Songs From The DVD – (03) If I Were A Carpenter

The third song on the Troubadour DVD is “If I Were A Carpenter”, a beautiful song written by the late Tim Hardin.

Now this is a song you don’t decide lightly to cover. Why’s that I hear you ask? Good question and the answer is because it’s been done so many times that you either have the feeling it’s been flogged to death already or you think to yourself what on earth is the point of me covering it.

Alright, but you did cover it I hear you say. Correct and right…and that’s because Danny (Vlaspoel) pushed me into doing it. So, you can give him credit, or blame him, depending on how you feel about another version of the song being out there!

After Danny and myself had decided to do some acoustic shows together, we both threw a bunch of songs ‘into the ring’ as we tried to get a set together. When Danny mentioned “If I Were A Carpenter” my immediate reaction was – “don’t see much point in doing that one, mate!” However, he persevered and finally convinced me that we should at least give it a try. He likes to noodle around on guitar so basically he was given the job to come up with arrangements for most of the songs (even my own).

We came up with something that I could live with and I thought to myself – we’ll see how this goes but if it doesn’t hit me when I play it live I’m going to drop it from the set. I have to admit, I ended up liking to play it and it went down well anyplace we played.

Now, fast forward a bit to Ralph and myself deciding on what songs we should play for the shows in the Witte Raaf. We had to keep in mind that we were going to record the shows, so we wanted to pick only the best stuff. We met up one evening to run through the songs quickly, basically to see in a heartbeat if they’d work or not.

Believe it or not, that’s the only rehearsal we had with those songs before the shows. Everything else came to life during the shows themselves. We both like to work that way as it keeps everything fresh and ‘real’.

This time it was my turn to suggest “If I Were A Carpenter” and we ran through a verse and a chorus and that was it, it was in the set.

Now I have to say I got a slight surprise when I turned around on the night and noticed that Ralph had donned an electric guitar for this song. I thought, this could be interesting and you can see it fairly clearly in the video clip that I’m just sitting there listening to what he’s setting up and getting into the groove to see where I can take it or what I can do with it.

What I really like about this song – the original version by Tim himself – is that it’s fairly fragile. Tim had that way of delivering a lot of his stuff and so I wanted to stay as true as possible to that feeling. I think the heavy tremolo effect Ralph added to his guitar gave me a great platform to work on and it was perfect for where I wanted to take the song.

As you can see when you watch the clip, it’s just the two of us feeding off each other as the song progresses and it’s all first time, first take material. Right at the end, as Ralph is playing his riff, I felt a need to add something and that’s when I instinctively went into that falsetto piece at the end. To me it just cemented the whole thing and I was really happy with it all when the song ended. That’s what that little smile in Ralph’s direction right at the end is all about – good job buddy, I think we got something there!

As always, I hope you enjoy it and you can view the video clip here. I’ll talk to you next week when I write about the next song on the DVD – Crazy Love!

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