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“Albany” (We’re About 9 cover)

July 31, 2011

Originally I wanted to do “I Stopped Listening,” the brilliant title track from We’re About 9‘s 2005 EP, but there was no way to do that song without harmony vocals, and, well, despite my best efforts, I’m only one man and I can’t harmonize with myself. So instead I settled on “Albany,” Brian Gundersdorf’s funny little story about trying to flee to Canada and getting stopped by a cop on the way. It’s a song that’s endured on We’re About 9’s set lists since they first started performing it, and an audience favorite, so I just have to hope that I don’t make anyone upset with my rendition.

The chords here were just a guess, but they seemed to work okay. The only substantial change I made to the song was to put most of it into 4/4 timing and then play the instrumental section as a waltz. (The original is in 6/8.)

My parents-in-law gave me the banjo for my birthday last year. They had gotten two of them from Deering in lieu of payment for advertising in Dirty Linen (not by choice—Deering just sent it and seemed to think that was okay instead of sending money). The other one went to my brother-in-law at Christmas. It’s nothing special, but it is a particularly good low-end banjo, and it’s really light.

Most 5-string banjos are tuned to a g chord. I tune mine like the 4 highest strings of a guitar (the last string being one full step higher than what’s normal on a 5-string banjo) because I can’t play an instrument that’s tuned to a chord.

This is part of a series I’m doing of songs by people from Baltimore. Here’s links to the others so far:

“Apocalypes” (Steve Hefter)

“The Hangman (Down at the Gallows)” (Matt Pless)

I’ll have a cover of a Heather Aubrey Lloyd (of ilyAIMY) song soon.

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