This week's song is 'Worried Man Blues'. I have chosen this for the Bluegrass song of the week to help raise awareness that with one and the same song, there can be two or more standard ways that various Bluegrassers may play it. I believe that this song illusrates quite well the importance of watching and listening closely to the person who is leading the song, even when a song is called that is already in your repetoire. (And, if you are aware that there is more than one standard way of playing a particular song, it is never a bad idea to clarify which version will be played - if you are the one calling or leading the song; or to ask for clarification if someone else calls or leads the song)
Here are two examples of the type of version I usually play if I call the song. It is a 12 measure form. The chord progression is:
The Carter Family - key of Bb
Flatt and Scruggs - key of G
I would usually sing this in the key of A: hence: AAAADDAAEEAA;
or with a capo on the 2nd fret: GGGGCCGGDDGG.
Here's an example of a different type of version. It is a 16 measure form (and lingers one measure longer on the '4' chord than the previous version, before returning to the '1'):
Stanley Brothers - key of A
For those who are more familiar with the 16 measure form for this song - or something similar - there can be a tendency to think that the 12 measure form simply omits the third line (i.e., measures 9 through 12) of the 16 measure form. Judging by the lyrics alone, it might seem that this is the case, but if one considers the melody and the chord progression, one can see that it is not the third line that is omitted, but rather the second half of the second line and the first half of the third line (i.e., measures 7 through 10). I have included two melody sheets in the attachments to help show this. If you compare the 16 measure version with the 12 measure version, you should see that measures 7 through 10 of the 16 measure version, not measures 9 through 12, are missing from the 12 measure version.
This is important, because if one were to simply just skip over the 3rd line of the 16 measure version to play the 12 measure version, you will find yourself staying one more measure on the 4 chord before returning to the 1 chord than what the 12 measure version calls for. And this is something that has happened many times at the jam in the past, and the result is very displeasing to the ear, for the 4 chord clashes severely with the main melody note that is sung in measure 7 of the 12 measure version. To hear for yourself what this clash sounds like, try staying on a C chord for measure 7 of the Flatt and Scruggs version. This is good for ear training: for, if you can remember what this sounds like, then when this same sound happens in other situations, you will know that the 1 chord probably should be played instead of the 4. By observing what certain specific mistakes sound like (no matter whether these are made by you or by others), one can learn what to do in order to quickly correct them, and to avoid them in the first place.
Other songs you already know, that have similarities in parts of their melodies with parts of the melody for Worried Man Blues are:
This Little Light Of Mine
Ralph Stanley - key of B
Randall Franks & David Davis and the Warrior River Boys - key of A
Long Journey Home
Flatt & Scruggs - key of A (song starts at 2:05)