Saturday Songwriting: Welcome to the Bo Diddley Beat

“Welcome to the Jungle” is not a song I’ll be covering anytime soon. Nor will emulating Slash blazing through a guitar solo (not for lack of wanting to). So what can an Americana Aficionado like myself, (and likely yourself too), glean from a song like Welcome to the Jungle which lands at #467 on Rolling Stones list of 500 Greatest Songs of All Time

A surprising amount.  

There’s the simple idea of taking a melody and moving that pattern around on the guitar. Lots of blues songs do that. (Plenty songs in other styles too). But as useful as that idea is, it’s not very exciting.

I guess if I were stuck for anything else to share in this I’d use that but I found something better.

A lot better.

Something that connects Gun’s N’ Roses, to The Band, to George Micheal to Roger Rabbit.  

It’s the Bo Diddley Beat (or, as Keith Wyatt points out, “Shave and a Hair Cut, Two Bits” which knocks off the Roger Rabbit connection).

The Bo Diddley Beat is kind of irresistible—as Roger Rabbit demonstrated here

What songs have used this Rhythm? 

A whole bunch by Bo Diddley obviously, as well as “Faith” by George Michael, “I Want Candy” by Bow Wow Wow, “Not Fade Away” by Buddy Holly, and of course, “Welcome to the Jungle” uses a version of the beat too.  

There’s one more connection that really surprised me when it came up while i was playing around with the Rhythm. One with a huge connection to Americana and classic rock.   

I teased it a little earlier and you’ll find it in the video.  

Enjoy! 

The Prompt:

Here’s a link to Anastasia Trusova’s art. Find out more about Anastasia’s work here.

The Musical Idea:

Here’s a downloadable pdf of the worksheet above:

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Saturday Songwriting: The Blues

Every week, I aim to dig up a tidbit to share with you about music. I do a lot of that digging in Rolling Stones list of “The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.” This week my proverbial shovel hit “Welcome to the Jungle” by Guns ’n Roses with a clunk. 

It’s an undeniably great song. One I grew up with. I remember hearing it for the first time on MTV. I also remember my older brother’s disdain for Axl’s teased and spayed loft of blond hair. At some point I ended up with a felt Guns N’ Roses poster on my wall. There were a million hair bands in the late eighties. Guns N’ Roses always felt different.  

Last week I started listening to and looking at the chords and tabs for it. There’s a lot going on. In the process, I realized that we haven’t talked about the blues. If we’re going to make any headway digging out “Welcome to the Jungle,” we need to talk about the blues. That’s what we’re doing this week.  

The Blues is kind of like Zen. It seems simple, easy to master, yet you could spend a lifetime dedicated to either and still have more to learn. The simplicity of the blues is why it ends up in method books for beginning guitarists. It’s also why often the first song a person writes is a blues song. Everything from Jazz, to Rock, to Gospel, has borrowed from and built on the blues. That includes “Welcome to the Jungle.”

BEAD Guides Chord Flow offers a simple way to understand how a simple blues progression is be put together. You could even use BEAD GCF principles to play around with, explore, and build off that form if you wanted to.  If you decide you want to dig deeper with the blues, Ethan Hein’s blog is a great resource. 

Enjoy! 

The Prompt:

Here’s a link to Peter Ferguson’s art. Find out more about Peter’s work here.

The Musical Idea:

Here’s a downloadable pdf of the worksheet above:

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Saturday Songwriting: Van Morrison – Into the Mystic

Into the Mystic is a classic Van Morrison Song, (and number 474 on Rolling Stones list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time). 

It’s simple enough for a guitar player who’s starting to learn chords, but as is often the case, there’s a lot that goes into that simplicity. 

There’s the strumming that opens the song, and feels like a boat rolling over the waves the sea. There’s the single string mute midway through the pattern that sounds something like a rope or pulley thwacking against a mast. 

The thing that sticks out for me however, are those little melodic guitar fills in the chorus of the song. Those are something a songwriter could steal and use in their own song. This week we’re going to focus on those melodic fills. 

They could be complicated to explain. Someone could spend a lot of time talking about what key they’re in, and what interval they are. Not me though. I skipped all that and did the hard work of getting rid of the complicated bits.

This weeks sheet is all about those melodic fills. There’s a video too, so you can see and hear more clearly what the sheet is talking about. Once you learn how to play those licks on this song, you can go and use them anywhere you want. 

Enjoy! 

The Prompt:

Here’s a link to Ava Roth’s art. Find out more about Ava’s work here.

The Musical Idea:

The video of me talking through “Into the Mystic,” (and also a bit of “Lean on Me”). 

Here’s a downloadable pdf of the worksheet above:

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