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Eastbound Train: opening chord analysis

The song Eastbound Train is a boogie groove in the key of E. It was the b-side of Dire Straits’ first Single Sultans of Swing, and has been played live on most concerts during the first two years of Dire Straits.

Below you will find an explanation of the opening chord (listen to sample, live at the Hope&Anchor, London, 1977).

In blues-based tunes – and a boogie is often just an up-tempo version of the good old blues scheme – each cycle of the chord progression pattern can end on the dominant seventh chord. This chord always starts with the 5th note of the given major scale; so in the key of C we have a G7 chord, while in the key of E we would get a B7 chord.

By the way, ending on this chord is also called turnaround. And often a turnaround is used to open a blues tune – in other words, you start with the dominant seventh chord or with a phrase running over it. This is the case in Eastbound Train. It starts with the same chord that is normally the last chord of the chord pattern.

A B7 chord can be played like this, using only the four top guitar strings:

Now, this is not exactly the chord in Eastbound Train, but we only have to change one single note, the f# on the b-string is raised to a g. The resulting chord looks like this:

Since one note of the B7 chord is raised – this is also called augmented – we have an augmented B7 seventh chord, in short B+7 or Baug7. For more general information on this chord, see the corresponding Wikipedia article.

Left hand fretting: use the index finger on the d-string, 3rd on the g-string, the pinky on the b-string, and the remaining second finger on the high e-string.

Unfortunately there are only two videos available (Rockpalast 1979, Paris 1978) which show Mark Knopfler playing Eastbound Train, and both don’t feature close-ups of his left hand when playing this chord, so the following two pics are the best ones we have.

That’s for today,

Ingo

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