“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

Free download on SoundCloud.

‘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.

You might also like to play…

True Detective: Far From Any Road + TAB

True Detective 2: My Least Favorite Life + TAB

or any of my blues stuff.

Gear Used

For Death Letter, I used my Cordoba C7 Cedar. You can see that these guitars are right at home playing classical and delta blues. You can find a current list of my gear recommendations here.

How to play Death Letter by Cassandra Wilson

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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 order of play 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

Written by:

Matthew's dad, Jennifer's husband, bass player - New Invisible Joy, YouTuber, short-film composer, creator of modern content for guitar.