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DIFFERENT HYMNALS. EXTRA LINER NOTES ONLINE .

Here it is - all the little details, much too wordy for liner notes on my very green eco-jacket. The CD package has all the pithy essentials there. But on the website, digits are cheap, so if you are willing to dive in, here is extra information about Different Hymnals., the songs, the recording, the guitars, and a little personal history:

Read as you scroll, or Click on the highlighted text to jump there:

About the songs:
1 Four Early Shape Note Hymns
2 Must Jesus Bear The Cross Alone / Let It Shine
3 When Peace, Like A River (instrumental)
4 Stand By Me
5 Love Lifted Me (instrumental)
6 No Not One!
7 Everybody's Grace
8 Low Lazarus & Lord Diverus
9 God Don't Like It - I Don't Either
10 One Simple Song
11 Jesus Knocking At Your Door
12 Jesus, Lover Of My Soul / Nearer My God To Thee
13 We'll Understand It Better Bye & Bye
14 Old Hundredth

About The Recording:
About The Guitars:


[to read the liner notes as published with the CD click here]

[to go back to the DIFFERENT HYMNALS main page click here]

About The Songs:

1 Four Early Shape Note Hymns

First a word about the names of hymns. A traditional hymn typically has two names, maybe three or more. There is the name of the text, the name of the tune, and maybe a nickname derived from the chorus.

Why, you might ask? Well, tunes were usually written by one person and texts by another. Perhaps in different centuries or continents. Both elements were written or composed to strict schemes of rhythm and form referred to as "meter," so that a tune and a text written in the same meter could be matched by any third party. That third party could be a publisher of hymnals, or a song leader in a congregation. As it was cheaper and easier to print words with moveable type, than it was to etch musical notation on a lithograph, some early hymnals excluded music notation completely, or maybe suggested a hymn tune by name.

You might notice the capitalization of the tunes in this track: FAITHFUL SOLDIER, NEW BRITAIN, PISGAH, and RESIGNATION. This is an age-old convention in traditional hymnody. The hymn tune name is spelled in all caps, whereas the text of the hymn is named by the first line.

Old shape note books such as William Walker's Southern Harmony, name the songs by the hymn tune only. Later hymnals would use the first line of text for the title, and perhaps list the hymn tune (all in caps) below it in the header. More modern hymns, like secular songs, are given a title at birth. Modern hymnals including older hymns tend to give them a title that is essentially a nickname, perhaps the memorable phrase from the chorus, or the first couple of words of the text in lieu of the entire first line. In this collection, I make use of all three conventions, situationally. For the shape note hymns in this track, I go old school.

The four hymn tunes here are pretty firmly associated with four texts at this point in history. FAITHFUL SOLDIER is usually used with "O when shall I see Jesus," though other tunes are more popular for that text. NEW BRITAIN is pretty well wedded to "Amazing grace! (how sweet the sound)" though there is a completely different 19th century tune written for the text called AMAZING GRACE. That one is in a minor key, and I like it a lot, but it never caught on like NEW BRITAIN.

PISGAH is the tune most associated with "When I can read my title clear," and RESIGNATION is often used for "My shepherd will supply my need," essentially a paraphrase of the 23 Psalm. Both of these last two texts were written by the prolific Isaac Watts in the early 18th century.

All these tunes have had many different texts sung to them. They are all composed in "common meter" (abbreviated as CM in most hymnals), and so, by design, will fit any text also written in CM. This explains the old parlor joke of singing Amazing Grace to any number of other tunes. I will refer you to search the internet for more information about all this. A good place to start is to read the Wikipedia entry for Shape Note.

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2 Must Jesus Bear The Cross Alone / Let It Shine

Here I use the slide guitar in Sevastopol tuning for a medley of two different songs. The first is an old text from Thomas Shepherd, though I have read that his original 1693 version began with "Must Simon bear the cross alone" and later editors changed "Simon" to "Jesus." ("Simon of Cyrene" is named in the gospels as a passerby who was forced by Roman soldiers to carry Jesus's cross, according to Matthew, Mark and Luke.)

