I’m Tore Down… And Down… And Down… And Down

One of the elements of blues music I try to emphasize is the fact that it’s kind of like puzzle pieces that you can put together into just about any style of song that you want.

The traditional 12 bar blues, while it seems like it might be stifling given the fact that the chords progression never changes, is actually what gives us such a huge amount of freedom in this music. In fact, it’s that freedom that really drew me to blues music in the first place 25ish years ago.

So with that said, I want to give you the background on what I put up here today. I was just cruising around YouTube (I know… putting off what needed to be done.) I typed in Freddie King and started watching an old TV appearance of him playing “I’m Tore Down.”

And I started thinking of all of the different versions of that tune that I’ve seen and heard, and thought I should put several together.

Now, believe me, there are a LOT of version of this song out there. I pulled 5, but there could be many more.

So first, here’s one of Freddie’s versions first (even he has a few of them floating around…)

Okay, now at the opposite end of the spectrum as far as chronology, the young guy – John Mayer. Unfortunately no video really (just a photo) but he plays in well and you can really hear his SRV influence in his tone and choice of notes:

Now, of course, one of my main influences over the years, Eric Clapton doing his version. Remarkably this sounds almost exactly like his From The Cradle recording:

Now here’s a fun one… I actually had to watch this a while just to make sure it was the same song! Blues rocker Rory Gallagher killing it:

One of my favorite newer recordings of this tune – Jeff Healey. This video’s a little awkward because it’s the studio recording over a live shot of it so it doesn’t always line up… but it’s still cool.

So you see, they all took basic blues elements and put them all together into their own making. What’s cool about this is that the same tune can be recorded by 5 or 10 different artists and still sound fresh and exciting some 40 or 50 years later.

The other big thing I want to point out here is that, had all of these artists simply learned the tune from whomever they heard it, and not also studied the blues in general… the big picture, they would never have been able to come up with these great new versions of that song.

So don’t just learn to play a song note-for-note and call it done. Learn the pieces and learn to mix and match them the way I show in the Blues Guitar Unleashed course.

Hope you enjoyed these clips as much as I enjoyed finding them. Feel free to leave a comment or share on Facebook.

 

48 Comments

  • Bob L

    Reply Reply May 7, 2016

    Great! Thanks for sending. More inspiration!

  • Bryan Laidlaw

    Reply Reply April 28, 2016

    Hi Griff.

    About 30 years ago I was offered free tickets to see Rory Gallagher at the Edinburgh Playhouse. At the time I had never heard any of his stuff and gave them away. I should have went. He’s excellent.

  • Victor Egorov

    Reply Reply December 5, 2015

    Thanks, that s my kind of music. All the best

  • Rob Jones

    Reply Reply July 6, 2015

    Rory kind of sounds like a white Hendrix (which is a good thing!).

    • Ruben duran

      Reply Reply November 14, 2015

      Yes that ‘ cool makes you what. To playing all day thank.you griff

    • Brooks A. Mick

      Reply Reply May 2, 2016

      More like SRV than Hendix to me. Double Trouble.

  • billy minnear

    Reply Reply June 2, 2015

    love it I,am learing the song .

    • Rob Jones

      Reply Reply July 6, 2015

      I played and sang Clapton’s version of “Tore Down” with the ships bass and sax player on a Holland America cruise talent show in 1996, and won. It’s a great tune! Wasn’t going to enter the talent show, because it was mostly retired rich folk in their 70’s on the cruise, but the bass player talked me into it. Man, I had 700 old folks tapping their toes after the intro and two bars. They loved it!

  • Mark S.

    Reply Reply April 29, 2015

    That is just one of my very favorite blues. Just lovin’ all versions of it and definitely going to try to ‘make it my own’. Thanks for this one!

  • Diane

    Reply Reply April 29, 2015

    Griff, you’ve done it again! Great morning to wake up to.. I love the words also of Tore Down, and Ill be working on this today for sure! Thank you for your generosity in sharing!

    • Joe

      Reply Reply December 30, 2015

      Every morning I thank God when waking up and being able to play guitar Diane.

      I love the feel of the song ‘I’m Tore Down’ so much, I’ll be working on revising these words and naming it “I’m Born Again”.

      And that’s how the song makes me feel!

  • Ray hoogstad

    Reply Reply April 29, 2015

    Love the way Clapton does it,really inspires me.thanks for putting them on

  • Alan

    Reply Reply April 29, 2015

    Thanks Griff that’s my kind of music wow I enjoyed that so much

  • Keith Rahner

    Reply Reply March 25, 2015

    Thanks really enjoyed this big fan of Clapton, from the cradle made me want to play guitar. After getting that cd I bought a cheap guitar, playing every chance I get on & off for a few years. I’m Back at it just can’t get enough my therapy is too play can get lost for hours. Strapped for work at this time, hopefully soon I can get it together one of the first things I’d like to do is get your blues lessons love the free lessons thanks for that! Maybe some day you’ll do Hoochie coochi man lesson that would be awesome, going to remember the funky cords for torn down took a minute 11th & 9th cords I think they were?

