The title track of Larkin Poe’s 2020 album Self Made Man is a blues rock banger, with crunchy electric guitar by Rebecca Lovell and scorching slide by Megan Lovell. The group revisited the song with orchestral backing from Nu Deco Ensemble on the new live release Paint the Roses. Now comes a third incarnation of the song—an acoustic duo take, recorded exclusively for AG.
As you can see in the accompanying video, “She’s a Self Made Man” also rocks on flattop guitar—Rebecca plays her Beard Deco Phonic Sidecar. Capo at the second fret to match the video’s key.
During the verse, play all single notes in sync with the vocal melody, which is based on the E blues scale (E G A Bb B D). Start each measure with the open sixth string—either a single quarter note or a pair of eighths. To dial in the swing feel, try counting the beats in triplets (one-and-a, two-and-a, three-and-a, four-and-a), treating each pair of eighth notes like the first and third notes of the triplet.
Play the verse riff mostly between the fifth and seventh frets on the bottom three strings, and use palm muting to bring out the groove. Add slides throughout, as shown, and a bluesy quarter bend on the G (flatted third) in the first measure. As noted in the lyric/chord chart, for the song’s intro and ending, use riffs derived from the verse.
Only in the chorus do you move away from the tonic E chord or strum any chords at all. Summon your inner Pete Townshend at the end of the first bar of the chorus: play a quick 16th-note down-up strum on the B5, then hit the chord again on the downbeat of the next measure and let it ring. In the fourth measure, on the A, mute the strings and strum up with the pick to create a percussive snap. The chorus form expands the second and third times around, looping back through the B5-to-A move with different lyrics.
During the slide solo, Rebecca switches to mostly string percussion punctuated with occasional strums. Notice in the chord library that the G shape she uses is simply octave G notes. Whether on electric or acoustic, her rhythm parts are lean and mean.
As a bonus, in the print and digital editions of this issue we’ve included Megan’s lap steel solo, adapted for standard guitar in open-G tuning. (Her lap steel tuning is G B D G B D, while open-G guitar is D G D G B D.) The notation is in the key of E, capo 2, to be consistent with the rhythm guitar part, but the capo is irrelevant here—the solo uses no open strings. (In other words, you could leave off the capo and play everything two frets higher than shown in the tab.) Play the whole solo with a slide, as Megan does, or try it fretted, using bends in place of some of the half-step slides.
If you tackle this song on slide, Megan suggests, “Pay special attention to pitch—it can get away from you pretty easily—and play with a hefty dose of attitude.”
Due to copyright restrictions, we are unable to post notation or tablature for this musical work. If you have a digital or physical copy of the January/February 2022 issue of Acoustic Guitar magazine, you will find the music on page 60.
This article originally appeared in the January/February 2022 issue of Acoustic Guitar magazine.