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Author Topic: Songs you should be able to play and can't  (Read 6811 times)

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Offline Rivers

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Songs you should be able to play and can't
« on: May 30, 2003, 11:10:43 PM »
OK I can't be the only one... what song would you really like to play but can't. I mean something that's well within your ability, and others can rattle off with apparent ease, but that you have failed to master every time you've had another go at it.

Mine is Police Dog Blues. Don't laugh, I know it's easy, a standard almost. It's always been one of my favorite songs but can I play it? Nope!

Just fishing for some interaction here y'understand...
« Last Edit: May 30, 2003, 11:11:50 PM by Rivers »

Offline Slack

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Re:Songs you should be able to play and can't
« Reply #1 on: May 31, 2003, 12:13:36 PM »
Gee, the list goes on and on.  :-\

Mississippi Blues for me - I've got the first part down pretty well,  but the boogie woogie bass break? You'd think after 10 years of trying -- I'd get it - nope, I cannot do it.

Any other fish?  :P

Online Johnm

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Re:Songs you should be able to play and can't
« Reply #2 on: June 01, 2003, 02:11:36 PM »
Hi all,
Let me add to the list.  Thus far, I have been baffled by Shirley Griffith's "Shaggy Hound Blues", from his Blue Goose album.  It's frustrating because I really love the tune, and have a good fix on the left hand, but the right hand has eluded me.  It sounds like he's just using thumb and index in the right hand, but there's a lot of stuff converging on the third and fourth strings, and I'm having a devil of a time sorting it out.  I hope to have it figured out by Port Townsend and possibly feature it in a class there.
All Best,
John        

Offline Rivers

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Re:Songs you should be able to play and can't
« Reply #3 on: June 01, 2003, 05:09:16 PM »
I believe I will go on a Police Dog diet and try and nail my nemesis once again. Maybe I need a new guitar... hey there's a good idea!

Offline Bill Roggensack

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Re:True Confessions (was__>Songs you should .. )
« Reply #4 on: June 16, 2003, 09:16:26 AM »
My list would take up too much bandwidth. However, I will confess to wanting to learn how to yodel (in a polite, Jimmie Rodgers sort of way). I have tried and tried, and can come very close when my voice is warmed up. But there must be a subconscious control that kicks in and says "Stop! What will people think!"

FrontPage
« Last Edit: June 16, 2003, 09:16:41 AM by FrontPage »
Cheers,
FrontPage

Online Johnm

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Re:Songs you should be able to play and can't
« Reply #5 on: June 16, 2003, 03:59:49 PM »
Hi Bill,
I know the feeling.  I remember a country music record offer on TV some years ago hosted by Jerry Reed.  It opened up with Jerry standing there while Jimmie sang "T For Texas".  When Jimmie started yodeling on the chorus, Jerry said, "God I wish I could do that!"  Amen.
All Best,
John

Offline Sudsbury

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Re:Songs you should be able to play and can't
« Reply #6 on: June 25, 2003, 10:40:25 AM »
The  list of songs I should be able to play but can't (yet) is virtually endless , but one I'd really like to get hold of  John Hurt's 'Candyman'.  I'm gettting closer, but need some help.  Maybe @ PT I'll beg for some help.
On another topic: I've got a beautiful Dana Bourgeois guitar and have been unhappy with the lack of a good shipping case for it.  Just got a Calton case for it and WOW - what a great case!  Anybody out there got a Calton, and if so any comments on it?
See y'all soon.
Sudbury
Sudbury

Offline Slack

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Re:Songs you should be able to play and can't
« Reply #7 on: June 25, 2003, 01:00:42 PM »
Sudbury,

If you cannot get satisfaction at PT - there is always John Millers video Missisppi John Hurt Vol. 2, if you want to really nail it.  I have not gone back to learn Candyman yet (but plan on it), but I've gone back and re-learned tunes like Spike drivers blues and Louis Collins etc. from John - these are tunes I learned early on when I was satsified with much less than accurate renditions, so I enjoy going back and making them better.  

