Gypsy Blues '38

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Mick writes:

THis song is one of mine, but an oldie. I actually wrote parts of the tune back in the 70s, when I was in my early twenties, and I first recorded the song on the Roll Again album in the mid 90s with Chris Sharley on drums and the late Mick Hawksworth on bass. That version has proved popular, but I had a hankering to try an acoustic version - so here it is, with a kind of pre war Gypsy Jazz feel to it.

The catalyst for this was my purchase of a 1930s archtop guitar - a Harmony Columbia - made in Chicago and imported to the UK in 1938 / 39. Of course these guitars were not made to be played in this way, but there's not much call for foxtrots these days, and anyway I don't know all those fancy chords. So with a set of modern 10-46 Rotosounds on it, I just played my regular style over a kind of Djangoish "Manouche" style rhythm.

It's an interesting instrument. This particular guitar has been played to hell.. presumably all through the 30s and 40s before it was put away in an attic somewhere, probably early 50s. The wear and tear tells you that the original owner was a hard working musician - you can still see his fingerprints in the fingerboard, let alone all the wear on the neck and body. At some point one of the machine heads broke so he replaced it with the only one he could, which was designed for the wrong side. The solution was to put it on backwards, so it tunes the wrong way. I've left it as it was.

Then he apparently had a problem with the 14th fret, so he ripped it out and replaced it with the 20th.. (who uses that on an archtop?). And the pickguard must have been rattling so he got a load of green felt..(maybe from a sax or clarinet player in the band?).. and stuffed it in.

So the guitar has a lot of character and a rich heritage. Just perfect for "Gypsy Blues". I hope you enjoy the music.

Mick Clarke - Gypsy Blues '38