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When he woke up, the dinosaur was still there.

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Monday, May 31st, 2004

At the jam today, we finally agreed on chords for "City of New Orleans" -- this is a bit historic as every time we have played it before, we've gotten bogged down in arguing about the correct chords. Here it is:

| G / / / | G / / / |

  G      /      D    /   |  G   / / / |
  Riding on the City of New Orleans
| Em       /       C      /     | G   /   /   /   |
  Illinois Central Monday morning rail
| G       /        D       /      | G   /   /   / |
  Fifteen cars and fifteen restless riders
       | Em     /    D           /      | G  / / / |
Three conductors and twenty-five sacks of mail.
      | Em        /           /    /     | 
    All along the south bound odyssey, 
            Bm          /      /     /   |
        the train pulls out of Kankakee
    | D      /         /      /       | A   / / / |
    Rolls along past houses farms and fields
    | Em       /          /      / | 
    Passing towns that have no name, 
        Bm      /        /         /   |
        freight yards full of old black men
      | D      /      D7     /    | G    / / / |
    And graveyards of rusted automobiles.
| C      /      D7   /   |  G      / / / | 
  Good morning America, how are you? 
   | Em        /        C        /    |  G  / / D7 | 
Say, don't you know me, I'm your native son. 
      | G          /        D    /    | Em     Em7 A7 / | 
I'm the train they call the City of New Orleans 
      | B♭        C       D              /     | G / / / | 
I'll be gone five hundred miles when the day is done. 
Dealing card games with the old men in the club car 
Penny a point ain't noone keeping score 
Pass the paper bag that holds the bottle 
Feel the wheels rumbling 'neath the floor 
   And the sons of Pullman porters 
       and the sons of engineers 
   Ride their father's magic carpets made of steel 
   Mothers with their babes asleep, 
       rocking to the gentle beat 
   And the rhythm of the rails is all they feel. 
Nightime on the City of New Orleans 
Changing cars in Memphis Tennessee 
Half way home we'll be there by morning 
through the Mississippi darkness rolling down to the sea. 
   But all the towns and people seem 
       to fade into a bad dream 
   And the steel rail still ain't heard the news 
   The conductor sings his songs again, 
       the passengers will please refrain 
   This train's got the disappearing railroad blues.

Update: what I mean to say is, the above is some chords that Jim found via a Google search when he was looking for the lyrics; they agree almost completely with the chords which we all had agreed on, independently of looking at that transcription. (The main difference is, we had F instead of B-flat in the last line of the chorus -- I think the transcription is probably correct here, though F sounds pretty good too.) Ignore most of the 7's and 9's in the transcription, which are good flourishes to put in but not an essential part of the song's chord structure.

posted evening of May 31st, 2004: Respond
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I will not be able to play the open mike this Wednesday; but I have started working on a set for next week: "Richland Woman Blues", "Don't Think Twice, It's All Right", "No Expectations".

posted morning of May 31st, 2004: Respond
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Thursday, May 27th, 2004

The Myth of Eternal Return -- Eliade's take on ritualistic behavior (or at least a subset of same) is that by reenacting segments of their culture's creation myth, people can extend the scope of their "created" cosmos to a new element of their reality -- e.g. a marriage or a new baby. On p. 24 he says, "... it is not merely a question of imitating an exemplary model... the principal consideration is the result of that hierogamy, i.e. the Cosmic creation." This seems like an interesting distinction to me.

posted afternoon of May 27th, 2004: Respond
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Wednesday, May 26th, 2004

The set went ok. It was about 15 minutes long, I had a lot of energy throughout but my fingers started losing track about 2/3 of the way in. I missed a lot of notes on "Rag Mama" and by the end of the song it seemed like I had fallen apart almost completely. But, the audience liked it so who am I to judge? Other guitar players tend to be a pretty forgiving audience.

Passing the time before the music started, I took Underworld idly off the bookshelf there and started reading it on a whim -- I found the language most easy on my ears. So I borrowed it and will see how I do reading it over the next few months. It is too big for me to really carry it around conveniently so I imagine it will be mostly evening reading.

posted evening of May 26th, 2004: Respond
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🦋 Reading with expectations

As noted below, my memory of reading the book from 15 years ago suggested that the whole body of the story is Marlowe's journey upriver, and the final scene is his arrival at the Inner Station to find Kurtz dead. In this fantasy Heart of Darkness, the final sentence of the novel is "Mistah Kurtz, he dead."

Needless to say, the actual book goes a little different -- I spent a little time while reading the middle third or so of it, trying to reconcile my expectations to the plot that was unfolding. I did not abandon them entirely until Marlowe actually met Kurtz; until then I was holding on to a thin thread of hope that his talk about their meeting was some kind of metaphor. This shows, I think, the danger of rereading something with expectations when your memory of it is so far gone, and suggests that I should reread it a second time -- it is after all quite short. So I think I will keep it along with me for a while yet. I am going to turn my attention to The Myth of the Eternal Return; but when that drags (as it will) I will have some backup reading on hand.

posted evening of May 26th, 2004: Respond
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Heart of Darkness -- I had forgotten that Kurtz is alive when they get to the Inner Station.

posted morning of May 26th, 2004: Respond
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Tuesday, May 25th, 2004

🦋 More set work

Here is how you transition from "Palette" to "CAGWYW":

...G / B / C / /
G / D / Em / /
G / D / Em / C /
G / D / Em / F /
F / G7 / C / C
C / / F / /...