Since I sing the beginning of the song, I use the first line of text as title. Many different tunes have been used. I am using CROSS AND CROWN which later was named MAITLAND. If you have a good ear, this tune might remind you of "Precious Lord, Take My Hand" by Thomas Dorsey. It should - Dorsey adapted MAITLAND for his very famous 20th century gospel song.

The second song, which I call "Let It Shine" is sometimes called "Lighthouse" or "Shine On Me" or other variants. Often sung in slow, emotional lines, I like it better as an up tempo number. Early recordings with an up tempo beat include Blind Willie Johnson and also Ernest Phipps & his Holiness Singers, who also link a version of "Bear the Cross" to it.

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3 When Peace, Like A River (instrumental)

First line of text is used here for the title, because I like it best. In modern hymnals it is usually titled "It Is Well With My Soul" which is from the chorus. It is a favorite with choirs, and has been arranged for them in countless ways. As a guitar tune it allows for harmonic chimes, which echo the sound of an sea bell, in my imagination.

The history of this song is wrought with tragedy. Chicago businessman Horatio Spafford lost his fortune in the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. Seeking to rebuild his career in Europe, he sent his wife and daughters ahead by steam ship in 1873. Their ship collided another at sea, killing his daughters. His wife survived, sending home the fateful telegram that simply read "Saved alone…" Horatio sailed as soon as he could to meet his wife in Europe, and as his ship passed the sight of the other's doom, he wrote the poem which became this hymn. Friend and prolific composer, Philip Bliss, set it to music in 1876 and named the tune VILLE DU HAVRE, the name of the sunken ship. Bliss and his wife met their own tragic end later that same year, in the enormity of a famous train wreck in Ashtabula, Ohio.

Spafford and his wife left the Presbyterian church when the elders claimed their daughters' deaths were God's payment for the parents' sins. The Spaffords started their own messianic sect and settled in Palestine.

Turmoil notwithstanding, the peaceful song abides.

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4 Stand By Me

A lovely song, I think. Words and music both by Rev. Charles Albert Tindley. Tindley was born in 1851 on a Maryland plantation. His father was a slave, his mother a free servant to his slaveholders. There was some legal dispute as to little Charles' status - whether he was a slave like his father, or free like his mother. But he was eventually deemed free by Maryland's slave laws. He still worked on the plantation, nonetheless. He was a teenager, bright but illiterate, at the end of the Civil War, and with the blessings of the 13th amendment, he left Maryland for Philadelphia, where he made much of himself. He married young, and worked as a janitor in a Methodist Episcopal church. Begging lessons from friends, he learned to read and write there. After English, he called upon a nearby Synagogue where he learned to read Hebrew, the better to understand the bible. After that came a correspondence course in Greek. He never attended Divinity school, but was able to pass the tests to become ordained in the ME church. He went on to become pastor of that same church where he janitored. The membership grew large under his pastorate, and a new larger church had to be built. Today that church in Philadelphia is named The Tindley Temple, listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

Tindley led peaceful protests against the showing of the silent film "Birth of a Nation" in 1915 and got his head cracked open for the effort. He wrote many songs still sung today. Among them, besides the two I sing on this album, are "What Are They Doing in Heaven Today," "Take Your Burdens To The Lord And Leave Them There" and "I'll Overcome Someday," an early version of what morphed into the worldwide anthem, "We Shall Overcome."

He stood six foot three, and lived a long life, coming to his final rest in Philadelphia in 1933 at age 82. A wonderful life.

I found this song as an adult. I've heard different renditions, from Elvis to Ernie Ford to Willy Nelson. But a few years ago I was listening to WSM radio on a Saturday night of an archived recording of Ernest Tubb's Midnight Jamboree, from 1972 when Tubb himself was performing live, having just been released from the hospital from a near-death illness. He did many of his hits, and his band was top notch, as ever. Near the end of his set, he said, "I want to sing my favorite hymn of all time!" and launched into "Stand By Me." Plain and simple. I have imagined it as a classic country song ever since, and that's how I deliver it today.

It has been said that it was this song that inspired Ben E. King to write, along with Leiber and Stoller, their doo-wop hit with the same name. Other than the repetition of the title, I don't really hear any resemblance.

