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When I die, they'll say, "He couldn't play shit, but he sure made it sound good!" - Hound Dog Taylor

Author Topic: "You don't understand" (Bessie Smith) chords  (Read 3841 times)

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Offline ericm

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"You don't understand" (Bessie Smith) chords
« on: December 26, 2010, 12:10:14 PM »
Hello,
I really like  "You don't understand", a relatively less known song from
Bessie Smith, especially by Ari Eisinger (Artistry DVD).
Can someone help me to find the chord progression for this piece? (sadly not in Hal Leonard Bessie Smith songbook)
Thanks and best regards from Lyon, France.
Eric
JOURNALIST: I guess your long hair makes you a girl.
Frank ZAPPA: I guess your wooden leg makes you a table.

Offline Norfolk Slim

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Re: "You don't understand" (Bessie Smith) chords
« Reply #1 on: December 26, 2010, 04:42:49 PM »
Google Ari's message board and ask him.  ;)

Offline ericm

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Re: "You don't understand" (Bessie Smith) chords
« Reply #2 on: December 27, 2010, 12:36:20 AM »
Thanks Norfolk Slim ...
  ... but here's Ari's answer :

 "Thanks very much, Eric.

Unfortunately, I don't have the chords for this song written out. "
JOURNALIST: I guess your long hair makes you a girl.
Frank ZAPPA: I guess your wooden leg makes you a table.

Offline Stumblin

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Re: "You don't understand" (Bessie Smith) chords
« Reply #3 on: December 27, 2010, 05:59:06 AM »
Any idea who wrote the song (lyricist and composer)?

Offline Pan

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Re: "You don't understand" (Bessie Smith) chords
« Reply #4 on: December 27, 2010, 06:21:46 AM »
Any idea who wrote the song (lyricist and composer)?

"Clarence Williams, Spencer Williams / James P. Johnson"

http://www.redhotjazz.com/bessie.html

Cheers

Pan

Offline Rivers

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Re: "You don't understand" (Bessie Smith) chords
« Reply #5 on: December 27, 2010, 08:17:46 PM »
Great number, thanks for bringing it up. I'll try figure it out and post. Here's what I've got so far, it's in A  ;)

The piano accompaniment, moving through the changes of the progressions, is really nice, kind of sounds more modern than a lot of Bessie's stuff, dare I suggest the Bix revolution was creeping in at that point. But then again I'm hearing Bix's ghost, real or imagined, in a lot of things lately. For the record, recorded 11 October 1929, acc. James P. Johnson, p., NYC. Hot stuff.
« Last Edit: December 27, 2010, 08:33:20 PM by Rivers »

Offline Pan

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Re: "You don't understand" (Bessie Smith) chords
« Reply #6 on: December 28, 2010, 07:28:10 AM »
Here are the chords from Ari's version, as far as I can tell:

Intro:
|| A | C#7 | F#7 | F#7 , F#7(#5) F#7 |

| B7 | E7 | A | A ||

A:
|| A (with a chromatic lick in 6ths) | % | A E7 | A |

| A (with a chromatic lick in 6ths) | % | A E7 | A |

| G#7 C#m | G#7 C#m | G#7 | C#m |

| E Fdim7 | B7/F# B7 | Bm7 | E7 ||

B:
||: A | C#7(#9) | F#7 | F#7 |
              1st ending  2nd ending
| B7 | E7 | A | E7 :|| A | A ||

C:
|| A | A7/G | F#7 | Bm |

| B7 | B7 | Bm7 | E7 ||

to B2

to A

to B1

to C

to B2 and Fine!

For some reason my RealPlayer can't open the Bessie Smith recording on the Red Hot Jazz archives, so I am unable to check on the piano accompaniment.  >:(

Cheers

Pan

Offline ericm

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Re: "You don't understand" (Bessie Smith) chords
« Reply #7 on: December 28, 2010, 08:30:01 AM »
Thanks ... and congratulations!!!   :D
JOURNALIST: I guess your long hair makes you a girl.
Frank ZAPPA: I guess your wooden leg makes you a table.

Offline uncle bud

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Re: "You don't understand" (Bessie Smith) chords
« Reply #8 on: December 28, 2010, 08:36:15 AM »
Clarence Williams also recorded a version of this himself in November 1929 with a small jazz band (and James P Johnson on celeste!)

See below.

[attachment deleted by admin]

Offline Pan

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Re: "You don't understand" (Bessie Smith) chords
« Reply #9 on: December 28, 2010, 04:47:47 PM »
Thanks for the mp3 Uncle Bud.

There are some subtle differances with the take you posted vs. Ari's version. First of all, the keys are obviously different, the Williams version opens up in D major, but then modulates down a minor 3rd to B major when the vocals come in, only to move back to the D major for the rest of the instrumental/solo parts. Jack Teagarden used this also on his "Meet Me Where They Play The Blues", so I'm wondering if this was a common arrangement thing way back when?

