Big Road Blues [demo]

A Tommy Johnson classic that suddenly revisited my head after a decade or two.

I was actually noodling around with an arrangement for Castles and Kings, which I’ve started to think of as a sort of Shropshire train blues, when I suddenly found myself thinking of the Tommy Johnson classic ‘Big Road Blues’, which hasn’t crossed my mind in decades.

This version is a bit tentative (not least because I wasn’t sure I remembered the words correctly, and the arrangement isn’t at all how I used to do it). But I wanted to get it down before I forgot about it again, and I think with a little polish it’ll work well.

Anyway…

Two White Horses [demo]

A slide instrumental based on the song known as ‘One Kind Favor’ or ‘See That My Grave Is Kept Clean’, first recorded by Blind Lemon Jefferson. It probably derives ultimately (and quite remotely) from a mournful Victorian ballad by Gus Williams called ‘See That My Grave Is Kept Green’. There is a recording of the ballad by the Carter Family, who also recorded something closer to the bluesier song as ‘Sad And Lonesome Day’.

Faintly Fahey [demo] [cleaner version]

Improvised slide piece that reminds me a little of John Fahey.

I’m ashamed to say I’m not well acquainted with the work of John Fahey, though I have occasionally played ‘The Death of the Clayton Peacock’ which I learned, I think, from a guitar anthology album. Even the way I play ‘Poor Boy/Vestapol’ ultimately derives from Stefan Grossman rather than either Fahey or Robert Wilkins. But that’s another story.

This is actually an improvisation (which started as a sort of pseudo-air in D-modal but somehow moved to a slide piece in Csus2), but it reminded me a little of the Fahey tracks I heard in the 70s. And now I think I’m going to have to start listening to him again.

Slightly tighter version than previously, played on resonator guitar.

Copyright David Harley, 2017.