Chet's Songs that were Hard for you to Learn?

Discussion of history's greatest guitar player.

Chet's Songs that were Hard for you to Learn?

Postby DagerRande » Thu Jun 04, 2020 7:29 pm

I have a question that applies to only a few here. I’ll narrow down what I feel would be the prerequisites to answering my question:

1) First of all, you would most likely have to be a fan of Chet
Atkins

2) You would also have to be someone very familiar with his
repertoire over the years.

3) You would also have to be someone who has played
many of his songs to the point where you had a pretty
clear idea of how he played anything new to you when a
new album came out.

Of course, each item on this list would include the
previous items. If you “qualify”, please answer the
following question:

PLEASE NAME A SONG THAT HE RECORDED THAT GOT YOU EXCITED TO TRY AND LEARN BUT YOU KNEW IT WAS GOING TO BE A DIFFICULT NEW CHALLENGE, THAT WAS QUITE DIFFERENT FROM ANYTHING YOU HAD PLAYED OF HIS BEFORE?


In my early years of learning Chet’s songs, many of them were similar enough to what I had already been playing that it was just a case of applying my previously acquired techniques and harmonic patterns to a new song but it often didn’t feel like I was “stretching”. I was a "hero" to people who didn’t play at all, or played very little or with an accompaniment style, and though I appreciated that, I never felt that accomplished in my own eyes.

I won’t list my song titles right now, but I’m interested in yours? This will give me a depth of insight that I don’t think I’d have any other way.

Thanks!
Rande Dager

We are all capable of doing more than we think we can!
DagerRande
 
Posts: 988
Joined: Fri Mar 15, 2013 2:53 pm
Location: Battle Creek, MI

Re: Chet's Songs that were Hard for you to Learn?

Postby Steve Sanders » Fri Jun 05, 2020 6:20 pm

The main one that comes to mind is "Mayan Dance". Not a typical "toe-tapper" with a weird and crazy beat to it! He sure got a good tone on that one! I'm sure I'm not playing it "right" as compared to some of the videos I've seen on YouTube but it sounds purdy close to me. And I don't play "Yankee Doodle Dixie" just like Chet did. Exact same notes but my hands ain't where his hands are. One I haven't learned yet is "Snowbird" cause of that durn "superlick". Just cain't get it! Prolly just too lazy to prac-tize enough! Hope other pickers chime in on this one. We gots ta know!!! Steve
Steve Sanders
 
Posts: 160
Joined: Thu Aug 19, 2010 2:42 pm

Re: Chet's Songs that were Hard for you to Learn?

Postby Doug Working » Sat Jun 06, 2020 7:26 pm

Ain’t no really “easy” Chet tunes!

I learned the arpeggio section of “Londonderry Aire” when I was a young boy and pretty new to guitar by playing the record over and over on an old record player on which I rested a penny on the tone-arm to slow it down. Problem was it also changed the durn key!! Things weren’t easy in the pre-digital days. We had to innovate!

Anyway, I was dog determined to decipher how the heck he did it, and I was a proud young kid when I could actually replicate it!

Wasn’t able to figure the rest of the tune out, though because Chet was playing in the higher registers. That stuff eluded me back in those days.

Never did figure it out till a couple years ago when I got the tab.
Doug Working
 
Posts: 773
Joined: Mon May 19, 2014 9:38 pm

Re: Chet's Songs that were Hard for you to Learn?

Postby Jim Jarrell » Sun Jun 14, 2020 4:00 pm

I'm a little bit surprised that this thread hasn't gotten more replies/inputs because I think Rande asked a pretty interesting question when he posted:

"...PLEASE NAME A SONG THAT HE RECORDED THAT GOT YOU EXCITED TO TRY AND LEARN BUT YOU KNEW IT WAS GOING TO BE A DIFFICULT NEW CHALLENGE, THAT WAS QUITE DIFFERENT FROM ANYTHING YOU HAD PLAYED OF HIS BEFORE?..."

Maybe it was many felt they didn't meet all of his prerequisites re. being a Chet fan, somewhat very familiar with his repertoire and having played many of his songs. So, while I'm not sure I totally "fit the bill" I do want to make note of one tune that's been driving me crazy try to learn and play "reasonably" well. More on what tune at the end here.

But first, my basic qualifications to my input: Am a 73 yr old "reasonably high" intermediate, strictly "bedroom only" player who spent most of my fingerstyle time playing since the early 70s doing/tabbing John Fahey/Leo Kottke type stuff. I found my "roots" in Travis picking (Chet, Yandell, Buster B. etc etc) a few years ago and now play basically nothing but on a Gretsch 6122 '58 reissue. I have just about all, if not everything, Chet ever recorded downloaded into my iTunes library (how I got there being another story in itself).

But most importantly, I virtually *never* play a tune start to finish. For me, its the journey not the destination that counts. And this only because playing solo only I just can't get interested in the single note sections of most Chet style tunes. I only like to play the sections with strong muted, alternating bass over the top of a melody line (hope that makes sense).

So, a Chet tune that's been giving me *fits* lately is "My Town" from Chet's "More of That Guitar Country" LP as tabbed out by Craig Dobbins (AGW Vol 4 #1). In particular, the use of his right pattern "p p i p p i " is, for me, impossible to do. No matter, I'm starting to sorta play it using just a regular alternating thumb bass and looking at Marcel Dadi play it for Chet at CAAS in '95 here on youtube

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FhdXHCKaGH4

Cheers,

Jim Jarrell
http://www.tabpigs.org
DeLand, FL
Jim Jarrell
 
Posts: 38
Joined: Sat Aug 21, 2010 9:09 am

Re: Chet's Songs that were Hard for you to Learn?

