I had a request from a student recently to learn to play “Bridge Over Troubled Water.” This is one of those classic songs that I think many of us kind of take for granted and it was fun to revisit it and come up with a new arrangement for guitar. I believe the original recording was in the key of D Major but not having anything remotely near the signing range of Art Garfunkel I transposed it to A Major and spent a couple hours fooling with the changes and various inversions of the chords and came up with something that sounds pretty good, I think. It’s always a challenge to come close to what’s done on the piano (the primary backing instrument on that song on the original recording) with a guitar. I took a few liberties with the basic structure but the result seems pleasing and only moderately challenging for an intermediate level player. Hope my student likes it.
I had forgotten the beautiful, simple but deep and heart felt lyrics of the song, just another example of the genius of Paul Simon. I’ve seen him interviewed when the subject of that song came up and his reaction was quite interesting. The song has become totally connected to Garfunkel, which is logical considering his soaring vocals but Simon made it very clear in the interview that it was HIS song; in fact, you could sense a bit of bitterness that the song is so identified with Garfunkel. The complex and sometimes contentious relationship between those two, friends since high school in Brooklyn, is well documented. I suspect that one of the reasons they created such fantastic, timeless music together has a lot to do with that relationship. The same could be said of Lennon and McCartney. Is genius in collaboration inexorably linked to competition? I suspect it must be. In any case, it seems that every few years they put aside their differences and appear on stage together at some event. Wouldn’t it be great is Paul wrote some new music that would benefit by more singing with Art? I doubt that will ever happen but you know it would be wonderful.
And on a totally different subject….
I continue to be amazed and somewhat amused by the prices people expect to get for used guitars on Craigslist and Ebay. Even on the guitar forums, where people should know better because the audience is much more sophisticated you see some crazy listings. For example, right now there is a listing on one of the forums for a used Martin D-28 (“in as-new condition”) for $1999. Good luck, pal. That guitar can be had brand new from any number of reputable certified Martin dealers for almost $200 less – with Martin’s famous lifetime warranty!
I wrote in this space recently about a trend of rising guitar prices for premium, American-made instruments but I often see on CL and EBay some listings for imported guitars by the likes of Alvarez, Yamaha, Takamine and others for close to what they sell for new. At best, those guitars are worth about half their discounted retail price the minute they leave the store. And that assumes they are in close to perfect condition. Do they actually sell for those prices? I sincerely doubt it. Live and learn.
And another thing…
I am about to replace the primary (12”) speaker in my trusty Carvin AG100 acoustic guitar amp. It has served faithfully and well for ten years but the original speaker is beginning to fall apart, which happens. I posted a question on one of the guitar forums about buying a premium replacement speaker and I had one very interesting response. The guy who wrote is supposedly some kind of minor recording star who features himself quite the expert on all things guitar, recording and sound reinforcement related and he has a substantial ego so I take what he says with a large grain of salt but here’s what he said.
He maintains that ALL new speakers need a break-in period of at least 50 hours (!) to reach their maximum potential/best sound. This was news to me, to say the least. I followed up asking him if this was true of all speakers – guitar amps, PA systems, even home stereos including premium ones. He replied that yes, they too needed that break-in period. Now, this is a bit curious to me. If this is true and there is anything like a noticeable difference in sound between and new speaker and one that’s been used for a while, how can a consumer buying a new unit reasonably expect to get an accurate idea of what any speaker will sound like in the long run? Or put another way, have I mistakenly rejected certain amps because I was disappointed in the sound when I should have hung in and given them more or a chance? I need to do more research on this quite startling statement by Mr. Expert and would love to hear from anyone reading this about the relative merits of it.
I will be replacing the speaker this weekend and I’m considering listening to it as soon as its in, then running some recordings through it for many hours, then listening to it again with my guitar. I’ll report on the results!
Peace & good music,