what songs to learn? please help

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what songs to learn? please help

Postby jcv » Wed Apr 19, 2006 2:24 pm

Hi all,

This is my first post - great forum!

I have just started playing again after a 15 year layoff and I want to become a student of the blues! I want to learn some songs that every electric blues player should know. So far I don't know much - I can play some SRV: Cold Shot (with solo), I'm Cryin' (no solo yet), the begining of Mary Had a Little Lamb. I'm working on Robert Cray's 'The Score' right now and I'm 25% of the way through 'My Way Down' by Chris Duarte.

Please give me some essential tunes to learn so I can add to my rep.

Thanks in advance
Jay
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RE: what songs to learn? please help

Postby bighollowtwang » Wed Apr 19, 2006 2:34 pm

[updated:LAST EDITED ON Apr-19-06 AT 10:35 AM (EST)]>I want to learn
>some songs that every electric blues player should know.

Maybe you should lay off the SRV stuff (rock songs that every cover band already does to death) and investigate the classic blues players that inspired him...people like Albert King, Freddy King, Gatemouth Brown, Albert Collins, Lightnin Hopkins, Hubert Sumlin, T-Bone Walker...
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RE: what songs to learn? please help

Postby jcv » Wed Apr 19, 2006 3:04 pm

that's exactly what I want to do, could you give me a few specific songs? It seems every time I pick an older blues song at random, it's just singing then a lick then singing then a lick... I know these artists recorded more rhythm guitar driven music - these would probably be better to start with.
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RE: what songs to learn? please help

Postby bighollowtwang » Wed Apr 19, 2006 3:36 pm

Buy a collection of Freddy King's instrumental recordings from the early 60s (the King/Federal recordings). Each track is a concise lesson on tone, phrasing and attack.

You're not likely to hear the kind of wall-to-wall rhythm guitar that a blues-rock power trio generates, most "real" blues recordings rely more on dynamics and arrangements to "fill out" the sound, but if you want to check out some interesting rhythm players, investigate Eddie Taylor, and the recordings where Robert Lockwood jr backs Little Walter and Sonny Boy Williamson - he wrote the book on backing a harp player, and you won't hear many single-note blues-rock cliches in his playing.

Also check out Chicago players like Jimmy Rogers, the Myers brothers Louis and Dave, and guys like Luther Tucker from the next generation...their concept of two guitar interplay is less based on rhythm/lead distinctions and more focused on interweaving parts where one guitar plays a line in the lower register and the other plays an interlocking part in the treble....a tradition that dates back to the Charley Patton/Willie Brown duets. Early Muddy Waters band recordings with Jimmy Rogers also feature this style - something that seems completely lost on the rock-based "interpreters" of the style.
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RE: what songs to learn? please help

Postby allanlummox » Wed Apr 19, 2006 4:05 pm

Really, really well put.
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RE: what songs to learn? please help

Postby bighollowtwang » Wed Apr 19, 2006 4:30 pm

Yeah but it took me 20 minutes to formulate the first sentence because I haven't had any caffeine yet. :P


If you want to learn some specific songs that aren't too technically demanding, check out "Ludella" by Jimmy Rogers, or "Left Me With A Broken Heart" - that's classic 50s Chicago blues guitar. Robert Lockwood's subtle ostinato chord accompaniment on Little Walter's "Last Night" (check out that sustained high A note through an entire 12-bar in D - COOL!) is a great lesson on the effectiveness of minimalism...Eddie Taylor on the Jimmy Reed song "High And Lonesome" - another classic guitar accompaniment that has been borrowed from by just about everyone. Robert Lockwood's 1941 recording of "Take A Little Walk With Me" is the template for the standard E shuffle, only played chordally instead of as a simplified lick on the low strings. There's lots of stuff out there, I could name you songs all day but you should just investigate 'em on your own...and get past the "greatest hits/lowest common denominator" side of "blues" and check out the real deal.
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RE: what songs to learn? please help

Postby leftyguitarman » Wed Apr 19, 2006 6:56 pm

Well, if you like slide blues, there are a lot of good Robert Johnson recordings that have blues stuff. Also, look into Eric Clapton stuff. Not his usual stuff, his blues stuff. One of my favorite songs ever, is the original recording of "If I Had Possession Over Judgment Day" by Robert Johnson, but Clapton's recording is amazing too. Check it out if you dont know it. Buy the "Sessions for Robert J" and "Me and Mr. Johnson" by Eric Clapton. Good stuff.
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RE: what songs to learn? please help

Postby bighollowtwang » Wed Apr 19, 2006 7:18 pm

[updated:LAST EDITED ON Apr-19-06 AT 03:19 PM (EST)]

Ask a question on a message board and you're bound to get lots of conflicting opinions on something as subjective as music....Clapton is exactly the kind of stuff I'd avoid, unless you want to hear someone suck all the life and nuance out of Robert Johnson's music and turn it into radio-friendly pablum.

>there are a lot of good
>Robert Johnson recordings that have blues stuff.

There are some that don't?
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RE: what songs to learn? please help

Postby allanlummox » Wed Apr 19, 2006 7:47 pm

Man - when I first got into the Blues, I had no problem figuring out what to listen to - I went to a local used record store and, if it was in the Blues section, and I had enough money with me, I bought it. (It was a small section that I wound up owning most of)

When I got into playing Blues Guitar, I had no problem with what to try to play - because I'd been listening to the records. I knew which songs I liked so well that I wanted to play them.
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RE: what songs to learn? please help

Postby dancher » Wed Apr 19, 2006 9:38 pm

i agree on the clapton stuff. He shoulda left well enough alone.
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RE: what songs to learn? please help

Postby leftyguitarman » Wed Apr 19, 2006 10:17 pm

If you want to learn some new stuff by good blues guys, look at Hubert Sumlin (one of my favorites) and look at Robert Cray too. They're both really great.
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RE: what songs to learn? please help

Postby leftyguitarman » Wed Apr 19, 2006 10:19 pm

>There are some that don't?

Good point. haha. They all are blues.
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RE: what songs to learn? please help

Postby mickeypainless » Thu Apr 20, 2006 1:36 am

>>>Clapton is exactly the kind of stuff I'd avoid, unless you want to hear someone suck all the life and nuance out of Robert Johnson's music and turn it into radio-friendly pablum.

That may be the classiest retort I have ever read on EC!
I personally like alot of Clapton stuff (ala Cream etc) so I don't get into many of the discussions pro or con but I do get annoyed when someone say's he's a God or the extreme opposite. I really think Zak's wording above is quite sussinct!
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RE: what songs to learn? please help

Postby ricochet » Thu Apr 20, 2006 1:40 am

I once saw a pic I thought hilarious, of a warehouse wall with a "Clapton is God" graffito, and a dog cocking his leg and pissing on it.

(I kinda like old Eric's playing, if not so much his singing, but I've never confused him with God.)

"A cheerful heart is good medicine."
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RE: what songs to learn? please help

Postby rustyslide » Thu Apr 20, 2006 5:09 am

>I once saw a pic I thought hilarious, of a warehouse wall
>with a "Clapton is God" graffito, and a dog cocking his leg
>and pissing on it.

Someone asked him what he thought of the graffiti, and he said that he likes that picture with the dog.

Anyway, I love Eric Clapton - except his recent few albums which are really bland. New one produced by J.J. Cale ought to be good.



As for what to learn for electric blues? if you aren't going to be playing with anyone for awhile, I'd suggest any of the solo electric guys like John Lee Hooker and R.L. Burnside.
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