Talking About Songwriting: “Trouble-Makin’ Woman”

In yet another installment of my occasional “Talking About Songwriting” blog, let’s take a look at “Trouble-Makin’ Woman,” another track from our recently-released CD, “I Heard You Twice the First Time.

Everybody knows one: The irrepressible flirt. They come in all shapes, sizes… and genders. Generally speaking, a person flirts to gauge the interest of the person he or she is flirting with. By definition, flirting is communicating with someone in a way that signals attraction. Of course, since most people aren’t eager to experience direct rejection, they might use indirect flirting strategies, strategies that resemble other, non-flirting conversation (teasing, joking, being generally friendly).

In any case, this song was written – good-naturedly – with a couple of specific women – and men – in mind. They are highly-skilled at the art of flirtation, and they know it. The structure is simple, just a basic 12-bar blues against an “downtown box” bass line. I wanted the simple structure so that I could work out the kinks at local jams and pick-up gigs, regardless of which musicians might be supporting me.

So, I played it out for a couple of months, fine-tuning the lyrics and the overall structure and tempo. Eventually, it found its way into the studio, and the rest, as they say, is history. An interesting footnote: I originally wrote it – and played it out several times – in the key of F. But somehow, when we finally got into the studio, it ended-up being recorded in G. So now, we play it in G! (Except, of course, when I forget, and start it off in A.)

Here it is… hope you like it!

Trouble-Makin’ Woman
© 2016 by David Z Orban

Trouble-makin’ woman… Lookin’ just as sweet as she can
Trouble-makin’ woman… Lookin’ just as sweet as she can
She’s a trouble-makin’ woman… And she’s lookin’ for a trouble-makin’ man

She’s got those ruby-red lips… And eyes as dark as night
You might be ready for some lovin’… But she’s lookin’ for a fight
Trouble-makin’ woman… Lookin’ just as sweet as she can
She’s a trouble-makin’ woman… … And she’s lookin’ for a trouble-makin’ man

Well, she don’t say yes… but she don’t say no…
And what she’s really up to, man, you never really know
She’s a trouble-makin’ woman… Lookin’ just as sweet as she can
She’s a trouble-makin’ woman… And she’s out lookin’ for a trouble-makin’ man

SOLO

Just when you think she will, she’ll tell you that she won’t
But when you go to leave, she’ll cry, “Oh, please, big daddy, don’t!”
Trouble-makin’ woman… Lookin’ just as sweet as she can
She’s a trouble-makin’ woman… And she’s lookin’ for a trouble-makin’ man

When she walks into the room, All the men, they drop their jaw…
The way you wear that dress, girl… It should be against the law
She’s a trouble-makin’ woman… Livin’ life as fast as she can
She’s a trouble-makin’ woman… And she’s lookin’ for a trouble-makin’ man

She’s a trouble-makin’ woman…  (Trouble-makin’ woman)
She’s a trouble-makin’ woman… (Trouble-makin’ woman)
She’s a trouble-makin’ woman…  (Trouble-makin’ woman)
She’s a trouble-makin’ woman… (Trouble-makin’ woman)
She’s a trouble-makin’ woman… Honey, let me be your trouble-makin’ man!

###

MojoGypsy’s Favorite Acoustic Blues, Vol 1

Here, in no particular order, is a list of 15 of my favorite acoustic blues recordings, spanning many styles and eras… Hope you enjoy them!

Geoff MuldaurGot to Find Blind Lemon, Part 1 – The Secret Handshake
Paul Butterfield’s Better DaysNobody’s Fault But Mine – Better Days
Reverend Gary DavisSamson & Delilah – At Newport
Steve James Milwaukee Blues – Two Track Mind
Roy BookbinderHe’s In the Jailhouse Now – Live Book: Don’t Start Me to Talkin’
Taj MahalFrankie & Albert – The Essential Taj Mahal
Keb MoYou Can Love Yourself – Just Like You
Blind BlakeSouthern Rag – Ragtime Guitar Blues
Dave Orban & the Mojo GypsiesSomeone Else’s Woman – I Heard You Twice the First Time
Rory BlockJoliet Bound – Gone Woman Blues: The Country Blues Collection
Bonnie RaittLove Me Like a Man – Give it Up
Ry CooderPolice Dog Blues – Ry Cooder
Rolling StonesLove in Vain – Let It Bleed
Robert Johnson32-20 Blues – The Complete Collection
Skip JamesCypress Grove – Folk Music: Skip James

What are some of your favorites?

