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GerryM Adapting songs for unaccompanied singing (28) RE: Adapting songs for unaccompanied singing 02 Sep 20


Was this thread started as a reaction to my post in the singaround thread about having to rework Craig Edmondson's song, Used To Be A River, in order to sing it unaccompanied? If I kept it the way Criag did it, but without accompaniment, it would sound like this: This used to be a river pause pause pause pause But now it is a sewer pause pause pause But it used to be a river and I wonder where the river got to go. I don't think that works, so I rearranged it as call-and-response: This used to be a river (used to be a river) but now it is a sewer (now it is a sewer) but it used to be a river and I wonder where the river got to go, and I asked my wife to lead the response parts.

You remember the notorious quote from the Vietnam War, "We had to destroy that town in order to save it"? I sometimes joke that I had to destroy a song in order to sing it.

A few weeks back, I wanted to do the Harry Robertson song, Wee Pot Stove, for the singaround. Many people are familiar with the Nic Jones recording on Penguin Eggs. Without Jones' guitar, it goes like this:

In the wee dark engine room pause pause pause pause where the chill seeps to your soul pause pause pause pause how we huddled round that wee pot stove pause pause that burned oily rags and coal pause pause pause pause pause pause pause pause When the winter blizzards blow ....

Well, instead of the dead air, you could stretch out the last syllable of each line: In the wee dark engine roo-oo-oo-oo-oom where the chill seeps to your sou-ou-ou-ou-oul etc., but that sounds just as bad to me. So I decided to just shorten the time between lines:

In the wee dark engine room pause where the chill seeps to your soul pause how we huddled etc., etc.

I was worried about whether this was a good idea. It occurred to me to listen to Robertson's own recording. Robertson did it with accompaniment but with short pauses between lines, so I figured it was OK. (This may also explain why some people here in Australia, who heard it direct from Robertson well before Jones recorded it, can't stand the Jones recording, or any performance that follows Jones' arrangement.)


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