“I come from Alabama, with a banjo on my knee”
With those ten words, first penned in the mid-1800s, Stephen Foster assured himself future inclusion into the Clawhammer Banjo Song of the Week series nearly two centuries later.
Though this certainly won’t be the last appearance here by America’s first great songwriter.
As most of you know, he penned multiple gems, many of which are favorites of mine for playing and singing on the banjo.
You’ll note that this is also the first appearance of double C tuning in this series. Unlike the Tune of the Week series, where many of the tunes are linked to a specific key, with songs, the singer gets to be the boss!
So, when working up a new song, my first step is always to choose the key I’ll be singing it in, which dictates the tuning: standard G for the key of G and nearby keys (accessed with a capo), or double C, and sometimes standard C (gCGBD) for the key of C and nearby keys (for those looking to dive further into these subjects, there’s more info about the process of working up a new song, selecting a key, and so forth inside the Sing with the Banjo and Essentials of Music Theory modules in the Breakthrough Banjo course).
Now set your banjo on your knee, and get to work!
gCGCD 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).
For more on reading tabs in general, check out this complete guide to reading banjo tabs.
PRIOR SONG OF THE WEEK EPISODES
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. Learn more about it here.