A shockingly long time ago, in my friend Alan’s car in the wee hours of the morning after a weird night at an open mic at a bar called the Rusty Nail (the place was filthy, but the sandwiches were good) I joked about someday pulling off the Dire Straits song Sultans of Swing as a frailing banjo tune.
For some reason I never tried it. Probably because it’s a godawful song. After I did Brothers In Arms I was kind of Dired out with that band.
Tonight I was working on some Daily Frail exercises for the coming week and ran across a chord progression that sounded familiar: Em/D/C/B
If you start with the Em chord at the ninth fret (just make an Am chord at the ninth) then barre the D at the seventh, the C at the fifth and the B at the fourth it’s a pretty cool sound. Play with it a bit at you get a big chunk of Sultans of Swing.
When you make the B, throw some hammers on the fifth and sixth fret. See if you can get that Mark Knopfler twang.
I am not going to perform the song or do a workshop on this one. If you duckduckgo the lyrics (Google is evil) and play around with the chords a bit you should be able to start putting the puzzle together yourself.
Trust me, having the answers handed to you or passively watching me won’t help your playing skills. Try crazy songs and see how they work. Then try other songs. Road To Nowhere – complete with the intro – is a lot of fun on the banjo and Bring Me To Life is also a hoot (not that I can sing like Amy Lee). Do not make the idiotic mistake of limiting yourself or your instrument to one genre. You are not bound by any tradition – in fact, you should be creating new ones!
So, Alan, if you are out there, I finally got around to it more than thirty years later. Not a huge deal, but a nice moment on an early June evening.
Some daydreams are worth working and waiting for.