Friday, April 4, 2008

Standing up on the stage, giving it all his might

Pribek (link to the left, very much flaky to me on IE) asks for the greatest solos in pop music, leaving it to the reader to define pop music.

I've been listening to the Masters of the Telecaster CDs at work, and I've been generally tired, so I don't have the greatest recall. I can't recall the solo to "Girlfriend" by Matthew Sweet, but I recall that it was fairly cool. "Should've Known Better" by the Beatles is one I've learned but can't do today, and while it is more of a riff than a break, I'm thinking the one from "Long Cool Woman In A Black Dress" by the Hollies is pretty cool.

The solo I think is best, at this moment, is Clarence White's break on "Red Rocking Chair" from the Muleskinner live CD.


I'll step back.

In the 50s and early 60s, bluegrass and other folk forms had a fair amount of popularity. This was pretty much ended when Dylan met the Butterfield Blues Band at Newport. So, you have many talented musicians suddenly without an audience.

In this case, we have: Richard Greene, fiddle for Bill Monroe's Blue Grass Boys; Bill "Brad" Keith, chromatic banjo player and inventer of the Keith tuner, called Brad because "There's only one 'Bill' in Bill Monroe's Blue Grass Boys"; Peter Rowan, guitarist and singer for the Blue Grass Boys; David Grisman, mandolin player for Red Allen; and Clarence White, flatpicking master and member of the Kentucky Colonels.

During the 60s, they all went into rock projects, like Earth Opera, Seatrain and, most known then and still, the Byrds. They were brought together as the prodigal sons brought home again, opening for Bill Monroe for an L.A. video shoot, but the Bluegrass Special (aka the Bluegrass Breakdown) stopped working and Bill was unavailable. So they played the whole show.

"Red Rocking Chair" is a fairly common folk song, and I'm sure, either by that name or another, that it's on Harry Smith's Anthology of American Folk Music. It's in E minor. Banjo solo, fiddle solo, no mando solo, and everyone stayed close to the melody.

Clarence didn't.

If I had a guitar here at work, I'd tab it out, because I learned this thing. I can't play it quite as well, but I can play it. I learned it because it had this lick:
E ------0---0-----0---0----------------
B --5-5---5---5-5---5------------------
G -------------------------------------
D -------------------------------------
A -------------------------------------
E -------------------------------------
Those who don't know the guitar might not get this, but he was playing the open E against E on the B string.

They should be the same note.

They are not the same note.

Because the guitar can't be tuned. You can get close, but you can't get all the way there. Feiten nut adjustment helps, but they didn't have that in 1970. Most guitars don't have it now. CW swung on two notes that should've been the same note, which at least my ears took to be at least a half step until I started trying to learn it. There was a gap in guitar theory, and Clarence just jumped right into that gap.

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