I first heard this sung by Robin Williamson of the Incredible String Band—long past midnight and long past sobriety—in a Calgary hotel room while we were up there for the 1980 Calgary Folk Festival. “Fortune Turns the Wheel” has since become one of my all-time favorite songs and one I find myself singing at memorial parties for fallen friends with sadly increasing frequency. It is simple, and the sung melody needs little in the way of instrumental propulsion, so the guitar setting is spare. Take your time with the rhythm and let it breathe.
When fingering the As on the G string in bars 3 and 4, you may need to work to keep the note ringing clearly as you shift the rest of your hand from the fourth-finger-stretch chord to the A. I have to remember to use my fourth finger on the fifth fret and not my third finger, as I more often do.
This article originally appeared in the January/February 2023 issue of Acoustic Guitar magazine.
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