In 1991, Lucinda Williams was touring Australia with Mary Chapin Carpenter and Rosanne Cash, and Carpenter fell in love with Williams’ song “Passionate Kisses,” playing and harmonizing with it at every show. Carpenter wound up covering the song on her album Come On Come On and releasing it as a single. Although her label did not see hit potential, the public felt otherwise: “Passionate Kisses” climbed the charts and won Grammys in 1994 for both Best Country Song and Best Country Vocal Performance.
The song, Williams says, is “the classic story of being with someone who’s traveling a lot. It’s really about loneliness and feeling like you want it all—you want the passionate kisses and you want the security. In a way, it has a thing about creativity, too, because it says ‘Pens that won’t run out of ink/ And cool quiet and time to think.’ So it’s saying, I wish I had that in my life again instead of being in this tumultuous, crazy situation.”
To play the rhythm part, capo at the fourth fret and use C shapes, which sound in the key of E major. The strum pattern shown is based on how Williams plays the song solo. She tends to play C as a C/G, and F as F/C, but for simplicity’s sake, the chords are labeled simply as C and F.
On Williams’ original record, Gurf Morlix played a ringing electric guitar hook that became so central to the song that Mary Chapin Carpenter’s guitarist John Jennings reproduced it almost exactly (though in a different key). Morlix’s hook is shown here, played without a capo and therefore notated in the sounding key of E. Start all the way up at the 16th fret and play a descending melody on the third string against the top two strings ringing open.
Beyond the guitar hook, Carpenter’s cover of “Passionate Kisses” is remarkably similar in sound and feel to Williams’ original. The only differences are that Carpenter lowered the key a step (to capo 2) and added a short instrumental bridge that’s included in the chart.
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 September/October 2021 issue of Acoustic Guitar magazine, you will find the music on page 62.
This article originally appeared in the September/October 2021 issue of Acoustic Guitar magazine.