Hellhound On My Trail

robertjohnson02_200

Hellhound On My Trail

I continue on my journey to the heart of Blues, Jazz, and Country Music. I try to put it into words, the things I am discovering, but I hit an obstacle. It is like an upside down pyramid, and you start with a very simple, basic idea, and keep building and building on it. The problem is that I don’t know who my audience is, and people are all on different levels in their understanding. Some might be past me in their musical ability, but they don’t want to stop and start over, going back to some basic idea that seems too obvious, too boring. Or most people who just do not know the basic concept I am building my edifice on, but, it seems too boring, too basic, and they want to skip ahead to the fun part, where they are all rock stars with recording contracts and myriad fans who want to rip their clothes off. I think also about people like Robert Johnson, who labored in relative obscurity only to be appreciated posthumously. I am sure that he relied less on theory and more on what his own ear was telling him; although, he did learn as many songs and studied the other Bluesmen who were around way back then. He didn’t shut himself off in a fortress of solitude. I think that the legend that he sold his soul to the devil at the crossroads was due to the fact that he left town for destinations unknown, and when he returned — not much later — he possessed mastery over the Blues, his voice, his guitar, and his song writing.

 

I can tell the wind is risin’, the leaves tremblin’ on the tree
Tremblin’ on the tree
I can tell the wind is risin’, leaves tremblin’ on the tree
All I need is my little sweet woman
And to keep my company, hey, hey, hey, hey, my company

 

Anyway, I am on a path, maybe not nearly as arduous as Robert Johnson’s, but I want to understand the Blues and he is a source that I can listen to, contemplate, emulate, even if I never attain the mastery he did; never inspire people to wonder if I sold my soul to the devil. By the way, I am trying to use semicolons in my writing. I want to be punctual with my punctuation; that’s so punk rock.

On Saturday is when I work on F & B. I practice the Major scales for F & B up and down the neck. Then I play the Blues in F & B in five positions each up the neck. The positions are based on the shapes of the chords CAGED and they go up the neck in that order. If you play F on the 5th fret, it uses the C shape. Let’s start at the 1st fret, since F is one fret above E, and E is the basic chord on the guitar, with the root, or one, on the bottom.

EAEE Blues Scale G
AAEE
BAEB

DGDD Blues Scale F (E#)
GGDD
AGDA

CFCC Blues Scale Eb (D#)
FFCC
GFGG

ADAA Blues Scale C
DDAA
EDAE

GCGG Blues Scale Bb (A#)
CCGG
DCGD

I got to keep moving, I got to keep moving
Blues falling down like hail, blues falling down like hail
Mmm, blues falling down like hail, blues falling down like hail
And the day keeps on remindin’ me, there’s a hellhound on my trail
Hellhound on my trail, hellhound on my trail

~ Robert Johnson

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