They seem to mostly treat the song as a 32 bars AABA form, with an extra 8 bars interlude thrown in the first instrumental chorus. The Williams take has what I referred as "B" part in Ari's version, as the A part of the AABA, and the "C" part as the B or bridge part. I think the pianist plays a little more chords on the A part, but the bridge is simpler than in Ari's version:

|| I7 | I7 | IV7 | IV7 |

| II7 | II7 | V7 | V7 ||

Interestingly the part with the chromatic lick doesn't get to be played at all with the vocals, but only appears in the first instrumental song part, after the AABA song form, while Ari sings and emphasizes this part a lot more. Also the chords for the chromatic lick sound like a IIm7 - V7 thing, rather than just the tonic chord to me.

Now I'm even more curious to hear the Bessie Smith take! Can you guys open the Red Hot Jazz file, and if so, by using what program?

Cheers

Pan

Offline Stumblin

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Re: "You don't understand" (Bessie Smith) chords
« Reply #10 on: December 29, 2010, 03:42:29 AM »
Thanks for the mp3 Uncle Bud.
Now I'm even more curious to hear the Bessie Smith take! Can you guys open the Red Hot Jazz file, and if so, by using what program?
Cheers
Pan
You Don't Understand is on the Proper box set Chattanooga Gal (Properbox 78), disc 4, track 13.
I just retrieved my copy from the CD cabinet and will start work on a ukulele version asap  8)
This very afternoon, indeed.

P.S. RealPlayer does seem to be quite a bit of a pain in the arse, why should I constantly have to install extra plug-ins?
« Last Edit: December 29, 2010, 04:01:56 AM by Stumblin »

Offline dj

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Re: "You don't understand" (Bessie Smith) chords
« Reply #11 on: December 29, 2010, 07:22:15 AM »
Quote
Can you guys open the Red Hot Jazz file, and if so, by using what program?

Pan,

I also had trouble playing You Don't Understand, in fact I couldn't play any song from the Red Hot Jazz archive.  I upgraded to the latest version of Real Player and tried You Don't Understand again.  This time, Real Player picked up a few plug-in upgrades and the song played.

Real Player is a pain.  If it weren't the format for everything in Red Hot Jazz, I'd never touch the thing.

Offline ericm

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Re: "You don't understand" (Bessie Smith) chords
« Reply #12 on: December 29, 2010, 11:57:28 AM »
JOURNALIST: I guess your long hair makes you a girl.
Frank ZAPPA: I guess your wooden leg makes you a table.

Offline Stumblin

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Re: "You don't understand" (Bessie Smith) chords
« Reply #13 on: December 29, 2010, 03:09:12 PM »
I had a go at this today. Listened to the song a few times, paused it after each line & wrote what I thought I'd heard. Rinsed & repeated a couple of times.
Here's what I thought I heard:
You Don't Understand

Here I am, girl [?] o? mine, pleadin? but it?s all in vain,
Here I am, out of line, can?t we make it up again?
You know, Baby, there?s no maybe, I love only you,
You the only one and no one else will do,
It makes me forget when you turn me away,
But I know, Dear, [that?]  you don?t understand,
Won?t you believe anything [that?] I say?
But I know, Dear, [that?] you don?t understand,
Open up your heart, let me in your heart, I?m pleadin?,
No one else will do, ?cause it?s only you I?m needin?,
My fate [?] you hold, my love, in your hands,
But I know, Dear, [that?]  you don?t understand,

I?m so blue, in despair, ?cause you have turned me down,
I don?t know if you care I don?t come around,
You know, Honey, it?s so funny, when you treat me bad,
Won?t you hear me pleadin?, cause I?m goin? mad,
It makes me cry when you laugh in my face,
But I know, Dear, [that?]  you don?t understand,
Now I see why I can?t hold first place,
?Cause I know, Dear, [that?]  you don?t understand,
For you love I?ll strive, sure as I?m alive, I?ll bet you,
Then you?ll forgive, soon you?ll forgive, I?ll get you,
Then you?ll see all the things that I?ve planned,
But I know, Dear, [that?]  you don?t understand.

Feel free to add corrections etc. I'm sure this is littered with errors and artefacts of projected assumptions or whatever...
Great song, by the way. I'm tryig to adapt it for a male singer. And I might drop "Dear!"
I mean,

Offline Pan

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Re: "You don't understand" (Bessie Smith) chords
« Reply #14 on: December 29, 2010, 03:52:24 PM »
dj, thanks for your help with the RealPlayer. I will try upgrading when my nerves have calmed down enough. I agree that if it weren't for Red Hot Jazz, the player would be quite useless.

ericm, thanks for the Bessie link. It sounds like her version was indeed the starting point with Ari's arrangement.

As for the lyrics, I believe it's time I step aside, and let you gentlemen continue with the tune.  :)

Cheers

pan

 


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