LINER NOTES TO "NOTHIN' BUT GUITAR" by HARVEY REID
The steel-string acoustic guitar is a tool for so many singers, poets and entertainers, and a vehicle for so many political ideas, personal philosophies and economic schemes that its own voice is too often buried or forgotten. The sounds of the metal, wood and the human hands are the sounds of things like axes, saws, hammers and nails, old creaky floors, crooked barns, fast-moving trains, rusty water troughs and steamer trunks, spyglasses, country churches, yard sales, rickety staircases, grandma's cutting board, sneezing cobblers, stagecoaches, mahogany roll-top desks and oak Windsor chairs, picket fences, rifles, scythes, plows, schoolbooks and clipper ships. And the language that the guitar speaks with its steel tongue and its spruce throat rings with an honesty, strength, beauty and a validity that I find nowhere else. On this record there are no other sounds. (Sept. 1982)
SONGS & CREDITS
1 The Albatross (H. Reid)(4:03) (original recording, re-recorded in 1989)
2 Le Petit Rien (F. Couperin)(1:32) [out of print]
3 Simple Gifts (Trad.)(2:16) (original recording, re-recorded in 1989)
4 The Fisherman (Leo Kottke)(2:35) (original recording, re-recorded in 1989)
5 The Elves and The Shoemaker (H. Reid)(3:09) (original recording, re-issued in 1989)
6 Rocky Road (Trad.)(2:13) [out of print]
7 I'll Fly Away (Trad.)(2:33) (original recording, re-recorded in 1989)
8 Minuet in G (J.S. Bach)(1:32) (original recording, re-recorded in 2001)
9 For Whom the Bell Tolls (H. Reid)(4:14) (original recording, re-recorded in 1989)
10 Dirty Dish Rag (H. Reid)(2:31) (original recording, re-recorded in 1989)
11 Wildwood Flower (Trad.)(2:42) (re-issued in 2009)
12 Slipped Through My Hand (H. Reid)(2:17) (original recording, re-recorded in 1989)
13 Irish Washerwoman/ Home From the Sea (Trad.)(2:19) [out of print]
14 The Ghost of Casey Jones (H. Reid)(2:39) [out of print]
15 Farewell to Tarwaithe (Trad.)(3:01) [out of print]
Arrangements & Production Harvey Reid
Engineering & Mixing Ron Freeland
Guitars: 1974 Gallagher, Gibson B-45 12-string, Dobro resonator #410
Design & Graphics: Dave Streib, Aphro Graphics
(^) A Third Hand Capo was used on the guitar on tracks 1, 3, 6, 7, 11, 12, 15. (Standard tuning) Contact http://www.partialcapo.com
(All selections © 1979-1982 by Harvey Reid. (Quahog Music, BMI) All rights reserved.
Recorded at TRACK Studios (SIlver Spring MD) by Ron Freeland, with Neumann mikes, Neve console, an Ampex 2-track recorder, Dolby A & EMT plate reverb.
ABOUT THE SONGS...
1) The Albatross (H. Reid)(4:03)  Open Ab tuning, wood body Dobro with bottleneck. The albatross is a large, solitary bird that inhabits the air of the southern hemisphere's oceans, spending most of its time aloft. The author is a large, solitary guitarist who inhabits the land areas of the United States, spending most of his time in transit.
2) Le Petit Rien (F. Couperin)(1:32)  The composer was an organist in the court of Louis XIV. The title translates as "a Wee Bit of Nothing," or more literally, "The Little Nothing." 6-string guitar, standard tuning.
3) Simple Gifts (Trad.)(2:16)  12-string guitar, standard tuning. Although it is familiar to many as a selection from "Appalachian Spring" by Aaron Copland, he borrowed it from a Shaker hymn extolling the virtues of simplicity. The Shakers borrowed it from a traditional British Isles tune, probably a quadrille. I learned this version from a street fiddler, and have since found that other people do it differently.
4) The Fisherman (Leo Kottke)(2:35)  This is a reasonably straightforward rendition of one of my favorite guitar pieces by one of my favorite guitarists. Leo says it is about ice fishing, but I tend to think about still water and warm breezes. 6-string guitar, standard tuning.
5) The Elves and The Shoemaker (H. Reid)(3:09)  One of my first guitar pieces, remarkably unchanged since its arrival in '72 or '73. It was designed to be fun to play, and still is. It tells the whole story of the shoemaker in 3 minutes, so there isn't time to build real suspense. The story really warrants a 9 or 10 minute piece. 6-string, standard tuning.
6) Rocky Road (Trad.)(2:13)  "Red light green light 'round the town, I found a penny on the ground." It has nice words, and I learned it from Peter Paul & Mary.
7) I'll Fly Away (Trad.)(2:33)  There are few bluegrass gospel songs that are any more fun to sing with a gang of people than this one, although it does stress that the period following death is the good part. 12-string, standard tuning.
8) Minuet In G (J.S. Bach)(1:32)  I like the tone of the guitar better with the capo at fret two, so this is really in A. This is a rather standard little ditty for nylon-string players, but is is a gem from the maestro's desk anyway, and sounds good I think with wire strings.
9) For Whom The Bell Tolls (H. Reid)(4:14)  The setting is Spain, with suspense, violence, and some drama, although the tune will masquerade as the music for the campfire bandido scene in a cheap Hollywood western, especially starring Dean Martin. 6-string, standard tuning.
10) Dirty Dish Rag (H. Reid)(2:31)  Written in a driveway in Kent, Ohio, this tune pits a Scruggs roll in the fingers against a Travis thumb line. For those who don't know what that means, it is supposed to evoke ragtime piano moods. It goes well with beer and pizza. 6-string, standard tuning.
11) Wildwood Flower (Trad.)(2:42)  Brought to us from the Southern mountains by the Carter Family, although the tune dates from the 1880's. This arrangement uses three Third Hand capos to create a dulcimer effect. I always figured that a guitar was a dulcimer turned sideways, and with more strings and frets. 6-string guitar with flatpick.
12) Slipped Through My Hand (H. Reid)(2:17)  This is just the instrumental breaks from a song of mine with the same name. It is about the passage of time. 12-string, standard tuning.
13) Irish Washerwoman/ Home From The Sea (Trad.)(2:19)  Irish jigs sound nice when flatpicked, and give a welcome relief from bluegrass and reels. The first tune is the best known, and the second is obscure, I think. I overdubbed the rhythm guitar.
14) The Ghost Of Casey Jones (H. Reid)(2:39)  Metal dobro, open Eb tuning with bottleneck. Trains used to lure the adventurous, who no doubt travel mostly by automobile in this age. This one sounds like it takes place in the Midwest, probably before I was born.
15) Farewell To Tarwaithe (Trad.)(3:01)  This melody appears in the "my horses ain't hungry" tunes of the Southern mountains, athough it apparently comes from a whaling song. It may not be a coincidence that it appears both places, or that it is included here. There are elements of serenity, melancholy, restlessness and freedom that blend well with extreme simplicity. 6-string, standard tuning.