Congrats on the Calton case - I believe they are the best and I do not have a guitar worthy of one!

cheers,

Offline Sudsbury

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Re:Songs you should be able to play and can't
« Reply #8 on: June 25, 2003, 01:43:52 PM »
Thanks Slack - I'll get John's video re:Candyman.  Incidentally, much as I like my new and very sexy Calton case, and have always been thrilled with the Bourgeois guitar, it all comes with a serious risk that when someone sees these they will expect my playing to be worthy of them!  Sigh.
Sudbury. :-\
Sudbury

Offline Slack

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Re:Songs you should be able to play and can't
« Reply #9 on: June 25, 2003, 02:52:23 PM »
Nah, I wouldn't worry about it - we're all over the place, weenies are proud to have guitars they are not worthy of.  ;D

There was a great cartoon in Acoustic Guitar mag about a year ago - of a guy playing in a coffee house and the caption went something like: ..and now I'll sing a blues song about how this exquisite, handcrafted guitar is going to spend it's entire life in the hands of a mediocre player.

Offline Bill Roggensack

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Re:Unworthy (was-->Songs you should...)
« Reply #10 on: July 04, 2003, 03:22:47 PM »
Sudbury - you just need to get yourself a beater. Manage expectations!

Cheers,
FrontPage
Cheers,
FrontPage

Offline Sudsbury

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Re:Songs you should be able to play and can't
« Reply #11 on: July 07, 2003, 02:25:35 PM »
Slack,
Thanks for the encouraging notion that I am not alone in owning a guitar of which I am not worthy.  Think I'll go find that Acoustic Guitar cartoon and frame it!   8)
 FP's suggestion of getting a beater is NFG - I've already got one of those, and indeed it was from that lowly start that my current international stature grew (presuming that going from Sudbury to PT counts as having international stature).  Can't go back, so I guess I'll have to find another way to 'manage expectations'.  Perhaps learning to play something well would be a start? :-\
2 1/2 weeks!
Sudbury
Sudbury

Offline Slack

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Re:Songs you should be able to play and can't
« Reply #12 on: July 08, 2003, 06:53:46 PM »
international stature).  Can't go back, so I guess I'll have to find another way to 'manage expectations'.  Perhaps learning to play something well would be a start? :-\
2 1/2 weeks!
Sudbury

Hey Sudbury,

The only expectations you have to manage are your own!

...which admittedly is tough at times.  As a fellow adult learner I've always thought I should be better, even from the when just starting out!  ;)

Hang in there, Candy Man ain't an easy one.

slack

Offline GhostRider

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Re: Songs you should be able to play and can't
« Reply #13 on: August 19, 2004, 01:01:46 PM »
Howdy:

The main bugger for me is Dryland Blues by Furry Lewis. I love the song but even with TAB and the record I have never been able to get the timing right.

And when it comes to singing, Willie Brown's M&O Blues. I can play the guitar part but I can't get the guitar and singing part together. Barbeque John's version has me trying again though.

Interesting thread, How 'bout reviving it, Slack.

BTW, How have you all been doing on you nemisises (sp?) after more than a year?

Alex
« Last Edit: August 19, 2004, 01:04:35 PM by pyrochlore »

Offline Slack

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Re: Songs you should be able to play and can't
« Reply #14 on: August 19, 2004, 01:55:43 PM »
You bet, good idea.

I forgot about this thread, now you see why I sought some of JohnC's playing technique.  I have had a chance to plug in a couple of tehniique changes (a couple more to go) and it has helped a bunch already, I can now play the two sections much cleaner.

Know what you mean about M&O blues - been working a bit on that too - I've been checking my voice by playing the chord one time thorugh and then singing with the single not runs, that has helped get it from verse to verse, but not day to day. :)

We need to get JohnC to put some of his tunes on the Back Porch.

