Track 27 New Confederate Blues

1Recording and Mixing Dates: Recorded March 2002 and June 9-10, 2010. Mixed July 4, 2016.

 

Genesis: In September 1972, with just two weeks left in my Army service, my Saigon musical trio mate, Paul O’Keefe, invited me to visit his family in Fort Monroe, Virginia. Over the course of a long weekend, Paul showed me a lot of the sights around Hampton and Newport News, as well colonial Williamsburg. We went down to the Chesapeake Bay and walked on the beach. When I returned to Fort Detrick, Maryland I wrote the original lyrics for this song. I was playing off the blue and the gray of the Civil War uniforms and the immense body of water I had walked along. The story was imagined.

I couldn’t find the right music for the lyrics and in 1978 I asked my friend Dale Jernberg to give it a shot. Dale came up with an evocative minor key melody and chord progression. I revised the lyrics and let it sit for almost 15 years. I tried recording the songs in the early 1990s but I got some of the chords wrong and arrangement didn’t work.

In January 2002 I revised the lyrics. During the next six years I tried arranging and recording the tune but without success. Finally, in June 2010 I recorded parts that I liked. However, when I went to edit and mix the song this past weekend I realized I had overproduced the song. I deleted electric guitar tracks, synthesizer tracks, and an organ. Though the arrangement still is “thick,” I am happy with the mix. I added the waves at the end. This is a first for me using sound effects.

Production: Electric Bass, Electric Guitars, Piano, Pedal Steel Guitar by David Spires, Drums, Waves (Lake Superior near Larsmont, Minnesota).

Lyrics

New Confederate Blues

Midnight on the ocean

Midnight on the sea

An open boat

A tattered coat

I watch her anxiously.

The lighthouse beacon shows me

What I stand to lose.

Wish we could have straightened out

These new confederate

New confederate blues

 

A night to be remembered

A night to be endured

Gone away

She wouldn’t say

She took back every word.

Waves breaking at my feet

Wash away the clues.

The tide has turned against me and

These new confederate

New confederate blues

 

A cold night on the ocean

The wind is outward bound.

The open boat

Is still afloat

I’m sinking in the ground.

The shadows do down with me

Anchored to my shoes

No way of escaping from

These new confederate

New confederate blues

Music by Dale Jernberg

Words by Fred Grittner

Copyright All Rights Reserved Fred Grittner & Dale Jernberg

 

Track 27 New Confederate Blues

3 thoughts on “Track 27 New Confederate Blues

  1. djjernberg@gmail.com says:

    I’m flattered that you worked this song into the 52 lineup. I had no idea that you had reworked the lyrics. I still have that original version in my notebook. Anyway, you definitely hit the tone that I always pictured for this song.

    As a sub-note, I went back and forth for years wondering if my music did justice for those lyrics. As a matter of fact, I wondered as much about many of my own early efforts but most of them are growing on me again as I figure out more and more of this arcane art of recording. I have no doubt that I’ll take a stab at NCB’s eventually and we’ll get to compare notes.

    Like

    1. Fred Grittner says:

      Your music is perfect for this song. Several people have told me the chord changes are stunning in the way they build up to the title lines. Yes, you should take a crack at it down the road.

      Like

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