My Favorite “Live” Blues Recordings, Vol 1

In keeping with my recent batch of Top 10 Lists, here is – in no particular order – a compilation of some of my favorite “live” blues recordings, featuring artists whose work has influenced me over the years. Hope you enjoy it!

  • Muddy WatersStandin’ Round Cryin’ – Fathers and Sons
  • Bonnie RaittBig Road – Bonnie Raitt
  • Robben FordDon’t Let the Son Catch You Cryin’ – The Authorized Bootleg
  • The Allman Brothers BandDone Somebody Wrong – Live at the Fillmore
  • Ronnie EarlRobert Nighthawk Stomp – Blues Guitar Virtuoso Live in Europe
  • B.B. KingEvery Day I Have the Blues – Live at the Regal
  • James HarmanHelsinki Laundromat – Blues Harp Meltdown
  • Rick Edtrin & the NightcatsMy Next Ex-Wife – You Asked For It… Live
  • Paul Butterfield Blues BandEverything’s Gonna Be Alright – Live at the Troubador
  • Little Charlie & the NightcatsWildcattin’ – Captured Live

Mojo Gypsy’s Top 10 Guitar Solos of Ever

OK, here’s another Spotify playlist. This time, it’s my Top 10 Guitar Solos of Ever, in no particular order. Hope you like them!

Paul Butterfield Blues Band – “Where Did My Baby Go” – Buzzy Feiten, guitar
Maria Muldaur – “Midnight at the Oasis” – Amos Garrett, guitar
Little Charlie and the Nightcats – “Percolatin'” – Charlie Baty, guitar
Rod Piazza and the Mighty Flyers – “Sinister Woman” – Alex Schultz, guitar
Robben Ford and the Blue Line – “Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood” – Robben Ford, guitar
Cream – “Crossroads” – Eric Clapton, guitar
Eric Clapton – “Let it Rain” – Eric Clapton, guitar (Note: this one’s a two-fer… that middle solo is none other than Stephen Stills)
The Allman Brothers Band – “Statesboro Blues” – Duane Allman, guitar
Steely Dan – “Kid Charlemagne” – Larry Carlton, guitar
Dire Straits – “Sultans of Swing” – Mark Knopfler, guitar

Unfortunately, Rod Piazza’s live version of “Sinister Woman” from his “Live at B.B. King’s” CD is NOT on Spotify, so you’ll just have to track it down on YouTube here: https://youtu.be/OG8qYnXGYS0. It’s well worth it to hear Alex Schultz tear it up! (And of course, Rod ain’t no slouch, either…)

How about you? What are some of your favorite guitar solos?

Talking About Songwriting: What’s Wrong

In yet another installment of my occasional “Talking About Songwriting” blog, let’s take a look at “What’s Wrong,” another track from our recently-released CD, “I Heard You Twice the First Time.”

The basis for “What’s Wrong” came to me while I was in the shower. I typically wake up most days with an “earworm;” a song – or just a portion of one – usually from my distant past. It usually stays with me for the better part of a day. This one was an early Beatles’ rockabilly-ish number, “Slow Down.” Of course, all I could remember was the intro lyric: “Come on pretty baby, what’s wrong with me?” That lyric rattled around in my head all day, but I forgot about it a couple days later.

A couple of weeks later, I was fooling around with the guitar and banging-out some barre chords, and started playing the basic rhythm from Slow Down, but was misremembering the lyrics, and that first line came out, “Come on pretty baby, what’s wrong with you?” Of course, I really didn’t remember any of the other lyrics, so I was free to “invent” a new story line, one that revolved around a scene that we’ve all encountered at one time or another, one in which we’ve obviously upset our love interest, but aren’t quite sure why… and they’re not telling, either! And that was pretty much all I needed.

A couple of verses – and a bridge – later, and I had sketched it out. A few days later, I grabbed an acoustic and shot a quick video of myself playing it all the way through, to document it, with the intention of looking at it later and fine-tuning the lyrics and the overall structure. It was a couple of months later that I actually got around to revisiting it, tightening up the structure, and getting it ready for the studio. And the rest, as they say, is history.

Here it is… hope you like it!