Cheers,
slack

Offline waxwing

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Re: Songs you should be able to play and can't
« Reply #15 on: August 19, 2004, 04:22:13 PM »
Hey Slack and Pyro,
I'd like to get some stuff posted, but at the moment I don't have the capability to record to computer, or to transfer from MD to computer. I need to get some kind of audio capture to USB device as my Mac Cube only has a video card with no audio input and no space for a sound card. Unfortunately, due to my continued unemployment (somewhat voluntary, actually, but...) I don't really have the funds at the moment. But I have a plan. Frank has agreed to do a transfer from MD and will mail me back an audio CD which I can then download, edit and post as I please. Hopefully I'll get to this soon, but while at camp I was blissfully avoiding thinking about the fact that Gre and I are going to have to pack up all our belongings, put them in storage, and find alternate housing while our basement apartment has its floor jackhammered so that new plumbing can be laid for the entire building. All repercussions of the flooding last rainy season. All very stressful. We don't even have a schedule yet, but are trying to create our own timetable, as we are both deadline dependant, if you know what I mean. I'm also trying to pick up odd jobs to bring in some funds, and also looking to play out more. Who knows, I may become an itinerant blues singer for a while. For sure we'll probably spend some of the time back east with our folks, so I'll definitely get to spend some time with Frank and Kim, and Ari, too. Tonight's my monthly Boat Club gig so I'm practicing a set's of songs. Maybe I'll put some on MD tomorrow. Sure appreciate all the kudos you guys have been sendin' my way. Really helps my confidence performing.
As to M & O Blues, without a doubt the hardest song I have put lyrics and guitar together on. Literally took me weeks to get the first verse. I wrote the first verse in under the tab and worked very slowly, note by note. Coupled with the fact that the vocal stretched the top of my range by about a note and that that's the note he starts on made it really tough. All I can say is, perseverence is the only way. And thank you JohnM for encouraging me to sing at the top of my range. It keeps stretching.
Well, the song I've taken two passes at and had to back off of is Blind Blake's Georgia Bound. But that isn't really on topic because I think it's really beyond my skill level yet. C is not my best key. But, I was a lot closer the second time around. OK, I admit, I've been working from various GW tab, of which I've accumulated the first verse and all the breaks. But clearly Blake plays something different behind each verse, too, so there'll be some stuff for me to transcribe eventually. Maybe if I make it my goal for the participant's concert next year I'll have the motivation to get it. Worked for Broke Down Engine. But right now I have so much to work on from this year, and all the above mentioned life issues, so it'll be a while before I tackle it again. Maybe the year after next.
Good idea to bring this topic back, Alex.
All for now.
Barbecue John C.
« Last Edit: August 20, 2004, 03:19:14 PM by waxwing »
"People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it."
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Offline GhostRider

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Re: Songs you should be able to play and can't
« Reply #16 on: August 29, 2004, 04:02:45 PM »
Hi:

I was just thinking of Blue Day Blues and Kokomo Blues, both by Scrapper Blackwell. Ive tried to get these down for years, and I could never figure out how SB get's that combo of brushed bass and snapped treble. Ther must be some trick I'm not getting.

Have any of you had success with these?

Alex

Offline waxwing

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Re: Songs you should be able to play and can't
« Reply #17 on: August 29, 2004, 04:53:01 PM »
Yeah, I agree. I've looked at these two also, with tab, and it's just really frustrating. I think it must be that I need to develop a technique that I don't yet understand. It's similar to the "scrunch", I guess, but different. 'Course I can't do that either. Anyone have any insight. I'd sure like to add some Scrapper to my set list. I've worked on Back Door Blues a little, too, inspired by Ari.
All for now.
John C.
"People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it."
George Bernard Shaw

“Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they aren't after you.”
Joseph Heller, Catch-22

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Offline Slack

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Re: Songs you should be able to play and can't
« Reply #18 on: August 29, 2004, 05:32:20 PM »
I've worked on Scrapper stuff and it is tough to nail the technique.  Paul Rishell did some great PT classes that include a couple of SB's tunes - and he had the technique down... he played very hard. So, I think it boils down to impeccable timing, very strong thumb and pulling hard up on those trebles.  Scrapper also capo-ed which probably lowered his action - so low action would help get the snapping sound. 

