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Thread: Rock songs that work as swing tunes

  1. #1

    Default Rock songs that work as swing tunes

    With our little acoustic trio "Kitchen Kings", we cover mostly rock and folkrock songs from the 60ties, 70ties, 80ies and 90ies. Bob Dylan, Beatles, Pink Floyd, R.E.M-you name it. We also play some swing tunes such as "All of me", but our singer doesn't like this kind of music very much.
    Recently, I had the idea to take some well known rock or beat songs and arrange them as TradJazz. The Beatles "When I'm 64" as well as the Kinks' "Sunny Afternoon" came to mind.Today I set down and tried the latter one. It kind of worked
    I played my tenor banjo for rhythm and the melody on my e-mando. Live, I will play rhythm on my acoustic mando. Our bass player is quite good at creating walking bass lines, so the only thing I've got to show him is the descending bass line at the beginning.
    What other rock, pop or beat era tunes are there, that could work with a 4 to the bar swing rhythm?

  2. #2

    Default Re: Rock songs that work as swing tunes

    That was nice - sounds on the way to Gypsy Jazz.

    "Those were the days" is not exactly rock but would suit that approach very well and I think a lot of of Elvis songs - e.g. "Are you lonesome tonight" - taken slowly - would too.

    I wonder about the Beach Boys - something like "Do it again" "Help me Rhonda" - they certainly swing.

    There was a lot of pastiche in the 60's - e.g. "Maxwell's Silver Hammer" - "Winchester Cathedral"

    On a different but related theme, a lot of the early Beatles' work (their arrangements as well as self-penned) has strong Latin influence rhumbas and boleros - things like "Till there was you" - "And I love her" - "Do you want to know a secret?". That could work well for you.

    The obligation to include a Bob Dylan song in every gig has become a standing joke in jazz circles.

  3. #3
    totally amateur k0k0peli's Avatar
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    Default Re: Rock songs that work as swing tunes

    Hit the right beat on almost anything and it can swing. I do (probably bad) laid-back covers of SURF CITY, FUN FUN FUN, MAYBELLINE, and Zappa's TAKE YOUR CLOTHES OFF WHEN YOU DANCE. Or, to mellow-down a little, Jackie DeShannon's WHEN YOU WALK IN THE ROOM and the Cars' JUST WHAT I NEEDED. Oh yeah...
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    Default Re: Rock songs that work as swing tunes

    Paul Anka did a 2005 album Rock Swings with swing treatments of 14 rock hits.

    BTW, Maybelline is a speeded-up redo of the Western Swing "Ida Red."

  5. #5

    Default Re: Rock songs that work as swing tunes

    This is a great question - I keep thinking of more songs that would work for trad jazz:

    Kinks - Autumn Almanac, Dedicated Follower of Fashion, Well Respected Man

    Small Faces - Itchycoo Park (the call and response is perfect)

    Bob Dylan - It Takes a Lot to Laugh it Takes a Train to Cry, Everybody must Get Stoned

    Blur - Park Life

    More pop than rock but the Flintstones, Muppets and Simpsons themes have found their way into the jazz fake books

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    Registered User Rob Beck's Avatar
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    Default Re: Rock songs that work as swing tunes

    That was great crisscross!

    Pretty timely for me too, as at our band rehearsal last night we started to work on a swing version of Pretty Vacant by the Sex Pistols! It's early days, but it sounds like it might work
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  7. #7

    Default Re: Rock songs that work as swing tunes

    Thanks for the suggestions! The Beachboys have some nice swingy tunes, but with only one good lead singer and me occasionally on background vocals?"California Girls" should also work.
    Bob Dylan's "Simple twist of fate" also has some jazzy chords and a swing rhythm(At least in the version of the JGB).
    But as Paul Anka shows, pretty much every song can played as TradJazz https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x4e0RtIz9zk

  8. #8
    Registered User Perry's Avatar
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    Default Re: Rock songs that work as swing tunes

    Nice Kinks cover!

    Not really rock but I've heard great swing versions of Route 66. Also check out Asleep at the Wheel for some ideas

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    Default Re: Rock songs that work as swing tunes

    If you have the chops, almost anything works. The Lost Fingers have done three or four albums of gypsy jazz covers of mostly '80s songs.