Postby DagerRande » Sun Jun 14, 2020 8:10 pm

Jim, I appreciate the depth of your response. I agree with you that I thought there would be more responses. I find that many people don't play many of Chet's tunes anyway. When I go to Nashville to the CAAS convention, I always find people with the nicest new Gretsch's and they either don't play at all or very little but they like the feeling of knowing that their guitar won't be the limiting factor.

There are all sorts of challenges that a person can run into when trying to learn a new Chet tune. Sometimes it's a new technique, such as the first time I tried to play "Cascade". Sometimes it's an undetected different tuning, such as the first time I learned "Struttin" or "All Thumbs", or "Black Mt. Rag". Sometimes there is so much going on simultaneously, such as "The Stars and Stripes" and I had to put that aside for a number of years and found that I was ready a few years later. Another one I wasn't prepared for until a few years after I heard it was "A Little Bit of Blues". Then there is the issue of having no problem knowing exactly what to do but just not being able to do it, such as with "Get On With It", which is very difficult to maintain accuracy at that speed! I will probably never be able to play this the way it should be played with the degree of smoothness that Chet did, as well as Richard Smith.

I find that the process of learning all of these developed an increased group of "tools" that can be used to to come up with new songs or arrangements. I just wanted to hear from others.

It's a life long learning process!
Rande Dager

We are all capable of doing more than we think we can!
DagerRande
 
Posts: 988
Joined: Fri Mar 15, 2013 2:53 pm
Location: Battle Creek, MI

Re: Chet's Songs that were Hard for you to Learn?

Postby Steve Moran » Mon Jun 15, 2020 3:59 pm

Rande,
Yes I starting nibbling at Stars and Stripes years back but that's as far as I've gotten so far. Hand shape does seem to be important in how easy various tunes are to learn. And when you move out of standard tunings into the drop tunings it changes what's easy for any given player. A number of the standard tunings have chord shapes that, for me, are not the easiest but my fingers fall into place on some of the drop chord shapes better such as the D in the drop tuning for Wheels, Yellow Bird, etc. So I imagine some peoples hands would naturally "fit" some songs based on its tuning and chords and so they would describe them as easier whereas songs with difficult chord shapes, for their hands, would be described as difficult. Anyway just an observation. Thanks for the great question!
Steve Moran
Steve Moran
 
Posts: 114
Joined: Thu Aug 19, 2010 3:10 pm

Re: Chet's Songs that were Hard for you to Learn?

Postby Doug Working » Mon Jun 15, 2020 7:46 pm

So Steve, when you say hand shape, I take it you’re referring to the anatomical shape of each individual’s hand, and not the way you position or shape or position your hand on the neck when playing various chords? Which could be described as part of technique in general?
Doug Working
 
Posts: 773
Joined: Mon May 19, 2014 9:38 pm

Re: Chet's Songs that were Hard for you to Learn?

Postby DagerRande » Tue Jun 16, 2020 10:36 am

I appreciate all of your responses. I agree that physical attributes such as the shape and size of hands will have an effect. The response time for the nervous system is also important. I personally believe that the limitation for most people is the degree of the accuracy that a person has in mind regarding the exact details of what they are trying to learn to play.
Rande Dager

We are all capable of doing more than we think we can!
DagerRande
 
Posts: 988
Joined: Fri Mar 15, 2013 2:53 pm
Location: Battle Creek, MI

Re: Chet's Songs that were Hard for you to Learn?

Postby Steve Moran » Tue Jun 16, 2020 10:58 am

Doug - yes I'm referring to the anatomical shape of someone's hands.
Thanks
Steve
Steve Moran
 
Posts: 114
Joined: Thu Aug 19, 2010 3:10 pm

Re: Chet's Songs that were Hard for you to Learn?

Postby Jim Jarrell » Tue Jun 16, 2020 11:46 am

The issue of the hands, especially the length of the fingers, is major issue in my opinion. One I avoided in my first post to not get off track. But for me, the *length* of the fingers makes a world of difference in what I can and cannot play.

In short (pun intended), I have *really* short fingers. Being a right handed player, my left hand middle finger is not as long as some players pinky (and I've made side by side comparisons). Classic example being good buddy and fellow "Tab Pig" Bob Evans (longtime CAAS artist). Many of his tunes are literally "out of my reach" given his fingering. Note here the length of his pinky...and its again, longer than my *middle* finger.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4L6K4xSao68

Another classic example is a tune Rande mentioned...."Cascade." Great tune but one literally out of my reach given you have to reach four frets from 1st to 4th fret. For me...its "no way, no day." See here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GSfc93JfBQ4

And so it is with many of Chet's tunes and others. As a result, I spend a *lot* of time trying to come up with alternative fingerings for tunes. Example being a second position E chord at the 4th fret where you basically play a first position C chord behind a 4th fret barre. No problem getting first 4 strings...but the reach to the 5th string, 7th fret. Not a chance for me. Solution... play an E chord at 7th fret. I have countless other examples. So, it may not be "like Chet played it" but its "close enough for government work" as we used to say in the Navy.

Jim Jarrell
http://www.tabpigs.org
DeLand, Fl
Jim Jarrell
 
Posts: 38
Joined: Sat Aug 21, 2010 9:09 am

Next

Return to Mister Guitar, Chet Atkins

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 16 guests