Grade 1 Exam Song #3 - "I Walk The Line" - Johnny Cash

The song that makes my wife’s ears bleed just because she’s heard me belting it out early every morning for about a year now. I’ve worked my way slowly up to playing the key changes too, but my range is nowhere close to Johnny’s and so I have to start an octave higher and then drop it down for the middle verse. My guitar sounds terrible capo-ed up to A on this song and I struggle making all the changes work if I start it in A then move A-D-G-D-A.

It’s a truly amazing and challenging song with all the key changes in there. I will never be able to do it justice but I’ll keep on trying, much to my wife’s discontent. :slight_smile:

-Dan

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Let me be the first to say… “Nice job!” :smiley:

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Ohmygoodness Ohmygato, that was excellent! :smiley:

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Great Dan. The key changes, dynamics and boom chucka strumming we’re all spot on. Super stuff.

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Excellent performance, Dan, you nailed all the key elements of the song.

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Wow!!! Really really good! And i think you did Cash and the song more than justice!
Easiest pass i have seen :grin:

Your voice sounds great as well.
Keep on rockin!

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Hi Dan,
That was very entertaining, singing and the fast guitar playing with the bass runs :sunglasses: :sunglasses:
Greetings.Rogier

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Really good job here, Dan. Don’t worry about the wife’s discontent even Paul McCartney’s family groan when he gets his guitar out! :rofl:

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Thank you for your kind comments. I get pretty OCD about nailing the key changes but maybe I’ve done enough trickery that you can’t hear me flubbing my way through them. :slight_smile:

In the middle of Grade 1 I started studying classic country and realized it’s a lot of standard 1-4-5 open chords.

“I Walk The Line” played properly and with the actual chords (not muted and scratchy like Cash recorded it) is a real masterpiece of this form. It may be the piece de resistance of all classic country songs. The chord changes are simple but the key changes and the way they showcase Johnny’s vocal range are brilliant. To be honest I never really cared much for Johnny Cash until I started playing “I Walk The Line”, and I realized he was a genius.

As I’ve studied more of these songs I’ve realized that many of them share a simple chord structure but there are some really amazing variations that to my ears make each song very special.

My progression plan is to work the Justinguitar material but also to go deep into classic country. In fact my big crazy goal is to start a classic country cover band.

I hope you will bear with me as I try some of these songs out on this forum. Lefty Frizzell, Ernest Tubb, The Louvin Brothers, Buck Owens… all my new musical heroes with songs I hope to repopularize in my own little way.

-Dan

Dude, that is really good.

Your skills are far in excess of Grade 1 IMHO.

Good luck with starting your country band. Were you in to country music before you started playing it?

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@jkahn Thank you!

Funny story about my relationship with country music… when I was growing up I HATED country. My dad always had the modern country station on the radio. I thought it was complete garbage. But in my town there was also a band with guys who were from the central valley of California and I started really digging their sound. They had the Bakersfield Sound thing going along with some Graham Parsons. All original music, all very sweet sounding and personal. Beautiful harmony singing. I moved out of my hometown about 25 years ago. I’ve been listening to “alt country” for a long time but didn’t start listening to the classics until about 10 years ago. I like a lot of it but didn’t really start getting into it until I played it myself and I realized there is a lot to love in these songs.

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Very well done indeed Dan! The rhythm, bass lines, singing, seamless key changes. You’ve obviously put a lot if work into this and it certainly shows.
While not exactly a country music lover, I’ll certainly welcome more of those great tunes from you mate.:+1:

Cheers,
Shane

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Dan, I recommend taking a listen to some of his American Series albums. These are almost all covers, his interpretations, produced with Rick Rubin. His rendition of Hurt and One appeal to me personally more than the originals.

I wouldn’t mind waking up to this song until my last day, as long as you wouldn’t play too early! :joy: another fine one from your hat, and I didn’t mind your voice and key changing, I think it was a lot better than great!

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The first time I listened to Cash actually was American Recordings! My high school English teacher who I really respected and am friends with to this day recommended it. I thought it was cool at the time but kinda over my head. I was and still am into “college rock”… think Nirvana, Pavement, Shellac, Slint, and a lot of really out there stuff. Looking at Cash’s discog I am surprised to see there are 6 volumes of the American Recordings. I will have to check them all out. Thanks for the recommendation.

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Well, this was excellent, and raises the bar substantially for Grade 1 - I think I need to go practice now.

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Well I thought that was brilliant playing and singing Dan.

You maybe need to remind your wife how lucky she is to be able to listen to such a tasty treat each morning. :smiley:

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