Trust me -- it sounds sweet. In other jammin' -- I finally figured out how to tie "Stagger Lee" and "C.C. Rider" together; just strum the last chord of "Stagger Lee", rest for a measure, and start right in. That sounds a lot better than the noodling around I had been trying to do.

"Rag Mama" is finally together. Never before have I really been satisfied with how I played that song; but tonight the speed was right, the beat was right, I had the vocals down. (3 out of four times that I played it tonight -- hope I hit lucky tomorrow night on stage.) I am not talking about the Band song called "Rag Mama Rag" -- this is a tune by Blind Boy Fuller (which I originally know via Jim Kweskin and the Jug Band):

I'm goin uptown with my hat in my hand
Lookin for de woman aint got no man
Just as well be tryin to find a needle in the sand
Lookin for a woman aint got no man

Dwee-de-daw, dweedly-daw, Rag Mama,
Come on, baby, do that Rag

Well you get yourself a woman you best get two,
One for your buddy 'nother one for you,
Got me a wife an a sweetheart too,
Wife don't love me my sweetheart do

Took my woman down to Meeker St.,
Honey now, honey now, whatta'I see,
Saw my woman with a man, she was holdin' his hand
(that ain't right!) Aw,
Pistol in my pocket, black jack in my hand, says
I'm gonna get that so-and-so

Now, who'd'a thought my gal would treat me so,
Love another man at my back door
Mind, mama, what you sow,
Cause you gots to reap just what you sow

posted evening of May 25th, 2004: Respond
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Monday, May 24th, 2004

🦋 Set work

I'm working on a 3-song set for the open mike on Wednesday. Tonight I tried out "Palette on your Floor", "Can't Always Get What You Want", and "Rag Mama". At least the first two are definitely good to go -- the third needs a little work but I was shocked to be able to play it as well as I did. Gabe assisted me over the phone with a way to transition between "Palette" (which is in G) and "CAGWYW" (which is in C) -- on the final turnaround you go from D to Em instead of back to G, and then to F, G7, C and you are suddenly playing in the key of C.

posted evening of May 24th, 2004: Respond

Sunday, May 23rd, 2004

I have been distracted, a bit, from Heart of Darkness by the book which Ed Antoine gave me for my birthday present; it is The Myth of the Eternal Return: or, Cosmos and History, by Mircea Eliade. I can't quite tell yet, what is the nature of the book; its prose is the very dense essay style that makes me reluctant to read philosophy (though I believe its genre is probably sociology). But this is a book that I am judging by (a) its cover and (b) the fact that Ed gave it to me, as worth spending some time being puzzled by.

The moment I saw the title I had a pretty fully formed thought along the lines of, "Cool -- he is going to investigate how different early cultures came up with the idea of a cyclical cosmos, and how that relates to being human." -- I know -- a lot to come up with from 10 words, 5 of which are articles, conjunctions or prepositions -- still, Ed assured me that I was on the right track with that supposition. And that investigation is interesting to me; so I am trying to get on board with Eliade's difficult prose.

So far, a lot of what he is saying seems like pretty intuitive ideas backed up with historical research. One thing that I liked: he was talking about how cultures would tend to think of unknown territory as being part of the chaos that preceded creation, and when they conquered or explored new territory would perform rituals that made it part of the created universe; at one point on page 15, he writes, "...the temple or sacred city is always the meeting point of the three cosmic regions: heaven, earth, and hell." And that made me start thinking about how if "hell" is the chaos outside our knowledge, and "heaven" is Platonic forms, i.e. pure knowledge, then "earth" is the imposition of forms onto the unknown, is reality which we can dominate by naming.

posted afternoon of May 23rd, 2004: Respond
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Saturday, May 22nd, 2004

🦋 One hour set

I am trying to put together a one-hour set of songs that I can play on guitar and sing. This afternoon I played a 45-minute set and it sounded pretty good -- the songs were generally not what I would call "tight" but they were all good enough that I could play them at an open mike and not be embarrassed. I have a sort of plan going to do several open mikes and then ask Randal (owner of The Dancing Goat) if I can play a set there on one of his slower nights.

Here is the set from this afternoon:

  • The Ballad of Hollis Brown
    I've been working on this one for a while now, one of the songs that really made me a convert to Drop-D tuning. Dylan plays only D-minor chords throughout the entire song, but I play D-minor/G/A7. My picking pattern is fairly elaborate and in another song would run the risk of being too repetitive -- but in this song that's the whole point.
  • You Can't Always Get What You Want
  • Stagger Lee
    This is the first song I played in Drop-D tuning and I think of it as a critical juncture in my guitar-playing career. It was a year and a half ago or so, and after 3 years of listening to John Hurt I finally got up the initiative to try and copy one of his songs from the record.
  • C.C. Rider
  • Rocky Raccoon
  • House of the Rising Sun
  • Prodigal Son
  • Palette on your Floor
  • No Expectations

The order is just what order I thought of them in when I was writing the set list -- if I were playing an actual set I would fiddle with it some. "No Expectations" is however a great song to end on. Some other songs I reckon should go in there:

  • Freight Train
  • Tell Old Bill
  • Hobo's Lullaby
  • Barbara Allen

Also today I worked out Dylan's "North Country Blues" (not to be confused with "Girl from the North Country"), which is very easy to play and sounds beautiful -- once I know the lyrics I will add it to the list too and when all these songs are put together I think I will have about an hour.

Gotta go -- come back later, I am going to add links and comments for each of the songs.

posted evening of May 22nd, 2004: Respond
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