What’s Wrong
@2016 by David Z Orban, all rights reserved. BMI

Come on, pretty baby, what’s a-wrong with you?
You know I love every little thing you do…
I love you each and every single night and day…
Tell me, what did I do, to make you treat me this way?

What’s wrong?
Won’t you tell me what’s wrong?
Come on, baby, what’s wrong?
Oh, won’t you tell me what’s wrong?
You know, I can’t make it better if I don’t know what to do…
Come on little girl, the rest is up to you

SOLO

I’ve known you pretty baby, since I don’t know when…
And since we’ve been together, you’ve been more than a friend
The good times keep getting better, and our future’s looking bright…
So why don’t you please tell me why you’re tryin’ to pick a fight?

What’s wrong?
Won’t you tell me what’s wrong?
Come on, baby, what’s wrong?
Oh, won’t you tell me what’s wrong?
You know, I can’t make it better if I don’t know what to do…
Come on little girl, the rest is up to you

SOLO

Well, you can’t make an omelet without breaking some eggs…
And it’s hard for me to argue, when I’m looking at your legs
I don’t know what I did, and I don’t remember when…
But if you let me slide this time, I sure won’t do it again!

What’s wrong?
Won’t you tell me what’s wrong?
You know, I can’t make it better if I don’t know what to do…
Come on little girl, the rest is up to you

What’s wrong?
Won’t you tell me what’s wrong?
Come on, baby, what’s wrong?
Oh, won’t you tell me what’s wrong?
You know, I can’t make it better if I don’t know what to do…
Come on little girl, the rest is up to you

My Top 10 Blues Songs of Ever…

Dave Orban's Top Ten Blues Songs of All Time

Dave Orban’s Top Ten Blues Songs of All Time

Boy, this one was a tough one… I sat down to put together a list of the songs that first got me into the blues, along with the ones that have had the most impact on my development as a musician. I really wanted to narrow it down to 10. And as you might imagine, that wasn’t particularly easy.

My very first exposure to the Blues (with a capital B) was hearing the Paul Butterfield Blues Band‘s recording of “Walkin’ Blues,” way back around ’67 or so. My older cousin, the late Jim Horner, was in a band that played some blues and soul music, and his band mate, Preston “Perky” Harrison was the guy who turned me on to Butterfield. Before that day, I had never heard anything as soulful as that harmonica, and it launched my into the blues orbit that I occupy to this day.

In any case, here they are – in no particular order – the ten blues songs that have had the most impact on my development as an appreciator of the blues, and as a blues artist:

  • I Can’t Be Satisfied – Muddy Waters (1947 recording)
  • Walkin’ Blues – Paul Butterfield Blues Band
  • Long, Tall Mama – Big Bill Broonzy (1932 recording)
  • Crazy, Mixed Up Kid – Little Walter Jacobs
  • Big-Legged Woman – Freddie King
  • Frosty – Albert Collins
  • Sittin’ on Top of the World – Chester Burnett, aka Howlin’ Wolf
  • Long Distance Call – Muddy Waters
  • Hard Times – Ray Charles
  • She’s Dynamite – B.B. King (1948 recording)

Of course, Muddy gets “two” in this list, as well he should… even if Willie Dixon actually wrote many of the songs that Muddy is known for. And, the list of songs – and artists – that these tracks led me to is infinitely longer, and covers a wider range of styles. But these were the ones that started it all, at least for me.

Here’s a Spotify playlist with all 10 songs (by 9 different artists):


So, how about you? What are some of your favorites?

Talking About Songwriting: Dallas

In another installment of my occasional “Talking About Songwriting” blog, let’s look at “Dallas,” another track from our recently-released CD, “I Heard You Twice the First Time.

Back in the late 80s, I was a marketer for a corporation that manufactured – among other things – a line of high-end, fine dinnerware and giftware. As a result, I spent a fair amount of time on the road with one or two colleagues, attending trade shows and conferences around the country, where we would hawk our wares and our services. Our daytime hours were extremely busy, but evenings were generally left open, to provide an opportunity to unwind. You know, “Work hard, play hard.” Which we did. And the story told in “Dallas” is a reasonably accurate account of those times. When composing the music, I approached it as a rhumba, which provided a nice “bounce,” setting the stage for a humorous take on the story-telling in the song.