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5 Love Lifted Me (instrumental)

This is one we sang often in the church of my youth. I always loved the chorus, and the melody overall. It makes a nice guitar instrumental. It is in waltz time, so we could have danced to it back then, except that dancing was deemed a sin in our Assemblies of God church.

I have mentioned elsewhere that I used a "cut" capo for this. I have a capo that covers the first five strings but leaves the sixth open. What that achieves, when placed at the second fret, it resembles the sound of a "drop D" tuning, except for the fact that there is a capo at fret 2. In other words, with the capo on 2, the virtually open strings are EBEAC#E - in other words, "drop D" just one tone higher. However, the actual tuning is unchanged from the standard, so fretting the 6th string yields normal notes, since that string was never re-tuned. It is a neat trick, and catching on with guitar players everywhere. There are several capo companies offering this "partial" capo readymade. I made my own, though.

Here's how it helps this song: I would play it in the key of G, if no capo were used. I put my special capo at the second fret and now I am in the actual key of A, playing in a virtual G position. Every chord frets normally, but when I play the E chord - in virtual D position - I can include the un-capoed low E string. Adds some nice depth to have that low root for the 5 chord.

With or without the trick capo, it makes a lovely tune, very much in the character of its era at the turn of the last century. In the 1970s, Kenny Rogers had a minor hit with this song on the Country charts. With re-written, secularized verses, his chorus becomes an ode to romantic love, far from the original hymnal intent.

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6 No Not One!

As I wrote in the official liner notes, this is a lesser known white gospel hymn from the gilded age. It seems to have increased in popularity in recent years, as I have heard a few recorded renditions on the radio. The original score I found in an early hymnal suggests performance is to be slow and stately. Of course here I give it a sort of fast bluegrass treatment. It is the only way it sounds right to me.

In case you guitarists are wondering what kind of flatpick I used here, it was the nail of my index finger. It seemed to sound the best in the studio that day…

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7 Everybody's Grace

The tune here is known as the Navy Hymn by most people in Britain and the US. It was performed at the funerals of both Winston Churchill and John F. Kennedy, as both were Navy men. The first line title is "Eternal Father, strong to save" and the hymn tune name is MELITA. That name is a stylized version of "Malta," the island where St. Paul was shipwrecked and the snake bit him. It's in the book of Acts, if you want to look it up. The lyric of the song entreats "for those in peril on the sea." Hence, the Navy Hymn.

It is an Anglican hymn and a prime example. It was first published in the 1861 edition of Hymns Modern & Ancient, with text by churchman William Whiting, though the editors changed a few of his words. With each later edition the text changed more and more. At this point there are a myriad of versions of the text, both official and un-official.

The 1861 tune MELITA, was composed by John Bacchus Dykes, a heralded British composer of hymns, and considered quite modern for his day,. He liked to use chords filled with drama and tension, and chromatic melody lines. So much so, that some of his tunes were bowdlerized in certain hymnals to make them less dramatic. Personally I think he packs more tension and release in one verse of MELITA than some symphonies I've heard. I love playing the changes on guitar.

In the liner notes I mentioned that I wrote a bit of verse that just happened to fit this tune. It was serendipity. The tune is in irregular meter, nearly LM, Long Meter. LM is 8,8,8,8 whereas this tune is 8,8,8,8,8,8 (each number represents the syllables in each line). I had written a little poem as an alternative grace for diverse meals - where everybody is thanked, from the farm workers to the truckers to the cooks. And the deity happens to be left unnamed. When I had it finished as a poem, I wondered if it might not be sung. I literally stumbled onto putting it to MELITA one day.

Light bulbs lit overhead.

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8 Low Lazarus & Lord Diverus

This is my version of the old song, or carol, from England, more often called Dives And Lazarus. It retells the parable of Jesus about Lazarus the pauper and Dives, the rich man. In the bible the rich man is not named, but the Latin for rich man is "dives." In song, that is typically pronounced "DIV-us" and in some dialects it becomes "Diverus" which I prefer, as it is a nice balance to "Lazarus"

I am told that the basic story goes back to ancient Egypt. So in the gospel of Luke, Jesus would have been retelling a well known tale in the first century. Like most very old parables and fables, the story can be shaped in a variety of ways in order to lead one to the moral that the teller wants to push. In the New Testament, Jesus caps the story with a colloquy between the dead rich man in Hell, with father Abraham in Heaven. Told that Lazarus cannot cross over from Heaven to Hell to quench his thirst, the rich man pleads for Lazarus to go back to earth to warn the living about Hell. Abraham responds that people of earth have the scriptures - Moses and the Prophets - to warn them. Then Jesus makes the point that even if someone rose from the dead it wouldn't change people's minds. A curious thing for Jesus to say, don't you think? Well, I will leave that to the theologians.

