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Country Blues => Weenie Campbell Main Forum => Topic started by: Johnm on January 28, 2011, 09:15:21 PM

Title: Great One-Chord Songs
Post by: Johnm on January 28, 2011, 09:15:21 PM
Hi all,
I had occasion to figure out Barefoot Bill's "Snigglin' Blues" the other day and realized that it had never registered before that it is a one-chord number, and an exceptionally interesting one at that.  That got me to thinking about other great one-chord songs in the Country Blues and I thought of a couple:  Bobby Grant's "Nappy Head Blues" and Henry Townsend's "She's Got  A Mean Disposition".  Does any of you have any favorite one-chord numbers?
All best,
Johnm
Title: Re: Great One-Chord Songs
Post by: Norfolk Slim on January 29, 2011, 02:51:18 AM
Julius Daniels' 99 year Blues is a favourite of mine, especially for playing.
Title: Re: Great One-Chord Songs
Post by: lindy on January 29, 2011, 09:19:51 AM
Mance Lipscomb's "Freddie" never fails to lay me flat.

Do 7ths count as second chords? I think of "Spike Driver's" as a one-chorder, but it has a 7th or two. Same with MJH's "Shaking That Thing."

Lindy

ps I've always thought this would be a great theme for a class session at a place like PT or EBA, with "Two-Chord Wonders" a close runner-up. One could pack in a lot of thumping-and-pounding-on-a-bass-string tunes into a 90-minute session.
Title: Re: Great One-Chord Songs
Post by: Pan on January 29, 2011, 12:06:26 PM
I just came across Jim Jackson's "Old Dog Blue", a song apparently dedicated to his dog(!).

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fVrtTzYQF94

Cheers

Pan
Title: Re: Great One-Chord Songs
Post by: David Kaatz on January 29, 2011, 11:51:01 PM
Buster Brown's version of John Henry is as I recall a 1 chord song.  Really grooves.  Not country blues though, electric blues.   Brown is the originator of the great song Fannie Mae.  I can't find a complete recording online to reference, and my copy is on vinyl still.  Too late tonight to check the song.

D.
Title: Re: Great One-Chord Songs
Post by: mr mando on January 30, 2011, 02:44:09 AM
Charley Patton's "Mississippi Boll Weavil" would qualify, one of my favorite tunes.
Title: Re: Great One-Chord Songs
Post by: Johnm on February 01, 2011, 12:02:44 PM
Hi all,
It's great to see the tunes that folks are coming up with in this category.  I just thought of one of my all-time favorites, not only in this category, but in the Country Blues in the larger sense:  Walter Davis's version of "Sloppy Drunk Again" with Henry Townsend and Big Joe Williams backing him.  It's an incredibly exciting cut, and I'm sure it's on the Juke if you've never had a chance to hear it before.
All best,
Johnm
Title: Re: Great One-Chord Songs
Post by: Johnm on February 02, 2011, 12:09:41 PM
Hi all,
Robert Petway's version of "Catfish" is a one-chorder and is certainly great.
All best,
Johnm
Title: Re: Great One-Chord Songs
Post by: blueshome on February 02, 2011, 01:40:48 PM
Going post war (still CB in my opinion) - Floyd Jones' "Dark Road" does  Tommy Johnson all on one chord.
Title: Re: Great One-Chord Songs
Post by: Pan on February 02, 2011, 02:01:09 PM
I was mesmerized the first time I heard John Lee Hooker play Wednesday Evening Blues.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dAV80Dh-qxg

