Phonograph Blues

cd cover: you better lie down by scott ainslie(Robert Johnson)
Music & Media, Intl.

My baby, she got a phonograph, but it won’t say a lonesome word.
My baby, she got a phonograph, but it won’t say a lonesome word.
What evil have I done? What evil has that poor girl heard?

Well, I love my phonograph, but you have broke’ my windin’ chain.
I love my phonograph, but you have broke my windin’ chain.
And taken my lovin’ and given it to your other man.

We played it on the sofa, child. We played it ‘side the wall.
But my needle has got rusty and it will not play it all.
We played it on the sofa, child. We played it ‘side the wall.
But my needle has got rusty and it will not play it all.

And I’ll go crazy. I believe I’ll lose my mind.
I’ll go crazy. I believe I’ll lose my mind.
Why don’t you bring your love back home
and try your daddy one more time?

Reprise.

GUITAR:

The lovely voicing for the descending seventh chords in the opening are derived from moving a first position D7 chord form, built with your little fingers, to wit:

X-0-0-2-1-2 *

[*Always notated in these pages from lowest pitched string to highest, numbers represent the frets inwhich the strings are stopped.]

Moving this up the neck fret by fret, we rename it into a D#7, an E7, an F7 (Fifth fret), a G7 at the seventh fret and an A7 at the ninth fret. By putting your index finger behind the chord form on the fourth string (to take the place of the nut in the original first position D7 chord), we have a beautiful A7 chord that only requires us to finger the top four strings (highest in pitch), since the open E string and the open A are both consonant with the A chord itself. That is:

0-0-7-9-8-9

This chord collapses into a diminished chord and then returns to the above form throughout the song. All your fingers should stay on their same strings when this little collapse happens. The diminished form is:

0-0-7-8-7-8

This same A7 to G#dim.7 to A7 change happens also at the fifth fret throughout the song, using a fragment of the standard Barre F-chord form at the fifth fret, but opening the consonant sixth, fifth, and first strings, leaving this A7:

0-0-5-6-5-0

Which drops back to the G#dim.7, with the addition of your little finger on the first sting, fifth fret, like so:

0-0-4-5-4-5

You can pull off to the open E from that little finger, first string, fifth fret note for a wonderfully dissonant E against the D# on the second string…..a very cool move. [Not to put too fine a point on it, but if you are interested, there’s more on the video and more again in the tab for the book…]

This track was recorded with the L’Arrivee guitar.

Robert Johnson recorded thirteen tunes with accompaniments in standard tuning with fingerings in key of A. [I say “fingerings” because that’s the key his fingers were playing in, he often capoed up two frets for these and put them in the absolute key of B.] On the Starlicks Master Sessions video “Robert Johnson’s Guitar Techniques,” I teach his “Kind Hearted Woman”, and all the figures and fingerings and many of the licks are recycled in his other A-blues, including this one.

An overlooked favorite of mine, this song takes the metaphor of a ‘talking machine’ and exploits it loosely in the name of the miscommunication that seems to invariably go on when you get brains of different genders in love with each other. And frankly, who can resist the double—well, almost single-entendre of the bridge in this tune?

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