Most traditional versions of the English folk song have a similar colloquy spoken across the unbreachable divide in some form too, where the moral of the story is told. In my version I cut our visit to hell a little shorter. And I carve out some time in the first parts of the song to paint a fuller picture of our title characters. The conspicuous consumption of the vain and arrogant Lord Diverus is juxtaposed with Low Lazarus, not just simply poor and weak as the Bible says, but a chronically homeless man with some perhaps unsavory baggage. I enjoyed the task of adding a few verses and of sharpening the language in the other verses a bit.

The tune is fully traditional, though I do give it a thumping beat on the guitar. As a hymn tune, it was named KINGSFOLD by Ralph Vaughan Williams, who heard it as a folk melody in a town of that name. But it is used in many folk songs and other hymns in Britain and Ireland. I first learned it many years ago as an Irish tune in waltz time as "Star of the County Down."

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9 God Don't Like It - I Don't Either

I cannot remember when or where I first heard a version of this song. Sister Rosetta Thorpe or Blind Willie McTell have recorded versions. But I think I saw it in a live performance - I really can't remember. The recorded versions I can dial up are about 'shine -- moonshine liquor being drunk in church. Many years ago I wrote most of the verses I sing here, concerning money and God vs. Mammon. (Matt 6:24) But I seldom performed the song until I got serious with the slide guitar recently. When I decided to include singing on this album, I knew that my verses to God Don't Like It needed to be there. Now more than ever!

So the guitar is in D minor tuning. Sevastopol with the third string down a half step - DADFAD. Not the fad of DADGAD.

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10 One Simple Song

The tune FINLANDIA is by Jean Sibelius. He wrote a symphonic tone poem with this name in 1899. He reworked a theme from that longer work into the hymn tune that I use here. It has since been the tune to many, many songs, but to be clear, FINLANDIA is the hymn tune, not the song text. I first heard it sung as "Be still, my soul" which was an 1855 English translation of the German "Stille miene Wille" written in 1752 by Katharina von Schlegel, and set to FINLADIA in the early 20th century. The tune has been used for patriotic songs and even national anthems for several countries, including Wales and Biafra. Colleges use the tune for an alma mater song. It seems every Protestant denomination has their own song set to FINLANDIA. I have found that the text to "How Great Thou Art" fits the tune like a glove.

Much misinformation abounds among people who conflate text writers with composers. The tune is often sung to the words "This is my song, O god of all the nations" which was originally a two stanza poem written in the 1930s by 22 year old Californian poet Lloyd Stone. Other people added additional stanzas to Stone's, enlarging the hymn, which is a favorite of progressive congregations and folksingers today. Many re-edits have been done. Joan Baez sings the Stone lyrics and calls the song Finlandia and has told audiences that those words are the national anthem of Finland. That is not true. Finland has an entirely different song as national anthem, and the hymn text that they DO sing to FINLANDIA is in full praise of Finland, not Lloyd Stone's plea for "all the nations."

ANYWAY… I love the melody, and have been playing it on the guitar for years. I like the Lloyd Stone stanzas, too, and have sung them on occasion. The text I have here, "One Simple Song" is not intended to be a "new verse" for Stone's song, though the sentiment is congruent, I grant you. No, I wrote my words in my journal as a dry poem. I later found that my words, too, could be sung to FINLANDIA. It was only a matter of finding the right key. To add a second stanza seemed superfluous to my intent. One simple song. One simple word. One simple verse.

