Saturday, July 12, 2014

Summer Jukebox Tune #7....Long Black Veil


It's weird sometimes how things come together out of nowhere.

This one started with one of those crappy summer Sunday night replacement album dissection shows on the MoCo that had a look at the Band's first big album.

Which was too bad.

That the show about the album was so crappy I mean.

But, regardless, it got me to thinking seriously about Music From Big Pink for about the nine hundredth time.

And then, later in the week, Roseanne Cash was on with Maron and she mentioned that, not only was 'Long Black Veil' on the 'list' of songs that her father gave her to learn, but that it was also the tune, written by Dill and Wilkin and originally recorded by Lefty Frizzell, that pretyy much all Americana springs from.

Which is debatable, I reckon.

But what cannot be argued, at least by those who know me a little, is my fascination with Rick Danko's voice.

So much so that whenever I'm anywhere that anybody is playing The Weight I insist on warbling through the 'Crazy Chester' verse.

But, until this past weekend I'd never sat down to learn 'Long Black Veil'.

Apologies to many, including the ghost of Mr. Danko, in advance....



Edstock said...

Great song, nice version.

As old fart, I've always liked the Kingston Trio's version.

karen said...

Hey RossK, can I ask your advice? I took up the violin, my very first instrument, at 46. I can read simple music and play a few simple things. My teacher is a wonderful 30 year old professional violinist who started when she was 3. She is great, but she "speaks" music in a way I probably won't even 30 years from now. I am having a terrible time training my ear. I can tell if a note is off, but can't tell if I am high or low. I can't seem to get across to her that there is something I am missing. I don't think I am tone deaf. Do you by any chance know how I can work on my ear? I have been listening mostly to things with strings in them, classical and contemporary.

scotty on denman said...

Hey! Totally cool! I really dig that number and Youtube helped me delve the catacombs of my memory (the one with the big spooky basement) to find...yes! I thought I remembered Cash and Mitchell covering it on his TV show and, lo and behold, there it was, Johnny and Joni (who told the Man In Black he was her first concert, in Saskatoon, I think it was, talkin' way back). That vid, plus a personal adventure informs me about that song: I met a young fella down on the beach a few years ago, asked me if I'd show him a couple licks---funny cuz he could probably play circles around me; anyways, we settled on Long Black Veil---I mean, I just asked him if he'd ever heard it (I think he was about fifteen) and he was enthusiastic, heard it by some native hip-hop band, of all things, his peeps---but we got down to a more traditional rendition and I realized this song is dominated by rhythm---supplied by onlookers' handclapping---and choral cooperation---supplied by me and him. 'sfunny cuz you don't at first think of it that way. Next time try it a cappella with handclaps or, even better, a great big drum and a whole bunch of drummers. Check it out!

You do a fine job with your gitfiddle, though.

Karen: maybe you're hanging around with too many fiddle players---they got no frets nor ears either.

RossK said...


Thanks man - I didn't know the KT version...Stuck in my head now.


Fan-flippingtastic Scotty!

I really, really dig it when stuff like that happens...I had a similar experience when I was doing my weirdo version of Astral Weeks on the beach just south of Crescent City CA in 2010...I've got to play with more people more often.

I will do as you suggest...I had the tambourine at my feet for a couple of versions but decided not to record it that way...yet...I've just to get it more in my head which will take a bit of time.



Heckuva a question...I am a complete auto-didact so I don't think I have any really good advice for you...I can't sight read....So, I just get stuff in my head and, in addition, shamelessly watch what people do on the you-tubes where I can see their fingers.

One thing that really helped me was to learn stuff in keys...That way I could often predict what might be coming next based on straightforward progressions in most pop/folk songs (I, too, have trouble sometimes telling what goes up and what goes down)...I also play short riffs I like over and over and over and over again...Used to drive C. crazy but it allows you to build medleys (again probably easier with pop/folk/simple structure songs...For example, this is the way that I figured out that Werewolves of London/Take The Money and Run/Sweet Home Alabama are all, essentially, the same riff...That bastard Hansard (who I still blame for a lot of this obsession) does this all the time.