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NEED a Country Music Crash Course

Discussion in 'Music to Your Ears' started by joeltele, Nov 29, 2013.

  1. joeltele

    joeltele TDPRI Member

    Nov 29, 2013
    Austin Texas
    Hi all,


    I would consider myself pretty sufficient when it comes to blues/rock. But thats practically all I play, which isn't uncommon with electric guitar players, but I feel like it would benefit me greatly both in writing and playing. And I also feel a little self conscious about my playing not knowing jack about country, because up till now whenever I play country with someone(rarely ever, but have) I just play blues in the key. AND I actually REALLY LIKE older country music but have never really learned it because, I dont know, just never did. So now that I'm getting a tele I figure time to learn country!

    So I'm asking you guys for some help. I would like each of you guy's opinions on what 5-10 songs are essential in older country and western playing(Cash, Jennings, Hank Williams, George Jones, Willie Nelson) . I'm going to learn more than 10 songs but I'm trying to get a general idea for country playing.

    Please pardon my ignorance, as this is a subject I know very little about. So if anything I said is total nonsense or something correct me please. Also, no modern country please, I've heard it and I'm not crazy about it. Thank you!
  2. Ward

    Ward Tele-Holic

    Mar 17, 2003
    San Diego
    I'm picking songs based on ease of learning and applicability to learning the country style:

    1. Folsom Prison Blues- Johnny Cash
    2. Walking the Floor-Ernest Tubb (live version)
    3. Mama Tried- Merle Haggard
    4. Tiger by the Tail- Buck Owens
    5. Ricky Nelson's stuff with James Burton playing, because its a great example of country pentatonic playing.
  3. J.Rodney

    J.Rodney Tele-Meister Silver Supporter

    Mar 20, 2007
    Harrisonburg Louisiana
    I am a country player.I practice with youtube,just bring up the artist/song you want to play with at the moment,great fun.Merle is my favorite.
  4. 4pickupguy

    4pickupguy Doctor of Teleocity

    May 12, 2013
    Fort Worth, Texas
    I found Country is very different from what i was used to, in that it was (i thought incorrectly) more tonally restrictive. I also found out that the most important thing about being in a country band was to SUPPORT THE SONG. For me this meant playing way, way less and a lot more strategically. Learning to say more by playing less was a hard concept for me to get used to. Country songs tend to have a lot of spaces that can be tastefully filled with simple steel bends and so forth but you need to not over do it. You will never be more tone obsessed than when you start playing country. You just got a tele, so you have a good baseline to start from. You tube is a good suggestion. I would suggest learning from the more supportive artist first rather than the blazing fast chicken pickin crowd. Play with the most demanding/best band you can find. Nothing makes you strive like being thrown into the deep end.

    As for song suggestions: Learn what will keep you challenged but not discouraged. I would suggest forcing a few SONG TYPES rather than particular songs.
    1. Slow Waltz of your liking
    2. Slow Major and Minor ballad style songs
    3. A couple of swing style songs
    4. Some up tempo cut time stuff
    5. Some honky tonk stuff

    Force yourself to learn all the different types to become well rounded. I loved the years I played in country bands! The money always better too!!
    Good luck!! Have fun!!
  5. bblumentritt

    bblumentritt Tele-Afflicted

    Dec 3, 2012
    Austin, Texas
    Buck Owens - My Heart Skipped a Beat
    George Jones - The Race is On
    Merle Haggard - Mama Tried
    Waylon Jennings - Only Daddy That'll Walk The Line

    None of these songs can be played without a Fender Telecaster electric guitar.
  6. guitarmann13

    guitarmann13 TDPRI Member

    Apr 25, 2011
    McKinney Texas
    Swinging doors - Merle Haggard
    Crazy - Patsy Cline
    Six days on the road - David Dudley
    Folsom Prison - Johnny Cash
    Lonesome on'ry and me - Waylon
    Blue eyes crying in the rain - Willie Nelson

    As a guitar player the country stuff that influenced me the most were the records from Merle, Buck, Johnny and Waylon. Anything that James Burton played on. All the early Emmylou Harris stuff has great guitar work.

    Enjoy the journey.
  7. kingjack

    kingjack Tele-Meister

    Apr 30, 2012
    I mainly play blues and rock also but I do love some good old country tunes. Living in the south all my life, its basically just a part of me. Here is a few picks just based on the kind of stuff I like.

    Johnny Cash- Big River
    Hank Williams- Lost Highway
    Johnny Horton- Honkey Tonk Man
  8. FidgetStone

    FidgetStone TDPRI Member

    Dec 26, 2011
    Allen, TX
    For Internet country lessons look up "Doug Seven". His site has "sizzling" in the title somewhere. You can get a lot of high quality, highly reusable technique from his free content before you pay a dime for his official courses.

    I got some much out of the free stuff that I bought some stuff from him. I also came from the blues rock camp and picked up a lot of technique that helps my rock playing as well.

    Have fun!
  9. DakotaRed

    DakotaRed Tele-Meister

    Jul 31, 2009
    DFW, Texas, USA
    I'm learning to play country. I paid $20 for a month of JamPlay.com to get the Guthrie Trapp lessons, but the site also has Brent Mason and quite a few "in the style of..." lessons for Urban, Travis, etc. It's WELL worth the money to me!
  10. 1955

    1955 Doctor of Teleocity

    Apr 10, 2010
    Shoot, you're in Austin, go watch Redd Volkaert every chance you get! That's a helluva education in all things twangy!
  11. garytelecastor

    garytelecastor Poster Extraordinaire

    Sep 5, 2006
    On the Bayou in da Tundra
    Dude, you are from Austin.
    There are a few people around there who know quite a bit
    about country music.
    Look up Mandy Marie and John Stannard.
    They are members here.
  12. ScottJPatrick

    ScottJPatrick Friend of Leo's

    May 12, 2011
    Stirling, Scotland.
  13. Alex W

    Alex W Friend of Leo's

    Aug 29, 2003
    In my tube amp coccoon.
    If you don't already then I recommend that you use the computer program Spotify to seek out new (old) music. You type in Merle Haggard, Hank Williams, or any artist, and chances are all or most of their catalog will a click away, free. And not only can you create and share playlists, but you can find public playlists that other people have already created and shared. Specifically with the terms "classic country" there are a ton of playlists all waiting for you to explore them. Another nice feature is that when you bring up an artist's main "home screen" or whatever you call it, you will see a link for "related artists." You can use this feature to discover or at least be reminded of other performers.

    Here is one example of a classic country playlist. I can't vouch for its artistic integrity or anything, it's just an example. http://open.spotify.com/user/joncopeland/playlist/2Km340IgPFVpyruEaxozw5

    It's hard to choose just 5-10 essential country songs without obsessing over the most iconic country songs, some of which don't even have especially notable guitar parts. ("Crazy," as performed by Patsy Cline for example, is backed primarily by piano, bass and drums as far as I can hear.) A great thing about country music is that there is a vast catalog of GREAT songs, practically a bottomless well from which to draw.
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