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11 Jesus Knocking At Your Door

I wrote in the liner notes, that this song is inspired by the "Do Lord" family of songs. The family is large. As a little kid in Sunday School we would sing "Do Lord, do remember me" and also "This Little Light of Mine" complete with pantomime of finger candles. Mainer's Mountaineers recorded it on a 78 disc as "Lights in the valley, outshine the sun" an old-time song that sometimes ends with "way beyond the blue" or "way behind the moon." I've known that version almost as long as "Do Lord." It is also the tune for the bluegrass standard, "Long Journey Home," AKA "Lost All My Money But A Two-Dollar Bill" about a hobo hopping a freight train home. Similarly there is "Dead Heads & Suckers" - an old variant popular with today's younger old-time musicians.

Another gospel variant is "Jesus On the Main Line" which in the early part of the 20th century was an allusion to telephone exchanges. You would "call him up and tell him what you want." That version of the song is still today a favorite "jam" song at folk festivals with Sunday morning gospel workshops. I think Ry Cooter had a lot to do with its new popularity. Of course today the question would become, does Jesus still maintain a land line?

I was fooling with my Sevastopol-tuned guitar one day with the "Lights in the Valley" tune and got to wondering if there wasn't some earlier song about telling Jesus what you want that pre-dated telephones. I remembered that in Revelations, Jesus is quoted, "Behold, I stand at the door and knock." (REV 3:20) So I sang, "Jesus knockin' at your door - tell him what you want" and completely forgot the funny, ironic tone that everybody uses with "Jesus On the Main Line."

I capo up to the second fret, so the song comes out in the key of E. I like to sing it gentle, maybe a little like Mississippi John Hurt would do. Just open up.

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12 Jesus, Lover Of My Soul / Nearer My God To Thee

I use the first line of text titles here, because these old hymns are so closely associated with these hymn tunes I play, yet the tune names are so rarely recognized - MARTYN & BETHANY. The two tunes slip easily one to another on the slide guitar. And both hymns are traditional favorites at Protestant funerals.

Charles Wesley wrote the text of "Jesus, lover of my soul" in 1740, Simeon Marsh composed MARTYN nearly a hundred years later. It was not the first, nor last tune attached to the text, but it shows up in hymnals a little less than half the time the hymn is included - more than any other hymn tune for the text. This fact according to the website hymnary.org, a great resource for researching the old hymns and tunes.

"Nearer My God To Thee" was text written in 1841 by English author, Sarah Flower Adams, a Unitarian born to a publishing family. The tune I play is the one best known with this hymn in America, BETHANY, composed in 1856 by the prolific Lowell Mason of Boston. (Dr. Mason was integral to the "better music" movement which sought to drive a stake through the heart of shape note singing. Mason and his friends championed the use of organs in churches - the Mason family business was selling organs - and is largely responsible for the SATB scheme of music arrangement, popular to this day, where the melody is the job of Soprano, and is found at the top of the treble clef. In Shape Note, the Alto is the melody line, and Soprano sings a descant on top.)

A footnote to history: there is a persistent legend that the ship's band on the Titanic played "Nearer My God To Thee" as she sank. It is said that American survivors don't remember that song, but that the British survivors do. The likely answer lies in the fact that the British musicians would not have played the American tune, BETHANY, but would have favored one of the two British tunes most often used for this text: HORBURY by JB Dykes in the Anglican hymnal, or PROPIOR DEO by Arthur Sullivan in the Methodist hymnal.

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13 We'll Understand It Better Bye & Bye

Another song by Rev. Tindley (see Stand By Me, above). This one happened to be included in the hymnal that our Assemblies of God church used when I was a kid. But I don't remember singing it there. Our church had its favorites, I guess. My childhood brain might have selective memory, too. What I do know is that most White churches sing the rhythm "straight" while African American churches tend to give the beat a bit of a swing, or even a "shuffle blues" beat. In the various hymnals I've seen that include it, the song has been printed with various rhythmic meters.

I give it a strong shuffle beat on my guitar, and I like to repeat the chorus a lot. The chorus is the strongest feature of the song, in my opinion. It says a lot. Tindley wrote of "overcoming" in several of his hymns. Given his life story, I can understand that. The old folk hymn said, "I will be all right someday." Tindley's song went "If in my heart I do not yield, I'll overcome someday." Together they blended to become "We Shall Overcome, Someday."