Here it is… hope you enjoy it!

Dallas
@2016 by David Z Orban, all rights reserved. BMI

Once upon a time, in the Lone Star State;
Longer ago, than I care to relate…
Workin’ on the road, gets old pretty quick…
when the sun is hot, and the air is thick…
In Dallas… Yeah, Dallas, Texas…
Well, I ain’t inclined to tell all the things that went on… In Dallas, Texas

From 6 in the morning, to 6 at night…
No time to think… got to keep things tight…
Do this, do that, and that other thing, too…
Might sound like fun… well, maybe, to you…
In Dallas… Yeah, Dallas, Texas…
Well, I ain’t inclined to tell all the things that went on… In Dallas, Texas

End of the day comes, it’s time to wind down;
Hop into a cab, see what’s happenin’ down town…
Head over to a little club, for a drink and a view…
Lookin’ to see what there might be to do In Dallas…
Yeah, Dallas, Texas…
Well, I ain’t inclined to tell all the things that went on… In Dallas, Texas

The dance floor was crowded, there was loud music, too…
I spied a sweet little thing, and she spied me, too…
She was pretty fine lookin’, and she sure could dance…
And it weren’t no surprise, she was lookin’ for romance
In Dallas… Yeah, Dallas, Texas…
Well, I ain’t inclined to tell all the things that went on… In Dallas, Texas

After a couple’a drinks, I seemed to hit my groove…
After a couple more, it was time to make my move…
Things was heatin’ up, she was wild and free…
That’s when she handed me her hotel key… In Dallas… Aw, Dallas, Texas…
Well, I ain’t inclined to tell all the things that went on… In Dallas, Texas

BRIDGE

Well, when in Rome, you do like they do…
I guess that applies to Dallas, too…
Life in the fast lane, it ain’t for the feint…
Oh, it is what it is, and it ain’t what it ain’t…

SOLOS

Well, the next day came, way too early and quick…
the maid poundin’ on the door, and me feelin’ sick.
My wallet – and my pants – they were not around…
and my Lone Star Miss, was no where to be found
In Dallas… Yeah, Dallas, Texas…
Well, I ain’t inclined to tell all the things that went on… In Dallas, Texas

I tried to get up, but it seems I was cuffed…
But at the very least, it seems my pillow was fluffed…
Now, I’m not the kinda man that’s too easy to trick…
But here I was, just-a holdin’ on to my… uh… thoughts…
Of Dallas, Dallas Texas… Yeah, Dallas, Dallas, Texas…
Well, I ain’t inclined to tell all the things that went on… In Dallas, Texas
Yeah, Dallas… Dallas, Texas…
Well, I ain’t inclined to tell all the things that went on…
In Dallas, Texas Yeah, Dallas… Dallas, Texas…
I just wish I could remember all the things that went on… In Dallas, Texas

Talking about Songwriting

Songs, and music in general, are curious things. Unlike pretty much any other art form, songs can infect you in a way that a book, or film, or painting can not. Ever wake up with an “ear worm?” You know, that song that is already spinning around in your head when you wake up in the morning, and you can’t get it out of there, no matter how hard you try? This morning, it was “Georgy Girl,” the Seekers’ song from the 1967 film of the same name. I have no idea how it got into my head, but it certainly stayed there for the better part of the day. Songs can steal upon you in the dark, on the road, far from home, anywhere. All other art forms require that we engage directly with them in some way. But songs live “in the air,” and seem to come to us, miraculously, whenever they think we have a need for them.

After years of playing other people’s songs, I finally decided to begin writing music back in 2010, following the unexpected deaths of two musician friends. I initially started writing as a way of expressing my feelings about losing my friends. As I got further into it, I began to recognize a desire to develop a musical voice that would more accurately express who I am. Years of performing other people’s music had provided me with a framework for the types of music that I enjoyed playing, which would then serve as a foundation for creating my own music.

In the spring of 2016, I had been working with a lineup of wonderful musicians: Mike Scott on sax, Flourtown Fats (aka Jeff Michael) on bass, and Mark Shewchuk on drums. These guys were, without doubt, the finest group of musicians that I had ever played with, and our live performances were really starting to gel. I decided it was time to document it in the studio.

