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It takes a big-mouthed man to be a preacher - Willie Moore, delta musician and friend of Son House

Author Topic: Broke Down Engine  (Read 4720 times)

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Offline frankie

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Re: Broke Down Engine
« Reply #15 on: January 13, 2005, 07:35:56 PM »
Guitar sounds great, voice is great - nice!  The rubato sounds more under control in take 2 - very good.  You can obviously push a lot of wind with your voice..  I'm totally jealous!

Offline dj

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Re: Broke Down Engine
« Reply #16 on: January 14, 2005, 02:32:50 PM »
I prefer the lower slower version.  It has a great late-night meditative feel to it.  You've taken a song I never thought much of and really made me see it in another light.  Listening to your first posted version puts me very much in the same mood as listening to Blind Willie doing Mama 'Taint Long Fo' Day.  Very nicely done!
   

Offline waxwing

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Re: Broke Down Engine
« Reply #17 on: January 17, 2005, 10:07:56 PM »
Hey guys, thanks for the great feedback. It's great to get an idea how other players feel about my singing and playing.

PS... ever hear Paul Geremia's version w/ slide in standard?? Saw him live locally a few months back...wow!
PPS...from the 'lyric' link you posted...I liked the imagery of the 'can I get out snake, lemon and sassafrass' voodoo interpretation of the mystery lyric ... I hadn't heard the version you referenced
PPPS...man, how come your 12 doesn't rattle and twang?? it sounds so clean ...mine's driving me nuts with noise...Mike Hauver, the repairman Neil uses, restored mine and set it up, but now that the heat's come on, it's not sounding so clean...I'll have to revisit the string discussion and play around with some changes to try to beat some of the buzz...
TomW.
Hey Tom, Paul didn't play BDE when I saw him last year, but I hope to trade a few tunes with him at PT this summer.
Check out either takes of Buddy's Broke Down Engine No. 2 on the Juke. Actually I just listen to both and my memory had failed me (again). Sounds like he sings "snake level" and in take 2 he even stumbles over it, maybe he was unclear what Willie had been singin'. Anyway, I sing "snake like". BTW Curley Weaver on second guitar.
After I got the 12 from Neal, I had the neck reset and bridge lifted and repositioned with a nicely compensated saddle (like a little snake) by Gary Brawer's shop here in San Francisco. It plays beautifully, but the weather does have some effect on it. I also start to get a twang in the 1st and 2nd courses when the strings need changing.

You can obviously push a lot of wind with your voice..? I'm totally jealous!
Well at least I have somethin' to show for 30 years of acting and not playing any guitar. Not such a strain Slack, just tired. Throat's pretty open.

I prefer the lower slower version.? It has a great late-night meditative feel to it.? You've taken a song I never thought much of and really made me see it in another light.? Listening to your first posted version puts me very much in the same mood as listening to Blind Willie doing Mama 'Taint Long Fo' Day.? Very nicely done!
I imagine some nights will be slower than others. Thanks, dj.

All for now.
John C.
« Last Edit: April 08, 2005, 11:03:07 AM by waxwing »
"People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it."
George Bernard Shaw

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Offline Blue Poodle

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Re: Broke Down Engine
« Reply #18 on: February 27, 2005, 01:06:37 PM »
John:

Great job.? You really play the hell out of that song, and your singing is very expressive.

I'll add one thought for you to play with.? The idea is to try to sing in the same "position" regardless of which point in your range you are singing.? What I hear is that you are thinking "high" when you are singing higher, and thinking "low" when the pitch goes low.? Usually when we do that (and most of us do) that means that your throat and neck tighten, which chokes the sound, and hurts besides.

My suggestion is this:? take one of the phrases at the lower part of your range.? Speak the words in your normal, comfortable speaking voice, all at the same pitch level, observing the way that your throat feels, and where the sounds seems to be centered.? Next, try singing the same phrase slowly, with the melody, but try to keep the same feeling in your throat as when you speak.? If anything, try to keep a more relaxed feeling in your throat as you sing.? Don't think "down", think as though it all stays a the same level.

You'll probably find it easier to sing the lower notes.? You'll probably also think that the sound isn't as full, but other listeners usually hear just the opposite.

I mention this idea or technique because it sounds to me like you have more than enough vocal range to handle this song easily, even though it is a pretty tough song.? The trick is to relax more all the way through it.? To me, one of the great things about Blind Willie as a singer is how relaxed he was, in all parts of his vocal range.? I never hear much strain in his singing, which is probably how he managed to sing in the streets for hours and hours at time without wearing out his voice.

I'm not trying to be critical, as I think that you did a really nice job with this song, both with the playing and the singing.? But, there is even more in your voice that isn't quite coming out yet.

Best Wishes,

Tim
« Last Edit: April 08, 2005, 11:05:46 AM by waxwing »
All the world loves a lover, but a lover doesn't always love love.

Offline waxwing

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Re: Broke Down Engine
« Reply #19 on: February 28, 2005, 02:37:16 PM »
Thanks, Tim. In spite of my vocal training as an actor, it's not the same as singing, and I can use all the guidance I can get. I appreciate you diggin' this thread up.

Look forward to seeing you at PT again, Dr Insouciance (Devil-may-care?).

All for now.
John C.
"People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it."
George Bernard Shaw

http://www.youtube.com/user/WaxwingJohn
https://www.facebook.com/WaxwingJohn

Willie Brown's Liquor at CD Baby

chris nightbird

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Re: Broke Down Engine
« Reply #20 on: May 21, 2005, 09:44:00 PM »
Very nice John!
You can definitely play that 12!
I've only ever heard Mr. McTell's version, so that's the one I'm goin' on.
Yours is different from Willie's and mine, you make it your own, which is what I try to do whenever I interpret someone else's tune.

I think the second is the better of the two though.
It travels a little faster. It's a bit more urgent...

Offline waxwing

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Re: Broke Down Engine
« Reply #21 on: May 22, 2005, 11:51:39 AM »
Hey Chris,
Thanks. I can't really tell which version I like. Sometimes I think the song is more dispairing than urgent, he feels all used up. But I'm a 54 year old so I may not have the urgency of youth in my singing. Not used up yet, but I know that empty feeling. I think it comes out different every time I perform it.

Which version of BDE are you referring to. I think Willie recorded it in three different decades, so his approach is very different from recording to recording. I transcribed the lyrics and guitar arrangement from his earliest, recorded in Atlanta in October of '31. Of course, I try to let my own feelings come through in the playing and singing, and that may certainly change the feel.

Transcribing 12 string is particularly interesting to me, because by listening carefully to the strings with octave courses you can tell whether it was struck with the thumb (high string first) or the fingers (low string first). Judging from the way Willie alternates between thumb and finger on the 3rd (which he happens to have strung with an octave on this recording) and 4th strings I feel that he pretty much alternates between thumb and finger on his treble runs, except, of course, when he has a bass note under it, taking the thumb out of treble play. He varies this from verse to verse, but when he is alternating thumb and finger, it really gives a slight lilt to the run. Gary Davis is well known to have used this alternating style in playing runs, always striking on the beat with the thumb. I think McTell does this as well, but others may disagree. You really learn a lot of technique by listening closely to the old players, tho'.

Well, again, welcome to Weenie Campbell. Definitely dredge up some of those 12 string threads. Lots to talk about there.

All for now.
John C.
"People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it."
George Bernard Shaw

http://www.youtube.com/user/WaxwingJohn
https://www.facebook.com/WaxwingJohn

Willie Brown's Liquor at CD Baby

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