In this song, in Tyndley's chorus, "saints" do not refer to the Catholic or Anglican hierarchy of heavenly beings. In Tyndleys church as in the church of my childhood, "saints" lived among us, in our congregations. Righteous elders, others might call them, salt of the earth and solid as a rock. So when "all the saints of God are gathered home" it is a reunion of our stalwart friends. And when we gather and we all tell and compare our stories of how we've overcome life's adversities, then we'll understand it better. Sounds like healthy group therapy to me!

This song remains an old favorite in many churches, whatever the tempo and rhythm. You don't have to believe in a literal afterlife to enjoy the spirit of this song. But it doesn't hurt if you do.

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14 Old Hundredth

You may be familiar with this tune as DOXOLOGY or "Praise God from Whom all blessings flow" or any number of other texts. "All people that on Earth do dwell" is also a common text, and somehow purports to be the 100th Psalm. Some prefer the 134th Psalm. The tune and many early texts date from the 16th century, when the only permissible hymns were to be Psalm derived. Protestant clerical centers in Geneva and Edenborough played roles in publishing the tune, reportedly composed by Loys (Louis) Bourgeois in 1551

Classical composers have had their way with the tune, from JS Bach to Felix Mendelssohn to Benjamin Britten. Modern humanist texts have been written to the standard tune. My favorite is one by folksinger Pete Seeger circa 1985, he called Old Hundred.

The tune is in Long Meter (LM) so it can fit many a poem in iambic tetrameter. I love to sing it with Robert Frost's "Stopping By Woods On A Snowy Evening." I would have sung that on this record, but Frost's estate is still hanging on to its copyright of the poem, and they will not approve any musical settings of it, though some have done so, sub rosa. However, the poem was published in 1923, so under the 95-year rule of US copyright law for that era, the work will fall into public domain on January 1, 2019.


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About The Recording:

All the tracks were laid down in 2 days - March 8 & 9, in the year 2017. (The second week of Lent, by the way.) As the official liner notes say, Ian Gorman was at the helm of recording, mixing and mastering. The fine studio Ian designed and built himself, La Luna Recording & Sound, in Kalamazoo, Michigan.

(If your sense of geography is fuzzy, Michigan is the mitten-shaped land mass in the midst of North America's Great Lakes. You can see the outline from space - or Google Earth. The finger-pistol peninsula north of the mitten is part of Michigan, too. The state's motto is "If you seek a pleasant peninsula, look about you." In Latin, of course. Kalamazoo is located down near the heel of the mitten, a small city of some renown, located on a rail line almost exactly halfway between Chicago and Detroit. Yet a suburb of neither. Carl Sandburg once wrote a very interesting but unflattering poem about Kalamazoo in its industrial heyday a century ago, called "The Sins Of Kalamazoo" - you should look it up!)

The recording was done "live in studio" style. By intention. Just my voice and my guitar with no overdubs or layered tracking. Everything was recorded digitally on hard drives with a minimum of simple editing. I typically recorded each song with 2 or 3 takes, then chose from those the one I liked the best. Occasionally we edited 2 takes together to get the best of each. That is about the extent of digital trickery here. Another 2 studio days to get the mix right, then one mastering session to get it all up to snuff, then an upload to the manufacturing plant. Shazzam!

The backstory, though, is that I took more than 2 years to prep for those 2 days in the studio. As I wrote in the liner notes, I originally intended to record an instrumental album on fingerstyle guitar of a collection of favorite hymns. After years of puzzling over that, I had about 15 arrangements I was happy with and ready to record, when I decided to include singing. So I put the project on hold and took another year or so of choosing songs and crafting arrangements, and even deciding the order of the set, before I felt ready to record. So 2 days of recording is just the tip of a pretty big iceberg. Still, I left some room for spontaneity in the performances. That was important to me, too.

