Neil Young's "The Needle and the Damage Done" Guitar Lesson

This lesson is on Neil Young’s “The Needle and the Damage Done”. This song is a circle progression so he just repeats the cycle over and over. There are some variations but I mostly focused on the introduction.
When I was a kid I started playing classical guitar at 6 and then got into modern music around 15. I always thought that single note picking was done exclusively with finger style and the flat pick only allowed you to strum chords.(I guess that was all I saw around me at the time.) Then one day a friend of mine played the song, “The Needle and the Damage Done”, and I remember being really surprised that all those single notes, descending bass lines and arpeggios could be played with a flat pick as well.


To watch the video of this tutorial on YouTube click below:


Dyce Kimura is a premier Fort Lauderdale Guitar Teacher.  You can catch Dyce online with Skype guitar lessons if you are not in the Fort Lauderdale/Miami area.

This is a great song for students who have been mostly strumming chords to transition to learning how to play single notes. There are arpeggios, descending bass lines and hammer-ons and even pedal tones. A lot of cool techniques used in this little tune that can open up your strumming hand into really articulate guitar playing.
One major difference in the way I play this song from most people is I use the 2nd 3rd and 4th finger to play the D chords(as opposed to using the 1st, 2nd and 3rd). This was the key move in having a smooth sounding descending bass line in the beginning of the progression because it allows the pedal tones from the 2nd and 4th finger to remain unmoved during the D progression.
This song resonates particularly close to home for me because I have personally witnessed a tremendous amount of wreckage in the lives of many from the use of controlled substances during my professional career as a guitarist. Neil Young had this to say about the song, ” I am not a preacher, but drugs killed a lot of great men.”