Long time user of rukind, first time poster on these forums.
So, Dire Wolf is a tune that used to truly confound me back in the day. It always sounded so simple, and I could always approximate it, but I could always tell that I was off.
Well, today, I finally got it down. I came in here to compare notes and see if rukind had the same progression, or something different.
Well, for the most part, it is the same, but there are three places where I came up with something different.
First, I hear a C, Bb, F on the "I beg of you, don't murder me" in the first two choruses. This is interesting because this turnaround goes from being in the middle of the chorus the first two times to being in the middle of the verse the second two times (which plays in to my general comments below).
Second, and probably least debatable, coming into the second chorus, it goes Am, G, F, C, Bb, F, as opposed to the G, F, G, C, Bb, F, (last three chords being my interpretation). So, basically, "don't murder me, I beg of you" is over G>F>G the first time, but Am>G>F the second time (G and F are flipped).
Thirdly, and imo most interestingly, during the "I beg of you, don't murder me" in the third and fourth choruses, I hear it as C, G#+, Am rather than C, E7, Am. Both sound good, but I think the G#+ is more colorful and kind of more characteristic of the jazz elements in much of the GD's songwriting by that time. Incidentally, the beginning of the chorus is back to G>F>G for these two choruses.
On a more general note, and regardless of whether one plays it my way or the way posted on rukind, in figuring this out today, I discovered that the deceptive simplicity of Dire Wolf really kind of encapsulates the genius of the GD. First, on the surface, it is a simple folk/blues tune; however, once you dig in you find the odd jazz substitution (C, G#+, Am) coming in to play. Second, like Dark Star and the blues, it implies a tonal center, but the tonal center constantly shifts. The Bb implies that it is in F major, but the G major implies that it is in C (G needing to be a minor 7 to fit in F major). Third, you have the entire progression itself progressing through stages, using the Am as a pivot point (which, of course, works well for C major, and only slightly less so for F major, where it should be a minor 7). Of course, the song ends in C, so I guess that wins out
Finally, you realize that the progression progresses right along with the lyrics, up to and including the return to the original verse progression at the point where the story returns to its starting point, but with the slight alterations making it a resolution as much as the closing of a loop.
And, as if to drive the point home (and int his I address a point by a previous poster), the first chorus after the last verse has the C, Bb, F turnaround, while the C, G#+, Am turnaround is used during the repeated verse.
Absolute and sublimely subtle brilliance.
Oh, one final note: the song is in the key of A/D on Workingman's, and in F/Bb on the live version that Bobby sings on bonus tracks of the Workingman's remaster.