Thursday, February 13, 2014

I Have Twelve Strings and I’m Not Afraid to Use ‘Em

     The original intent of this post was unrelated to the twelve-string guitar. But in preparing for putting “pen to paper” (an expression that’s moving in the same direction of “dialing a telephone”), two songs that are also unrelated to the original intent happened to play in succession. The first was “Colours to Life” by the U.K. band Temples. The Temples’ song includes a pleasant use of a twelve string guitar, which triggered meandering through recollections of past research about the instrument. Huddie Ledbetter in the 1930s and 1940s, a resurgence in the mid-1960s, the glory days of the twelve string in the 1970s…
     “Colours to Life” by Temples (with the twelve string guitar).

     If any other current song had happened to follow the Temples, the meandering would have stopped. However, the next song was “The Rain Song” by Bird. The song title is the same as the title of one of our favorite 12-string featured songs, namely the Led Zeppelin song. With the obsessive behavior that characterizes the two authors of this blog, it only takes the length of two songs to push an original intent into an abandoned universe.
     “The Rain Song” by Bird (with a song title that reminds us of the twelve string),

A good description of the twelve string is found in Wikipedia:
     "The strings are placed in courses of two strings each that are usually played together. The two strings in each bass course are normally tuned an octave apart, while each pair of strings in the treble courses are tuned in unison. The tuning of the second string in the third course (G) varies: some players use a unison string while others prefer the distinctive high-pitched, bell-like quality an octave string makes in this position." 
     We aren’t prepared to provide our Top 10 songs that include the twelve string. Not too long ago, Guitar World gave its Top 30. It is no coincidence that so many of the 30 songs were released in the 1970s (including the top three). Their list can be viewed by starting at:,2. On the other hand, songs that we want to feature are:
     “And You and I” by Yes (which starts with tuning a twelve string).

     “You Got to Hide Your Love Away” by the Beatles

     “The Rain Song” by Led Zeppelin (Unlike Bird’s song of this title, this song does feature the twelve string).

     “Saudade” by Love & Rockets (a more current twelve string guitar song; post-2000).

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