My 2 cents.

Cheers,

Offline waxwing

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Re: Songs you should be able to play and can't
« Reply #19 on: August 29, 2004, 08:17:57 PM »
Well, another reason to try and get Paul and Annie back next year, eh, Reso1?
So I'm wondering if using a thumb pick might be a hindrance? And if he was capoed up, maybe he was also playing up close to the end of the fretboard, where the bass strings would be looser, to get that treble string snap? Hhmmm. (note to self: take Scrapper CD and tab to retreat next weekend) So maybe we could get a group effort goin on working out this style. It'd be killer if we could all play a Scrapper song or two next year.
All for now.
John C.
"People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it."
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“Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they aren't after you.”
Joseph Heller, Catch-22

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Online Johnm

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Re: Songs you should be able to play and can't
« Reply #20 on: August 30, 2004, 12:16:11 AM »
Hi all,
I think one thing that can help get the Scrapper sound in the right hand is to rotate the thumb so that is striking the strings at a much flatter angle, so you can rake them.  If you experiment around with this, I think you will soon find an angle that produces the sound that you are looking for.  Best of luck with this.
All best,
Johnm

Offline frankie

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Re: Songs you should be able to play and can't
« Reply #21 on: August 30, 2004, 04:14:36 AM »
Echoing JohnM's advice - think *across" the strings, not *into* them.? I think that it's easier to get the sound you're looking for without a thumbpick, but not impossible with one.? Just need to work with it.
« Last Edit: April 18, 2005, 05:07:31 AM by Johnm »

Offline Slack

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Re: Songs you should be able to play and can't
« Reply #22 on: August 30, 2004, 08:50:20 AM »
Rishell's advice was to take the thumbpick off.  (Very interesting to watch him either take the thumbpick off or put it on depending on the song he was teaching - he mostly had it off.)

Offline waxwing

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Re: Songs you should be able to play and can't
« Reply #23 on: August 30, 2004, 09:03:01 AM »
Well, I managed to get the fingerpicks off this year, partly due to the fact that not working as a carpenter I can keep my nails right. But I'm keepin' 'em fairly short, too, gettin' some good callous as well. Maybe this will be impetus to remove the thumbpick when appropriate. Cool.
All for now.
John C.
"People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it."
George Bernard Shaw

“Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they aren't after you.”
Joseph Heller, Catch-22

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Offline waxwing

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Re: Songs you should be able to play and can't
« Reply #24 on: November 27, 2004, 07:48:55 PM »
So, as I reported in the Circle of 5ths thread, I've been workin' on Scrapper's Back Door Blues a lot lately and am making some headway with the technique. I got 3 verses and the break transcribed before I headed out east to visit family. Took me a while to find this thread but I thought I'd report on my progress. Normally my "home" position, at least for tight fast picking, is with the heel of my hand resting lightly on the bass end of the saddle, ready to move up and damp if necessary, and?with my ring and pinky slightly curled under (relaxed) and loosely resting on the top. I mostly pick with thumb and index and sometimes bring in the middle if needed. To get Scrapper's sound I have found that I have to rotate my whole hand down so that the side of the palm is resting more toward the treble end of the saddle and the two little fingers are out straight (but still relaxed) so that I can bring my palm in closer to the face of the guitar. This causes the thumb to be reaching back up toward the bass, giving an attack angle more suited to the brush stroke. Also, the base of the index finger is moved out past the high E string which makes the snap very natural. Scrapper's pick is not all that complex and pretty much everything can be handled by the index alone, except for the little 3 string pinch on the III7 chord, but that could easily be a brush from either side to get the middle string. I've had lots of time for practice on the little Stella in the last week (driving everyone crazy) and it's starting to come along. I hope this will get some of the rest of you over the hump on some of Scrapper's great material.
All for now.
John C.
Edited to add:By the way, I've been having no trouble doing this with the thumb pick. Rotating the hand causes the pick angle to change so that it is easy to brush, but I can still get that crisp sound for the single note bass/mid-range riffs. Also, Scrapper doesn't seem to damp at all (why would he damp when trying to be heard over a piano, eh?) so giving that ability up for the bass strings isn't a problem.
« Last Edit: April 18, 2005, 05:08:23 AM by Johnm »
"People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it."
George Bernard Shaw

“Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they aren't after you.”
Joseph Heller, Catch-22

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Online Johnm

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Re: Songs you should be able to play and can't
« Reply #25 on: November 28, 2004, 12:09:23 PM »
Thanks for the detailed technical walk-through on "Back Door Blues", John.  It is interesting to read and illuminating.  It sounds as though in the very near future "Back Door Blues" is no longer going to fit appropriately in this thread, for you.  Way to go!
All best,
Johnm

Offline GhostRider

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Re: Songs you should be able to play and can't
« Reply #26 on: November 29, 2004, 11:29:21 AM »
Ladies and Gentlemen:

I now realize that I have to add another to my list, "Bye Bye Blues" by Tommy Johnson. Again I think it's a timing thing, and this time there is no regular bass to keep me on track.

It's such a great tune, both the original and Rory Block's cover. I'm going to give it another crack tonight, so if you never hear from me again, you know what happened.

Alex

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Re: Songs you should be able to play and can't
« Reply #27 on: November 29, 2004, 02:52:16 PM »
Hi Alex,
If you are wanting to pick up Tommy Johnson's "Bye Bye Blues" (which is definitely a great one), you might want to check out Shirley Griffith's version on the Juke.  It is considerably easier to hear than Tommy's version, and I think Shirley was a real stickler for staying close to Tommy's versions of the songs he played that he got from Tommy.  I haven't listened to it in a little while, but isn't the original by Tommy a duet with Charlie McCoy?  I always find it hard to separate out the parts on those duets, just as I do on Ishmon Bracey's original recording of "Saturday Blues".  Just a thought, and Shirley sings and plays the hell out of it, too.
All best,
Johnm   

Offline GhostRider

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Re: Songs you should be able to play and can't
« Reply #28 on: November 29, 2004, 03:43:27 PM »
John:

Thanks, great advise. I have a Shirley Griffith album at home, on vinyl, that I picked up years ago. Hopefully its on there. Don't think I've listened to it in many years.

Alex
« Last Edit: November 29, 2004, 03:44:41 PM by pyrochlore »

Offline Slack

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Re: Songs you should be able to play and can't
« Reply #29 on: November 29, 2004, 04:33:25 PM »
Hang in there Alex, I have similar problems currently with Carl Martin's "Crow Jane" ---  singing on top of these diverse and different parts is a challange - I just keep breaking it down to smaller and smaller segments and hope for the best.

cheers,
slack

Offline frankie

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Re: Songs you should be able to play and can't
« Reply #30 on: November 30, 2004, 06:24:29 AM »
CM's Crow jane is a real pisser.  I have occasional bouts of success, followed by longer bouts of failure.  The hardest thing for me to sing over is the IV chord, with that riff in the bass.  Yikes.

Stuff I've never been able to render satisfactorily:  anything by Mississippi John Hurt, Scrapper Blackwell, Blind Blake, Henry Townsend.  Just can't do it.  I'd much rather just listen to them!  I love trying to play their music, but it never sounds right to me...

Offline Slack

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Re: Songs you should be able to play and can't
« Reply #31 on: November 30, 2004, 07:57:34 AM »
CM's Crow jane is a real pisser.? I have occasional bouts of success, followed by longer bouts of failure.? The hardest thing for me to sing over is the IV chord, with that riff in the bass.? Yikes.

Yep, I stumble on that bass run wihtout singing on top!

