Welcome back! We're kicking off this session in the Performance Class with a study of the classic I'm Ready.
Written by Willie Dixon and recorded by Muddy Waters with Little Walter on harp, this will be the first study song for us that features chromatic harp playing. Recorded in 1954, this is clearly a standard all blues harp players should be familiar with.
Though played in third position on the chromatic, it is curious that the song is in Eb, meaning Walter held the button in (or his slide was broken off in that position). Why would this be in Eb? Shoji points out the guitar playing by Jimmy Rogers is done with all the strings tuned down a half step. Going any lower to D, the more obvious key for a C chromatic in third position, may not have worked on a guitar and playing in D with standard tuning won't let you play the phrases in the same way because that low note open string is missing.
Nonetheless, D is the popular key for this song. It just means some minor sacrifice in the guitar part.
What's the form? Well, generally it's a twelve bar form with a sixteen bar break verse and 12 bar solo sections. Still, if you listen carefully to the first twelve, there is not consensus in the band about whether to go to the IV chord in bar five. Walter does, but Dixon, the songwriter, does not. There seems to be apprehension or caution in Walter's playing when the solo section starts too as he listens to hear whether the band is going to make changes or hang on the one chord.
Joe asked why we think the song is strong, why it's memorable and the consensus is the songwriting. These are powerful lyrics from Dixon that are tailor-made for Muddy. We may not know what an "axe-handled pistol on a graveyard frame" is, but we're impressed!
More on I'm Ready next week.
- RECORDING: This session's recording date is Monday, February 15.
New Cool Old School
Our own Shoji Naito has released his first CD!
New Cool Old School features 13 of Shoji's blues friends on fourteen brilliant tracks that strip away studio polish in favor of real, straight-ahead blues. The group hit the studio with no set list, no rehearsal and simply made music because they love to play together. This is blues from the pros and YOU NEED THIS DISC!
It's available now on iTunes for download, on CD Baby for download or disc, or you can catch Shoji in person at Old Town to pick up a copy.
- Grant Kessler, B1 Blues Crew