My first real six string

Monday, November 5th, 2007 | All Things, Classes, Friends, Music

Okay, lesson one: chords. Now, I don’t know the actual names of the chords, umm, but I… I made up names for the way my hand looks while I’m doing them. So then, this is “Bear Claw.” Okay, umm, “Turkey Leg” and… “Old Lady.”
–Phoebe Buffay, Friends, “The One with All the Resolutions

After weeks of conflicting schedules, CF and I were able finally to set aside an evening for our long-awaited guitar lesson, after which, she assured me, I would be able to play a song. Since I’d never so much as picked up a six string, the plan sounded ambitious, but I was game.

We made our way to the Upper West Side, and over light bites and a bottle of wine, the tutorial began. A major (a.k.a. “Bear Claw”), D major, E major. CF, ever patient, walked me through about half a dozen combinations before my mind could hold no more. (In retrospect, wine may not have been the best choice of beverage for this particular activity.)

Armed with my new knowledge, we flipped through the book CF had presented me with to encourage these new musical frontiers. Rise Up Singing claims to contain nearly 1200(!) songs, though that figure is just a little misleading: the format is what’s known in musical parlance as a “fake book,” which is to say, a collection providing the minimal information needed by a musician to make an impromptu, passable arrangement of a song. Enough to “fake it,” as it were. The format is intended to help a performer quickly learn new songs, and usually contains just a melodic line, lyrics and basic chords. Or in this case, just the lyrics and the chords; editors Peter Blood and Annie Patterson seem to assume that users will already know the tune to many of the book’s songs. I didn’t — er… “Rosebud in June (Sheep Shearing Song)“? — but out of the advertised 1200, there are certainly enough familiar ones to keep me busy for a good long time.

To my delight, and just as CF had promised, I actually was able to play through an entire song by evening’s end. Not well, but almost… somewhat… barely recognizably. My finger pads hadn’t been so sore since my years of Suzuki violin.

The song: “Leaving on a Jet Plane,” which was written by a 23-year old John Denver in 1967 during a flight delay at a Washington airport. Peter, Paul and Mary recorded the most well-known version of the song, which became their biggest (and final) single in 1969. Nearly three decades later, Canadian chanteuse Chantal Kreviazuk scored a minor hit with the version she recorded for the wretched Armageddon (1998).

Interesting tidbit: Denver successfully took legal action against New Order over the song, claiming that the guitar break on the band’s “Run 2” (1989) — the third single off their “last great albumTechniqueย — was based too closely on his “Leaving on a Jet Plane.” An out-of-court settlement against the British rockers ensured that their song would never be re-released in its original form.

Here’s a shot of my beautiful Seagull S6thanks again, friends and family! Yo-Yo Ma has his Petunia; B.B. King has his Lucille… What shall this one be?

Seagull S6

Start up the campfire, break out the s’mores

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There are 5 Comments ... My first real six string

January 8, 2008

Wow, looks good.

I can’t believe New Order would have ripped off John Denver!
Now they can’t re-release the song without editing it!?
That’s terrible.
Maybe the reason that was their last great album was due to the trauma induced by the litigation….
I doubt there’s much cross-over potential between John Denver fans and New Order fans anyway.
I can’t think of what guitar break that is, though.
I learned the song from listening to the Peter, Paul and Mary version.
I’ve played that song many times. It’s nice, but I don’t remember a guitar break. I play it, probably the way you play it from the fake book, in the most basic arrangement possible… I can’t remember the last time I played it all the way through. I always forget the words.

Here’s what I’m playing these days,

Looking forward to our first jam session ๐Ÿ™‚

January 8, 2008

Technique was one of the handful of CDs I brought with me to CMU that summer. That and Depeche Mode’s Violator were on constant boombox rotation.

Jam session… some day. I’ll bring the wine. ๐Ÿ™‚

January 10, 2008

Haha, don’t forget the guitar! ๐Ÿ™‚
I’ll bring some popcorn too, just in case ๐Ÿ˜ฎ

Well, then I’ve heard Technique for sure.
I was going to say that I actually have a copy of Violator now, but I was wrong, it’s Ultra. Shows you how much I know.

CMU pre-college… A summer of exploration… indeed.

A good band to listen to, if you wanna pick up some tunes to play, is CCR (Credence Clearwater Revival). That group taught me a lot of basic lessons about playing guitar. They have a number of songs that are actually the same chords, but the rhythm or feeling of the song is different.

Down on the Corner may even be in your book.
Bad Moon Rising is another good one to get started on.
They’re a bit up-temp, though, so it may be a good challenge to improve your chord changing speed. ๐Ÿ™‚

Dylan’s Blowin’ In The Wind is another nice one, a lot like Leavin’ On A Jet Plane, actually. If you can play that by now you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how easy Blowin’ In The Wind is.

January 10, 2008

Ah yes, Ultra: DM’s post-Alan Wilder album. Some insight, via PopMatters:

Wilder had played an increasingly broad role in the arrangement and production of Depeche Modeโ€™s music. It would be safe to say that most of the sounds on Violator and Songs of Faith and Devotion were Wilder creations. Famously, he transformed โ€œEnjoy the Silenceโ€ from a dirge-like demo to an exquisite house track.

All excellent suggestions… right now “Blowin’ in the Wind” may be more my speed (literally), but eventually, with practice, I hope to work my way up to CCR.

January 29, 2008

Thanks for the background. I haven’t listened to it in ages, I should give it some laser time and come back to you with my outsider opinions. I remember liking it enough to hang on to it when it appeared in my collection. It probably has some quality that makes it less popular among DM fans, but more listenable to someone like me. ๐Ÿ™‚ Keep working on the CCR, it’s good basics and not too far from the folkier stuff you’re going for. I’ll actually bookmark the trackback so I can come back to this entry within two weeks. ๐Ÿ™‚

Go for it ...