I am the first to admit I am not a gear head when it comes to studio equipment. I guess that is why I don't record at home, like a lot of folksingers do. I leave it to the professionals to turn the knobs. But I have been making records for 40 years now, and one tends to learn a little by observing. Over those years the technology has come a long way. In my early recording days, vinyl LPs were the ultimate product, and principal recording was done on two-inch wide multi-track tape. Edits were done only after a mix down to stereo 2-track tape, which was then sliced with a demagnetized razor blade and reassembled with special splicing tape. And the precise point of the slice was "found "by ear," by rocking the reels of tape by hand back and forth over the tape head. That sounds like the stone age now. These days, with no tape of any kind, editing comes first - before mixing - with no razor blades, but with on-screen display and a handy "undo" button. The digits are all in the bowels of a computer. And the end product is entirely about files, which might be retrieved to your personal listening device in any number of ways. Including an old fashioned CD.

We used one really nice vocal mic, and two small condenser mics pointed at the guitar. We tested several mikes and went with the ones that sounded best to me. Don't ask me the make and model numbers. When I record, I pay focused attention to my guitar, my voice, the song, my performance and, finally, how it sounds to my ears. All else - the studio gear and "gizmos" - I leave to the experts like Ian Gorman.

The guitars' internal pickup signals were also recorded and appear in the mix. The ubiquitous "Pro Tools" was used at the mixing board. Yes, there was a room full of gear, racks of black boxes with glowing lights that did subtle things, both digital and analog, to the electronic signal that carries the sound. But I left that realm to Ian, and I just concentrated on the songs, and determining when the sound was "right." You would need to consult Ian on any technical details beyond that.

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About The Guitars:

For all my nonchalance concerning studio gear, I am pretty focused on the details of my musical instruments, and will get into the nitty gritty here, so beware. As the liner notes briefly state, I used two guitars to make this album. Most songs use my Bryan Galloup Spartan flattop cutaway, which is a "small jumbo" size, 16 inch lower bout, with a flamed maple body and spruce top. Guild guitars in this shape are called "F" models, CF Martin calls it "0000" size. It has a narrower waist than the ubiquitous Dreadnought flattop. Luthiers can make guitars in any shape and size, but many, like Bryan, will usually keep close to a traditional outline for their production models, since that is what the case manufacturers offer. (You don't want to spend 9 months making a guitar, only to spend 3 months more building a case for it!)

I use a small bodied C.F. Martin cutaway for the bottleneck slide guitar pieces, and also on "Jesus Knocking." It is Martin's 00C-15AE model which is all mahogany including the top. It is a thin-bodied model which Martin no longer makes - it is about 17 years old. I used that guitar in standard tuning for some years on the road, as it is light and sturdy, and sounds fine and full when miked or amplified. (It was the guitar I used on my album "Thumb Thump" recorded in 2002.) But the Galloup is now my road guitar, and the Martin is set up for slide.

I have Fishman pickups in both guitars. The Galloup has a Fishman "Rare Earth blend" pickup in the soundhole - a stacked humbucker with rare earth magnets and an internal microphone on a flexible stem, which I usually blend to slightly favor the magnetic pickup. The Martin guitar in Sevastopol tuning has an after-market rare earth humbucker in the soundhole, which we sent through a SansAmp unit I set to emulate a "clean" miked Fender tube amp. We added some old school reverb in that channel, too, to give it that "blues club" sound.

(I use the term "Sevastopol" which may confound some people. It is a common term among acoustic blues guitarists. It refers to one particular open D tuning: DADF#AD -- low to high. Strumming the open strings delivers a warm sounding D major chord over two octaves. The name comes from a once-popular guitar piece called "The Siege of Sevastopol" written by Henry Worrall in 1860, which calls for that tuning. The piece was composed to honor the famous battle of the Crimean War involving that Russian city alternately spelled Sebastopol. The tuning was adopted and used by many great early 20th century African American guitarists, Elizabeth Cotten and Mississippi John Hurt among them. In jargon, the name of the tuning is sometimes "Sebastopol" or "Vastopol" or "Bastopol" or Vestapol" and so on. The tuning is one of the most favored for blues slide guitar.)

Among traditional blues guitarists, their "bottleneck" slide would have been the literal neck from a glass bottle. Other slides used might include a closed Barlow knife or some other piece of steel - when I was a kid I used the handle off an old kitchen butter knife on a mail order National clone my brother had. Various other items have been improvised by players over the years, but the technique is typically called "bottleneck" these days.

