googled06bb313055e587a.html Rock N Roll Rehab for the Control Of Rock and Roll Starring Greg Piper and The Tooners: Easier Than It Sounds

Easier Than It Sounds

In a recent blog post I commented on how much I like the guitar arrangement of Joan Baez's song Diamonds & Rust and I included a Youtube video of her playing it live. It always sounded rather complex to me and I was impressed that Joan played it solo. After watching her do it in the video it didn't look too difficult so I Googled a tutorial on how to play it.

Hmm... this looks strangely familiar.

It's always funny when you learn a guitar part from a rock record that you assumed was tricky to play and then turns out to be quite simple. Obviously, this young girl can play Diamonds & Rust and it's very simple yet elegant and what's even more surprising to me is that it's very similar to the intro to The Tooners' song I'm Growing Away From You. No wonder I like it.

Another example is when The Tooners were performing the Rock & Roll Rehab Show at the Hayworth Theater a friend of the band who was friends with Mickey Dolenz of the Monkees was coming to see the show and I suggested she bring Mickey to a performance. In the event he actually showed up the band rehearsed playing Last Train To Clarksville on the off chance we could get him on stage during the encore to sing it with us. That would have been a dream come true.  It didn't happen, but when I told the plan to our friend the singer-songwriter (and The Tooners' guest lead guitarist on our Rocktasia CD) Jerry Strull, he said that song would be too difficult for us (me) to play. I was insulted and thought maybe I was playing it wrong since Jerry is the guitar expert, not me, but when he showed me how he played the picking intro I realized he was playing it in the wrong key. In the right key it is a very simple riff. This was another example of overestimating the difficulty of playing rock guitar parts that sound intricate and complex but are really quite simple.

Now I am not saying these parts are simple as a way to belittle or disparage them, quite the opposite. I've even had musicians ask me to show them some of my tunes and had them comment that they assumed the songs were much more difficult than they are. The really great songs are simple. The best thing you can do as a songwriter is write a very simple part that's easy to play but that sounds impressive. Sometimes when you learn how to play these parts you get a little disappointed as when a magician shows you how a magic trick is done and you're a little embarrassed that you were fooled by such a simple trick but after you get over feeling tricked and stupid you began to appreciate the genius of the simplicity. So it is with music.
 

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