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Chord Req: Life is like a mountain railway

21 Feb 11 - 07:47 PM (#3100027)
Subject: Chord Req: Life is like a mountain railway
From: Chris in Portland

I sang this at a church service once and the minister said, "no, it isn't." But my question is about chords, not theology.
I get into discussions/arguments because I like to change chords more than most folks. Listening to Johnny and Earl doing this in great key of B - Circle II - John and Earl - I hear (using G shapes capoed) -
(G)Life is like (D) a mountain (G)railway .. and again in the Heed the curves line. But most chord charts keep it on the 1-chord.
Apart from what the composer may actually have intended, what is the consensus on what sounds best? (Not what is easiest to play - what fun is that?)
Thanks, Chris


22 Feb 11 - 07:28 AM (#3100253)
Subject: RE: Chord Req: Life is like a mountain railway
From: GUEST,Grishka

My vote is definitely to keep the first chord. It is good economy to save quicker changes for the end of the verse, particularly with this kind of song. I don't think ease of playing was a criterion in that professional arrangement.


22 Feb 11 - 10:27 AM (#3100348)
Subject: RE: Chord Req: Life is like a mountain railway
From: Dave MacKenzie

When the tune is sung as 'Miner's Lifeguard', you usually get people singing harmony, so you have to follow what they're doing. That said, V in the first line doesn't sound quite right - maybe a IV if you have to change.


22 Feb 11 - 11:20 AM (#3100380)
Subject: RE: Chord Req: Life is like a mountain railway
From: GUEST,Grishka

The tune sung in that UTube starts (ABC notation in G major to match the OP):
d d | B5 B A B | A2 G4
No way to fit a C there, D7 may do (the B being suspended and resolved to A). For the last bar, Em may be an alternative. But my vote is cast: all G.

I guess 'Miner's Lifeguard' is another tune, because I don't see/hear any folk harmony forcing a C here either.


22 Feb 11 - 11:31 AM (#3100385)
Subject: RE: Chord Req: Life is like a mountain railway
From: Midchuck

"The Spiritual Railway to Heaven" (a/k/a "Life is Like a Mountain Railway") and "Miner's Lifeguard" have always had the same melody whenever I've heard them sung.

Plunking it out on guitar, in G, the first three notes ("Life is like.."),as I hear them, are b, d, b. Since d occurs in both the G and D chords, either one would work for that note. As indicated above, it would depend entirely on what notes your harmony singers wanted to sing.

I've always just stayed in the tonic.

Peter


22 Feb 11 - 01:10 PM (#3100443)
Subject: RE: Chord Req: Life is like a mountain railway
From: Charmion

Both tunes are variants of the Welsh hymn "Calon Lân" (Pure Heart), with "Miner's Lifeguard" a little closer to the original.


22 Feb 11 - 02:00 PM (#3100480)
Subject: RE: Chord Req: Life is like a mountain railway
From: Dave MacKenzie

And also very close to 'Dim Ond Iesu' (None but Jesus).


22 Feb 11 - 03:41 PM (#3100558)
Subject: RE: Chord Req: Life is like a mountain railway
From: Q (Frank Staplin)

Life's Railway to Heaven
The "Cyberhymnal" credits "El Paso", Charles D. Tillman with the music.

(I don't know; just posting the note. Is also says the origin is murky; Eliza R. Snow may have written the original lyrics, M. E. Abbey supplied the chorus.


22 Feb 11 - 05:50 PM (#3100653)
Subject: RE: Chord Req: Life is like a mountain railway
From: GUEST,Grishka

Miner's Lifeguard in the DT starts with (again transposed to G major and represented as ABC)
B d | B5 G A B | A G4
which makes no difference with respect to the OP's question concerning the second half of the full bar: keep G major or switch to D(7)?


22 Feb 11 - 06:21 PM (#3100689)
Subject: RE: Chord Req: Life is like a mountain railway
From: Chris in Portland

Right - I forgot the variation.

Being of Welsh heritage, I do Miner's Life too, but being based on Calon Lan, the first notes in key of G would be D D G B / G A B A G
(A miner's life / is like a sailor's).

However, the US/Cash version starts B B B G (Life is like a)/
A B A G (a mountain railway)- the "high lonesome" folk sound.
I hear a pause, then Earl gos to D7 on the word "a."

So I still think the D7 works with the US version, but not so much with the Welsh one. Does this help?

Thanks, Chris

ps we'll be singing Calon Lan for St. David's Day here in Portland!