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Old 12-03-2019, 02:20 PM
Glennwillow Glennwillow is offline
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Default "American Tune" by Paul Simon (cover)



"American Tune" was released in 1973 on Paul Simon's 2nd solo album, "There Goes Rhymin' Simon."

This song is challenging to learn because it has chord changes on almost every syllable in the song, which is typical of church hymns. This song is inspired by the old church hymn "O Sacred Head, Now Wounded". J.S. Bach did the harmonization on this hymn, which explains why there are so many chord changes. The song certainly has a bit of a Bach sound to it, but modernized by Paul Simon's ideas. Certainly the bridge is all Paul Simon. So are all the lyrics, of course, and there are many harmonic modifications and melodic changes to the original hymn that Paul Simon used.

I had to work on this for a good week to 10 days to finally get the song memorized before I could do a decent job recording this. At first, I wondered if it was possible, but there are a couple of YouTube videos of Paul Simon playing this song live and he made it look so easy. I thought, well, Paul Simon is human... if he can do it...maybe I can.

Thanks for listening!

- Glenn
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Last edited by Glennwillow; 12-03-2019 at 02:35 PM.
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Old 12-03-2019, 02:53 PM
J.DrewPetersen J.DrewPetersen is offline
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Real nice, and thanks for the background (along with some nice fingering close-ups!). That's MTV quality video there, kudos, Drew.
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Old 12-03-2019, 02:57 PM
Glennwillow Glennwillow is offline
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Real nice, and thanks for the background (along with some nice fingering close-ups!). That's MTV quality video there, kudos, Drew.
Hi Drew!

Thanks so much for your comments and for watching! You're welcome on the song background, and I very much appreciate your kind words on the video quality!

I always enjoy your videos, as well, Drew!

- Glenn
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Old 12-03-2019, 04:48 PM
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Very nice Glenn. I can't imagine singing & playing that song with a zillion chord changes. Thanks again for sharing your talents.

Mike
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Old 12-03-2019, 05:18 PM
reeve21 reeve21 is online now
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Hi Glenn,

That was fantastic. I love Paul Simonís music and American Tune is one of my favorites. That song is quite a handful and you nailed it. Bravo!
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Old 12-03-2019, 05:48 PM
Glennwillow Glennwillow is offline
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Very nice Glenn. I can't imagine singing & playing that song with a zillion chord changes. Thanks again for sharing your talents.

Mike
Hi Mike!

Thank you for the kind words and comments! Yes, a zillion chord changes is about right! I wondered how I was ever going to get it memorized and yet after a week of playing it two or three hours every day, it started to happen! I couldn't believe it!

I think I counted all the chord changes and it came out to something like 187 changes over the course of the song. Crazy Bach! Maybe he thought someone would be reading music and not have to remember the sequence of all those changes!

Thanks for the generous support here on Show & Tell Mike!

- Glenn
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Old 12-03-2019, 05:57 PM
Glennwillow Glennwillow is offline
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Hi Glenn,

That was fantastic. I love Paul Simonís music and American Tune is one of my favorites. That song is quite a handful and you nailed it. Bravo!
Thank you Bob!

I'm so pleased that you thought this came out well! I always appreciate your comments and knowing you are watching!

American Tune has been one of my favorite songs for a long time, too, but I never spent the time it would take to learn this. I somehow knew I was going to have to memorize this song to get the whole thing internalized. I tried to record this with music in front of me on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. The image of the Mayflower made me think of Thanksgiving... But while I had the guitar part down, I did not have the vocal part down quite right. Joining the playing and singing together takes some kind of brain synthesis that I just did not have down a week ago. I knew it wasn't good enough after listening to a bunch of trial recordings so I kept practicing every day.

This one took a while, but I have to say, watching Paul Simon play this live was really an inspiration. He seems so relaxed and his voice sounds so good.

This first one is with his steel string F30 Guild:



This next one is with a classical guitar. He is so in the zone here...



- Glenn
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Old 12-03-2019, 05:59 PM
Glennwillow Glennwillow is offline
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By the way, for those interested in learning this, Jerry's Guitar Bar does a very good job of teaching this song. He also provides a free download of the tab and a cheat sheet plus compressed videos at no charge.



- Glenn
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Old 12-03-2019, 06:24 PM
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Wonderful, Glenn! I really appreciate your mentioning the work that goes into some of these 3+ minute tunes. We can get lulled into thinking you kinda just sat down and ripped it off, sometime after dinner and before dessert!!
This stuff takes time and your efforts are now rewarded!

It's a great song, but, like you, I never took in the chord changes required while doing the vocals.........brain working over time!!

Thanks for this.......just a great job....the Olson sounds delightful!

Happy December!
Fred
ps. caught this as the first tune on my new headphones which arrived today...nice way to break them in!! LOL!
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Old 12-03-2019, 07:12 PM
Glennwillow Glennwillow is offline
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Wonderful, Glenn! I really appreciate your mentioning the work that goes into some of these 3+ minute tunes. We can get lulled into thinking you kinda just sat down and ripped it off, sometime after dinner and before dessert!!
This stuff takes time and your efforts are now rewarded!

It's a great song, but, like you, I never took in the chord changes required while doing the vocals.........brain working over time!!

Thanks for this.......just a great job....the Olson sounds delightful!

Happy December!
Fred
ps. caught this as the first tune on my new headphones which arrived today...nice way to break them in!! LOL!
Hi Fred!

Oh cool! You got to use your new headphones to hear this video! How wonderful! I hope it sounded good.

I'm glad you liked the sound of the Olson, too. It has a nice, warm sound which I thought worked well for this song and its semi-classical character. Also, the Olson, with it's shallow neck, made all those fast chord changes just a little easier. I tried this on a bunch of guitars but I really thought the Olson worked well for my tastes. In the house I practiced this with my '67 Martin D-35 and it sounded good on that guitar, too. But it's quite a bit brighter, and in the end, I liked the slightly darker tone of the Olson.

I did have to work at this one! So I am very glad to have finally gotten a halfway decent take on this piece. I have always loved the way Paul Simon played and sang this.

Thanks very much for your thoughts, comments, and support Fred!

- Glenn
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Old 12-03-2019, 08:09 PM
J-Doug J-Doug is online now
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Awesome Glenn!
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Old 12-03-2019, 08:14 PM
Glennwillow Glennwillow is offline
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Awesome Glenn!
Thank you Doug!

Nice of you to take the time to listen and comment! Thanks for the support!

- Glenn
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Old 12-03-2019, 08:35 PM
Lkristians Lkristians is online now
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Glenn, can't wait to listen to this. I'm sitting here on the forum watching the nature channel with my wife and mother in law.( Pause here for laughter.) We've had a couple of margaritas. As soon as they go to bed, I'll be in head phone heaven and will give this a listen!
Can't wait!
LarryK
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Old 12-03-2019, 09:41 PM
Glennwillow Glennwillow is offline
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Glenn, can't wait to listen to this. I'm sitting here on the forum watching the nature channel with my wife and mother in law.( Pause here for laughter.) We've had a couple of margaritas. As soon as they go to bed, I'll be in head phone heaven and will give this a listen!
Can't wait!
LarryK
Thank you Larry!

I hope you like it! Thanks for your enthusiasm even before you listen!

Best Regards,
Glenn
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Old 12-03-2019, 10:25 PM
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Well to further date myself, check out the a capella version of this song by The Starland Vocal Band (one hit wonders with Afternoon Delight). I saw them do it at a John Denver concert and it was fantastic.

Thanks Glenn for another great video

Here is a link if anyone is interested. https://video.search.yahoo.com/searc...7a&action=view
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