Updated: May 25,
I enjoy trying to learn to play the guitar and trying to learn songs which, for whatever reason, happen to reach out and grab me. I'm certainly not a musician, this doesn't come naturally or easily, but if I struggle long enough I can amuse myself, and perhaps amuse you too!
This page is a work in progress. It's simply a collection of songs that I enjoy playing. I'm going to try to add another song to this page every month or two for a while. These songs will all be my cover versions of other people's songs which have attracted my attention.
These are recorded in my living room, with no overdubs. I usually record each song two or three times and then publish on this page the version which had the least screw-ups.
I use a pair of AT4041 cardioid condenser mics, one for the guitar (placed around 20 to 30 cm from the guitar, more or less over the 14th fret, pointed toward the sound hole), and one for the vocal (placed about 20 cm from my mouth, either slightly off to the side or using a pop filter). The audio is digitized by a Focusrite Scarlett 2i2, and editing is done on Reaper. The guitar is a Yamaha A3R with medium gauge strings for the bass, light gauge strings for the treble, and a custom Tusq bridge saddle which I made.
Each song on this page starts off with a built-in music player, then some comments, and finally download links to use if you want to add the mp3 song to your own music library and/or download a PDF file with the lyrics and chords.
(P.S. There are also lots of additional songs, many being my original compositions, mostly related to Dances of Universal Peace, on my Celebration page.)
Here are the latest songs that I've been playing:
1) Give Me My Flowers (While I'm Living)
I stumbled across this song while reading an obituary! The song was first recorded by Flatt and Scruggs in 1957, with lyrics written by their wives and a friend of their wives.
This song was originally performed in a Gospel/Bluegrass style, which I wasn't really too fond of, but I really liked the lyrics, so I just created my own guitar part, tweaked the tempo, and really enjoy the result. I hope you do too!
2) How Long
This song is from Frank Stokes, a Memphis musician, who originally recorded the song in August, 1928. I recently heard the song on Spotify, and decided to learn it. In the original version, there are two guitars, but in my version there's just one, just me fingerpicking.
I immediately liked the brisk pace and joyfully bouncy guitar part which, to me, turn what could have been mournful, poor-me lyrics into a playful and hopeful look at a future which triumphs over a troublesome event in the past.
3) I Shall Not Be Moved:
This song is inspired by Mississippi John Hurt's version, which he said he learned from a 1929 recording by Charlie Patton. Over the years, there have been some rather slow and somber versions of this tune, but this version is somewhat more upbeat.
For me, this song is a joyful celebration of having established a worthwhile goal and being mindfully engaged in the pursuit of it, firmly resisting being moved from that intention. I like that idea!
This song became popular in the 1960's civil rights movement, and continues to be used in that manner, with the lyrics often changed to "We Shall Not Be Moved".
The song was originally copyrighted in 1908 by Alfred H. Ackley and B.D Ackley, and seems to be based on Psalm 1:1-4, which offers these thoughts:
1 Blessed is
the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor
standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the
4) Harlem River Blues:
This song is by Justin Townes Earle. To me, the song is a metaphor about willfully, skillfully, mindfully choosing to take the reins of opportunity in our own hands, getting rid of old baggage and heading off on our life journey in the manner which seems best.
The original version was sung a bit slower, and I've tried and tried to play it slower, but even if I start off with a metronome set at a slower pace, I still end up at this happy-go-lucky pace. It's just a fun pace (for me).