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The John B. Sails
Key of G - Calypso Pattern Picking

“The John B. Sails” is a traditional song with a calypso beat.  The song was made popular in the 1960s by artists such as The Beach Boys, The Kingston Trio, and others who recorded it as “Sloop John B.” It was published as a traditional folk song in Carl Sandburg’s “The American Songbag” in 1927. At that time he said of the song, “Time and usage have given this song almost the dignity of a national anthem around Nassau.”

This finger style accompaniment pattern is different than the standard 4/4 patterns you may have learned on ezFolk. Notice that the thumb plays the first note then goes down and also plays the second note in each measure (the pattern is the same in all measures). Playing two notes in a row with the same finger (or thumb) is usually not done, but in this case the tempo is slow enough to allow you to play the first two notes with your thumb. It does take some practice and is kind of tricky to sing with also, but once you get it down it sounds great and adds a nice variation. It works with most any calypso song but it can also be used with a lot of other songs for a really different feel. Try it out on any other 4/4 songs.

Also take note of the D7 chord. It’s just a C7 chord moved up 2 frets and just playing the inside strings (2-3-4-5). I thought it sounded better than using a regular D or D7 because it kept the pattern on the same strings for all of the chords in the song.

The melody notes below are just for the first verse. I have added the words to the chorus underneath the verse because both parts are played the same.