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Mick Clarke
Walking By Myself

Release date: 23 July 2019

Recorded by Mick Clarke at Rockfold Studio, Surrey, England

My new version of the Jimmy Rogers standard - hope you enjoy it.

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Mick writes:

I first recorded "Walking By Myself" on my second solo album "Rock Me" in, about, 1984. I had a great line up including Lou Martin and Wilgar Campbell, both ex Rory Gallagher Band, and we rocked through a version down at the old Elephant Studio in Wapping, East London, with Chris Mansbridge at the controls. At that time I'd only ever heard versions by Savoy Brown (that was the first) then Paul Butterfield and Johnny Winter. I don't think I'd even heard the original.

But it was obviously such a great song - it had to be done. And it turned out to be a popular stage number also. Over the years it was subsequently recorded many more times, notably by Gary Moore, who did the kind of version that I'd tried to do back in 1984. I eventually got to hear the original, (what a harp solo)! and then, even better, got to play two dates opening for Jimmy Rogers himself - both great nights. So I got to tell Jimmy that I'd recorded some of his songs. His comment: "Hope I'm getting paid"! Quite right too - fortunately I was able to assure him that he was, as everything had been done properly through the record company.

Actually I love the story about the harp on that track. Apparently it was actually George Smith who was booked for the session, but he didn't turn up. So Jimmy thought "who can I get?". He knew Walter Horton lived nearby so he went to his house. But Walter was busy - he was out doing his day job - painting a house. Jimmy got the address from Walter's wife and went round there - there's Walter up a ladder in his overalls.. "Hey Walter - I've got a session for you - do you wanna do it?" (or something similar). "Oh shit man I'm in the middle of a job!" (Or something similar). So Walter comes down the ladder, they drive back to his house and pick up his harps, and then over to the studio. they do the take and Walter goes back to painting his house.

So when you listen to this stunning solo - really one of the best, in my opinion, to ever grace a Chess recording, you have to see Walter there in his paint stained overalls, basically in his tea break from the house painting job. Now that's the blues.

I dropped the song from the set list a long while ago, but at a recent club date I thought I'd give it another go. I'd always played it in the key of D, for my vocal, but I didn't fancy that. I thought I'd move it up a bit to E, so I could get a nice low down far end of the neck sound to the chords. I quickly found out that there was a good reason for the D.. My voice just couldn't reach the high notes in E. So it tried it high, I tried it low, I tried it sideways - whatever I tried it was rubbish!

But still the song went down really well with the audience, so it started me thinking. OK, it has to be in D, so what's the best way of approaching that for a 3 piece line-up? After a bit I hit on the idea of tuning the guitar down to a D shape - something I might do for playing slide but not normally for regular guitar. After some fumbling about I started to get the hang of it. So then the idea occurred to me - why not record it? Maybe a single.. after all the song has been done to death.. it's not really album material, but a one-off single? Why the hell not?

So here it is - bashed out almost spontaneously on my Matsumoko factory Satellite solid body, and set to a Chicago double shuffle. I've tried to keep this version sparse and real - I hope Jimmy would approve and I hope you enjoy it.

Copyright Mick Clarke 2019

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