I’ve decided to give Unbroken Chain a go for an acoustic solo version.
Saturday and Sunday I put some time into it and I think it may be within my reach. I checked out the Handmade Groove version on You Tube and I noticed that they avoid the true Jerry riffs in the jam. They use their own riffs. I believe their reasons have to do with the fact that the riffs are so incredibly difficult.
(Found that out on Saturday, really hard to get close to, lots of CD rewind technique, over and over, just a few snippets and you’re at sensory overload before you know it.)
My efforts will all be based on the Mars Hotel CD and my approach will be as follows:
1] Get a copy of Ed Bick’s version off of the resource here and compare it to the songbook to see if they are indeed the same. Work up the song chords and lyrics after trying to master the lead lines beginning at t=3:06.
2] Go right for the jugular: Jerry’s lead work beginning at 3:06. Just keep at it and see how far I get in a month.
3] When I get sufficiently close, I’ll then head to the chords, then the lyrics along with the chords, and finally put it all together.
I’ll post back here occasionally to update.
What I’ve learned so far, after around 4 hours of CD rewind technique, is:
1] The lead work is in the key of F.
2] You have to tune your guitar with a tuner before each sitting or slight sharps, from when Jer puts on notes with an ever so slight string push/bend, will completely throw you off, making you think he’s using obscure scales when in fact he is not. He’s just playing, and playing within the major scale, which is how he works it to be so fluid and correct sounding, even though it is so differently correct sounding.
3] Technique is everything. Extra notes that I thought existed are just my imagination.
You can finesse around your imagination by hard hitting some notes and their ring, combined with the following notes, add the desired abstract feel and flavor of the lead lines.
4] Keep it simple and stay in key or you will be lost in no time. However, keeping it simple still means using ALL the notes in the key. So simple is an understatement.
5] Listen to the stuff countless times and eventually you will see into his madness. The triplets form their own cadence and before you know it you start to think like him, which is a very good thing.
6] You need around a half hour to get back to where you left off the day before. It is tedious and slow going. Persevere and you will be well rewarded once you gain his mindset.
7] I tried and tried to get the leads to start around the 8th to 12th frets but things are too stilted there. Have decided on the 15th fret starting point (A string) and voila, child’s play, nirvana. Of course, Jerry’s favorite pattern position, IMHO.
8] My technique is really improving and I’m learning a hell of a lot about the way Jerry works his low-string note-meanderings.
9] He likes the 15th fret area, the 13th fret area, and the 8th fret area.
10] You need an acoustic with a cutaway or you’re somewhat out of luck. I have a cutaway, so I don’t know what it would be like without one.
Whenever I tried to learn this song in the past, I would start at the beginning, and when I got to the lead part, I was so exhausted that I just sort of blew it off. So this new approach of going for the hardest part first seems to be the best way to solve the overall puzzle.
And so it goes: the long, hard slog.