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SONGS AND DREAMS . . . Henry

Sometimes, in the world of popular music, there are people of genius who make a huge contribution to a particular sound or style, but stay out of the limelight. One such was the great guitarist Steve Cropper, whose riffs and sound made the recordings of so many Stax artists come to life. He did, at least, get a part in The Blue Brothers (playing himself) but how many can put their hand up and say they have heard of Martin Quittenton?

Think of that glorious series of hits that Rod Stewart had – Maggie May, You Wear It Well, Farewell – and you are hearing Martin Quittenton. That mix of twelve-string guitar, violin and mandolin was of his creation. Stewart wanted him to join The Faces, but their back-stage antics held no joy for Quittenton, and he eventually faded from the scene and lived as a recluse on Anglesey. Of the thousands of radio plays Maggie May gets every year, I’ll wager that not one in a hundred features the original introduction – an Elizabethan style guitar piece, played by MQ and named, for some reason, Henry. Here’s the original, and then below that is my notation.It’s not identical to Quittenton’s but, as they used to say, it’s close enough for jazz.

SONGS and DREAMS . . . Dear Someone

I have been tinkering with a new website for posting songs and guitar pieces for my pupils, but it is proving more trouble than it’s worth, so I might as well just shoe-horn the occasional post in here. The great Woody Guthrie once said (allegedly) that he never used more than two chords, but that he might use three sometimes if he was trying to impress a girl. I guess that was just Woody being cute, but he has a point. Sure, there are some epic songs with more chords than you can shake a stick at, but simple is often the best. Here’s a gem from Gillian Welch. OK, she slips in a little surprise with that Fm chord, but otherwise it’s just a slow and dreamy waltz tune, with some spine-tingling harmonies. Here’s the original, with my transcription below. She uses a capo on the third fret, making the song in Eb, but pitch it wherever suits your voice.

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