Cheers

Pan
Title: Re: Great One-Chord Songs
Post by: Johnm on February 02, 2011, 03:17:11 PM
Wow, Pan, I'm with you--that "Wednesday Evening Blues" is sensational!  It's so cool the way John Lee gets stuck in that lyric break over the I chord with that little vamp between his vocal phrases, and when he finally breaks out of it, he's in a . . . I chord!  It was until I heard it that I realized how much you're conditioned to expect a IV chord coming out of a lyric break like that.  It must be said, too, that he was prodigally gifted as a vocalist, in a class with Lightnin' Hopkins, just something so strong and charismatic in the way he delivered a song.
All best,
Johnm
Title: Re: Great One-Chord Songs
Post by: Mike Brosnan on February 02, 2011, 03:35:15 PM
My current favorite is John Lee Ziegler's "Who's Gonna Be Your Man" from the George Mitchell Collection.  This version inspired me to try it out for myself (though my version sounds much more like a generic "John Henry" kind-o-thing...). 
Numerous BWJ slide masterpieces also come to mind.
Title: Re: Great One-Chord Songs
Post by: banjochris on February 02, 2011, 05:50:05 PM
Hi all,
It's great to see the tunes that folks are coming up with in this category.  I just thought of one of my all-time favorites, not only in this category, but in the Country Blues in the larger sense:  Walter Davis's version of "Sloppy Drunk Again" with Henry Townsend and Big Joe Williams backing him.  It's an incredibly exciting cut, and I'm sure it's on the Juke if you've never had a chance to hear it before.

Couldn't agree more -- that's one of the best numbers ever. And how many one-chord piano numbers are there?
Chris
Title: Re: Great One-Chord Songs
Post by: GhostRider on February 03, 2011, 01:07:23 PM
My favorite one chorder and one of the eeriest in CB in Robert Willkins "Rolling Stone".

Alex
Title: Re: Great One-Chord Songs
Post by: Johnm on February 03, 2011, 06:05:51 PM
Hi all,
You're right, Alex, about Robert Wilkins' "Rolling Stone"--that's a big one, a huge statement. And I'm with you on John Lee Ziegler, Mike.  I haven't heard anything by him that I didn't think was sensational--a beautiful singer and player.
All best,
Johnm   
Title: Re: Great One-Chord Songs
Post by: uncle bud on February 05, 2011, 08:59:39 AM
Jimmy Bell by the great William 'Cat Iron' Carradine. Actually, Carradine flirts with one-chord territory on a numbers of his tunes. Fix Me Right is another I believe. And depending on how you hear The Blood Done Signed My Name, another cool one-chorder there.
Title: Re: Great One-Chord Songs
Post by: Mike Brosnan on February 05, 2011, 04:37:56 PM
John Wesley "Short Stuff" Macon's "My Jack Don't Drink No Water". Perfect example of less is more IMO. 
Title: Re: Great One-Chord Songs
Post by: lindy on February 05, 2011, 08:02:21 PM
John Wesley "Short Stuff" Macon's "My Jack Don't Drink No Water". Perfect example of less is more IMO. 

Not familiar with this one, Mike, where can I get a listen? Is it on the LP he did with Big Joe Williams?

Lindy
Title: Re: Great One-Chord Songs
Post by: Mike Brosnan on February 05, 2011, 09:44:56 PM
I got it from some compilation long ago...  Searching "Short Stuff Macon Jack Water" produced a Russian video of the track in question. I chose not to link that vid here cuz there was a picture of an almost nekked lady linked along side it.  Plus I really have no idea what the words on that page meant (being Russian and all...).  :D
Title: Re: Great One-Chord Songs
Post by: lindy on February 06, 2011, 10:16:55 AM
I got it from some compilation long ago...  Searching "Short Stuff Macon Jack Water" produced a Russian video of the track in question. I chose not to link that vid here cuz there was a picture of an almost nekked lady linked along side it.  Plus I really have no idea what the words on that page meant (being Russian and all...).  :D

The Russian site kept timing out on me, so I found this instead:

http://new.music.yahoo.com/shortstuff-macon/tracks/my-jack-dont-drink-water-no-more--39948629

Wow, Short Stuff's stuff ain't short at all, at least musically speaking. It strikes me as one of those songs that could really drive you nuts if you fall into the trap of "I want to make mine sound exactly like his." But worthwhile finding your own sound.
 
L
Title: Re: Great One-Chord Songs
Post by: Johnm on February 15, 2011, 06:16:17 PM
Hi all,
Otis Harris's "You'll Like My Loving" certainly qualifies as a great one-chord number and moreover, as a formal one-off.  There's not another like it.
All best,
Johnm
Title: Re: Great One-Chord Songs
Post by: Lyndvs on February 18, 2011, 09:01:50 AM
"Shanty Blues" by Henry Thomas.His only recorded slide number and it`s fantastic.
Title: Re: Great One-Chord Songs
Post by: nobocaster on March 01, 2011, 05:46:28 PM
  Also by Henry Thomas.. "Railroadin' Some" 

  This one might not actually count as a true one-chorder I suppose because the last few seconds of the song he breaks into another song.  I get goose bumps every time I listen to it.

