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Tips for playing Johnny Cash songs?

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Matthew
(@matthew)
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Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 55
Topic starter  

Hello,

I've been a Cash fan for awhile now, but he's never been one of my favorites to play. However, with the release of the movie to DVD, I can't got a night playing anywhere without getting asked to play Jackson, Folsom Prison, or Walk the Line.

So I'm looking for some tips on playing his stuff. I'm fairly new to playing so I still have to work at even “easy” songs.

Folsom Prison, I have a pretty simple version down pretty good. I just play alternating base notes with a single down strum in between. I know there are probably hundreds of fancy variations, anyone have a simple one they like and are willing to share?

Jackson, I'm stuck here… it sound so fast and I have no idea what they are doing. Can anyone help out?

I haven't started on the others, but Walk the Line and Ring of fire tips would be appreciated!

"Now people put you down for the way that you lived
But those people never knew you the way that I did
Don't be ashamed of who you were of how you died
I know you just wanted to find the brighter side..." - OPM

- Matthew


   
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dogbite
(@dogbite)
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Joined: 17 years ago
Posts: 6348
 

big fan here too.
the movie was great.

Folsom is a tough on on the wrist because it is played in F.
we all know how painful the F barre chord is.

I think you have a good understanding of how that's played. no other way.

I play Ring of Fire on dobro in open G. I doubt it is proper but it sounds good.

on a DVD , Tex Ritter's Ranch Party, there is a young Johnny with the Tenneesee Two. Lester Perkins (Carls brother) on telecaster.
Lester is playing the beat and lead stuff while Cash strums. the standup bass player is slappin the bass the whole time.
that's where that terrific beat comes from I think.

he plays Wak the Line on the DVD too. very interesting to see.but it doesnt reveal any tips as far as I can tell.

keep me posted if you discover anything.

http://www.soundclick.com/bands/pagemusic.cfm?bandID=644552
http://www.soundclick.com/couleerockinvaders


   
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Robbie
(@robbie)
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Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 453
 

There is a good post by Wes Inman on Folsom prison in the Easy Song Forum go to:
http://forums.guitarnoise.com/viewtopic.php?t=9790&highlight=folsom
BTW this is in E and sounds great but if you are a stickler for the tune being played in F put a capo on the first fret!

There is an easy rendition of I Walk the line in there too sorry I can't remember by who but search for it you'll find it. I believe the real way to play it changes keys several times. If I can locate that one I'll let you know. Amazing how a movie can stir up so much interest in what I think has been great music for decades.
Robbie


   
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Ricochet
(@ricochet)
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IMO there is no "proper" key to play a song in, unless you're trying to do exact covers in a "tribute band." Johnny Cash did "Folsom Prison Blues" in F because it was comfortable for his voice. Play it the way it works best for you.

"A cheerful heart is good medicine."


   
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Robbie
(@robbie)
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Joined: 18 years ago
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IMO there is no "proper" key to play a song in, unless you're trying to do exact covers in a "tribute band." Johnny Cash did "Folsom Prison Blues" in F because it was comfortable for his voice. Play it the way it works best for you.

I agree Ricochet but I do find that if I am able to play along with the recorded version it really helps with timing. Sometimes I learn a song on its own and then when I go to play it with someone else or with the CD my conception of what the tempo should be is way off. So I guess I use it nas a metronome so to speak. Anyway back to Johnny Cash tunes, I don't mean to steal the thread


   
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Primeta
(@primeta)
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Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 836
 

The other way to 'dhodge' the problem, find a key you are comfortable with and use a capo to play along with the cd.

"Things may get a whole lot worse/ Before suddenly falling apart"
Steely Dan
"Look at me coyote, don't let a little road dust put you off" Knopfler


   
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Riff Raff
(@riff-raff)
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Joined: 17 years ago
Posts: 371
 

I like to play Cash tunes but I find that because they are simple, the lyrics really stand out. What I mean is that, if you are a solo guitarist playing Folsom Prison with a palm-muted bass line, you're voice better be pretty good cause it's really going to be heard. Which is bad for me :cry:
If you play solo, next time someone asks for Cash, give em "Delia's Gone". I love that one!

If you want to hear an alternative way to play "Folsom Prison", check out Reverend Horton Heat's version. The Reverend is an amazing guitarist by the way. Pick up "Holy Roller" next time you're looking for something different to listen to.


   
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Elecktrablue
(@elecktrablue)
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If you play solo, next time someone asks for Cash, give em "Delia's Gone". I love that one!

Have you ever heard David Bromberg's version of Delia? Very nice! :D

..· ´¨¨)) -:¦:-
¸.·´ .·´¨¨))
((¸¸.·´ .·´
-:¦:- ((¸¸.·´ -:¦:- Elecktrablue -:¦:-

"Don't wanna ride no shootin' star. Just wanna play on the rhythm guitar." Emmylou Harris, "Rhythm Guitar" from "The Ballad of Sally Rose"


   
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Pilot
(@pilot)
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Joined: 19 years ago
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Check out jonnyt's post in the "I Walk the Line" thread. I just found it a couple of days ago and have been practicing the song ever since. Badly, mind you, but working on it nonetheless. :D


   
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Robbie
(@robbie)
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Joined: 18 years ago
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Ah that's why I couldn't locate the version of I Walk The Line with key changes. It was added in with another post but t is a very good tab-lesson by Jonny T. Thanx for pointing it out again & thanx JonnyT


   
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mattguitar
(@mattguitar_1567859575)
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Hi Mathew

Its a bit hard to establish how good you are at guitar, so teaching you, or giving you tips, is going to be hard.

For instance we could just say "play most songs with a palm muted bass strum" but would you 1. know what that was and 2. be able to do it?

So before we go any further, how are you currently playing these songs, just strumming them or playing with a bass strum, what's the deal?

Help us to help you mate!

All the best

Matt


   
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Musenfreund
(@musenfreund)
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Joined: 20 years ago
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Cash used a capo all the time. So even though the song's in F, he played it with a capo on the first fret to make it easy on himself so that he played the F as an open E. I'm not sure why he relied on the capo so much. Once you've got some experience, the F isn't a problem, but he avoided it.

Well we all shine on--like the moon and the stars and the sun.
-- John Lennon


   
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mattguitar
(@mattguitar_1567859575)
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I read an interview with him. When he started he really only learned A, B7 and E chords. A lot of his most popular songs are therefore based around these chords.

Joni Mitchell also went out of her way to avoid the F barre chord - hence a lot of her unusual tunings.

Matt


   
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Riff Raff
(@riff-raff)
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Check out the scene in the movie when Cash is at Sun Records for his audition and he starts playing "Folsom Prison". His band doesn't know the song, but the actor that plays Luther Perkins picks up the tune and at one point he turns to the actor that plays the bassist, Marshal Grant and you can read his lips as he says to him, "A"! I know it's only the movie, but I would guess that means they were playing it in "E".


   
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