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Old 06-14-2019, 07:09 AM
JonPR JonPR is offline
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Join Date: Dec 2010
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You could call it an 8-bar blues, I guess. It's actually quite a common folk-blues form, which is like a 12-bar blues with the first 4 bars cut. I.e., it starts on the IV.
"Folk-blues" is a nice catch-all term for traditional songs which would have been in the repertoire of blues and folk-country singers alike. Leadbelly, after all (not first to record Midnight Special, but the one who popularised it) was a "songster", who knew a wide range of stuff, beyond blues.

Other folk-blues songs with similar form are Richland Woman Blues:

and the Memphis Jug Band's You May Leave (But This'll Bring You Back).

Midnight Special is probably older than either of those, but it's quite likely both were based on some other source.

There are other blues tunes in (more or less) 12-bar form which also begin with IV. I.e., the changes are IV-I for both the first two lines, not just the second. You Don't Love Me (Willie Cobbs, Bo Diddley) and Meet Me in the Bottom (Howlin' Wolf) are examples.
"There is a crack in everything. That's how the light gets in." - Leonard Cohen.

Last edited by JonPR; 06-14-2019 at 07:15 AM.
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