Monday, November 29, 2010
“Gun Street Girl”
Happy Monday! I’m back with some Monday Morning Blues, tho using the word “blues” for today’s song is a bit of a stretch. It’s Tom Waits’ great song “Gun Street Girl” from his amazing Rain Dogs album—for my money, definitely a “desert island” selection.
If by chance you haven’t heard the original—& for that matter, the entire Rain Dogs album—you really need to do so. Waits’ whiskey-&-cigarettes-at-4:00 a.m. voice is backed by banjo & some very cool percussion. Of course, to say that a Waits’ song has cool percussion is stating the obvious, especially on practically all of his work from the 80s & 90s. But since the arrangement of “Gun Street Girl” is so spare, the percussion becomes a major voice on the song, even by Waits’ standards.
For those who are interested in musical minutiae: as was the case with last week’s song, “Country Blues,” I was tempted to record this using the banjo as backing. I tried it in the standard G tuning, playing what amounted to a D “power chord” alternating with a D suspended chord, but the key of D didn’t seem to mesh with my voice. I re-tuned the banjo to some odd tunings in the key of F, & that didn’t seem to work either, tho the banjo part sounded weird in all the best senses of the word—there were just too many dissonances in any tuning I tried. So I decided to vocalize this in F, but using the Regal resonator guitar in drop D tuning, with a capo on fret 3. I love the drop D tuning for modal songs.
Next month Mondays will be a bit different—between Hank Williams, Dock Boggs & Tom Waits, these last few weeks have been pretty dire! No Christmas tunes, but something much more light-hearted—yours truly will be dusting off the ukuleles to play you some old standards—instrumentals all! & yes, there will be an Alice of Wonder Band song of the month on the Monday prior to Christmas—& that one will be seasonal.
If you'd like some more music—& poetry too—please check out the first installment of Music Theory for Poets on The Spring Ghazals blog.
In the meantime, hope you enjoy my take on “Gun Street Girl.”