Thursday, January 5, 2012

The Beatles - For No One

The Beatles - For No One

This is really a sweet simple song. I managed to work it out on piano ages ago which is probably why my version on acoustic has a piano feel to it. It's a surprisingly sad song given the upbeat pop stuff the Beatles were putting out near the peak of their career.

This version is one take with no editing and a slightly froggy voice that's just a tad flat. I wish I could autotune it, but I'm singing at the same time I'm playing guitar so I don't have a separate vocal track. Oh, for the record, playing this on my Taylor 12 Fret.

"For No One" is a song written by Paul McCartney (credited to Lennon–McCartney) that originally appeared on The Beatles' seventh album, Revolver. A baroque pop song about the end of a relationship, it was one of McCartney's most mature and poignant works upon its release. Mostly performed by the composer, the track is distinguished by its French horn solo, performed by Alan Civil and used as an obbligato in the final verse.
John Lennon said of the song, "One of my favourites of his—a nice piece of work."
McCartney recalls writing "For No One" in the bathroom of a ski resort in the Swiss Alps while on holiday with his then girlfriend Jane Asher. He said, "I suspect it was about another argument." The lyrics end enigmatically with "...a love that should have lasted years..." The song's working title was "Why Did It Die?" It is built upon a descending scale progression with a refrain that modulates to the supertonic minor.The song was recorded on 9, 16 and 19 May 1966. McCartney sang and played clavichord, piano and bass guitar, while Ringo Starr played drums and tambourine. Lennon and George Harrison did not contribute to the recording.
The French horn solo was by Alan Civil, a British horn player described by recording engineer Geoff Emerick as the "best horn player in London". During the session, McCartney pushed Civil to play a note that was beyond the usual range of the instrument. According to Emerick, the result was the "performance of his life." Civil said that the song was "recorded in rather bad musical style, in that it was 'in the cracks' neither B-flat nor B-major. This posed a certain difficulty in tuning my instrument."  from Wikipedia

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Bob Dylan

I've been playing guitar since I was about 15. Like many my age, thanks to the Beatles and the revolution in music that took place in the 60's I thought it was cool to play guitar.

I've kept at it most of my life, rarely would a week go by without my picking up a guitar and noodling around with it. I taught myself to play by playing along with albums I liked by The Byrds, Neil Young, Eric Clapton and many more.

There are a lot of songs I've learned that I'm very fond of, so I'm presenting them here hoping you'll enjoy them as much as I have.

So here begins a few of my favorite Bob Dylan songs. I remember playing his Highway 61 Revisited album to death in high school and college. It's amazing to me how long those songs have been in my head and I appreciate now how influential that album was. Mainly due to the poetic imagery of his lyrics which encouraged bands from The Beatles to Jimi Hendrix to try to emulate. No one did it better than Dylan. Of course for me Dylan peaked early and subsequent albums disappointed me to the point of total discouragement and I eventually gave up on him, but I guess lightning can't strike twice in one spot.

"Don't Think Twice" is a folk classic and gives a hint as to what was to come later. Basically a song about a guy leaving a somewhat conflicted relationship. We're left to wonder at the end if she asked too much or if he had it to give. Introducing a new guitar, a Taylor 12 Fret that I'm really fond of. Click on the link below and give it a listen.

Don't Think Twice

Well, next up is, well how can I say this, one of the most depressing songs ever written. Seriously. Bummer alert! It's the kind of song that when you play it, you can't help but feel some kind of uplift simply because you think, "well, at least I'm not that guy. . ." But when you're in your late teens, as I was when this song came up, it taps right into the heart of that confused teenage angst so prevalent at that age. The song, combined with that whole 60's disillusionment thing going on then, was quite potent.

In this song, the lyrics are just one allegory after another and I love it's imagery and vividness.
Cinderella, she seems so easy
"It takes one to know one," she smiles
And puts her hands in her back pockets
Bette Davis style
I mean, seriously, how cool is that? And. . .
All these people that you mentioned,
Yes I know them they're quite lame,
I had to rearrange their faces
And give them all another name
As written, the song ran over 11 minutes on the album, so to spare you all, I only did my favorite 4 verses. You can find the lyrics here.

Desolation Row

Just Like Tom Thumbs Blues is a typical enigmatic song title for Dylan. Exactly what quality of blues does Tom Thumb have, I dunno, but what it does is paint a picture of some guy doing shady things with some shady people down in Mexico. A few verses offer some anti-establishment sentiment popular in that day but my favorite is the final verse; "Started out on burgundy but soon hit the harder stuff. . ." What is particularly good in Dylan's writing is the cadence of his prose, his syllables lilt off the tongue like Shakespeare.

Just Like Tom Thumbs Blues

Finally here's It Takes A Lot to Laugh, It Takes a Train To Cry, another head scratcher of a title, but at least there's a train theme in the lyrics. If I knew more about it, I'd guess this is a kind of traditional 40's Woody Guthrie type of American folk song. It evokes the lonely romance of trains and the eternal longing of a guy trying to hook up.

It Takes A Lot to Laugh, It Takes a Train To Cry

A note on recording, I'm not intentionally trying to imitate Dylan's sing style, but it's impossible not to. These particular recordings were second or third take with no editing out mistakes and a continued experimentation on how to mix these things. If it's sounds raw, that's how I intended them. However, I reserve the right to substitute an improved version later, so should you check back in a few months they may be quite different.