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How do you guys play "Watchtower"

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by Trist6075, Sep 8, 2003.

  1. Trist6075

    Trist6075 Guest

    Mar 6, 2001
    I have been trying to learn the Jimi Hendrix version of "All Along The Watchtower" and I am having a bit of a problem playing certain parts. It seems like Noel Gallager is playing some pretty complex rhythms and am wondering if any of you have been able to figure some these rythms out. The tab online was not very helpful with the rhythm and this sheet music I have seems a bit far off as it is just written in eighth notes in the most basic form. Any help/advice for this song would be much appreciated.
  2. Figjam


    Aug 5, 2003
    Boston, MA
    I was learning that a few months ago. THeres one part where he improvs or something, and i kinda gave up there for now.
  3. thewanderer24


    Apr 29, 2002
    SJ, CA
    I think you meant Noel Redding.

    I believe that Jimi actually played the bass track on that tune. I have heard that from several places, and it definitely sounds way more complex than what I would expect from Noel.

    There are books with complete transcriptions of Hendrix tunes if you go to your local music store.

    The bass line on that one is a monster.

    Good luck!!
  4. Thor

    Thor Moderator Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    You're better off doing a live version, like off of Hendrix in the West.

    Credits on the Electric Ladyland tracks are sketchy. But since you're presumably gearing this for a playable live performance, go with one like they did.

    I have seen other example of this here. There was a thread last week about Sympathy for the Devil. Same issue, a guy trying to learn a multi-tracked studio song to work a live song. Many artists modify songs for live performance to make them more playable. Live versions of Hendrix and Stones confirm this for their songs. There are exceptions, Moody Blues do renditions of their songs live virtually identical to their studio compositions, but have backup musicians with synthesizers to muscle it out.

    I play this in a straightforward Am - G - F progression. You can get fancy in the middle or end by using runs based on the key of C. But just keeping the Am -G-F-G-Am thing alive is gonna take up most of your time. So stay on the groove. The guitarist is supposed to do the heavy lifting in this song, so hold it down and stay out of his way, if he can handle it.


    [ Jimi was usually detuned slightly, you may have to tune down to be in tune with the recording. ]
  5. Matt Till

    Matt Till

    Jun 1, 2002
    Edinboro, PA
    hehe Noel Gallager :D
  6. permagrin


    May 1, 2003
    San Pedro, CA
    My guitar player likes this song, he thinks of it more as a Dylan tune though. I've never been particularly fond of it, surprisingly hard to play an interesting line for a simple, repetitive chord structure. I keep the bass simple, especially during the singing, using fifths and octaves, some runs can work during guitar solo. Sorry, not much but hope it helps. And BTW, I do similar stuff when we play Cream's "White Room."
  7. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999
    I believe you're correct.

    What...no one plays this tune like the DMB?
  8. Thor

    Thor Moderator Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    But that tune, though similar in sound is not the same. The tune starts in Dm and the guitar plays the chord progression

    Dm F G Bb C Dm

    down and then Upwards against the bass while Jack Bruce plays

    D C Bb C D

    downwards against the stream, and then back up so to speak, so it gives it a totally different flavor ( than Watchtower ). It is a totally different progression, though it allows the same progression of notes, some as harmony notes, relevant to the associated chord. [ A well constructed bass line!]

    Sounds the same, well, it is in a different KEY, { Key of F} and utilizes different chord progression.

    Funny how all the PRINCIPLES are the same though...


  9. wulf


    Apr 11, 2002
    Oxford, UK
    ... Watchtower is a tune that I've mainly played by ear rather than learning a specific version note for note. If you're in a Hendrix tribute band, then you need to get it exactly right - otherwise, whatever fits in with the rest of the band and creates your style of music.

    Last time I was in a band playing that tune (last Summer), I mainly played roots, fifths and octaves for each chord. I'd also try to vary the intensity of the line so that rather than looping the same four bars through the whole song, there was a bit of 'light and dark' going on - so at one point, I might be playing root, fifth and octave together as power chords while at another point I might be just playing the root notes and leaving plenty of space in the line.

    Looking back at my notes, we actually did it in C#m, and every fourth repeat I hit an F# instead of an A for the third chord (that's E instead of A in the key of Am - I didn't write down what the full chord was, just the bass note).

  10. thewanderer24


    Apr 29, 2002
    SJ, CA
    Jimi was tuned down a half step on the electric ladyland version, and some runs go all the way down to that Eb, so you will need to either detune a half step, or play the song up at least a half step. Let the situation decide.

    As for learning it note for note vs. faking it for a live version, that is up to you. If you really are looking to build your chops through learning the song, this is a good one to really learn. Lots of very cool rhythmic and harmonic ideas. I can't imagine you coming up with anything half as interesting to connect what is otherwise a very bland chord progression. If there is a part you consistently have trouble with, you can always simplify that for a live performance.
  11. ERMAL


    Jun 20, 2003
    San Antonio, TX
    Hell, listen to U2's version off of Rattle and Hum. Adam Clayton plays the same riff throughout the song....it works!?
  12. rygelxvi


    Jan 6, 2003
    I follow the chords slapin octaves for each and improving quite a bit. Yeah we do a very funky version.
  13. Trist6075

    Trist6075 Guest

    Mar 6, 2001
    thanks guys,

    And sorry I meant Noel Redding. I also always confuse Sid Barrett the singer of Pink FLoyd with Sid Vicious. That always gets a reaction.
  14. erik II

    erik II

    Jul 11, 2000
    Oslo, Norway
    It's Syd Barrett, actually...

    Sid Vicious is correct though.

    j/k :D