I began writing in earnest, and pulled-together a couple of songs that I’d been working on over the last couple of years. As I polished them up, I was inspired to write even more. Bits and pieces of songs or ideas came to me all hours of the day… while commuting, while working, while watching television… you name it. Ideas were coming to me from all directions, so, as always, I made notes and put them aside, to be worked on later. I quickly wound up with about 18 songs, 14 of which eventually found their way onto “I Heard You Twice the First Time.”

In this occasional “Talking About Songwriting” series, I will talk a bit about the genesis of specific songs from the CD. Here’s the first installment.

“I Heard You Twice the First Time” is the title track from our latest CD. I actually had the song title for years, before finally deciding to do something with it. In fact, when I decided to make this CD, I had already decided on using it as the title for the CD, mandating that I write the song to go along with it. Sometimes you just need that little kick in the ass…

“I Heard You Twice the First Time” was a bit of dialogue spoken by a character in David Simon’s exceptional HBO homage to New Orleans, “Treme.” The character, trumpeter Delmond Lambreaux, wonderfully played by Rob Brown, is responding to a comment made by his irascible father, Albert, played by the always fun-to-watch Clarke Peters: “I Heard You Twice the First Time!”

I heard that phrase, and it really stayed with me. I later found out later that it was quite possibly a nod to New Orleans-based trumpeter Branford Marsalis’ 1992 album of the same name. In any event, I thought, “what a great retort!” Someone has just told you something in no uncertain terms, and you need to let them know that you got their message, loud and clear. So, I filed it away until such time as I might put it to use.

In the summer months of 2016, recording sessions for the CD were well underway at Bobby Dreher’s Beach Bunny Sound studios in Doylestown, PA. And the time had come to put pencil to paper for what would be the title track. One of the great things about the Treme series was how much great “live” New Orleans music was packed into each episode. The opening credits featured John Boutté’s lively second-line march, “The Treme Song,” and that song has tickled me since the very first time I heard it. I decided that a second line drum rhythm would provide the foundation for my song, as well.

Once I had that nailed down, the lyrics actually came very quickly. As with the phrase’s original context, I built the song around someone responding to another person who had admonished them. In this case, I decided it would be a simple story about a man and a woman, which, while admittedly stereotypical, would place it into a humorous context that could be appreciated by many, especially within blues audiences.

Here are the final lyrics:

I Heard You Twice the First Time
@2016 by David Z Orban, all rights reserved. BMI

Well, I love my baby… she’s the keepin’ kind…
But there are some days, she drives me out of my mind
She tells me I didn’t hear a word she said…
Some days it’s best to just stay in bed She’s a sweet little girl, but she’s drivin’ me out of my mind

My baby lets me know she’s right and I’m wrong…
And without her around, that I wouldn’t last long
She says that I don’t listen… that I’m only here for some kissin’
She’s a sweet little girl, but she’s makin’ me sing this song

CHORUS
I heard you twice the first time, don’t you know?
Sayin’ it more than once don’t make it so
You made you point, so let’s move on…
Even if it’s totally wrong
I heard you twice the first time, don’t you know?

Some say that I’m a fool to keep you on…
But truth be told, I’d be lost if you were gone
You say I don’t pay attention…
And numerous other things that you mention
But at the end of the day, you keep me keepin’ on!

CHORUS
I heard you twice the first time, don’t you know?
Sayin’ it more than once don’t make it so
You just keep on talkin’, only makin’ it worse…
No need to keep wailin’ on that poor old horse…
I heard you twice the first time, don’t you know?

Yes, I heard you twice the first time, yes I did…
Oh, don’t hold back, little girl…  Don’t keep it hid
You made your point, no need to make it again…
I’ll cry “uncle,” I’ll even say “when…”
I heard you twice the first time, yes I did!
I heard you twice the first time, yes I did!
I heard you twice the first time, yes I did!

Interview with Gypsies’ founder Dave Orban…

Check out DAVE ORBAN’s Q&A interview with MICHALIS LIMNIOS on his @BluesGr blog: http://bit.ly/2hfZ3Uz

Hit the annual Grammy members party in Philly last night, with our recording engineer, Bobby Dreher… What a feeling walking into the room and hearing the DJ playing a track off of the new Mojo Gypsies CD, “I Heard You Twice the First Time”…! Surreal, to say the least. Here’s a shot of Dave Orban with Grammy award-winning producer David Ivory and Bobby.orban-ivory-dreher