Death Letter

“We’re starting and ending the season with deep, deep classic American vernacular,” T Bone Burnett – music producer and soundtrack curator of HBO’s True Detective.

‘Death Letter Blues’ was originally recorded by Delta Blues artist, Son House, in 1965. Cassandra Wilson’s 1995 version is used as the opening of True Detective Season 3. The song was also famously revamped by The White Stripes.

Like you, I’m a massive True Detective fan. Cassandra Wilson’s version of Death Letter is so gritty and raw — I just love it.

I wanted to put my stamp on it, and arrange Cassandra Wilson’s rendition into a full fledged blues guitar piece. I slightly upped the tempo and threw in a guitar solo at 1:05. Additionally, in the spirit of True Detective, I gave this guitar version of Death Letter a musical “mystery novel” ending.

How to play Death Letter by Cassandra Wilson

While I don’t qualify Death Letter Blues as difficult to play — it’s best for intermediate guitar players and up. I use an old-time blues finger-style where I simply swipe up to strum the chord shapes on the high strings. My thumb (of course) hits the notes on the low stings. 

The guitar tab is beautifully written across three pages. My song structure looks like this, in accordance with the guitar tab:

Intro 2x, Verse 2x,

Solo, Verse, End.

Enjoy, the guitar tab is available below:

Death Letter Blues is played in an F# minor tuning: C# F# C# F# A C#

True Detective 3: Death Letter Blues (opening) for guitar