Wednesday, November 4, 2015

I Don't Want to Set The World on Fire

I guess if you play guitar long enough you will encounter tunes by the Ink Spots, a WWII era quartet with Huey Long on the guitar and some vocals to make you smoke a cigar.

They play this song in the key of F Major, which might work for those Texas tenor voices but old Oggy must lower it to A Major. A capo on the 4th fret would make this easier since I learned all the chords in F, but I guess it doesn't matter. The lesson here is quality song crafting, each phrase is a question that is answered by the next phrase:

"I don't want to set the world on fire....I just want to start a flame in your heart.
In my heart there is but one desire, and that one is you, no other will do.
I've lost all ambition for worldy acclaim, I just want to be the one you love.
And with your admission that you feel the same, I'll have reached the goal I'm dreaming of, believe me.
I don't want to set the world on fire...I just want to start a flame in your heart."

I'll bet there were other lyrics and someone finally said, why bother. These lyrics, in fact, that single sentence, says it all. There is simply nothing else to say. I don't want to set the world on fire. I just want to start a flame in your heart."

what point is there in repeating yourself after that line? None. The song could end after one sentence. But the melody of each A phrase is completed by the B phrase and that's why it is a complete composition. It's call and response. Simplicity. From the heart. Honest.
This song is not in my dusty music box, which is a project I may have satisfied, but the Ink Spots recorded When the Swallows Come Back to Capistrano...which is in the box...and that song led me to the Ink Spots, which led me to this song. I dig it. The chords are easy enough to find, but the challenge is to play different voicings of the chords as I play because clunking away on the same voicing is boring. The F major to start the song could easily become an F Maj7, F6, F7, Dmi7. and then re-voice those chords for each beat so there is an appearance of movement when not much is actually happening. It's an Eldon Shamblin trick and all Western Swingers use it in Rhythm guitar. The two important skills for a jazz rhythm guitarist is to re-voice chords, and substitute chords, which are kind of the same thing. I'm just happy to re-voice the chords I know rather than substitute new ones, but even if it sounds complicated I think the reasoning is that these guitarists basically got bored of playing the same chords and experimented with different sounds until a few rules of substitution could be formulated. If you are not bored with a chord progression then you probably aren't playing it over and over every night of the week like the kings of Swing Era Rhythm guitar were. They experimented to keep their sanity.

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Man in the Van by Oggy Bleacher is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License.