... The reason they sound awesome is because the guys playing them know their way around those three or four chords....
Verily. I just paid Musicnotes US$7.00 to download the sheet music for 'Can't You See'; three chords - D, Dsus2/C, G - ie. plain vanilla
I - bVII-IV
Clearly, it's what the musos do re. embelleshing those three simple chords, that's complex ... as per the following post from a prof. muso: [BTW there's a great post by Ed King re. Sweet Home Alabama on the same site]
Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: Atlanta, Georgia
"I have to chuckle a bit because "Can't You See" is usually a tune I toss out if the Skynyrd faithful have a full head of steam and a bit too much sauce under the belt. Last night's gig was among the very best of the year, and after several encores, the room wouldn't let us leave. For the last one, my partner decided to launch into the Marshall Tucker tune, and I leaned over and said "You're kidding, right?", to which he replied, "Nah, milk it to death, they'll love it."
It's tough to remember everything I played since it was spontaneous, but I'll try. The first solo was very Toy Caldwell, and peppered with some of my fave butt-simple Floyd Cramer slip note piano chordal stuff. Had the tune showed up earlier in the evening, I'd have probably left it at this. The second solo just went on and on and ON. I started with sort of a Richard Thompson type approach with a Celtic bent that took advantage of open string drones, and I made use of harmonics and some ear tweaker 'in-between' bends. Then I started playing some things out a Bm7b5 arpeggio along with some chromatic stuff (I guess I was thinking "southern rock jazz" at this point). I then started playing some melodies with octaves and diatonic sixths and "tenth" (3rd) intervals. After that, I upped the gain and went back into Toy Caldwell mode, skirting between major, minor, and mixo stuff. Ordinarily, I like to resolve the tension and bring it back down by copping that signature flute riff, but as the room was aching to be brought over the top, I started playing some melodies in fourths and then did this (BS-approved) triplet root-octave-fifth chromatic figure that kept ascending and descending, until it finally landed on a D5 chord. At this point, I reached down and tweaked the MXR Carbon Copy toward flying saucer noises and fart/splat sounds through the speakers. The delay allowed me to hit the mute button with lots of ambient trail hanging over afterward, which in turn allowed me to put down the instrument, leave the room with the desired "WTF was that?" effect, and walk outside to get some air while there was still some noise emanating from the rig."