Monday 19 August 2019


So I'm walking around Bunnings yesterday and I hear the classic 70's rock song "Gold" by John Stewart playing. Stevie Nicks backing vocals, Lindsey Buckingham-esque guitar solo, in fact, if you didn't know better you'd say it was a Fleetwood Mac song. I still remember when my dad brought it home on 45 and played it non-stop on the turntable for hours, 1979. During the formative years...but it's funny how some stuff sticks in your head.

So I'm thinking, "there's some stuff going on in there like I did with a previous song, I think that one will come up easy as fingerstyle. And I might even try wrist pumping to get bass drum/snare, that might be my avenue into that technique."

I looked up the chords, it's just Am, F with an occasional transition through Em. I initially thought I would run drop D tuning, so that root note plus perfect 5th/major 6th/minor 7th rollicking bluesy feel isn't too much of a pinky stretch. It didn't really fit, so I left it at standard tuning. Besides, from Am the stretch to put your pinky on the 4th string F# isn't too bad, and rather than trying to then hit the G on the 4th string, just drop the A off the 3rd string, careful left hand muting and right hand picking will make it work.

The melody wrote itself, I think he only sung four notes for the whole song - C, down to A, down to G. And B during the Em transition.  The synth "walking progression" during the first part of the song hurt my head, I couldn't find the starting note. I've often said my ear is bad, but I'm starting to think it is that my brain gets a preconceived idea of what I'm hearing and then won't let go of it, pretending it is right, fighting my ear. Once I worked out what the end note of the synth progression was - by playing notes and listening to it looped - it got easier after that.

So within an hour I had everything sussed and was playing it okay. But it's a simple song so it needs some flair so it doesn't sound like the same thing over and over again.  The structure has the synth predominate at the start, then favours the blues progression from the middle forward. I ran that variance, and threw in a "reset/quieter" part, and then some "chorus" repetition to finish it off. I should attempt the solo, it's only short. I didn't put in the wrist pump, I should!

But wow, that was a fast and groovy song to arrange. You would have heard it, but not known what it was, it charted quite high for a short while and then was lost to the annuls of history. Except it was burnt into my brain as a kid :-) Check it out here

Update: so two days pass, I noodle on it for around 40 mins each day. Discovered some more things to do with the bass line, and realised that the bar when he says "turning music into gold" is actually only 2/4 - so two beats dropped. I turned on the mic just now, and got this very rough capture:

Gold demo: