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Bob Dylan, composer of this edition of the Song of the Week, didn’t initially set out to write his own songs.
In his autobiography “Chronicles,” he reports that he first had his sights on being a folk singer, singing songs for the people written by the people.
Back in early 60s, back when he was trying to make a name for himself doing just that, he crossed paths with Mike Seeger. This encounter would forever alter the course of Dylan’s musical life.
For those of you who don’t know, Mike was (and still is) a legend in the world of old time music and a true friend of the five. I had the opportunity to spend some time around him very early on in my banjo playing days, an experience that influenced the course of my musical life as well.
Here’s what Dylan says of his first experience hearing Mike play:
“He played all the instruments, whatever the song called for—the banjo, the fiddle, mandolin, autoharp, the guitar, even harmonica in the rack….He played on all the various planes, the full index of old-time styles, played in all the genres and had the idioms mastered—Delta blues, ragtime, minstrel songs, buck-and-wing, dance reels, play party, hymns and gospel—being there and seeing him up close, something hit me. It’s not as if he just played everything well, he played these songs as good as it was possible to play them.”
“As for being a folk musician, he was the supreme archetype. He could push a stake through Dracula’s black heart. He was the romantic, egalitarian and revolutionary type all at once.“
That’s some heady praise.
Dylan realized that Seeger was doing the thing he’d set out to make a name for himself doing as well as anyone could do it, and decided to change course by writing his own songs:
“Sometimes you know things have to change … Somebody holds the mirror up, unlocks the door, and your head has to go into a different place…“
The songs of Dylan are such an American historical and cultural touchstone, it’s hard to imagine a world without them. Yet another part of Mike Seeger’s enduring legacy.
Blowin’ in the Wind
aDADE tuning, Brainjo level 3
Notes on the Tab
In the tab above, you’ll note I’ve tabbed out both a “lead break” (something to play in between verses) and the “vocal backup” (what I play while I’m singing).
Notes in parentheses are “skip” notes – to learn more about skips and syncopated skips, check out my video lesson on the subject.
For more on reading tabs in general, check out this complete guide to reading banjo tabs.
PRIOR SONG OF THE WEEK EPISODES
- Episode 1: “Ain’t Gonna Work Tomorrow”
- Episode 2: “Gumtree Canoe”
- Episode 3: “Crawdad Hole”
- Episode 4: “Oh Susanna”
- Episode 5: “Freight Train”
- Episode 6: “Grandfather’s Clock”
- Episode 7: “Hop High Lulu”
- Episode 8: “Been All Around This World”
- Episode 9: “I’ll Fly Away”
- Episode 10: “Leaving Home”
- Episode 11: “Poor Orphan Child”
- Episode 12: “Mr. Tambourine Man”
- Episode 13: “Swanee River”
- Episode 14: “Big Sciota”
- Episode 15: “Roll In My Sweet Baby’s Arms”
- Episode 16: “Darling Corey”
- Episode 17: “Battle Hymn of the Republic”
- Episode 18: “America the Beautiful”
- Episode 19: “Bury Me Beneath the Willow”
- Episode 20: “Way Out There”
- Episode 21: “New Slang”
- Episode 22: “I Saw the Light”
- Episode 23: “Amazing Grace”
Level 2 arrangements and video demos for the Tune (and Song!) of the Week tunes are now available as part of the Breakthrough Banjo course.