Saturday, January 30, 2010

Songquest 2010: Cocaine and Ashes

I don't know if this rises to the point of a resolution, but one of the things I wanted to do this year is learn more songs. I thought about going to a new song a week, but then it got to be 2 weeks into the year and I hadn't hit anything, so I decided to learn one song a month, beyond what Wednesday and Sunday require. The idea is that, for each song, I gain some knowledge of these songs and the guitarists' lead styles, not so I can play out on the song, but so I can integrate it with what I do. Also, as a skills-building exercise.

The first one that I'm doing is one I first heard over a year ago and have blogged about before, called "Cocaine and Ashes" by Jay Farrar of Son Volt and Uncle Tupelo. He's since recorded it with Son Volt and released it on American Central Dust, but the version I know best is him playing with Mark Spencer. He's playing a Creston, a Tele-style guitar with P-90s. We'll see how close my dead-stock Teles and solid-state Frontman get to his sound later.

It's in waltz time. It seems that alt-country folks like waltz time and alt-rock folks avoid waltz time because it feels old. I love when a new drummer comes in and a 3/4 or 6/4 song comes up on rotation, because they always end up counting to four and not three. Verse
    D  / /  D  / /  C  / /  G  / /
D / / D / / C / / G / /
D / / D / / C / / G / /
D / / D / / C / / C / /

    G  / /  G  / /  C  / /  G  / /
Em / / Em / / D / / D / /
D / / D / / G / / G / /
Intro is the same as the verse. Chords are G, C, D and Em, which pretty strongly puts this into the catagory of songs in G. I love how the last line of the verse doesn't switch to C, just leaves you hanging on the IV chord, waiting for resolution.

Here's part of the intro.
E -------7----8--8---7-5-5b6--3--------------------------
B -------------------------------5--3--------------------
G --7---------9--9---7-5-5b6--4--------2-0---------------
D ------------------------------------------2-0-----0----
A ----------------------------------------------0-2------
E -------------------------------------------------------
The double stop part reminds me of 60s R&B guitar, like "Memphis Soul Stew" and taken to rock by Jimi Hendrix when he did "Like A Rolling Stone" at Monterey Pop. I originally thought it was B and D strings, but it's a simple transposition because all the intervals are the same. The first "chord", xxx7x7, can be seen as a G major, as you have the third and fifth. It can also be seen as a B minor, with D being the minor third of B. xxx8x9 then works as a C chord (C E), xx5x5 being C7 or A minor, and xxx4x3 being a G.

The seven chords of the G scale ( G , Am , Bm , C , D , Em , F#dim ) in
broken R&B form, D and B strings
E ------------------------
B --0--1--3--5--7--8--10--
G ------------------------
D --0--2--4--5--7--9--10--
A ------------------------
E ------------------------
The seven chords of the G scale ( G , Am , Bm , C , D , Em , F#dim ) in broken R&B form, G and E strings
E --3--5--7--8--10--12--13----
B ----------------------------
G --4--5--7--9--11--12--14----
D ----------------------------
A ----------------------------
E ----------------------------
The seven chords of the G scale ( G , Am , Bm , C , D , Em , F#dim ) in broken R&B form, G and E strings, seen another way
E --7--8--10--12--14--15--17--
B ----------------------------
G --7--9--11--12--14--16--17--
D ----------------------------
A ----------------------------
E ----------------------------
The descending bit, starting with the B string E and going down to open A, follows the G pentatonic major scale down to A. But there are some big jumps, maybe not in scale but certainly in position. This is not a lick I would've come up with by myself. I know I play notey, maybe to my detriment. Which is why this is so appealing. It takes techniques I know but in a time and with position jumps I never use. Which is why I started with it.

I will try to add the mid-song solo at a later time. Join us next time for "Rock and Roll" by Led Zeppelin. Or "Take Me With You (When You Go)" by the Jayhawks. Or maybe something else.


Pribek said...

Neat licks, well phrased, tone that fits the tune and makes you want to hear what comes next.

It's a good thing learning tunes in this way. Copping stuff you dig leads to further development of your own thing.

BTW-did you hear hear that Keef put down the bottle?

Dave Jacoby said...

I did. It's interesting. I suppose Woody running off the rails made him think.

I've heard stories about the Stones and basically, if you did your job, you could do about anything else, but if your chemical intake got in the way of the machine, you got rolled over and left in the wake.

Video: Thing is, the album take sounds nothing like that. Which is sad, because this is great!

patrick said...

Ok, played through it, and I think the chords look more like this; he uses some nifty voicings and such. That voicing of Cadd9 is nice to throw in when you're in the key of G. Adds a little meat to the IV. You can really hear the minor in the lead work too. The Em voicing adds a high G.
D / / D / / Cadd9 (x32033) / / Em (022003)
D / / D / / Cadd9 / / G / /
D / / D / / Cadd9 / / Em / /
D / / D / / Cadd9 / / Cadd9 / /

The only difference here is that he switches from a D to a D7 in the last line, giving it more pull back to the G at the end. I don't think he uses the Cadd9 voicing in the chorus.