Tommy is back for a lesson on how to apply what we’ve learned to Elizabeth Cotten’s classic song, “Freight Train.”
Elizabeth Cotten, who is left-handed, taught herself how to play the guitar at 11 years old by flipping a right-handed guitar upside down.
Since it was strung for a right-handed player, Cotten would play alternating basslines with her fingers and the melody with her thumb-a style that would come to be known as “Cotten picking”.
In the video above, Tommy starts by explaining that he likes teaching “Freight Train” to new finger style players not only because of its familiarity, but because the melody of the song is built into each standard chord shape. This keeps players in familiar territory, and prevents them from having to move up and down the neck to find the melody.