~Devin
Title: Re: Great One-Chord Songs
Post by: mike s on March 03, 2011, 09:42:05 AM
Seems to me that Spike Driver Blues by John Hurt is only one chord (G).  I play that one every day so I guess you could say it is a favorite of mine.

Mike
Title: Re: Great One-Chord Songs
Post by: RB on March 03, 2011, 05:43:08 PM
Agree with the Petway 'Catfish,' couldn't be better music than that.  And agree with Buster Brown and 'Fannie Mae,' as a rollicking smart song, I've liked it for fifty years.
Title: Re: Great One-Chord Songs
Post by: Baltimore Bob on March 13, 2011, 12:29:16 PM
I like Dr. Ross' "Cat Squirrel." Something sounds a little off-kilter about the main riff, but I tried to count out the beats once and couldn't find anything unconventional about it. Maybe just starting on the second beat?

"Boogie Chillen" is really just one chord -- the only changes you might do would be part of the riff. I also like John Lee's "Send Me Your Pillow." His guitar intro does the chords (skipping a couple of beats), but then of course he gets down in the groove and stays with just one chord. I try to do it both ways -- use the chords from the intro behind the lyrics, then groove on one chord for a "Hey, hey" vocal interlude.

Title: Re: Great One-Chord Songs
Post by: banjochris on March 14, 2011, 08:23:12 PM
Another Mance Lipscomb one-chorder I've always liked is "Which Way Do Red River Run?" Hardly anything to it but kind of hypnotic and cool, too.
Title: Re: Great One-Chord Songs
Post by: Johnm on March 17, 2011, 01:13:55 PM
Hi all,
Willie Lofton's "Poor Boy Blues" and "Rainy Day Blues", which share the same accompaniment in G, both qualify as pretty great one-chord songs.
All best,
Johnm
Title: Re: Great One-Chord Songs
Post by: Baltimore Bob on March 17, 2011, 01:41:18 PM
Also, Billy Boy Arnold's "I Wish You Would" as done by John Hammond. With that one and "Cat Squirrel," I wasn't really thinking "one chord" when I started listening to them. They both have great harp riffs as a hook ... maybe that's the key to making it work (or guitar riffs of course).
Title: Re: Great One-Chord Songs
Post by: Shovel on March 19, 2011, 03:11:16 AM
Oh Death by Charley Patton and Bertha Lee
Title: Re: Great One-Chord Songs
Post by: Johnm on July 07, 2011, 12:25:29 PM
Hi all,
I was listening to Dock Boggs' "Country Blues" today and realized that it certainly qualifies for this category.
All best,
Johnm
Title: Re: Great One-Chord Songs
Post by: pete1951 on July 11, 2011, 08:52:30 AM
There aren`t many Blues songs that get in the `Pop` charts here (in the UK) but I think `Smoke Stack lightning` did (I only use 1 chord if I play it ) and a couple of years later Canned Heat with `On the Road Again` ( the format is a 12bar but stays on 1 chord )
These may be too new to get onto Weenie but this was the sort of stuff that turned many young British kids onto Blues.
I also always think of Come on in My Kitchen as a single chord song but other chords are implyed
Title: Re: Great One-Chord Songs
Post by: Johnm on October 20, 2011, 10:10:15 PM
Hi all,
I think Washington Phillips' "I've Got the Key to the Kingdom" qualifies in this category.
All best,
Johnm
Title: Re: Great One-Chord Songs
Post by: lindy on October 21, 2011, 08:23:04 AM

Mance Lipscomb's "Tall Angel At The Bar."

I had one of those experiences just a week ago where I woke up and the first thought I had was this song and that I had to learn it. Didn't even know the name of it when I awoke, had to go listen through all my Mance CDs to find it -- a tough job, but I was up to it.

Weeniepedia has it as "E (maybe Vestapol)", sure is easier in Vestapol.