    Not all swing, and not a lot of strings but Postmodern Jukebox are another talented band doing some serious genre bending.


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  11. #10

    Default Re: Rock songs that work as swing tunes

    Hey everybody,

    In the jazz world, "trad jazz" (traditional) means pre-swing, Dixieland stuff, banjo, tuba, clarinet, etc.

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    Professional Dreamer journeybear's Avatar
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    Default Re: Rock songs that work as swing tunes

    My band - a sort of skiffle-ragtime-swing-jug band outfit used to do three Beatles songs that fit in well - the two already mentioned, "When I'm 64," "Maxwell's Silver Hammer," and "Honey Pie."

    That Paul Anka album has an, uh, interesting arrangement of Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit." It simultaneously serves as an example of what is good and bad about such endeavors.



    And StuartE is right - there's a big difference and a couple decades between trad jazz and swing.
    Last edited by journeybear; May-25-2015 at 7:34pm.
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    Default Re: Rock songs that work as swing tunes

    Nice job on the Kinks tune.

    I think we're maybe talking about Vaudeville songs rather than rock, and I think Ray Davies would be the first to admit (and be proud of) it. McCartney, who knows what he thinks?
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    Default Re: Rock songs that work as swing tunes

    I'm a pretty big fan of Argentine singer, Karen Souza. She has an album of rock classics done in jazz/lounge style.

    Ted Eschliman

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    Registered User DavidKOS's Avatar
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    Default Re: Rock songs that work as swing tunes

    Moondance - Van Morrison

    I'm surprised it hasn't been mentioned.

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    Professional Dreamer journeybear's Avatar
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    Default Re: Rock songs that work as swing tunes

    Quote Originally Posted by jaycat View Post
    I think we're maybe talking about Vaudeville songs rather than rock, and I think Ray Davies would be the first to admit (and be proud of) it. McCartney, who knows what he thinks?
    Supposedly, "When I'm 64" is the first song Paul ever wrote. Years ahead of its time in a band that was years ahead of its time.

    Those three I mentioned were definitely on the "camp" side of things at the time, novelty tunes out of place in the rock era. I don't think that's what the OP is after; just mentioning them in passing.
    But that's just my opinion. I could be wrong. - Dennis Miller

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    Default Re: Rock songs that work as swing tunes

    Thanks again for the answers and tune suggestions. Concerning the desired results, I'm not sure whether to call it swing or tradjazz, I guess I'd call it kind of gypsy swing, but not being able to execute the Django-reststroke properly, I'm afraid, the gypsy jazz police won't accept this. Something remotely close to this
    Concerning the choice of songs, I wouldn't narrow it down to straight rock. I guess, one of the problems our singer has with jazz standards is, that as soon as they enter the world of improvised jazz, the verses get thrown over board, and the songs mostly consist of one chorus, that is sung at the beginning and the end of the tune, and in between are various improvised solos. But our trio is more song oriented than improvisational, so our singer has to sing the chorus to "Autumn Leaves" three times in a row.
    Maybe we should just dig out the original versions with verses and all.
    But "Moondance" should work fine, didn't know that song, thanks David

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    Default Re: Rock songs that work as swing tunes

    Quote Originally Posted by journeybear View Post

    That Paul Anka album has an, uh, interesting arrangement of Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit." It simultaneously serves as an example of what is good and bad about such endeavors.
    Just heard this, what a hoot! Delightful compared to what's only bad in Willie Nelson's cover of the same song. I'm not posting a Youtube link to it so that if anyone tracks it down and it finishes them off, it can't be traced back to me...

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    Registered User Julian Morris's Avatar
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    Default Re: Rock songs that work as swing tunes

    In the Summertime by Mungo Jerry could be a fun one to give the swing treatment. It's basically a 12 bar blues structure but delightfully quirky.

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    Registered User Rick Jones's Avatar
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    Default Re: Rock songs that work as swing tunes

    Coming from the Detroit area bends your ear in different directions - but when I was first getting into Gypsy Jazz, I thought an awesome Motown tune to apply to the GJ genre would be the Supremes' "My World Is Empty Without You". The chords sound fantastic played with La Pompe, and the melody has all kinds of room for Gypsy-style interpretation.
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    Registered User zedmando's Avatar
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    Default Re: Rock songs that work as swing tunes

    I think Alice Cooper's song, Be My Lover would work in that setting...
    Would it save you a lot of time if I just gave up and went mad now?

