1’ 1 -1-2” -2 -3’ -3’ -2 -2” -1 -2” -2 -2” -2
And then on the final hit with the band he does a slide from -1 to -6.
Since you probably don’t have a High G harmonica, let me play it at like a quarter of the speed, on a C harmonica. Check it out here: