Saturday, May 10, 2008

Another Lame Contest!!! With Pathetic Prizes!!!

I fail in the little things. That’s my main problem. If you need someone to write a 6-minute, tear-jerking song about idolatry, I’m your guy. If you’re looking for someone to confront a very tense, heavy-conflict situation, call me. You’re wanting to record/produce a big budget indie record? I got you covered. Big stuff? No problem.

If you want someone to return a phone call or write a thank you note, Lord help me. I’m a wreck.

The devil, they say, is in the details.

Which brings me to today’s topic: chord charts. For the last several years, I’ve gotten about one request per week for chord charts of my songs. Sometimes it’s “hey can I get a chord chart for ‘Clear the Stage?’” Other times it’s like “I’d love chord charts for all the songs from your last 3 CD’s.” I happen to have a chord chart (and even sheet music) for “Clear the Stage,” but the other request is a little tougher.

See, I don’t really write chord charts for my songs, because I never use them. Even when I record my songs in the studio, or when I teach my songs to new band members, we always use The Nashville Number System. I just don’t really have a use for chord charts.

Worst of all, I don’t always know what the chords are for my songs. Admittedly, most of my songs are pretty simple, but sometimes I’m just making up chords that sound good. And when I start slapping capos on the guitar, I don’t have a clue what I’m playing.

There is one big exception to this. When I recorded To Make God Famous Vol. 2, I actually spent several weeks making charts for the songs on that CD, as well as the songs on the other Famous project. I ended up putting all those charts into a CD-ROM thing on Famous 2.

But that’s all I’ve got.

So, pretty much every time I get these emails asking for charts, I answer in one of two ways. Sometimes I’ll just be really truthful and realistic and say something like “Sorry, I just don’t have charts, nor do I have the time to do them.” I mean, people aren’t usually offering to pay for charts (and I’m not even sure that I'd feel okay taking money for them), and my life is just too busy to spend hours and hours on something that doesn’t help feed the kids.

Other times, I’ll actually believe the best about myself and I’ll say something like, “I don’t currently have a chart for that song, but I hope to get to that very soon, so check back with me in a few months.” Months pass, and of course there are no charts. Because it just never gets to the top of my “to do” list. You know how that goes. Ross King, Big Fat Liar Face.

And that’s where I am now. But I’ve decided to do something about it. I still don’t want to sit around making charts, trying to figure out the names of chords. I ain't gonna do it. But I’d love to help people to learn to play my songs if they want to. There are dozens of longing, eager fans out there waiting for this.

So here’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to make short video tutorials, showing anyone who is interested how to play various songs. And that’s where you come in. I’ve written a couple hundred songs. I’ve personally recorded over 100 of those. I’ve got no clue where to start.

I need you to vote. I need you to tell your friends -- anyone who has ever been interested in playing my music -- to vote. I know I don’t get a ton of traffic around here, but I really do need help.

And since I haven’t done any contests around here in a while, I’ll turn this into one. Maybe that will generate some votes. Here’s my deal to you. Everybody who votes is a winner. If you will simply vote for a song that you’d like to learn, I will mention you in the video tutorial of that song. Like a dedication or something. It will be like, “Michael Steele, I know how badly you wanted to learn ‘Anymore,’ so here it is.”

Like that. Depending on how the voting goes, the first video will be up sometime next week.

Oh, and here are the two conditions.

First, if you know me well enough that you could just sit down with me and learn the song sometime when we’re having lunch, you don’t get to vote.

Second, if you don't play guitar, don't vote.

Why the conditions? Simple. I don’t want a bunch of camera-hungry goons mucking up the voting just to get their 15 sad minutes of not-even-real-fame on my obscure youtube page.

25 comments:

wishfulthinking said...

"i lose again." i like that one..

Kyle said...

Ross, It was tough for me to decide on just one song to suggest for this thing...so many come to mind (Venice is Sinking, Terrors Kings Must Do, the entire "Perhaps I've Said Too Much" album...), but I settled on this:

Watch the sun go down (from Big Quiet Truth)

Thanks, and I love this idea!

Kyle Collins

Ben Love said...

Well I'm afraid your restrictions are going to knock out most of your readers... only kidding. I think it's a great idea, let me know if you need any help.

Nathan T said...

I'll vote for "Meet with me" but only if you don't use the cut-capo on it.

Also, any chance we'll ever see arrangements for accordian?

Johnny! said...

Well excuuuuuse me, Mr. Guitar. I'll just transcribe "Everlasting" myself.

:^)

Michael said...

Anymore, eh?...

Dave said...

Wow, there are too many. Sorry Nathan T, but I'm tempted to vote for Meet With Me with the cut capo. But, I will stick to the new stuff.

I can play through Light of the World, but there are a few places where I know I am off a bit on my chord selection. It's currently my "mantra" song, which means it will get played and sung nearly every time I touch the guitar. Cleaning up will be great.

So, I vote for "Light of the World." Thanks Ross! Looking forward to the upstate New York tour info when you are ready.

Dave said...

One more thing: if you already have the Nashville notation for songs, I'd be happy to take a stab at putting non-Nashville notation together. It looks straightforward enough. I think it would go quick once I got the hang of it, especially for the majority of the recorded songs which I already know.

thad said...

To all those who are excluded by the conditions, I offer my most sincere apologies. I'm certain those restrictions were written just for me. God knows I would have been stuffing the virtual ballot box to get as many of these videos dedicated to me as possible.

You already have a video for Every Detail. Why don't you just put that one on the interwebs?

rk said...

wishful thinking--
do you want me to call you "wishful" or "mr (or ms) thinking" in the video? real name?

Nathan--
i'll give you the non-cut-capo version, but it won't sound as good.

Johnny--
you and i both know that i can't transcribe anything. i can't even read music. you're destined to do all my transcribing for me. that's just part of your too-smart-to-be-a-drummer thing.

also, everyone, it's okay to vote more than once. I really am just trying to figure out what people want to learn, so if you would like several songs, just say so. I'll get to them when i can.

hey, thanks for the votes. keep 'em coming. i'm going to start working on the videos this week.

RR said...

I too will vote for "Light of the World" , but "Happy" would make me happy as well.

That's just a sneaky way to get two votes in.

Alex Burdine said...

Only the Good Lord knows how many notebooks, church bulletins, and dry erase boards I have filled with Ross King set lists and nashville numbers.

If only to save Ross the pain of dishing chords out, I would be happy to supply the masses with them.

But let's be honest, all the songs are "1-4-6m-5" anyway. :)

Brett said...

I'm not seeking any "air time" so-to-speak on the video. I just want to learn the music and possibly see an added extra bonus (is "extra" and "bonus" saying the same thing?)

Anyway, I would like to reach back into Ross' formative years as an artist and vote for "Meet Me Where I Am".

As an added bonus, I was wondering if we could get a person finger-painting while Ross plays?

rk said...

Alex--
I was going to try to come up with some hilarious rebuttal to your claim, but then I though, "aw heck, he's right. All my songs do have that progression..." These videos will be easy.

Brett--
I do all my painting in "full body" mode. I find that only using the fingers restricts my creativity.

Was that too much?

Nathan T said...

Ross, I don't want a "not as good" version of "Meet with Me" floating around youtube, so you can go ahead and gimme the full version and I will just invest in another capo.

Also, thanks for reaching out to the wannabe musicians out here - great idea.

Alex Burdine said...

I will admit, I felt like the magician who gives away the secrets to the tricks when I typed it.

martyr said...

I would like "To Whom Shall I Go" and please no more talk of full body painting. I may not be able to sleep tonight.

Brett said...

I'm trying to erase the image of Ross "full body painting" out of my head. That image will haunt me the rest of the day!

If using your fingers restricts your creativity, should we be expecting some interesting "guitar work" on these songs?

Lauri Hahn said...

Just when I thought I understood what "I play by ear" meant, you come up with the Nashville Number System and "1-4-6m-5." Whatever that means.

No, see, Ross, I play by ear & that means I go thru a few chords I know until it sounds like the one someone used in their song. G, C, E7... Eagles chords. If not, all the songs get re-written to end up sounding like Eagles songs.

Just when I thought I'd get to actually have a cheat sheet for Why Me Lord or Unplowed Ground, you "for reals" musician types complicate matters with reality. Sigh.

It'll still be GREAT to have the tutorials.

PS- I think prizes are supposed to be tangible, not virtual items.

Dave said...

To Nathan T: You do know the trick to flip over the Kyser capo? There are other brands with similar configurations, but that's all I do and it works great. I guess unless you have one of these already, then you do have to buy another one.

Or hire a friend to hold down Esus whole you play...

CB said...

County Road 109. Danced the first dance with my wife to that song. Doesn't that make you feel special? In some kind of weird way. Or something.

Brandon Hix said...

"You Can"

Few things blow my mind and stir my affections like meditating on the Creator-sovereignty and Savior-compassion of God.

Thanks again for playing this song on my back porch in Missouri.

Alex Burdine said...

I second Brandon Hix's request for "You Can"...

I never could figure that one out.

Jeff said...

I'll just throw a few out there and see what sticks:
Thoughts on Love
Will You Walk with Me?
Fight On
Foolish to You
...there's tons of songs that are played with piano that'd be sweet to learn but I'd have to learn piano first.

DuMouchel P. said...

Ross, been loving listening to and playing your music at our church down here in Mexico ever since I was introduced to you by our Pastor, Brother Bob Hendrick. I tell you what, the first time I heard "Unplowed Ground" it really struck a chord (no pun intended)and caused me to reflect upon my life and my walk.
It'd be great to see you post that one, but if not, I'm glad I was able to say thanks for your music.