This was on my bucket list: to have two of the best blues guitarists in the Lehigh Valley over the last 25 years have a blues conversation with each other on my album. I’ve been doing False From True, a Pete Seeger song I snatched from Guy Davis, an exercise in understatement that also is a reflection on a long life in folk music. The tune only had a I and IV change, and invariably drives my blues friends up a wall. No V chord, therefore, no normal closure that the western ear demands. The format brings some interesting tension to the song and gives focus to the lyrics.
Craig Thatcher laid down his tracks earlier, both on electric and acoustic slide, and Mike Dugan came in tonight to lay down his tracks. It was a pleasure to not only see him burn his stuff, but watch his performance instincts come alive in the studio. He had some spot-on suggestions and was also able to provide an array of licks to work with, from snappy jazz licks to basic BB King.
I was looking to have Craig and Mike pass leads back and forth. Craig has a cleaner sound, so Mike offered a more distorted attack, and it worked wonderfully. Their ability to listen to each other (even on tape) and respond with passion and intelligence is a magical talent, one that is essential to blues and rock and roll. Tonight’s session became a musical conversation between these two friends and will turn out to be a special track for the album. We were done in an hour.
I paid Mike a good fee and he was surprised, thinking this one was ‘from the heart’. I told him, if we count it per note it wasn’t that good a deal. I also mentioned that there were 50% fewer chord changes (again, no V chords) so it all works out in the wash.
I am blessed to have such professional folks in my circle of friends. Kevin mentioned after the session about this “band” for the album. Though we’ve never played together live, we’ve put together a homegrown superband with Kevin on drums, Kjell Benner on bass, Dan DeChellis on keys, Craig and Mike on guitars. Oh, and then there’s me on vocals and acoustic guitar. Not too shabby. Wendi and Annie’s vocals to come.
About the song. Mike was surprised when I told him it was a Pete Seeger song, on several levels. He was most surprised to find out I didn’t write this song. I take that as a compliment. The song speaks to me and conveys a lot of my personal thoughts, and I am able to make the song come from me. That’s why I pick these songs. It is also amazing that Pete wrote a blues (though, not so surprising….). It also acknowledges my dependance on my audience to find meaning in my life. No small thing.
False From True – Pete Seeger via Guy Davis
When the songs I sing turn to ashes on my tongue, C G
When I look in the mirror and see that I’m no longer young, CG
I gotta start the job of separating false from true, CG
And then I know I need the love of you. CG
When I find tarnish … on some of my brightest dreams,
When some folks I trusted … turn out to be not what they seemed.
Then I got to start the job of separating false from true,
And once more, I know I need the love of you.
No song I sing can make the politicians change their mind.
No song I sing will take the gun from a hate-filled mind.
But I promise you, brother and sisters of every skin.
I’ll sing your story while I’ve breath within.
We got to keep on keeping on, even when the sun goes down.
You got to keep on living’, living til another day come around.
Meanwhile you better start over separating false from true,
And more and more and more, I need the love of you.