Just out of curiosity - when you play dead tunes, do you keep the same key, tempo, song structure or do you "re-interpret" the tune to match your vision of the tune? For example, when playing So Many Roads, I tune the 12 string down to Csus tuning and play the chord structures as listed at rukind.com. I also like to play Eyes of the World much slower and Stella Blue a little faster. Obviously, since we didn't write the tune, any time we play the tune we are interpreting - but I guess I am interested in how close to the original do you try to get . . .
i only have an acoustic guitar, but i can play 18 Dead songs, and for the most part i keep them pretty close, but i switch it up every now and then. sometimes i like to play Black Peter fast, the intro sounds pretty cool at a fast pace. and yea i like to play Eyes slow sometimes too, it sounds good.
Gratefulfloyd - I too only own acoustic guitar (1 six string and one twelve) - I find the acoustic "format" for dead stuff fairly liberating. Since the dead didn't play Eyes acoustically (at least none that we know about!) I have no preconceptions of what the song should sound like acoustically. It is always easier to break new musical ground when there are no preconceptions . . . I like the idea of Black Peter uptempo - I am gonna try that when I get home.
I suppose i reinterperate all the songs I cover. As I am an acoustic player like some others, I like to come up with my own takes on the standard melodies or combine Jerry and Bobby parts, mostly intros. I do that with Scarlet, for example. Recently I've been playing Black Peter with a bit of a faster tempo. I've been trying to put together Birdsong (the vocals are killing me), the idea being a slow Birdsong building up to a more uptempo Black Peter. If you play BS in it's original key of D, you can run it into BP fairly easily. Just an idea in the works.
Goin' home, goin' home
By the waterside I will rest my bones
Listen to the river sing sweet songs
To rock my soul
its taken me forever to get "good" at an acoustic eyes, maybe its just me, but that song is tough, it just never seems to sound good enough to me, but there are moments when its almost there, and that keeps me going. but i do notice progress almost every time i play it, but i'm determined to get it seeing as it is my favoirte song, its a fun challenge
I like to give eyes a more jazzy feel, by alternating between sort of popping the low E string (for a bassline feel) with my thumb, and focusing on hitting the B,G, and D strings on an upstroke with my index finger and kind of throwing in a little folksy comp, i think it sounds pretty good
Black Peter into Bird Song - never thought about that, but hey it looks like others have and it sounds like a pretty cool idea. The only problem is the singing on Bird Song - the chorus section is singable for me, the verse forget it!
This morning I was playing Eyes in Open E (well open D capoed at the 2nd fret) and that sounds pretty cool especially since Little Martha is open E and one could build a bridge between the two . . .
Thank the powers that be for these musicians and their abilities to write such cool tunes!
I just have to add this. A friend of mine is an Italian lady singer/songwriter and I always play guitar on her songs. The last time she visited, I turned her on to the Dead and she liked it so much that she wanted to interpret some of their songs. Only, not speaking English very well, she decided to come up with Italian lyrics instead. This is a tough thing to do, but we translated Ripple and Wharf Rat almost literally, only that August West was renamed Gino Mazzoni and Pearly became Celestina. There's more to follow...