L
Title: Re: Great One-Chord Songs
Post by: Johnm on January 03, 2012, 07:30:37 AM
Hi all,
I think John Hurt's version of "Shake That Thing" qualifies in this category.
All best,
Johnm
Title: Re: Great One-Chord Songs
Post by: Mr.OMuck on January 03, 2012, 07:41:18 PM
http://youtu.be/G9dEKiOjqO4 (http://youtu.be/G9dEKiOjqO4)

There's two places that ALMOST sound like a change but they're more implied than actualized
Title: Re: Great One-Chord Songs
Post by: Johnm on December 10, 2012, 04:36:45 PM
Hi all,
I was just working on Blind Willie Reynolds' "Third Street Woman Blues", and it certainly qualifies in this category.
All best,
Johnm
Title: Re: Great One-Chord Songs
Post by: banjochris on December 10, 2012, 05:55:00 PM
Hi all,
I was just working on Blind Willie Reynolds' "Third Street Woman Blues", and it certainly qualifies in this category.

Not many one-chorders in C!
Chris
Title: Re: Great One-Chord Songs
Post by: - on December 10, 2012, 06:15:47 PM
Mississippi John Hurt - Blind Man Sit In The Way And Cried

http://youtu.be/Pgdtv_ZBHdk (http://youtu.be/Pgdtv_ZBHdk)
Title: Re: Great One-Chord Songs
Post by: east on April 26, 2013, 07:34:33 PM
Lightnin' Hopkin's brother, Joel, has some songs on Document's Rural Blues vol. 2 compilation that fit the bill: "Good Times Here, Better Down the Road," and "I Ain't Gonna Roll For the Big Hat Man No More," are both versions of a pretty free-form tune hanging on one chord for the duration-very cool stuff.
Title: Re: Great One-Chord Songs
Post by: Johnm on September 01, 2014, 05:07:19 PM
Hi all,
John Hurt's "You've Got To Die" qualifies in this category.
All best,
Johnm
Title: Re: Great One-Chord Songs
Post by: Shovel on September 03, 2014, 09:13:47 AM
dunno if its in the spirit of the thread, but Narmour & Smith's Sweet Milk and Peaches Breakdown is pretty dynamic for a single chord and not too many phrases, either,but it cooks!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rOxuQrA8fx8 (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rOxuQrA8fx8)

Title: Re: Great One-Chord Songs
Post by: Johnm on May 02, 2015, 11:50:29 AM
Hi all,
Rube Lacy's "Mississippi Jail House Groan" definitely qualifies in this category.
All best,
Johnm
Title: Re: Great One-Chord Songs
Post by: harry on May 03, 2015, 04:01:26 AM
I may get attacked on this but I've never been a big fan of one-chord songs. There often repetitive and seem to drag a little. Especially J L Hookers boogies.
Title: Re: Great One-Chord Songs
Post by: iwbiek on May 03, 2015, 05:06:35 AM
Pretty much anything by Junior Kimbrough, especially with all that reverb he has going on, both in his vocals and the guitar.  "You Better Run" may be the most disturbing blues song ever written, both for the lyrics and the atmospheric groove, not to mention Junior's matter-of-fact delivery of just plain psychopathic material.
Title: Re: Great One-Chord Songs
Post by: RobBob on May 04, 2015, 05:19:36 AM
The late great Willie King fits the bill with his great Terrorized here in an acoustic version.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HfkEK0W6KJk (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HfkEK0W6KJk)
Title: Re: Great One-Chord Songs
Post by: alyoung on May 06, 2015, 01:41:36 AM
I may get attacked on this but I've never been a big fan of one-chord songs. There often repetitive and seem to drag a little. Especially J L Hookers boogies.

A four-word rebuttal: Robert Petway, Catfish Blues
Title: Re: Great One-Chord Songs
Post by: EddieD on May 06, 2015, 06:04:08 PM
Jesus On The Mainline by Fred McDowell is a great one chord song. I don't know if we're counting slide songs in open tuning because there sure are a tone that are one chorders haha or only hint at other chords. I was just playing Jesus On The Mainline today and thought of this thread.

Edit: I went back and read Johnm's first post again and he mentioned Nappy Head Blues by Bobby Grant which is a one chord slide song so I guess slide tunes are fair game.
Title: Re: Great One-Chord Songs
Post by: frankie on May 06, 2015, 06:18:17 PM
Jesus On The Mainline by Fred McDowell is a great one chord song.