Some forty years ago, I found a neck of a random wine bottle that fit my large ring finger perfectly. I was getting pretty good at it, but I lost that slide after a year or two of play. I never could match that fit again, and wine bottles have since become standardized to sizes too small for me. So I have turned to store-bought slides in either glass or metal. Even there, size is an issue for me. So for many years I gave up bottleneck, and would only play slide guitar in my lap. I played a dobro on stage for a while in the seventies, where I used the ubiquitous "Steven's Steel" for a slide. For the past 20 years I've enjoyed playing a six string lapsteel in C6 tuning, using a variety of old style tone bars I've collected. But in recent years my bottleneck dreams were answered. Enter the expertly engineered "Acousta-glide" heavy brass bottleneck slide made by Latch Lake, which has a curve to it matching a standard radiused guitar neck. Make mine extra-large, please, to fit my ring finger. That's what I use on this recording.

I tune the slide guitar to D minor for "God Don't Like It" by lowering the F# to F natural -- DADFAD. And I use the usual Sevastopol tuning without a slide - but with a capo at the second fret to raise the key to E - for "Jesus Knocking At Your Door" in a style reminiscent of Mississippi John Hurt. Left thumb reaches over the top and covers the low four strings at the fifth fret to make that 4 chord you hear. The strings I use are "GHS 1600 Pure Nickel Rollerwound Dobro G-tuning" - but I am neither playing a Dobro, nor in G tuning.

For my Brian Galloup Spartan guitar, I am using Martin Retro Monel strings in a light set. With this guitar I am in standard Spanish tuning throughout the album, but I do use capos. On "Love Lifted Me" I use a "cut" capo that leaves the 6th string open, but capos the other 5 strings at the second fret. See the extended notes on that song for more details on the capo's use.

I use natural fingernails, but on some tracks I use a thumb pick. When I worked as a clerk at Elderly Instruments in the mid 1970's it was common for widows or children of lap steel guitar players coming in to sell the old man's funny guitar for whatever it was worth. In those days there was little market for lap steels. The owner of the store would always buy them for about thirty bucks and sell them for about fifty. I would often have the job of cleaning out the cases, disposing of the used rusty strings, and such. I remember seeing lots of thumb picks that were cut down - or worn down - to little more than nubbins. We didn't think much of used, worn out picks in those days, but later, when I got more serious about Travis picking, I tried cutting down a thumb pick like the old timers I saw. And that is the ticket, friends!

I have tried all the brands of thumb picks from the cheap to the obscenely expensive, domestic and foreign. (In Germany they call them "zither rings," by the way.) I keep coming back to a regular white celluloid Dunlop in large. I clip off the pointy tip with a toenail clipper, and shape a rounded edge with sandpapers, going from coarse to ultra-fine to put a polish on it. They don't last forever, as the part that hugs the thumb inevitably will crack at the hinge area and fall off in the middle of a song. So I keep 2 or 3 prepared thumb picks in my pocket at all times.

Some fingerpicked tunes I prefer to go bare fingered, with a bit of natural nail. I have found that keeping the edge of my fingernail smooth and polished delivers the best sound. During a recording session, I keep shapers and buffers handy to fix a raspy sounding nail. Simple emery boards are too rough for a finished sound. I don't care much for how my nails look - it is how they "sound!" Sometimes I will use a flatpick, and I have a variety I use, but sometimes I will hold my thumb against my index finger and flatpick with my index nail, as I do here on No, Not One.

For flatpicks, I prefer heavy but not too heavy, usually. I like a small amount of flex, and a fairly rounded tip. My old stand-by is a John Pearse Artist pick with the blue printing - not quite the heaviest. This pick has three different tip shapes to the triangle - sharp, medium, and very round. I use the just right, mama bear, side.

I know it may sound like petty fussing to focus on a seemingly trivial thing like a guitar pick. But think about it. A guitar is silent until a string vibrates. What initiates the string's vibration give shape and timbre to the sound And THAT is the finger, or the nail, or the pick. Violinists can spend thousands of dollars for a good bow. Picks are relatively cheap, but the right material and surface will control your tone every bit as much as your make of guitar. I'm an old man, trust me.

AND THUS… ends the notes too wordy for the CD liner notes!

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