Quote
Stuff I've never been able to render satisfactorily:? anything by Mississippi John Hurt, Scrapper Blackwell, Blind Blake, Henry Townsend.? Just can't do it.? I'd much rather just listen to them!? I love trying to play their music, but it never sounds right to me..

Yes, this looks familiar  :P  ..with the possible exception of Scrapper Blackwell - I have hopes for Trouble Blues.

Offline Blue Poodle

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Re: Songs you should be able to play and can't
« Reply #32 on: November 30, 2004, 09:29:52 PM »
I have had trouble playing even the basic version of "Diddy Wah Diddy".  The thumb roll thing takes a while to get used to.  It's only recently that I have started to be able to approximate it.
All the world loves a lover, but a lover doesn't always love love.

Offline slidnslim

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Re: Songs you should be able to play and can't
« Reply #33 on: May 28, 2005, 01:17:16 PM »
Theres a whole lot of songs for me! As I can't play a note in
 standard tuning! I think Son Houses "Depot Blues"
 has got to be my favorite song,but I can't pick on it at all!

 Kenny, :'(

Offline Rivers

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Re: Songs you should be able to play and can't
« Reply #34 on: October 13, 2007, 11:25:35 AM »
Thought I'd revive this topic since we've probably all come some way since then.

Alex, you mentioned Dryland Blues. If you're still having trouble with it rush out and get Johnm's The Guitar of Furry Lewis DVD. I've been working with it this morning and it's coming together thanks to the excellent detailed analysis and demos. Watching it though the first time without the guitar I thought 'that looks pretty easy'. Then I went through it again with the guitar and was shocked at how much I learned.

Personally I tend to lapse into 'the old generic blues' when left to my own devices, sludge really, a mix of Lord knows what. I really benefit from slowing it right down and trying to pick it almost like it was meant to be picked. There's a big difference between playing a generalized 'blues song' and capturing the spirit of a real classic song that, incidentally, just happens to be a blues. The devil is in the details.

You all should pick up the DVD, great job Johnm, thanks!

Rivers.

Offline GhostRider

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Re: Songs you should be able to play and can't
« Reply #35 on: October 13, 2007, 02:36:04 PM »
Alex, you mentioned Dryland Blues. If you're still having trouble with it rush out and get Johnm's The Guitar of Furry Lewis DVD.

Yikes, that would also mean I'd have to rush right out and get a DVD player as well.

And I'm still having trouble.

Thanks for the advice, Riv. I really should get into the 2000's

Alex

Offline Rivers

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Re: Songs you should be able to play and can't
« Reply #36 on: October 13, 2007, 05:57:17 PM »
If you've got a USB port on your PC you can pick up a USB external drive for around $50 these days.
I got an LG brand reader/writer. Works great and came bundled with video playback software. Plug and play, almost.

Offline dave stott

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Re: Songs you should be able to play and can't
« Reply #37 on: October 14, 2007, 07:24:56 AM »
oh wow...

I thought I was the only one having issues with various tunes..

The current bane of my playing existence is: MJH's tune: Mermaids Flirt with me..

I seem to have finally gotten Big Bill's tunes: Mississippi River Blues and Willie Mae down, albeit at half the speed of Big Bill. Long Tall Mama is another one in whihc I have yet to reach the warp speed in which Big Bill plays it.

Dave
 


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Re: Songs you should be able to play and can't
« Reply #38 on: October 14, 2007, 11:45:08 AM »
Thanks very much for the good words on the Furry Lewis instructional video, Rivers.  I have long felt that Furry's playing is terribly under-rated, mostly because he was . . . funny!  I'm afraid Furry didn't fit the mold of the impassioned tortured soul playing the Country Blues, but if you really listen to what he did, he was a great player.
all best,
Johnm   

Offline CF

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Re: Songs you should be able to play and can't
« Reply #39 on: October 14, 2007, 04:44:15 PM »
I can play the guitar part for BB Fuller's 'Looking for My Woman' but I'll be damned If I can sing the last of the verse lines over the E/A chords/riffs . . . 
Stand By If You Wanna Hear It Again . . .

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