Don't most of McDowell's songs fall into the "one chord" bucket? Except the ones with TWO chords, I mean...  the one he plays over and the one he sings over... :)
Title: Re: Great One-Chord Songs
Post by: frankie on May 06, 2015, 06:21:22 PM
Lattie Murrell - I Got A Gal 'cross The Bottom (it's titled "When A Gal Cross The Bottom" on the record I have, though):

http://youtu.be/u_nCJ30dJUc (http://youtu.be/u_nCJ30dJUc)
Title: Re: Great One-Chord Songs
Post by: EddieD on May 07, 2015, 06:36:37 AM
Don't most of McDowell's songs fall into the "one chord" bucket? Except the ones with TWO chords, I mean...  the one he plays over and the one he sings over... :)

hahaha Thats why I wasnt sure If I should bother with a one chord slide tune. Fred McDowell and many others entire discography could be listed for the most part.  ;)
Title: Re: Great One-Chord Songs
Post by: Johnm on August 10, 2016, 06:13:59 AM
Hi all,
Uncle Dave Macon's "I've Got the Mourning Blues" falls in this category, with a really nice guitar part in Vestapol by Sam McGee.
All best,
Johnm
Title: Re: Great One-Chord Songs
Post by: lindy on September 16, 2016, 09:54:07 PM
I was revisiting Elvie/L.V. Thomas and Geeshie Wiley's "Come Over To My House" this evening, and it sounds like it fits this category. It's got that one descending line that keeps the E in the bass throughout.

Lindy
Title: Re: Great One-Chord Songs
Post by: Johnm on September 19, 2016, 11:38:13 AM
Hi all,
Rev. Edward Clayborn never played any chord changes in his recorded performances, nor did Sister O. M. Terrell in hers.
All best,
Johnm
Title: Re: Great One-Chord Songs
Post by: alyoung on September 20, 2016, 02:29:33 AM
Clayborn didn't play the changes, but he sang 'em, and his top-string playing implied them. He just didn't bother about the other five strings.
Title: Re: Great One-Chord Songs
Post by: lindy on January 25, 2017, 04:14:53 PM
John Hurt's "Payday," and probably other versions, too.
Title: Re: Great One-Chord Songs
Post by: GrasshopperBlues52499 on January 27, 2017, 05:45:21 AM
     If I remember correctly, I Henry Thomas's rendition of "John Henry" is one chord (along with other of his songs, I'm sure). The guitar is likely a simple strum on a D chord with a capo on the 7th fret to make it in A -- while of course accompanying the simple guitar part with his serene vocals and quills!
Title: Re: Great One-Chord Songs
Post by: Johnm on March 21, 2017, 09:47:15 AM
Hi all,
Mattie Delaney played her "Down The Big Road Blues" as a one-chord number.
All best,
Johnm
Title: Re: Great One-Chord Songs
Post by: lindy on March 21, 2017, 03:26:05 PM
I believe that Mance Liscomb's rendition of "Run, Sinner, Run" belongs on this list.

Lindy
Title: Re: Great One-Chord Songs
Post by: banjochris on March 21, 2017, 03:41:05 PM
And Charlie Patton's "Mean Black Cat" as well, don't think we've mentioned that one.
Title: Re: Great One-Chord Songs
Post by: Johnm on February 11, 2018, 09:35:10 AM
Hi all,
Here is a really unusual one-chord number, Larry Johnson's "Lordy Good Lord", from his "Fast and Funky" album on Blue Goose.  This is really original guitar playing, I think.  Here it is:

https://youtu.be/y0Pz9ZN10jY

All best,
Johnm
Title: Re: Great One-Chord Songs
Post by: alyoung on February 13, 2018, 03:28:20 AM
Open D?
Title: Re: Great One-Chord Songs
Post by: Johnm on February 13, 2018, 05:45:33 AM
Hi Al,
Larry played it in D in standard tuning.
All best,
Johnm
Title: Re: Great One-Chord Songs
Post by: MacSpadger on February 15, 2018, 05:55:52 AM
Hi all,
Rube Lacy's "Mississippi Jail House Groan" definitely qualifies in this category.
All best,
Johnm

I was searching this thread simply to see if this recording was mentioned. I'm glad it is. I have loved this track for a long time. One I'll never grow tired of.