I’ve spent a huge chunk of the day continuing to plug away at Wagon Wheel, and it’s coming along well.  I’m still getting stuck a few places forgetting the lyrics, but mostly it’s just one verse that keeps hanging me up.

This one:

Runnin’ from the cold up in New England
I was born to be a fiddler in an old-time string band
My baby plays the guitar
I pick a banjo now
Oh, the North country winters keep a gettin’ me now
Lost my money playin’ poker so I had to up and leave
But I ain’t a turnin’ back
To livin’ that old life no more

This part in particular:

Lost my money playin’ poker so I had to up and leave

The flow there is really, really odd, and I think the poet in me is rioting against it. If you pull the background music away, the way the words flow is just plain awkward.

I’m clearly not the first person to think so, because if you look at the Darius Rucker version, you see this:

Oh, north country winters keep a-getting me down
Lost my money playing poker so I had to leave town
But I ain’t turning back to living that old life no more.

…which just has a more natural rhythmic flow.

As an aside, if you google ‘wagon wheel lyrics’, it’s the Darius Rucker version that pulls up first, which is the only reason I actually noticed that.

Obviously, the original can work. Both Old Crow Medicine Show and Against Me! sing the lyrics that way and it doesn’t sound odd or off at all when they do it, but it’s definitely clumsy to wrap your tongue around and forces a shift of tone to compensate.

Still, I feel like I’m starting to pick up songs a bit faster than I was before.  Not quickly, per se – it’s still a time-consuming process, but I feel like it’s starting to become faster, or at least that the process of how to get from point ‘I have no idea what I’m doing’ to point ‘hey, look I can play this song!’ is becoming more obvious.  I’m assuming a lot of this this has to do with the fact that I happen to end up learning songs with chords I already know, with strum patterns I’ve already practiced on other songs.  While that’s not exactly moving forward, and I should be choosing songs with more ‘new’ stuff in it to build my knowledge base in a cumulative way, if you happen to decide to learn a song that doesn’t give you new information, but just rearranges that information in a new way, I don’t think that’s necessarily a wrong choice, because there’s always SOMETHING new, even if it’s not immediately obvious or easy to put into words.

Essentially, the more stuff you learn, the faster the process goes, seems to be about what’s going on. So once you have a chord down for one song, or have played a certain strum pattern a billion times for a song, when you then have to take that piece of information and apply it to a new song, you start to connect the dots more quickly, and while I’m still spending a lot of time learning new songs now, I imagine as time goes on, that process is only going to get faster and faster.

At the moment I can see a possibility that by the end of the week I may be deciding on what song to start working on next, and, if I’m not, that has way more to do with my memory than my ability, which definitely counts as forward progress.

Until Next Time, moving forward pretty steadily at the moment.

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