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birkenweg42 07-18-2005 08:00 PM

Songs In Open D
I just finished re-learning Little Martha. I had totally forgotten how to play it since it is the only song on my play list in open d and I am usually too lazy to retune my guitar for only one song. I have no problem with open g. I know plenty of songs in open g.
I am looking for suggestions for songs to play in open d to make a retune worth my while. I am comfortable with the level of difficulty Little Martha offers but not ready to go beyond this yet.
I am thankful for any suggestions.


MattM 07-18-2005 08:18 PM

What a coincidinc... I was in a music store just a few days ago and the owner was showing someone that he had finally figured out that a song was in open D major. I think it was Sailing (like "Saaaaailing, WoaWoaWoaWoa...", you know, from the seventies) Give it a try and tell me if I'm right.

underwhelmed 07-18-2005 09:31 PM

Big Yellow Taxi by Joni Mitchell (they paved paradise etc.) is a good one in open D (I think capoed up a bit, but it's in that tuning at any rate).

belapeace 07-19-2005 06:27 AM

Try Cripple Creek. Kottke has recorded it several times. Here's a link to some tab.

Freeman 07-19-2005 10:30 AM

In no particular order -

Slide - Poor Boy, Dark is the Night, Steel Guitar Rag, many Kelly Joe Phelps songs - I think D is the "pretty" slide tuning and G is the "nasty" one and usually have one reso in each.

Blues - Police Dog Blues, Vestapole (another name for the tuning)

Fahey - a bunch of songs including several Christmas songs

Kottke - Watermelon, Echoing Gilewitz, Little Martha

I was trying to learn LM and having trouble holding the 5th barre and reaching out with my pinkie on the 5th string when I saw Leo in concert and realized that he dropped the barre. It has been easy and a favorite ever since.

Christian, since you say you know songs in open G, many can be played in D by moving them up (towards the bass) one string and playing the same chord positions. i.e. a note at the 12th fret of the first string becomes the 12th of the second, etc. Noodle around with it - it works better on some songs than others.

nubjamin 07-19-2005 11:25 AM

i'm pretty sure that dylan's "oxford town" is played in open D, capoed up to the 5th or 7th fret. very easy, just two chords and some hammer-ons, but one of my favorites from freewheelin'.

birkenweg42 07-19-2005 11:25 PM

Thanks for the replies. I will probably go for Cripple Creek. I like it played on banjo and I like Kottke's version. I didn't know it was in open d.
I will also try to play some of my open g stuff in d. Thanks for the tip.
I always thought Kelly Joe Phelps had his own tunings nobody else used. The problem with KJP is his cool, bluesy voice. Nobody wants to hear River Rat Jimmy with a German accent.

Freeman 07-20-2005 12:29 PM


Originally Posted by birkenweg42
I always thought Kelly Joe Phelps had his own tunings nobody else used. The problem with KJP is his cool, bluesy voice.

KJP plays lap style with a dobro steel and a high nut. I know he frequently capos way up the neck but I think his basic tuning is often open D.

FWIW most of Fahey's slide stuff is played lap style too but I've been able to do a lot of it with the bottleneck. Doesn't sound like Fahey, but that's not because of the style... <g>

I'll be interested in your take on moving the open G songs to D. I tried it the other way last night (tried playing Little Martha in open G moved down a string (towards the floor)) - didn't work at all. Oh, well...

Maple915ce 07-24-2005 06:28 PM

Little Martha G Phrase
Hi Freeman.

I learned LM from the Kottke version as well, and I know the part that you're talking about. Interestingly enough, if you drop the barre, you can even get those two notes for free on the open 2nd and 3rd string, which naturally get muted when you form the next chord or partial chord.

Also, Kottke adds an interesting new section to the song in the version on the Live album.

bcaylor 07-24-2005 07:28 PM


I'll add one more to the list...Clint Black's "Something that We Do" capoed at the third or fifth fret.

Good luck!

birkenweg42 07-25-2005 06:17 PM

Hi there,
I have transposed two of my own songs from open g to open d. The problem is that it changes the songs. Too dark.
After going through the Tabpigs web page (thanks, Belapeace, i had totally forgotten about that web page) I found that A Virtuoso Is His Own Reward is in open d. This is one of my favorite Kottke pieces so I started learning this one. I would also like to play Watermelon and Echoing Gilewitz but both are played on 12-string.
Transposing Little Martha from open d to open g is a little more complicated than moving everything down a string. You are basically running out of strings.

balderod 01-22-2009 09:32 AM

Couple of Song Suggestions
Jose Gonzalez's song "Bloodstain" has an open D tuning. Its pretty folkbluesy. Also The Black Crowes Fav "She Talks To Angels" is in E so just capo up two frets.

Steve Berger 01-22-2009 09:55 AM

Mike Dowling's plays many songs in open D. "Blue Fandango" and "Trouble in Mind" among them.

Denis 01-22-2009 01:04 PM

I love Little Martha too! Great tune. I first heard it in Leo Kottke's Home & Away video. Then I bought Eat a Peach!! Love the Allman Bros. I do Big Yellow Taxi as well but in Open D it's either too high or too low for me. I like it in open G. Open D is good blues to be sure and maybe the Black Crowes, She Talks to Angels? What I love about open D is that when you bring the F# back up to G, you get DADGAD...Love alternate tunings in general.

Here's my Little Martha:

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