Liberty!

Murphy Henry

Logan, now a senior in high school, is going great guns on the banjo at the moment. He’s in that space where he is learning song after song after song. (I know you don’t want to hear that, Marty and Susan!) Lately we’ve learned Goldrush, Daybreak in Dixie, and Shenandoah Breakdown. All of these are starting to run together in his head, especially the beginnings (same pickup notes) so this week he asked for something different. Probably because Susan is working on it, I suggested Liberty, which is in D, but played out of the C position with the fourth string dropped to a C note (tuned down 2 frets). (And, no, Marty, this does not give you permission to start working on it!) So away we went!

The way Logan is learning right now is for me to show him as much of the song as he thinks he can retain right there in the lesson. I know with his busy senior schedule—school, church, job, girl, car, texting—that he is extremely unlikely to look at a DVD! So I started showing him Liberty which he picked up really fast. I was pretty impressed until he told me that he’d actually sorta learned it years ago (from me) but he didn’t really “get it” then. Whatever.

Since the learning process went so fast, we had extra time in the lesson to actually play the song together. I showed him those funky-sounding, up-the-neck drop C chords (he loves those sounds as much as I do) and we started trading breaks.

Well! (And here is the whole point of the blog.) Right at the beginning of the song, Logan was putting in an extra note-- an extra first string--and IT SOUNDED GREAT. (If I did tab I would show you but I don’t so I won’t. If I had a webcam I could film it for you, but ditto. Ask me when you see me!) For those of you who play my arrangement, that first string became a “bump” note/grace note to the downbeat on the fifth string. (I think!) In my mind, it did something spectacular to the rhythm and I just loved it. So naturally I stole it from Logan and started doing it myself. Thanks, Logan!

I told Logan his inventiveness reminded me of the new lick Casey added to Liberty. It’s a simple little lick, but the timing is exquisite. You can hear Casey and Lynn Morris, on clawhammer banjo, playing Liberty on Casey’s CD Real Women Drive Trucks. Killer version. And, of course, you can hear—and learn—Liberty on our DVD, Soldier’s Joy and Other Banjo Favorites.

And I will close with a slightly paraphrased bluegrass song, with apologies to Grandpa Jones, who wrote the original:

It’s raining, raining, raining here this morning
As I sit right here and type my blog away
I wish that I could follow all the raindrops
But it’s way too wet to play outside today.

A bit lame, but there you have it! Now, on to The Book

4 thoughts on “Liberty!

  1. Tam

    How about posting a sound clip with the extra note Murphy. I worked on Liberty a while back in drop C. I love it, athough I still get confused at times when I move from the B part to the A or is it the A to the B Im not quite sure. See I am already confused.. Anyway it’s to do with the fill in notes I seem to trip over myself and end up playing the wrong part.

  2. Martin Bacon

    OK Murphy. Here is what I learned at Nashcamp that is relevant to your “No, Marty this does not give you permission..” statement. Kristin Scott Benson said the banjo is a quality not a quantity instrument. That is, learn what you learn very well and with a limited number of things that you know really well, you can make a lot of music.

  3. Pingback:

    What Kristin Scott Benson Said « The Murphy Method Blog

  4. Tam

    funky-sounding, up-the-neck drop C chords ?????

    I don’t remember any up the neck chords in Liberty Murphy… Have you been holding out on me?

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