Tracking the Creative Process: All Along the Watchtower


I was asked to perform in a Bob Dylan tribute concert last May to celebrate his 70th birthday… but I didn”t know any Dylan songs. I”m ashamed to say I didn”t know “All Along the Watchtower” and I certainly didn”t know that Hendrix made it ultra famous! I decided to do a “Vicki” version of it for the concert.

The first step I take is I listen to 4 totally different versions already done: Dylan”sHendrix”sMichael Hedges” and Dave Matthews”.

What happens in my head at this point is that I realize I don”t and can”t sound like any of these folks… and that”s OK! But I get the “essence” of the song. I begin to let the chord changes roll around inside my ears, my head, my emotions. Then I look for a guitar tuning. Since there are only 3 chords in this song, and it”s chorus is the same as its verses I decide I should find online casino a tuning that is rather complex,  or at least a tuning that allows me to easily play these three chords (Dm, C, Bb) in new ways that bring some different voicings, or colors to the song. I think I”m going to want the tuning that I use for the Doobie Brother”s song, “Long Train Running” which is: D-A-D-F-A-C. I try it. I find the chords. I find some additional chords that I can “substitute” for the original chords… I”m liking it. It”s a keeper!

So then I think to myself…. “not quite”. I could try some of the “slap-tap” technique that I am known to do. But that”s not quite giving me what I want. I grab this very cool capo created by my friend, Bob Kilgore – the “Harmonic Capo“… and that”s it! I”ve got the sound that I want, the emotional “mood” and something to make this very famous and well known song sound “unique”.

Here”s a performance of it I did last month at the Swannanoa Gathering “Faculty Concert”. I”m joined by Danny Ellis on vocals and trombone and
Andrew (Finn) Magill on fiddle. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xZ6IYj_fabY&list=UUc442FQgCLEpkKOc7twm8xQ&index=1&feature=plcp

One comment


  • Bob G

    Dear Vicki, I certainly appreciate your video version of “Watchtower”! How untradtional with violin and trombone, but hauntingly beautiful.Thanks for your link to Michael Hedges’ video. I’ve listened to Aerial Boundaries a millon times but never saw him perform live till now. Very moving! Thanks for your tips on tunings and technique. I experiment with different tuings too, but nowhere near your level of expertise. I hope to see you in person someday. Take care 🙂 – Bob G

    October 12, 2012

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