Sunday, January 30, 2011

The Girl From Ipanema

The hoary bossa-nova standard. Song is in F, but there is a bunch of chromatic business between G and Gb and B and Bb. The bridge is a pretty straightforward circle of fifths progression.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Reelin In The Years

On Saturdays I am working through "The Best of Steely Dan: An Inside Look at the Guitar Styles of Steely Dan". The tab seems accurate, the CD is useful, and the text is reasonably insightful. At the core "Reelin In The Years" is a straightforward G-D-A song, but there is a bunch of harmonic stuff happening in the solos that is hard to nail. Learned this one pretty much by rote repetition, hopefully I will gain some understanding from future efforts. I'm in the right channel, the original is in the left channel.

Saturday, January 22, 2011


Working through "The Great James Brown Rhythm Sections - 1960-1973" on Wednesdays. The playing on this one is pretty bad, but my new RME Multiface is allowing me to record four tracks as once, which is giving me more options for fattening up individual instruments. Right now I've got it set up to record the DI, the line out of the amp head, a close mic on the amp cabinet, and a room mic.

Not much to this song - the original drum part is kind of erratic and hard to follow - my version is more regular (if less funky) - but a pretty straightforward shuffle blues. Main thing to be conscious of is when you double and when you lay out on the bass and guitar.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Ain't No Mountain High Enough

It's in D major, but you spend the whole song avoiding D - voice the III, voice the V, voice the IVsus4, just don't voice the I, because that is reserved for Tammi. The bass line has some funky chromatic passing notes, but I didn't really have time learn the whole thing, so I kind of faked it. There is also one of those classic Motown moves where the bridge returns to a modulation of the verse, but again, party over out of time.

Ain't No Mountain High Enough, by TheWoodshedTapes, on SoundClick.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Just The Happy Times

When mom was in the nursing home
I stopped by every day at lunch
And after she passed, I kept going
Partially out of habit
And partially for the good karma
But mostly because I'm a social person
And if I don't get out and talk to people
Something is not right in my day.
So there's this one old lady
Not as good as some, but better than most
She's got a VCR and a big stack of tapes in her room.
When I visit I ask the people if they want to watch
A different channel on the tv
The news maybe, or one of the soaps.
But all she ever wants to do is
Play those tapes again and again
"Just the happy times, Bill" she says
"Put in one of the happy times".
And it's the standard sort of home movie stuff
From when her kids were little and she was young.
So I've seen these kids
Opening presents and blowing out candles
Dying Easter eggs and climbing trees
Over the span of several years.
But I realized today
That while I know exactly what they looked like as babies
I have no idea what they look like now.
I try to ask her about it but all she will say is:
"Just the happy times, Bill
"Put in one of the happy times".

Sunday, January 02, 2011

Vertigo in Massachusetts

The jungle gym casts
Trapezoidal moon shadows
Onto the sloping ground

The Flying Wallendas
Triumph again
To the roar of our fantasy crowd

I remember her hands
Slipping through mine
The blood and her tears
On the hard frozen ground

For our album covers
She never once smiled
Everyone thought
She was depressed

But I knew the truth
It wasn't her mind
It was the tooth
Of a flightless Wallenda.


Whiskey and ice
On a warm summer day
A bead of condensation
Forms and falls
From the end of the glass
Onto the carpet below.

Her head on my shoulder
She started to cry
A single tear poised
On the tip of her nose
I kissed her and said
"I'll always be there to watch over you".
Knowing, even then, it was a lie.


Only in the past
Can we discover
The present.

Our future returns
To unearth
The artifacts.

How people must have lived
In this place
With these things.

Strange yet familiar
Forever retracing
The invisible outline below.

Amidst the noises
Of water and china
She sings, under her breath

The record sounds different
The production is dated
But the core of her voice remains.

She steps out of her shoes
Slips her arms around my neck
And we dance

It is familiar, yet strange
To be on this side
We never danced up on stage

But now here we are
Dancing together, turning slowly
In the darkening parlor of our past.