The song of the week will be 'Little Darling Pal Of Mine' in the key of G.
Ralph Stanley II - key of G
Flatt & Scruggs - key of G, instrumental (Foggy Mountain Banjo album)
Bobby & Sonny Osborne (together with many other well established bluegrass artists of the older generations: how many can you recognize?) - key of G, instrumental, live performance/jam
Flatt & Scruggs - key of G, instrumental (live TV performance: banjo and bass breaks only)
The Carter Family - key of E (the original recording of the song: 1928)
The Stanley Brothers - key of G
The chord progression for Little Darling Pal Of Mine is:
This is Prog. V10 on the basic progressions chart. Be careful not to confuse this progression with the similar and much more common W10 progression that is used to play Gold Watch & Chain, Back Up And Push, Way Down Town, This Land Is Your Land, Rubber Dolly, the B-Part of Red Wing, and the choruses of Nellie Kane and How Mountain Girls Can Love. The two progressions differ from each other only in the first measure of line 4. The last line of W10 is 5511 (same as the second line of both V10 and W10), whereas the last line of V10 is 1511.
The melody for Little Darling Pal Of Mine is similar to the melody for This Land Is Your Land. It was from Little Darling Pal Of Mine that Woody Guthrie drew his inspiration for writing the melody for This Land Is Your Land. The similarity of the melody of Little Darling Pal Of Mine to that of a more well known song that uses the W10 progression may make it difficult at first for some to consistently remember to play the V10 progression instead of the W10 progression for Little Darling Pal Of Mine until they have played the song a number of times.
Little Darling Pal Of Mine has been recorded and performed many times by bluegrass artists as an instrumental. When played as an instrumental, it is often used as a banjo-feature tune. However, the original recorded version of the song (by the Carter Family) that many of the first and second generation bluegrass artists learned the tune from, was a sung version, and some bluegrass artists have recorded sung versions of the song. At jams, I prefer to sing the song, rather than to lead it as an instrumental.
The most well known banjo breaks for Little Darling Pal Of Mine are the two breaks that Earl Scruggs plays on the Foggy Mountain Banjo album. Both of these breaks stick very close to the melody, as does the first fiddle break that Scruggs plays a harmony backup to that is prominent in the mix.
Both Flatt & Scruggs versions provided here include bass breaks. In sung versions of the song, it is uncommon for a bass break to be played, but I like to offer the bass a break when I sing the song at jams.
Have a happy Easter.