The song of the week is the 'Long Journey Home' (a.k.a. 'Two Dollar Bill' and 'Lost All My Money') in the key of A.
Flatt & Scruggs - key of A (song starts at 2:07)
Rhonda Vincent - key of B
Bill Monroe & Doc Watson - key of G
For reasons of historical interest, I include the following version of Long Journey Home by the Monroe Brothers (Bill Monroe and his older brother Charlie). From 1936, this was one of the first songs that Bill Monroe recorded, and it is played wickedly fast:
The chord progression is:
While this is a fairly basic chord progression, there are relatively few bluegrass standards that use this progression. I like to think of this progression as being closely related to the more common progression:
(Prog. V3 on the Basic Chord Progressions chart. It is the progression that is used for playing Will The Circle Be Unbroken, I'll Fly Away, Mountain Dew, Cryin' Holy, etc.)
The first, third, and fourth lines are identical in both progressions. The second line of both progressions is made up of 1 and 4 chords, but they differ from each other as to where the 4 chord occurs within the line and how long one stays on the 4 chord before changing back to the 1.
The main challenge that the Long Journey Home progression presents is that with so many 1s in the in the progression, it can sometimes be all too easy to lose one's place within the progression. But, if one thinks/feels the song in terms of distinct lines consisting of 4 measures each, then this is less likely to happen. However, if you do lose track of the progression, then the safest chord to play is the 1. Just keep on playing the 1 while you are trying to figure out where in the progression the song is at. Use the vocal as a guide to help you to feel where each line of the progression begins.
In ascending order of pitch, the notes that make up the melody of Long Journey Home are:
5 6 1 2 3 5
sol la do re mi sol
key of A: E F# A B C# E
key of Bb: F G Bb C D F
key of B: F# G# B C# D# F#
key of C: G A C D E G
key of D: A B D E F# A
key of E; B C# E F# G# B
key of F: C D F G A C
key of G: D E G A B D
These are the same notes that make up the melodies of Will The Circle Be Unbroken, Nine Pound Hammer, My Home's Across The Blue Ridge Mountains, Foggy Mountain Top, Amazing Grace, Mountain Dew, and many other songs.
The first line of the melody of Long Journey Home has much in common with the first line of the melodies for several other songs, including Worried Man Blues, This Little Light Of Mine, Mountain Dew, Sun's Gonna Shine In My Back Door Someday, Paul And Silas, and Gotta Travel On.
Like Bury Me Beneath The Willow, Foggy Mountain Top, and Gathering Flowers From The Hillside, the first melody note in the first complete measure of Long Journey Home is the 5th note of the Major Scale, but unlike in those other songs, the starting melody note of Long Journey Home is the lowest note in the melody rather than the highest or one of the highest melody notes. When this is the case, I usually prefer to use a descending pickup phrase to lead into a break rather than an ascending pickup phrase. For songs like Bury Me Beneath The Willow, Foggy Mountain Top, and Gathering Flowers, my choice of pickup notes usually is: 3, 4, #4 (e.g., B, C, C# in the key of G, or C#, D, D# in the key of A) leading up to the 5 (a D note in the key of G, an E note in the key of A), but for songs like Long Journey Home, Mountain Dew, Worried Man Blues, I Saw The Light, etc., my choice of pickup notes usually is 6, 6, b6 leading down to the 5.
6 6 b6
Key of A: F# F# F
Key of Bb: G G Gb
Key of B: G# G# G
Key of C: A A Ab
Key of D: B B Bb
Key of E: C# C# C
Key of F: D D Db
Key of G: E E Eb
Long Journey Home is quite often played at a fast tempo. While this song would not work very well at a slow tempo, it is not necessary to play it as fast as it has often been played on recordings in order for it to sound right. So, at the beginner jam, I do not intend on playing it as fast as it is played on some of the recordings provided here, but it will still be one of the faster songs, relative to the speeds that we tend to play songs at at the jam.
One of the things that makes Long Journey Home a jam friendly song is the repetitive nature of the lyrics. There is not much that needs to be memorized in order to be able to sing harmony on the choruses, and the last line of the chorus is identical to the last line of each verse:
Lost all my money but a two dollar bill,
Two dollar bill, boys, two dollar bill.
Lost all my money but a two dollar bill:
I'm on my long journey home.
The three verses I usually sing start as follows:
1. Cloudy in the west and it looks like rain....
2. Black smoke's a rising and it surely is a train....
3. Dark and it's raining and I've got to go home....
Occasionally I add another verse before the last verse: Homesick and lonesome, and I'm feeling kind of blue....
The repetitive nature of the lyrics also makes Long Journey Home a good song choice for those who wish to lead a song at the jam, but do not have much experience yet singing at a jam, or who have difficulty memorizing lyrics.
12 songs were played at last night's jam: all of them from the main list
Boil The Cabbage Down (played twice) - A
Buffalo Gals - A
Cripple Creek - A
Foggy Mountain Top - G
I'll Fly Away - C
Long Journey Home - A
Mama Don't Allow - G
Nine Pound Hammer - G
Old Joe Clark - A
Shortnin' Bread - G
Soldier's Joy - D
Will The Circle Be Unbroken - G
Jason's Beginner Jam Blog 2019 - 2021
Weekly on Thursdays
Songs regularly called at Bluegrass Jams and links from Jason's "Song of the Week" emails. (from Renee)
in alphabetical order