My band (C5) are busy rehearsing for upcoming pub gigs and a couple of parties. We often jam on the CHIC song Good Times just because it’s a classic to funk out to. But, a couple of weeks ago we made the decision to arrange it properly and add it to the band’s repertoire. Of course, being an uberfan of Nile Rodgers I wanted to get it just right. I thought I thought I had the four chords he uses…been jamming on them for years.
Except it was not so simple.
All the online chords charts and tutorials online have something akin to that progression although they seem to jump from the Em7/E7sus4 to an Asus4 (I had that as a much jazzier and more fitting Dmaj7) and then an A13. In fact, attempting to get closer and closer to the harmonies Nile is playing you can hear that the Em7 and the E7sus4 are correct, as is the A13, but that bridging harmony is off by a note or two. Turns out he’s using an Em11 to get him from the main riff to the resolved chord on the fourth beat (and adding a few grace notes in between). Nile spells it out in detail in the video below, from 6’30”.
In addition, as is well known to CHIC aficionados but not necessarily to some funk guitarists who strum across the width of the fretboard with each stroke or use the three high strings only, Nile rarely does that, he grabs triads with his pick and bounces from the higher notes in chunks to the bass notes, chunking and chopping in sixteenths with lots of left-hand muting and plenty of percussive gaps. It sounds like funk, but it’s jazz, man, jazz…
So, the chord chart should look really like the one you see above. If you’ve not been playing it like that, you’ve not been playing it right. Basically, cycles around all four chords in the choruses, but lays back a lot and shuttles between the Em and the A for the verses.
And, here’s a quick burst on my Tele, demo’d in my home studio:
This song has an almost 40-year history and was one of the first to be sampled and sampled and sampled again from Rapper’s Delight and on and on. No the wonder he calls his guitar The Hitmaker.
Here’s Nile explain how he plays Good Times and a whole bunch of other songs
Second mix of my demo, this time with a MIDI track of Nard’s bassline