Learn to Play the Blues Classic "Careless Love"
â€śCareless Loveâ€ť is a classic tune from the early-20th-century New Orleans jazz songbook. Buddy Boldenâ€™s band, one of the pioneering groups in Dixieland style jazz, was known for its version. The song has since been recorded by artists ranging from Pete Seeger to Elvis Presley to Bob Dylan. The songâ€™s melody has been a vehicle for many lyrics, all revolving around love, betrayal, and murder, perennial subjects for traditional music. Like many traditional tunes, â€śCareless Loveâ€ť has been arranged in many different styles, mostly leaning toward blues and jazzâ€”although it has survived country, folk, and pop treatments as well.
Inspired by Lonnie Johnsonâ€™s version on his 1965 recording Unsung Blues Legend: The Living Room Sessions, I decided on a bluesy ballad interpretation. Johnsonâ€™s recording of â€śCareless Loveâ€ť has a relaxed, mournful vibe that I pursued rather than any particular guitar figures. I put it in the key of E, a great solo-guitar key and, luckily, a good singing key for me. Youâ€™ll notice that while I vary the accompaniment patterns throughout the tune, I try to never lose the feeling of the pulse, the relaxed groove. Thatâ€™s more important than any of the notes.
Excerpted from Arranging Folk and Blues Songs
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