Well, here it is almost May in 2020. All gigs have been cancelled until ??? All rehearsals with bandmates have been cancelled until ??? So here in my home studio I’ve been playing solo, just trying to get good, full versions of my favorite songs, one guitar and one voice in one take.
So far I’ve just been sending out the takes I like to friends, but now I’m going to post them here and make a general announcement, let those who want them come and hear. These are, if nothing more, great songs written by great songwriters… or else by me.
I will kick off the page with a video I put together of my “topical” song, Corona Corona. The rest of the songs are in mp3 format. Feel free to right-click and download any that you’d like to keep handy (or however you do such things in Apple World).
One of the first songs I wanted to record and send to the worried was this Mark Knopfler tune: Why Worry Now. Knopfler knocks me out with his songwriting, his guitar playing, and his singing too, so seemingly effortless and yet so perfect.
This Leonard Cohen tune has been done to death I know. But I wanted to learn it for the chord progression– how do you get a melody to do that? And once I got it in the right key (Ab of all things) I found it suited my voice. Further googling produced the interesting fact that Leonard may have written as many as 80 verses for this. People pick and choose among them. I confess that I used Jeff Buckley’s set, just because when I was young I idolized Jeff’s old man.
Here’s one just for fun. It’s a tune from the 20’s; I learned it from a Jim Kweskin version from the 60’s. Geoff Muldaur singing. It seems naturally a fingerpicking tune, but I banged it out on the 12-string recently and it seemed to work. So here, a little sprout from the Garden of Joy.
When the covid took John Prine, I lost for a time my taste for my own song Corona Corona. “I don’t find this kind of thing amusing any more.” But up we get, the struggles go on, and John Prine told a joke in the middle of this song about the death of his father… and the weather.
And here’s another Prine tune. Like a black and white noir movie. Very much like,
Hey kids, do you like that folk music? Here’s one of them nautical songs, older than me, older than my father, maybe as old as Moby Dick.
Cormac McCarthy is a New Hampshire songwriter who lives in Maine (just over the border and up the coast a wee bit). He has written some very good songs and some very funny ones. Here’s one of his that I think I do justice to, although I’m not sure he agrees.
I have been trying to record my own songs, don’t think I haven’t. Let me quote Bob Dylan: “I like doing other people’s songs– I already know how they’re supposed to sound.” Well, I do know how I think I want my songs to sound, but so far this Spring I haven’t gotten there.
But… last year I got a bunch of my newest songs to sound very much the way I wanted them to, recording them with The Sandwich Rangers. So here’s one of them, the song of a man who’s made a great journey up the mighty Mississippi and is looking to recruit a comely passenger for the trip back downriver.