Forum - Banjo Ben Clark

Beginner/Intermediate GTR Break: Never grow old

A group I have been playing with does a bunch of old hymns in BlueGrass or what I’ll call old country style. I decided I needed to have simple little breaks in mind for them. The first one I sat down to work on was for the verse of “Where we never grow old” as done by Johnny Cash. In about 10 or 15 minutes I had a melodic little break that I thought went with the song ok. I started adding some licks to it, but real quick it was getting to where I might not remember it later and I’d have to practice it to keep it in good shape. So I pared it back down to about where it sits (in the last few days I removed one other lick). To be honest, I like playing this simple little break quite a bit. It’s nice to have a simple break that I don’t have to work on a great deal and I can just enjoy making music. Sometimes I forget that I don’t have to do something difficult to enjoy making music. I thought some others out there might enjoy it as well.

I thought it’s suitable for intermediate players as it sits. Beginners might need to simplify a section or two, but it’s pretty straightforward (if anyone needs help with that, just let me know). Of course, advanced players can add as many notes as they wish.
A couple of notes. I am not great with Tabledit, my apologies in advance. Maybe I’ll learn some Tabledit tricks in the process. The note length value is off a bit on some of the hammerons and such, but I wanted to display the notes I am playing for the melody. You can get the phrasing from the attached MP3. For the lick at the end of measure 14, it is a muted rake for the first three notes. I used the rasgueado effect in tabledit as it sounded closer than any other I found, and it did give some indication it wasn’t normally picked. Of course if someone wants to break out their flamenco chops, go for it. For the double stops in measures 5 and 13 you slide your index finger around on the B string. The index finger does the hammer on for the last beat of the preceding measure, and then just slides around to play the melody. Also, in general, I am lightly strumming the chord structure that I am pulling the notes out of. I didn’t try to tab that except when there were long breaks (I thought it would just be confusing). In general, let the notes ring as much you can. For example at the very end you wind up making a neat A9 chord just by picking out the notes of the melody. Sorry that I couldn’t describe all that well in the tablature itself.

Here’s the song by Mr. Cash:

Nice little mini-lesson! Sounds good, too - especially the rake on measure 14. Now, if you could just teach me to sing like Johnny.

Thanks for the kind words. Sorry, I can’t help with singing like Johnny. :cry: He was pretty unique. He had a subtle timing and style all his own.

Sounds great! Nice simple melody line that fits perfectly!


It will take me awhile but I am learning that, it is so nice to listen to . it would make a great addition to what I know already . If I can learn that before me and my brother in-law get back together I will surprise him with that one . it is very well done and if played correctly it is simple but intricate as well . I guess it depends on the listener which way to go . but music sounds different to the one hearing it when they have no music ability and you can get away with a lot of errors if you are just mediocre at going on after a mistake, no mistakes in this one though .Just referring to myself as I make mistakes

I’m glad it’s getting some use. If I can help with anything on it, let me know.

I have never told many people this but I guess today that changes. This also has little to do with the break that btw is a nice one. My Dad was was close friends with Johnny and traveled with him for years as the itinerant minister for his show. This gave me the opportunity to meet him several times and spend some time with some of the musicians that surrounded him. One time I drove Fluke and Earl Ball to the Pittsburgh airport from Johnstown and it was a hoot. I have some great JC stories that my Dad has told and I hold them sacred. John was a very simple but yet complex God fearing man. He showed more kindness to others than some will ever realize. What a God given talent he was! I am grateful to have known him.

Cool story, John. I’m sometimes reluctant to learn too much about my musical heroes lest they turn out to be jerks. Nice to hear Johnny was a good person.

Great to hear about Johnny. He was one of a kind.

Somehow I missed this post Mike. I’m glad I stumbled onto it now and I had to comment.

I love your break, it’s perfect for the feel of the song and it’s not so simple that it’s boring. I really like the sweep.

Not too many people can sing and only have a simple, quiet rythym guitar to back him and still make a song sound so full.

You just gave me the next song I’m going to do for special music in church! I have a good friend in church who’s a pretty good harmonica player, I may get him to add some harmonica touches in there along with your break. That may help with the absence of the voice only J.C. had.

I’m glad you posted the mp3 because I’m not much for tabledit.

Thanks again,


I’m glad you like it. Thanks for the kind words. Harmonica would be a good choice. You said that you aren’t much of a Tabledit guy, if you like tab or standard notation (but not Tabledit) you can always print either from a tef file. Making standard notation is a pretty neat feature that has come in handy for me when I needed to move a part from guitar to piano.

I’m glad you’ll be doing it as a special. To save you some time, here’s a chord and lyrics sheet:[attachment=0]Where we never grow old.doc[/attachment]

It was written by a James Moore in 1914, so I think it’s now public domain.

JW, I was sitting here thinking about it and had a thought. The part that is posted is just a verse. If the guy that plays harmonica followed that with a solo for the chorus (even just playing the straight melody), that might sound pretty good. I figured I’d pass along the thought.

Thanks for the chords! That will save some time along with the words.

I think tabledit is great and all the tools we have today, but I still like to learn by ear as much as I can. I think it keeps your mind more focused on how a song actually sounds or should sound. And, it makes me work harder to pick out the details that you just don’t get from tab or standard notation. I can’t read music at all and I know very little about music theory, but I do use tab at times. I just haven’t given tabledit a chance to be honest.

I would be the guy that DR described once in a post that if I did a break and was asked what I just did, I would have to say (in disgust) “I don’t know, it just sounds right and it fits”. It’s sad, I wish I did know more about music theory, but on the other hand, I’m enjoying just playing. I guess I should be more disciplined in actually learning music instead of just playing, but I’ll never stop trying to learn by ear. I need to combine and do both I suppose.

To sum all of that up, Tabledit is fine, I’m just stubborn and closed minded! :laughing:


— Begin quote from "mreisz"

If the guy that plays harmonica followed that with a solo for the chorus (even just playing the straight melody), that might sound pretty good. I figured I’d pass along the thought.

— End quote

That’s a good idea! Now I’m anxious to get started! (Along with Nine # Hammer of course) I haven’t forgot about that in case you’ve been wondering, Just busy and my wife had surgery where she’ll be off for six to eight weeks.

I’ll let you know what we come up with.



I think learning by ear is an important part of learning. In a way I think things stick a little better if you have to listen and figure things out. Unfortunately for me, when I learn purely by ear, I am often off on what I figure out :smiley: I need to have as many crutches as I can get

I play a lot by ear but using tab has opened up a whole new world of music to me and I am thankful for all the crutches I can use. Never say never about what you will use, it is a tool and not a crutch. Just as my sister can open up a page of piano music and play great, if someone took the page away she would stop playing . I prefer the memory although it takes time . Not to say she has not music she plays from memory she does but for the most part she needs the music in front of her.