Wednesday, June 29, 2011

A Bridge Too Far

Two of my absolute all-time favorite sixties rock songs are 1) Hey, Jude and 2) Bridge Over Troubled Water, the latter of which is sometimes referred to as the American version of the former. Jude came out in August of 1968; Bridge, early in 1970. Best-sellers, award-winners, and the music I came of age listening to, so what's not to like?

They took the three-minute AM pop-radio format and tossed it: 7:11 for Jude, 4:55 for Bridge.

I can play Hey, Jude on the guitar. And after running it through different arrangements, decided that the key of A was best for my voice in its current incarnation, so that's how I sing it.

Once upon a time, I had a half-assed version of Bridge, but the original was, I believe E, (that is, three-flats, according to the handy-dandy Circle of Fifths.) Which is not a fun key for guitarists of my stripe (nor any stripe short of serious jazz guys, far as I can tell. It was written as a piano tune, and for the longest time when Paul and Artie sang it in public, they would fly Larry Knechtel, their session guy who played the piano on the recording, in to do just that one number. Must be nice.) 

I learned the song after a fashion, playing it with  D-shapes and capoing up one to get that E-flatI managed to get something I could sing ... well, save for about half the high notes Artie could reach and I couldn't get to without sounding like a girl-on-helium screaming in a monster movie.

Hearing my voice crack was not pleasant, and the song fell out of my repertoire.

So I was digging in the songbook and came across it again, and realized that if I–duh–just played it in D without the capo, that half-step down was just low enough that I could hit the high notes, so I'm brushing up on it again. (And leaving out those F-diminished and, especially, suspended-B chords. Take away that third and replace it with a fourth in the Bsus, and it doesn't sound right in this song, better, I think, to skip on to the B-minor. Before, I had trouble playing those chords; now that I can, I don't like how they sound. My arrangement, so I don't have to; not like Simon is going to be listening and shaking his head.)

Sail on, Silver Girl ...


Dojo Rat said...

I loved the old S&G stuff from their old albums.
Not so much the later Paul Simon pop-beats.
In fact, he kinda sold out...

Steve Perry said...

Paul's done okay for himself. Supposedly the new album is the best since Graceland, which had some nice cuts.

Last I heard, Simon offered to do a tour with Garfunkel, but Artie's been having vocal cord problems and that might not happen -- that cut their previous tour short.

I saw them in Portland, and the atmosphere wasn't happy between them. And they had the Everly Brothers as special guests. Don and Phil didn't get along after they split up, either ...

Justin said...

Interesting article on Paul Simon in a recent Rolling Stone. Like most big stars, he's got some major issues including control problems (and not talking incontinence).

Couldn't find it online to link to it, though.

"Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes" is probably a top-100 song for me.

Steve Perry said...

Read Simon's songwriting creds, you come across some interesting ones, including a co-writing credit on "Red Rubber Ball," first recorded by The Cyrkle (written with Bruce Woodley,)

A two-hit wonder group, "Red Rubber Ball," and "It's a Turn Down Day," the Cyrkle opened for the Beatles at Dodger Stadium in August, 1966.

"The mornin' sun is shinin' like a red rubber ball ..."