Acoustic Blues Guitar Video Lesson Preview - Careless Love by Blind Boy Fuller
Like Weeping Willow, Careless Love is a traditional song given the bluesy work over in the Carolina Style
It's use of Am and suspended chords makes it very unusual in the genre. I find it particularly sad listening to the sentiment and the words delivered by Fuller's slurred words, obviously affected by his alcoholism towards the middle and end of his career.
Although very successful commercially, he never lost the edge that gave him his strong appeal. His picking was very accurate and sharp, mostly delivered on a National Steel - a habit probably adopted from his days playing on the street or in noisy bars.
Floyd Council played second guitar on several of Fuller's tracks and the sound of the two steel guitars was cutting and exciting, as their styles were very similar and steeped in the licks and riffs of the Carolina style handed down from the likes of Reverend Gary Davis and
Willie Walker. the South Carolina style is an interesting mixture of techniques. It's feel is definitely ragtime guitar, but it's not light. It's solid deliver and slower timing (mostly) gives it a more 'serious' feel than the ragtime of someone like Blake for example.
It's less based in a definite alternating bass finger picking pattern, and the thumb can switch to a monotonic bass deliver or jump along to the treble strings from time to time, depending on the needs of the song.
Fuller's picking can be grouped into ragtime songs in C and G, and wistful songs, mostly traditional, using minor chords to give a feeling of sadness, which always works whatever the music you play.
The use of traditional and minstrel type songs is a spin-off from the days when playing on the street and for parties, when it was necessary to vary the repertoire to attract different kinds of audience and appeal to the greatest number.
Before his recording career, it must have been incredibly difficult to make a living playing the blues on the street (I know, because I do it!) Most blues men started out poor and stayed poor, there wasn't too much about it that was very romantic, although we made it seem romantic during the folk-blues revival of the 60s.
Even guitar players such as Mance Lipscombe and Big Bill Broonzy stayed poor, even though they found some measure of later success playing to new young audiences. Others, like Fuller's guitar teacher, Reverend Gary Davis did find some financial security and Davis was able to buy a house for his retirement in the West Indies.
Careless Love uses a combination of picking styles and is a testimony to Fuller's skill when interpreting traditional songs.
It starts in Am and then follow the standard chord progression of A-E7-D7, always moving back to the minor at the strat of each verse in order to maintain the sadness.
His clever use of a suspended chord in the verse adds variety and demonstrates considerable skill, as he cross picks with his thumb and forefinger while singing at the same time - a good trick if you can do it! When I play it, I tend to play a single string melody at the beginning that matches the singing melody linen bending the strings slightly for effect, and then passing on to the finger picking pattern for the rest of the song.
There isn't really an instrumental break, although Fuller plays through the verse without singing and adds some picking variations. Such variations include half-steps bends while pinching the last two treble strings and timing changes, accentuating the initial notes. These are all powerful tools to engage the audience - one of the worst things you can do as a musician is to bore people, which can be difficult due to the limited musical scope of blues chords.