Before a new term we spend ages stress testing new songs to play in the classes.
A term at The Guitar Social lives and dies on the song choices. Sometimes we get it exactly right. And sometimes we don’t. Term one this year was an all-time classic. The last term was okay. I remember terms four, six, seven years ago like they were yesterday. I can be in a Tesco buying parsnips when a Creedence Clearwater song comes on and I’m instantly back in a Monday night jam five years back. I could tell you who was in the room. What guitars they were playing. What the weather was doing outside. Some songs, from some terms, are stitched into the seams of my DNA.
We really care about the song choices. Some songs are so perfect they belong on a scone atop a dollop of clotted cream while others are like chomping down on strawberry chicken.
The criteria for the perfect jam song is this, it needs a hook, a riff, it needs to be broken down into a few parts including different chord voicings and rhythms. Wonderwall is one of the most famous guitar songs in the world because as much as we might take it for granted now, it’s a great great great song. However, it is not a jam song. Hey Hey My My by Neil Young is less known, but is one of the ultimate jam songs. There’s that riff, those chords, and loads of space for improvisation. Putting that song into a jam is the musical equivalent of the cat amongst the pigeons.
Another great example is The Funeral by Band of Horses with its two main parts – chords and fingerpicking riff plus dynamics in the rhythm where it falls on the verses and goes massive on the chorus, working towards a big crescendo at the end.
Mountain at my gates by Foals is another example of a perfect jam song as the chord sequence can be played in many different ways, plus there’s that riff between the verses that is essentially just a Dm pentatonic. Finish it off with a not too taxing solo and you have yourself the perfect jam song.
It pains me to know that somewhere out there, there’s a Funeral, Mountain at My Gates and Hey Hey My My yet to be discovered by me so please , if you think you have it after reading this blog, please send the song our way, to be jammed by thousands of happy students for many years to come.