  • Great stuff alright. In 1964 I saw The Beatles in Odeon Theatre In Hanmmersmith London along with the fantastic Freddy & The Dreamers, Dusty Springfield and I think it was ‘Sounds Incorporated’ all in the one gig.
    Earlier in the year in my home town I saw The Animals, Yardbyrds, The Kinks, Brian Poole & The Tremeloes, but not all at the same time. My first EVER band to see was The Stones in Reading town hall in 1963 with Brian Jones now deceased. I was 15 then and 16 when I saw the Beatles, then emigrated to Oz and saw Jose’ Feliciano twice, Jackson Brown, Don McLean John Williamson Joe Cocker Richard Clapton all in Cairns Queensland. In NZ I saw Peter, Paul & Mary and Jose Feliciano.
    great stuff…I love music and Griff is great..Patrick Biggs age 67

  • Henry 'H' Nield

    Reply Reply March 4, 2015

    Thanks Griff for the email gift of these clips – I’ve just started your Blues Guitar Unleashed so great to receive a full-on dose of inspiration to keep me at it! :-)H

  • david

    Reply Reply February 4, 2015

    LOVE IT MAN

  • Paul o Donnell

    Reply Reply August 15, 2014

    I was at that Rory gig as I come from limerick and the savoy was the only gig in town Clapton played there in 1976 sure brought back some memories
    Thanks

    • Joe D.

      Reply Reply November 29, 2014

      I enjoyed the Tore Down blues by all the masters. Watching different versions of the Tore down blues opened my eyes to some things that never even occurred to my mind about music and pronunciation the way guitar and blues work.

      Thank you Griff. Joe D.

  • Craig

    Reply Reply August 14, 2014

    Thank you for your experience and wisdom Griff.I have finished an advanced diploma in commercial music performance on my American Strat.I am up to lesson 5 and I have learned so much more than I thought possible.I was too structured on learning a song exactly how it was written or how I heard it.You have made me more comfortable with how I approach new songs and new ways of playing the same chords.You are the main man Griff, thank you.

  • John Page

    Reply Reply July 11, 2014

    Sorry, I wish to thank you and say all the best, John

  • John Page

    Reply Reply July 11, 2014

    Great stuff. I have been playing nearly 50 years. I have designed my own guitars based on the Strat, and same scale size , but baritone 10’s to 80’s tuned to B. I developed my own circuit design with a humbucking blend circuit to fatten up the top end and clarify the twang on the heavy B string with no battery power, just straight circuitry. Always played the blues from first seeing Peter Green with John Mayall in Bristol.I love all the great players, being seriously disturbed when the late great SRV appeared!!But back with Peter Green and now a style influenced a bit by David Gilmore with long emotional crying notes. I feel the best here was Rory Gallager, incredible. Thank you so much for that!! I have most of the “Kings” albums and have seen them all live. Freddy King will always be right up there.

  • john.jones7090@ntlworld.com

    Reply Reply March 11, 2014

    I am 83 years old enjoyed all of the guitar playing wish I could play like that,john

  • William Storey

    Reply Reply March 4, 2014

    Rory brought some of Eric Clapton doing Robert Johnson’s Cross Road Blues to his interpretation of Tore Down Blues. It’s all good!! If you have not heard Robert Johnson play Cross Roads, you really should look it up. It’s an amazing thing to witness the original Robert Johnson version and the Cream version.

    Thanks for doing and sharing the research Griff.

  • info@johnkirk.net

    Reply Reply January 26, 2014

    For those who got here after the Freddie King clip was taken down from YouTube, here is a selection of Freddie’s versions, yes versions plural, of Tore Down over the years. Freddie alone illustrates exactly what you’ve been saying Griff.

    http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=freddie%20king%20tore%20down&sm=3

    John K

  • Steve

    Reply Reply January 26, 2014

    The Freddie King video is not accessible due to copyright. I couldn’t find an older version of “Tore Down” to watch instead. I really enjoyed this lesson, not good enough to pick up the licks, yet.

  • colinconceicao@hotmail.com

    Reply Reply January 26, 2014

    Sat watching with the sound up and it just got better with each video. The same song could be played all night by different artist and I would still get enjoyment watching and listening and learning.
    Each artist tells the storey differently and applies a different energy which creates the different feelings and enjoyment that is expressed so greatly with a guitar.
    Thanks for the video Griff.
    Col WA

  • Wayne Kelly

    Reply Reply August 14, 2013

    George is right…Jeff is sorely missed! What a screamin’ version of Tore Down by him and the JHB.

  • STEVEN REACORD

    Reply Reply August 8, 2013

    Nice one Griff.. I want you to know that about a year ago I would never believe that I could jam along to Clapton with the tore down rhythm.. I could just about play a few open chords and some easy tunes back then.. Thanks to perseverance and your BGU course I have just been inspired to do exactly that ( well kind of ) It just keeps getting better.. now on to your brill slow blues in G.