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    Professional Dreamer journeybear's Avatar
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    Default Re: Rock songs that work as swing tunes

    Quote Originally Posted by Julian Morris View Post
    Just heard this, what a hoot! Delightful compared to what's only bad in Willie Nelson's cover of the same song. I'm not posting a Youtube link to it so that if anyone tracks it down and it finishes them off, it can't be traced back to me...
    Yikes! Ithought you were kidding. I wish you were.
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  26. #22

    Default Re: Rock songs that work as swing tunes

    Quote Originally Posted by crisscross View Post
    Thanks again for the answers and tune suggestions. Concerning the desired results, I'm not sure whether to call it swing or tradjazz, I guess I'd call it kind of gypsy swing, but not being able to execute the Django-reststroke properly, I'm afraid, the gypsy jazz police won't accept this. Something remotely close to this
    Concerning the choice of songs, I wouldn't narrow it down to straight rock. I guess, one of the problems our singer has with jazz standards is, that as soon as they enter the world of improvised jazz, the verses get thrown over board, and the songs mostly consist of one chorus, that is sung at the beginning and the end of the tune, and in between are various improvised solos. But our trio is more song oriented than improvisational, so our singer has to sing the chorus to "Autumn Leaves" three times in a row.
    Maybe we should just dig out the original versions with verses and all.
    But "Moondance" should work fine, didn't know that song, thanks David




    very cool, superb vocal phrasing


    but...listen to those maccaferris-at times very mandolin like voice, especially the intro

  27. #23

    Default Re: Rock songs that work as swing tunes

    Thanks again for the many suggestions. I'll give them a try as soon as I'll find the time. You're very helpful.
    Another song that might work is "Oh champs Elysés" by Joe Dassin. Maybe not very well known in America, but very poular in the part of Germany near France where I live.
    The Original
    And here's what ZAZ, a new star of the French scene, who also includes some Gypsy Jazz elements sometimes, makes of the song

  28. #24
    Registered User Paul Cowham's Avatar
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    Default Re: Rock songs that work as swing tunes

    There is a band based near where I live who play pop and rock tunes in the gypsy jazz style called the "Gypsies of Bohemia", hopefully this shows that pretty much any song can be covered in this style. I was chatting to one of the guitarists a few weeks ago who made the interesting point that Django was basically playing pop songs of the day when he was active which is just what they are doing..

    http://gypsiesofbohemia.co.uk/


    Last edited by Paul Cowham; Jun-03-2015 at 5:06am.

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    Registered User Julian Morris's Avatar
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    Default Re: Rock songs that work as swing tunes

    Just spotted the Britney Spears cover there, it reminded me that we used to cover 'Hit me baby' for a laugh. It's got to be ripe for a swing rendition. It's a really fuin chord progression, loads of scope for mucking about.

    This version has the most open chords. BS does it in Cm.

    [Am]Oh baby, baby how [E]was I supposed to
    [C]know that [Dm]something wasn't [E]right here
    [Am]Oh baby baby I [E]shouldn't have let you
    [C]go and [Dm]now you're out of [E]sight, yeah
    [Am]Show me, how you want it [E]to be tell me
    [C]baby 'cause I need to [Dm]know now [E]what we've got

    [CHORUS:]
    [Am]My loneliness is [E]killing me
    [C]I must confess, I [Dm]still believe [E](still be-
    [Am]lieve)When I'm not with you I [E]lose my mind Give me a
    [C]sign [Am]Hit me baby [E]one more time

    I'm not fully convinced about the Dm, I play 235x. The Es are probably 7ths but the structure's about right. That last Am might be a Dm, but the song mostly has a dead stop at that beat.

    By the way, that 'Still believe' in the chorus is eye-popping. I can only make it if I start the melody on 2xxx

    And I spotted this on Youtube, a version that to my ears is better than the original. Shows how much fun this song can be once you have got everyone to acknowledge that you are not a closet Britney fan. Co-incidentally it is in Am.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rc6jzPJauFU

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