Campfire Songs: Learn to Strum “Let Me Call You Sweetheart”

From the May/June 2021 issue of Acoustic Guitar | By Kate Koenig

Written by Leo Friedman and Beth Slater Whitson, “Let Me Call You Sweetheart” was at the top of the charts in 1910. That popular recording was made by a group called the Peerless Brothers, but countless others have since arranged it, most notably Pat Boone, Fats Domino, Bing Crosby, and Valerie Carter and Linda Ronstadt.

 “Let Me Call You Sweetheart” originally included both verse and chorus sections, but most popular versions since Crosby’s rendition (recorded in 1934 and again in 1944) have consisted just of the chorus repeated, often with an instrumental interlude in between. In the simple arrangement here, the chorus is played twice. 

The song uses a handful of cowboy chords—A, D, B7—with a couple of more complex harmonies thrown in, namely Bbdim7 and Cdim7. As frequently seen in this department’s arrangements, Maurice Tani plays the only barre chord, F#, by wrapping his thumb around to fret the sixth string, rather than barring all six strings. Conversely, he uses his first finger to barre the open A chord, showing how individual chord fingerings can be. 

If you find it difficult to transition to the Cdim7 chord, try visualizing the shape of your hand in place before it lands. Also, that Cdim7 comes immediately after a D, and your first finger is on the second-fret A for both chords. So, you can use your first finger as an anchor and reset the rest of your fingers around it to reach the Cdim7 chord. With a little practice, you’ll be crooning and strumming this early-20th-century hit.

This article originally appeared in the May/June 2021 issue of Acoustic Guitar magazine.

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