Country Blues > Country Blues Licks and Lessons

Leadbelly - Ella Speed

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Hey everybody, sorry if this seems a bit awkward. This is my first real post.

Recently, I've come across one of the King of The 12-String's murder ballads that I hadn't heard before - odd considering that I lived in his part of the country, but it has been a century or so. Anyway, I first came across the recording where he's accompanied by a man playing the Zither, with threw me off at first before I realized that is, in fact, not Leadbelly playing his 12'er WAAAAY up the neck. I found some earlier recordings of him accompanying himself on the guitar, but they're a bit scratchy for me and it's harder for me to figure them out than usual since I only have a 6 string at the moment.

I think it sounds like the same chord progression as his pardon song - Pat Neff - with a different melody. Is this right? Am I dead wrong? Either way, can somebody give me some pointers?

There's also a line about the judge giving Bill a pardon that I can't quite make out - the laptop speakers only hinder, no doubt. Might ask about it on Lyrics later if I can't get an answer here.

Anyway, thanks!

Prof Scratchy:
Here's a nice article about Paul Mason Howard and his dolceola:

Blues Vintage:
I learned the song myself recently because of a excellent rendition here at Weenie Campbell by Richardw.
I play the Mance Lipscomb version which I prefer to the Leadbelly version. The song is being taught at the YouTube channel "Old School Blues Guitar".
You can find the TAB at the Udemy course "Traditional Acoustic Blues Guitar".

Ella Speed - Behind The Song

Welcome to Weenie Campbell!

Hey Y'all,
I figured it out! After playing around with some funky chord shapes and whatnot, I've determined that the progression is A; D; G; and C.

A                                                                         D
Ella Speed was down-town an' havin' her lovin' fun
      G                                             C
Up come Bill Martin with his Colt .41

Something kinda like this, played tuned down to B (I think) so that A sounds as E.

He uses the normal finger-picker's style A chord, what seems to be normal D, G and C chords as well; with his usual generous sprinkling of wonderful bass runs.
While it didn't give me the answers I needed, I much appreciated the talk here. In particular, the article concerning the piano-zither (as I've called it, one of the few strange instruments I had a name for yet very little information about) and the interesting idea that one of Leadbelly's old guitars might be - or at least, sixty or seventy years ago might have been - out in the wild! I was not aware he ever did that, though I knew his friend Woody did that very often.
Thanks again everybody! I hope y'all get some use out of this discovery - if it can be called that.

P.S. sorry if the format is wrong. Please correct me if so.

P.P.S. - The recording that I worked off of :

And the "Zither" recording:

I've been playing ELLA SPEED since the late 1990s, great tune.
I use the progression G-E7-A-D-G


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