    Best regards,
    Steve UK

  • Ray Jackson

    Reply Reply July 22, 2013

    “That’s the way to do it”! Pure inspiration. I have to admit that I can go on YOUTUBE, type in, Clapton and then spend the whole evening listening to Blues from a multitude of artists. This includes 2 guys, one on guitar and the other on mandolin playing Blues in front of a big old stationary engine. They are using the beat of the stationary engine as their back beat, love it.

    These clips remind me of walking into clubs with a live band hammering out the Blues. I was straight up to the bar to get a drink and then make my way toward the band and I’d stand there watching the lead guitarist doing his stuff. Great days, especially when you could get 3 pints of beer out of a quid, that’s pound sterling. Well, that’s given my age away. Cheers, Ray (UK)

  • Clayton Brown

    Reply Reply July 13, 2013

    THANKS GRIFF-as a 70 year old beginner it’s always a thrill to see my “Hero’s” especially Rory Gallagher and to get your insight. I work on improving everyday and your Blues Guitar Unleashed
    has been so very essential to my growth.
    Many Regards,
    cwb

  • David Gordon

    Reply Reply July 13, 2013

    Thanks, Griff, for a great set of videos. It’s an inspiration to see how many different ways individual artists can interpret the same song.
    Dave

  • Bill

    Reply Reply January 7, 2013

    Rory’s version is my favourite but they are all great

  • Carl-Johan Stenmark

    Reply Reply January 6, 2013

    Rorys version of course!
    He’s on fire here, and the raw sound from his guitar beats the hell out of the rest!

  • andreu

    Reply Reply January 6, 2013

    totes 5 són fantàstiques!
    És difícil decidir-se, Freddie King resulta molt autèntica i a l’hora fresca i alegre, la d’Eric Clapton té un moment genial i la de Rory Gallagher és enèrgica, més rockera, però sense perdre ni un moment eixe sentiment del Blues.

  • Steve

    Reply Reply September 23, 2011

    Wow. That was awesome. Thanks for pulling these great artists together playing the same song so their individual genius really shines through. Great lesson to make any song our own version rather than just a stale copy.

  • ben miller

    Reply Reply September 22, 2011

    I have struggled with this for decades as a teacher. The struggle between the people who feel a need to copy a tune note 4 note versus a serious run at a creative take on the theme.

  • marcbleus

    Reply Reply May 1, 2011

    Rory is just exciting,Eric and Jeff are real cool,but Freddy is the real thing!! Meaning the bleus,as it should be.But my favorite is Rory on this one.

  • neil

    Reply Reply May 1, 2011

    what a song and what musicians, claptons the man

  • Karl Farren

    Reply Reply April 30, 2011

    Thanks, Griff.

    As an Irishman I have to admit to a bias, but I love Rory. He always played with such fire and commitment. The first proper rock concert I went to was Rory at The National Stadium in Dublin, an old boxing venue, with about 1100 capacity. I was 14. I came out with my ears ringing and every cell in my body buzzing. Check out Rory doing ‘Cradle Rock’ on youtube.

    And, man Freddie was such a funky player. Great attack, incredible vibrato and string bending.

    Thanks again,
    Karl

  • bilbo andersen

    Reply Reply April 28, 2011

    oh yeah that’s alright mamma! Now who do I wanna be????
    mucho thanks!

  • Steve

    Reply Reply April 22, 2011

    This is teh inspiration that keeps me chugging and plugging along in my guitar journey.

  • Tagruvto

    Reply Reply April 22, 2011

    Nice job Griff. Your post really illustrates why the blues never go stale or
    get trite or trendy. Someone is always finding a new way to play them!
    This set of videos really inspired me. THANKS!

  • Richard Mayer

    Reply Reply April 21, 2011

    Freddy King songs, woke me to the “Blues” back in 1962, when I turned 21 and heard a young man named Larry Dale play in a Chicago Bar, every Freddy King song you could name. Thanks Griff, fun post.

  • Mike C

    Reply Reply April 21, 2011

    Griff,
    like the way you’ve weaved together these versions to get the ‘principles’ of how great the blues is. Freddie King’s clip looks great, so much fun. I first heard his music in bars in Central America in the 70s when I was a ‘fresh faced’ brit serviceman. I’ts taken me 3 decades to get back into the guitar and your blues courses are there, just when I need them, lifes great 🙂 all the best, Mike

  • Dave Shephard

    Reply Reply April 21, 2011

    Make that “a lick or TWO

  • Dave Shephard

    Reply Reply April 21, 2011

    Loved the variations in style. Picked up a lick or to too! Thank you again, Griff. 🙂

  • George

    Reply Reply April 21, 2011

    I love doing that. I have about 8 versions of Mystery Train starting with Elvis and ending with The Band…my favorite.
    Robbie from The Band and Jeff are/were hometown boys and I had the opportunity to see them frequently. Jeff is sorely missed.
    I have been playing for over 50 years and I learn something every time I open one of your posts.
    Thank you and keep ’em coming.
    ~G

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