Freddie King - Key to the Highway

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by pohare, Mar 31, 2014.

  1. pohare


    Mar 31, 2014
    Hey I am trying to learn Bass and was wondering if anyone could provide the bass line to Freddie King - Key to the Highway.

    It seems really easy but I am just learning and can't figure it out.

    You can hear the song here:

  2. As you say, it seems really easy... and it is... but the chord progression isn't what you might expect as it's not the usual I-IV-V changes, it's more of a I-V-IV. The Freddie King version you posted is great - I've not heard that before, so thanks for the heads up - but I can see how it'd cause you grief if you're new to the game.

    I'd suggest starting with the 'standard' version as perpetrated by Eric Clapton here:

    Just follow the changes sticking to the root notes - A (x4), E (x4), D (x8), A (x4), E (x4), A-G-F#-F-E, F-E. Rinse 'n' repeat until you know it inside out.

    If you end up going to blues jams, or join a blues band, chances are that it'll be the Clapton version that gets called.

    Freddie's take on it has a slightly different arrangement, and it's in a different key. It's in D but everything is tuned down half a step, so it'll come out as C# in standard tuning. The main riff is R-3-5-b7 over the changes & it keeps the walk down to the turnaround.

  3. lyla1953


    Jul 18, 2012
    This (Big Bill Broonzy) progression shows up in Ed Friedlands Blues Bass book as well in A.
    References the tunes Stack-O-Lee and Trouble in Mind as similar.
    8 bars = A7, E7, D7, D7, A7, E7, A7-D7, E7
  4. plainman


    Apr 18, 2012
    Nashville, TN
    I love the Freddie King version, and that's Duck Dunn on the bass. This is how I play it:

    The bass line is basically this pattern of notes (not chords):
    1 3 5 b7 b7 6 5

    The recording is in the key of Db, so when you are on the 1 chord, those notes would be:

    1    3     5    b7     b7     6     5
    Db   F     Ab   B      B      Bb    Ab
    (I wrote B for the flat 7, but I believe technically it is Cb)

    Or, on the fretboard, it is this pattern:

    |   6    |   b7    |        |      |
    |   3    |         |        |   5  |
    |        |   1     |        |      |
    So you use that pattern in this chord progression:
    1 5 4 4
    1 5
    Then back to the 1 and play these notes
    1 b7 walk down to 5 (i.e. b7 6 b6 5) 3 4 5

    The 1 chord is Db, 5 is Ab, 4 is Gb. It goes down from 1 to 5, so when I play the 1 of the pattern and I'm on the Db, I play it on the 4th fret on the A string, then for the 5, I start on the 4th fret of the E string, and for the 4, on the 2nd fret of the E string.

    The bridge is basically the same pattern, it just moves up a fourth. I just shift so I start the pattern on the 9th fret of the A string and play the same way, except that the turnaround is different. Because you have shifted up a fourth, the chord progression you are playing now is:
    4 1 b7 b7
    4 1
    The only reason I am pointing this out is because I thought it would make my explanation of the last two measures clearer.
    Instead of that 1 7b walkdown for the last two measures, you play 8th notes on the root of the 4 for one measure, and 8th notes on the root of the 5, or in simpler terms, play 8 8th notes on the 9th fret of the A string, then 8 8th notes on the 11th fret.

    Then it goes back to the original pattern 1 5 4 4 1 5 + walkdown pattern.

    I hope that wasn't too confusing. I tend to use numbers to describe both fingering patterns and chord progressions, and maybe it is difficult understanding when I am going from one to the other.
  5. leftiebass


    Oct 17, 2009
  6. INTP


    Nov 28, 2003
    Dallas, TX
    I hear a key change at 1:40 from Db to Gb. It goes back to Db at around 2:28. It is the same progression in each key, but that may be what is throwing you off.

    BTW, that walkdown is very common, a good one to know.