Monday, January 31, 2011

"I Know You Rider"

When I first started the Monday Morning Blues series—at its inception, a series of video performances, not mp3s—the last thing I expected was to get a song request.  But sure enough, on Friday I received a message from the redoubtable Citizen K, a longtime, staunch follower of this blog, saying that he & Roy (of the wonderful blog Roy’s World) would like my take on the old blues song, “I Know You Rider.”  Citizen K. wrote about the song on his eponymous blog that day—which you can check out here.

I knew the song, & I’d casually considered it for my repertoire, but had never really sat down to figure out an arrangment of it.  Based on a comment Roy made, I decided to look up Hot Tuna’s version—which, I admit, I didn’t know, but was able to find (of course) on the interweb.  I’d known the Grateful Dead’s version since high school days, & more recently I’d become familiar with another version of similar vintage, namely a recording by Judy Henske.  This is available on the box set Big Judy put out by Rhino Records & produced by our friend Cheryl Pawelski.  Henske does a powerhouse version of the song that I like a lot. 

But I don’t have Judy Henske’s voice & I don’t have a bunch of folks singing harmony (plus the high lonesome sound is really not my strong suit!), so I had to come up with a solo arrangement that suited what I can do.  I actually tried a few different options: banjo; slide style guitar—but finally settled on playing it on guitar in standard tuning.  So this is the Regal resonator played straight up. 

The chord progression of “I Know You Rider” is quite interesting—very different from any standard blues. I’m playing it in the key of E, & the progression goes E/D/A/E for the two repeating lines, then G/D/G/D/E for the third line.  This bears no relationship to any other tune I know & it’s fun to play. 

So, thanks to Citizen K & Roy for the request—hope you all enjoy my version of “I Know You Rider.”


  1. Oh yeah! Sing it John! This is a nice way to start my day.

  2. Good job, John! And thanks for answering requests. Heh, heh! Now, can I request the slide version? Once when I was cruising YouTube looking for Hot Tuna's version of "Whinin' Boy" I stumbled across the videos of them with David Bromberg in Chicago in '86, and their combined version of "...Rider" is amazing, mostly due to Bromberg's slide work.

  3. Hi Lizzy & Roy

    Lizzy: Thanks so much--glad you enjoyed it!

    Roy: Thanks! Yes, I heard that version, & it's really good. I found the odd chord progression awkward to play slide style because the tonic (E) isn't an open chord--so you have to do a lot of vibrato & even quick slides from Eb to E whenever you're on the tonic chord--because as Son House said, if you don't keep the slide moving it sounds like hell. Bromberg's slide work sure is sweet on that video tho!

  4. whoo-hoo! bravo, cheers, applause,

    you have my toes tapping and my head a rocking.

    nicely done, and the lyrics very emotive, you live the blues.

    Thank you, I can't comment often, but do follow your resophonic.

  5. Hi Dianne: So glad you liked it, & very much appreciate your support of the music!

  6. Citizen K and Roy make a good choice. And you fulfill the request with panache.

  7. Hi Alan: Thanks! Much appreciated.


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