A Good Song, Part II

by SmithorJones on June 6, 2009

in Smith, Video, WebStops

Good Music takes many forms, and often the music that attracts us tells a story we identify with.  A Good song will stand the test of time that way – and each generation can make that very same song “new” simply arranging it a little differently.

For instance:  Back in the 1930s-40s, there was a singer known as Leadbelly* (Huddie William Ledbetter). “Leadbelly” was known for his excellent 12 string guitar work, and would best be described as an American country blues musician. One of the songs – a good song! – written and performed by Leadbelly is the song “Cotton Fields”. This song would eventually be recorded, performed and popularized by many artists, including Creedence and the Beach Boys.

Notice the difference in this song accomplished simply by it’s arrangement.
Cotton Fields by Creedance Clearwater Revival

Cottonfields – Beach Boys, August 15, 1969

music10An example of this same principle:

The song Midnight Special. Although it is unknown who actually wrote this song, the best arrangement of the song is by Leadbelly.

Here is a clip.

And then:

John Fogerty of Creedence Clearwater followed this same arrangment

Did you know that Leadbelly also recorded “The House of the Rising Sun“?  That song was much later identified with Eric Burton’s “Animals”.  Many of today’s “Baby Boomer” generation, no doubt, believe that Mr. Burton wrote the song, but it was actually written in the early 1930s by an unknown author.

Listen to how Eric Burton made the song his own.

Here’s another song not easily pigeon-holed into one “type” of music, the Gregg Allman-penned “Midnight Rider“. This is an outstanding example of blending elements of country, blues, southern rock, and even a bit of soul – and then applying excellent musical skill in performing the song.

Last but not least – no blog post about music by me would be complete without something about the Master – Waylon Jennings. (Hey, my blog, my favorites!) 😉

Waylon Jennings wrote and recorded a song entitled  “Are You Sure Hank Done It This Way?” Johnny Cash, another artist who brought his own style to his music, talks a little about it in the intro… (This is from The Highwaymen Tour).

Notice the outstanding steel work in the middle and Waymore’s distinctive guitar playing to round the song out.  Waylon, like so many successful artists down through the generations, “got” that good music is a good song, and what you as the artist bring to that song. He stayed true to his instincts, and eventually he told a story that people listened to, were entertained by, and came to love.

Yes, a good song is a good song and it will stand the test of time, and be made “new” with each artist’s style.  Whether you want to call it Country, Rock, or something else…good music is good music.

*”Leadbelly” died of Lou Gehrig’s disease 1949.


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